Next in our series of very exciting #LoveOzYA interviews we have the lovely Ellie Marney! We absolutely adored her story in the #LoveOzYA Anthology, and we loved learning more about her and her writing experiences in this interview. Enjoy!
Why is #LoveOZYA important to you? What’s the first Aussie YA novel you ever read?
It’s important to me because I’d like to see more Australian teens being able to recognise the landscapes and characters and vernacular in the literature they read – everyone should get a chance to do that. My first Aussie YA novel was most probably Storm Boy by Colin Thiele, and then I moved on to Marsden and Kelleher and more!
What’s one #LoveOzYA book you would recommend to all readers?
Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff – I feel like it encapsulates some of the best aspects of OzYA.
How did you feel when you were asked to write a story for Begin, End, Begin, and had you written many short stories before?
I started in short stories – many writers do – so it felt pretty natural to be returning to that. I was rapt that I’d been asked to participate! It seemed fitting that we were giving a ‘tasting plate’ of OzYA stories to readers, giving them a chance to try new things.
What inspired you to write the story that you did? Did you ever consider that idea for a full-length novel?
Ever since I wrote the Every series, folks have been emailing me to ask if I would ever write the scene when Rachel Watts and James Mycroft first met. So I guess ‘Missing Persons’ is just the reward for their persistence!
What inspired you to be a writer? Was there a specific moment in your life when you realised that writing was something you wanted to do with your life?
I’ve been writing since I was in primary school. I think in high school I realized it was something I wanted to do, but nobody was particularly encouraging – in the end, I kept scribbling away until I was nearly forty, when I finally lost patience and thought ‘That’s it, I’m giving this a go’.
Had you met all of the other contributing authors before being asked to write a short story for Begin, End, Begin? Who’s story were you most surprised by?
Yes, I’d met everybody! It’s a small community. I was most surprised by Michael Pryor’s story – I loved the overt politics of it! – and I was particularly delighted by Will Kostakis’s story, because I’ve never read any magical realism he’d written, and I thought he really nailed it.
How different is the story you wrote to your existing work? Do you normally write in the same genre, or were you trying something new?
Oh, ‘Missing Persons’ is just another little exhale from Every Breath! Part of the story was actually outtakes from my original manuscript. I didn’t feel that I was straying too far from home with that one!
What was the first book you ever saw yourself in? What parts of yourself do you see in the story you wrote?
I think Tomorrow When the War Began was the first story I really imagined myself in – the protagonist is called Ellie, after all. But I think I project myself onto the protags of ALL the books I read, so maybe I started before that… I see myself in ‘Missing Persons’ in the aspects of Rachel that long to be back home in the country. The country is where I was raised, and where I live right now, and I would feel just like Rachel if I was forced to uproot and leave again.
What does your writing schedule look like? Do you like to write in a specific place, or at a specific time?
I get up at 6 every morning but usually deal with admin then, so my writing day doesn’t start until I have all the kids off at school. Then I sit down and write until my bum gets sore…get up and do something else for a while…sit down again and keep plugging away. I used to get up earlier and work like a demon, but I’m kinder to myself these days.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Do you feel as though there’s a big difference between writing short stories and writing novels?
Read always and write regularly. Between stories and novels there’s only an issue of pace – both within the story, by spreading out the events to cover a longer work or condensing /curating them in a shorter work, and outside the story for yourself. A novel is a long-haul project – you have to pace yourself.
What books have you already published? Are you working on something right now?
I’ve published the Every series – the last book came out in 2015. This year I’m publishing No Limits in August and I’m editing a new book for a March 2018 release – that one is called White Night.
If you could write a book with one author of your choice, who would that author be and why?
I’d love to write a book with Honey Brown – she’s a very talented and smart local crime writer. I just love her words and where they take you.
Thanks for answering all of our questions, Ellie! We’re so excited to chat more with her this Sunday at our Book Meet. Don’t forget – if you’re in Melbourne and you haven’t already bought your ticket, you can do so here! It’s bound to be a lovely afternoon.
‘Slice’ image sourced from Gin and Co.