Monday, August 26, 2013


Today I would like to welcome Australian debut author, Ellie Marney to Novels On The Run for a Q & A session. Her recently released YA debut, is titled Every Breath and I personally loved Mycroft and Watts. Here is my review . So, without further ado, here is the interview with Ellie.


Michelle: Hi Ellie.

Ellie: Hi Michelle, nice to meet you!

Michelle:  What five words describe Ellie Marney the AUTHOR?

Ellie: Um, let me see… Tenacious (definitely), passionate (which I sometimes have to dial down, so my friends don’t always get ‘here, let me talk to you about books all day’), rural (country people write a little different, I reckon), and always learning! 

Michelle:  Every Breath has quite a different male lead. He is a genius, but he comes with his own skeletons. He is complicated. Mycroft , the name I had to get used to as I kept calling him Microsoft in my head. I know, silly me. It is an unusual name, James being his first name, but you choose to write him as Mycroft. But it suits the whole super sleuth thing you are doing. Watts and Mycroft. Or is it Mycroft and Watts? It has a nice ring to it. How did you come up with their names? Was it intentional to give them that Sherlock and Watson type feel being a fan of the crime genre like you are?

Ellie: I always think of them as Mycroft and Watts. Although my editor pointed out that Watts is relating the story, so really it should be the other way round! But in Conan Doyle’s stories, it was always Holmes and Watson, even though Watson was the narrator, so I guess I’m following the theme! But Mycroft is complicated, and he’s kind of the catalyst for the story – when Mycroft’s around, crazy things happen – so I usually think of him in the lead.

Mycroft certainly has some dark backstory – eccentric characters like Mycroft usually get that way for a reason. Interestingly, I plucked his first name, James, out of the air (he just seemed like a James!), and only when I went back and did more research did I discover that Sherlock’s old nemesis, Moriarty, is actually James Moriarty. So in a way, Mycroft is his own worst enemy!

Michelle:  The more I read Mycroft, the more I kept likening his characteristics to Robert Downey Jr’s version of his Holmes. He is unpredictable, eccentric and addictive. No matter what he comes up with, you go along with his plan or idea. What five words would Mycroft use to describe Watts? What five to ten words would Watts use to describe Mycroft? I just feel like there are more than five words for this lad.

Ellie: In the original canon, Sherlock Holmes was unpredictable, eccentric and addictive – and persuasive! He could talk Watson into going off on an adventure with him at a moment’s notice. I think Mycroft has that same power – everything he says sounds so reasonable and logical, you can’t help but agree to his schemes! Watts has to remind herself all the time that Mycroft’s plans aren’t always the most sensible option, but she finds him rather hard to resist…

Mycroft’s words for Watts, hm… I think he would choose obscure hard-to-pronounce words just for the hell of it! Like cognisant (when he meant ‘being perceptive’), perspicacious (when he meant ‘smart’), homeostatic (when he meant ‘steadfast’), pulchritudinous (when he meant ‘hot’). I think there’s actually a whole lot of words about Watts that Mycroft expends a lot of energy not saying…especially to her, face to face.

Watts would have way more than five to ten words for Mycroft, and a lot of them would probably be swear words! That’s one of Watts’s best characteristics – she calls it like she sees it. So what would she call Mycroft? Probably…tall, sarcastic, too intelligent for his own good, eccentric, extreme, infuriating, exhausting…but in the back of her mind there would be other words too, like incredibly attractive, and alone.

Michelle:  What song would best describe Mycroft’s character and why?

Ellie: Well this is gonna sounds crazy, but Mycroft kind of has a theme song for every book! And actually finding Mycroft’s song has become an important part of writing each book, kind of a touchstone I keep returning to.

In Every Breath, Mycroft’s song is the one we discover him bopping along to when Watts first visits him in his room (‘The Stranger’s Room’) in chapter two – My Sharona, by The Knack. Something about the lyrics and the frenetic energy of that song really drew me! And then I remembered that in the old detective show Monk, the ‘girl Watson’ character was actually called Sharona, so I figured it was perfect. :) 

Michelle: It is almost gender reversal roles for these two characters. Watts is more about the action, she can horse ride, motorbike ride, appears fitter and Mycroft is not. He smokes, drinks, gets thrown into jail and he has his in-room lab. Was this more a conscious thing to do with their characters, or the more you wrote Mycroft, the more he told you how he was going to behave?

Ellie: Oh that was very deliberate, and the characters seemed to want it that way too. It made sense: Rachel Watts is a country girl, she’s pragmatic, down-to-earth, with a lot of practical skills and ruddy cheeks. Mycroft is all about the smarts – he’s a book-learning kind of guy – and he has a lot of vices.

But curiously enough, Mycroft is also good with people, after growing up in the city – he likes to talk to people, to understand them, as well as find out the word on the street. Rachel has lived in an isolated rural area up to this point, so she’s really not that used to people. I think she finds Mycroft’s easy way with people quite disarming, and charming – it’s kind of an old-fashioned charm she enjoys and appreciates.

Michelle:  Book Two in the series is titled Every Word. Mycroft ends up in London.

What five words can you use without spoiling, that describe Every Word?

Ellie: Dangerous, spontaneous, sexy, angsty, heart-stopping! Oh, there’s so much I love about Every Word – but I don’t want to give too much away!

Michelle:   From when you started the first page of Every Breath , to the last page, what was the most surprising thing you learnt along the way?

Ellie: I think the surprising thing I discovered was how exciting it became, to be caught up in Rachel and Mycroft’s world. I write very early in the morning (5am-7am), and you’d think it would be groan-inducing to get up that early to write…but so many mornings my alarm would go off and I would be like, ‘Yeess!’ It was really exciting to get up and throw myself back amongst the characters! So I think I knew, even before Every Breath was accepted for publication, that if the writing was giving me such a thrill, then the book would be thrilling for readers as well.

 We readers, we generally have a book boyfriend. Who is yours and from what book and why?

Ellie: Oh, I have so many book boyfriends! (I really get around!)

No, seriously, I’ve fallen for many book characters in my time – Homer, from Tomorrow When the War Began, and Wolfboy, from This is Shyness, and Jonah Griggs, from On The Jellicoe Road…and I had a major crush on Clarice Starling, from The Silence of the Lambs for a long time.

But my current amour would have to be Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare. Will is so storm-tossed and angsty and sarcastic…*sigh* He might even be enough to tempt me away from my long-term bf, Sherlock Holmes…well, maybe.

Michelle:  What has been the most memorable book signing event for another author or a book event you have attended, and why?

Ellie: I think probably the most memorable event I’ve been to for another author was the Melbourne Writers Festival, about five years ago, when I saw Margo Lanagan speak. Later, I joined the queue to get her autograph on my copy of Black Spikes – she’s an incredible writer, and I was just so thrilled to meet her!

Michelle: What has been the best advice given to you by another author?

Ellie: I was at the Ballarat Writers Festival a few years ago, with a 10-page excerpt from my own novel in my hot sweaty hand, and I’d just stepped outside the venue for a moment to gather my nerve before attempting to talk to some of the publishers and agents on the panels.

At that moment, another author (who’d been on a panel and whose name I don’t even recall now) was leaving to go home, and she caught my eye on the stairs. She asked me if I had anything to shop, and I said yes. And then she said ‘Don’t wimp out. Go do it. This is your chance to talk to people in the industry, so grab it with both hands’. It really bolstered my courage, and I’ve been appreciative ever since.

Michelle:  To close out the interview, if I gave you a plain T-shirt to write a quote on that meant something to you, what would it say?

Ellie: Oh, that’s easy – it would be this, from the poem The Tryst, by Walter de la Mare. I read it when I was in high school, and for some reason it’s never left me.

‘Flee, into some forgotten night, and be
Of all dark long, my Moonbright Company.
Beyond the rumour even of Paradise, come:
There, out of all remembrance, make our home.’

Michelle: Thank you again for answering my Questions Ellie, and all the best with your writing!

Ellie: Thanks Michelle, I had a great time!

Xx Ellie

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