A thrilling modern-day mystery series set in Melbourne, the Every series is a must-read for fans of Aussie YA and Sherlock Holmes. Today, I’m chatting to author Ellie Marney about the fantastic final book as part of the Every Move blog tour hosted by Allen & Unwin.
Hi Ellie, welcome to The Unfinished Bookshelf!
Hey Michelle! So great to catch up with you again!
How does it feel to have finished the series and farewelled Rachel and James?
It feels kind of…exhausting? I found the final book in the series incredibly hard to write, mostly because (as was cleverly pointed out to me) I didn’t really want to say goodbye to the characters. So when I finally completed the manuscript, I just wanted to fall in a heap!
But I recovered okay – and now that Every Move is releasing, I can get all excited about it ☺
I loved the varying settings throughout the series. We were in Melbourne in Every Breath, London in Every Word and now country Victoria in Every Move. Why did you want to explore such a wide range of settings and why was Five Mile perfect for the series conclusion?
Ah, that’s all about Rachel… We saw a lot of Mycroft’s back story in Every Word, and followed him to his London birthplace. I really felt like it was time we saw a bit of Rachel’s old home town – she thinks and talks about it a lot, let’s face it – and found out more about where she’s come from.
Returning to Five Mile is important to Rachel on lots of levels, to show how she’s grown and changed, but it also puts her at a unique advantage during the showdown with Mycroft’s nemesis… Rachel knows the land, she knows the area and the people, which gives her strength. I felt like we’d seen a lot of Mycroft in his element (at crime scenes, in morgues) and I wanted to see what would happen with Rachel on her own turf.
And like the TS Eliot quote says, ‘The end is where we start from’ – in the first book Every Breath, Rachel mourns after departing her old home, and in the final book she gets to go back…
How extensively did you plan the series and each book within it? Was the ending always mapped out or did it evolve over the course of the books?
I am a pantser – I should say that straight out – so NONE of the books were planned or mapped out. What I did find useful was that I was often editing one book while writing another, which meant I could go back and slip in some sneaky clues that pointed to the road ahead. So, definitely an organic evolution, the Every series. Although, I should qualify that with something like ‘don’t try this at home kids, it’ll give you an ulcer’.
Reading about Rachel’s struggle with PTSD was quite confronting at times. A few weeks ago, you spoke about your own experience with trauma on your blog. How did your own experience influence Every Move and did it impact on your writing process?
Sorry about the intense feels (!), but I have to say, it’s good to hear that the reading was sometimes confronting – I’m glad that Rachel’s post-traumatic stress comes through clearly in the book. I really have a kind of ‘what the?’ reaction to books where the protags endure all kinds of horrible experiences and pain, and then seem to bounce back immediately as if nothing much happened. Like I said on the blog, it’s a fictional world, but I wanted to keep it real – after what happened in London, neither Rachel or Mycroft were going to be all ‘fine, fine, perfectly fine’.
I think my own experience of trauma (which I have to point out wasn’t torture, but the somewhat more impersonal experience of living in Jakarta during an intense period of civil/military/political unrest) has informed my writing to the extent that I can resuscitate the memories of anxiety and stress and fear I experienced, and use them to create something authentic for the reader. If I end up writing something that feels and reads true, then that’s a win for me, as a writer.
It can be confronting to revisit those old feelings, during the writing process, but there’s something cathartic about it as well. Writing thrillers means that I’m often mining those old feelings and memories for an authentic emotional response, and I’m okay with that. I also have to say that, in some ways, I’m fortunate to be able to do it – my experience wasn’t so traumatic that I’ve blocked it out, or can’t bear to revisit it. And as I was saying to someone recently, trauma is a part of life for lots of people – just about every woman I know, for instance, has had some scary experiences. I’m glad I’m in a position to be able to channel mine into something positive.
What do you hope readers take away from Every Move and the series as a whole?
Oh, well, mainly I hope they have a really good time reading! That’s my main goal – to write something that people can enjoy, so they go on a thrill ride with the characters, and laugh with them, and feel for them, and fall in love with them (especially Mycroft, just a little bit ☺). If that is all people get out of the Every series, then I’ve already done my job well. If they get a few interesting ideas about Sherlock Holmes, friendship, romance, girls with agency, mental health, character diversity, family life, and city/country Victoria as well…then yay! Double happiness!
Which books have left their mark on you as a reader and a writer?
Stephen King’s books informed my teenage life, and his book On Writing is one I would recommend to anyone who thinks they might have a story inside. I also have a great fondness (if fondness is the right word?) for Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris, and the books of Peter Temple and Honey Brown – if you’re into crime, that is. Shakespeare is my go-to guy for language. And Maureen Johnson’s books…love, so much love.
Does music play any part in your writing process?
If I’m writing – can’t listen. If I’m thinking – kind of essential.
I have playlists for each of my books – I usually stick them up on my blog, around release time – and I love to listen to them in the car when I’m driving long distances. Lots of thinking time in the car!
Sometimes I pair books with a song in reviews. What does Every Move sound like to you?
Oh goodness, that’s hard! I incorporated a few songs into Every Move, but the one that reminds me the most of the writing process is Wolf by Pyramid – in fact, I mention it in a crucial scene. I think that song gives you some idea not only of the frenetic pace of the book, but the driving beat might provide a sense of how hard I was working during the writing of Every Move as well!
What’s next for you now the Every series is finished? Will we ever read about James and Rachel again?
The answer is: lots, and yes and no. I don’t have any plans to do a new book with Rachel and Mycroft, alas. But I am working on a standalone novel that is a kind of spin-off from their world, involving a character from Every Move. The working title is No Limits, it’s set in Ouyen and Mildura, and features a certain wild boy of our acquaintance, a police sergeant’s daughter, and some dangerous situations undercover with a drug gang. I can guarantee more grit, a lot more romance, and some thrills and spills along the way ☺
Thanks for stopping by, Ellie. Good luck with No Limits, it sounds so exciting!
Want to know more about Every Move? Check out my review here.