#LoveOzYA Q&A with Ellie Marney
Ellie Marney is the author of the Every series (Every Breath, Every Word, Every Move), a highly-awarded #LoveOzYA crime trilogy now published in Australia and overseas. Her latest novel, White Night, is out now.
Have you been telling stories since you were a kid, or is writing something you fell in love with as an adult?
I’ve been writing since primary school! I used to write on the school bus, on loose lined sheets set in a clipboard folder. And I wrote some pretty awful fantasy stories when I was in high school (as you do). So I guess you could say my writing skills have been honed from an early age!
Tell us about your new book
WHITE NIGHT is the story of Bo Mitchell – regular 16yo guy, regular family, regular sports jock, living in the small country town of Lamistead – and what happens when he encounters Aurora Wild, a girl from a hardcore environmentalist commune called Garden of Eden. Aurora is everything Bo is not, and she makes him question everything he’s ever known – especially when chaotic events at home throw his family out of whack. But soon Bo starts to suspect that Garden of Eden may not be a benign as he’s been led to believe…
Fave OzYA book growing up?
Um, do I have to list only one? Maybe Playing Beattie Bow…or it could have been My Brilliant Career…or maybe Margaret Mahy’s books…or Victor Kelleher… There’s too many! In later life I discovered Duecalion by Brian Caswell, and that’s pretty amazing, too.
Did you have anyone who encouraged your love of reading, writing when you were younger?
Well, my dad was always a big reader – he was really into SF, so it was his copies of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series that I stole! But I also had a wonderful English teacher in high school. Her name was Lorna Ferguson, and she took me to my first writers' con, and encouraged me all through my senior years, even when I lost focus. I wrote to her, many years later, and told her that I’d published my first book, Every Breath, and she was so thrilled – we corresponded for some time, until her death a few years ago, but she was my first and most wonderful mentor.
What do you think sets Australian stories apart from those set internationally?
I think whether a book is set in a country town, in an Australian city, or in deep space, the thing that distinguishes OzYA is the voice – there’s a strong, no-bullshit, honest voice and forthright style that seems to shine from OzYA. I think it gels very well with the YA category, because teen readers appreciate genuine-ness and sincerity, and I reckon every OzYA book I’ve read has that in spades.
Fave bookshop or library?
My local, of course! Stoneman’s Bookroom in Castlemaine.
Last book you read and enjoyed?
Ah – that would be OBSIDIO by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. That whole series is addictive and thrilling and hit you like a smack in the face (in the best possible way!).
Apart from writing, what else do you do to explore your creativity?
I used to paint and sing, as a teenager, and then when my kids were little I used to embroider. But these days I mostly just try to exercise in my free time! Saves me from getting Writer’s Butt :-)
Best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve received?
Best: Read everything
Yep, that really is the most crucial thing. If you don’t read, you can’t really write.
Worst: Just wait for inspiration!
I mean, sure – wait for inspiration! Or maybe don’t? Because you might be waiting a heck of a long time.
I never wait around for the muse. I just write every day, or as much as I can, until the damn book/story/whatever is finished. Writing is a job, like other jobs, and some days the job doesn’t feel very inspirational! Just plant your bum on the chair and write – the inspiration will eventually get the hint and join in.
What do you love about OzYA?
The camaraderie of the other writers in the community is the best part for me, as a writer. But the whole community is pretty amazing – writers, readers, librarians, bloggers, fans, booksellers, publishers… And the books are amazing, too!
White Night by Ellie Marney is out now! For more information, visit Allen & Unwin.