I’m excited to have Ellie Marney, the author of the Australian YA thriller Every Breath, stop by today and answer a few questions! But first, a little about her book, which is published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is available where all great books are sold:Every Breath (Every #1) by Ellie Marney
Published: 1st September 2013 by Allen & Unwin
Format: Paperback, 352 pages
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Rachel Watts has just moved to Melbourne from the country, but the city is the last place she wants to be.
James Mycroft is her neighbour, an intriguingly troubled seventeen-year-old who's also a genius with a passion for forensics.
Despite her misgivings, Rachel finds herself unable to resist Mycroft when he wants her help investigating a murder. He's even harder to resist when he's up close and personal - and on the hunt for a cold-blooded killer.
When Rachel and Mycroft follows the murderer's trail, they find themselves in the lion's den - literally. A trip to the zoo will never have quite the same meaning again...
1. Could you please tell us a little bit about Every Breath, your debut novel?
It’s about a girl, Rachel Watts, who has moved to Melbourne from the country after her family’s farm has gone bankrupt. Rachel gets friendly with her charismatic teenaged neighbour, James Mycroft, who is a kind of self-styled Sherlock with a tendency to drink and smoke and get into trouble. Rachel and Mycroft join forces to solve a grisly murder near the Melbourne zoo.
2. Is there a story behind the title?
Yes, a long one! Most books start out with a working title, and Every Breath was no exception. It was originally called Diogenes. We went through a couple of alternative titles, as people felt that Diogenes was hard to pronounce and didn’t give readers the best idea of what the story was about – yes, I sobbed about losing my original title for a bit until I realised that I wasn’t the first writer to go through this, so I stopped whingeing and started brainstorming.
I was in London with my husband when the call went out for a new title. We (me, my editor, my copyeditor and my agent) sent a lot of rapid-fire emails to each other with crazy ideas, and it was actually my copyeditor, Hilary, who came up with ‘Every Breath’ – good on you, Hilary!
3. What was it like bringing Arthur Conan Doyle’s world into modern Melbourne? What research did you have to do (if any)?
Sure, I had to research! I researched the Sherlock canon and re-read a lot of the original Sherlock stories, to get the flavour of the mysteries, while I was writing. I kept an eye out for useful terms and refs that I could slip into the story, but I was also trying to get a handle on Holmes and Watson’s relationship – how they treated each other, talked to one another. Sherlock is such an eccentric independent person, but he needs Watson in a really essential way – why? It was about searching for clues to different aspects of Rachel’s character, and how she and Mycroft related.
I also needed to figure out ways to make Mycroft’s method of investigation – the observation of small telling details – relevant to a modern setting. You can’t determine someone’s point of origin by the scratches on their boot-heels or the ash from their pipe anymore. The world has changed, and methods of detection – and the logical assumptions you draw from observation – have had to change to deal with that.
Researching the finer details of homicide and forensic pathology was probably the hardest. Some information you can find online, but a lot of things are still kept very private – I was not allowed access to the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine, for example. I had to ask my sister, who’s a doctor, about things like catastrophic blood loss and post-mortem process. She also put me in touch with a forensic pathologist friend, who very kindly agreed to answer some of my stranger questions about autopsies and lividity and morgues.
4. Why Mycroft, and not Sherlock?
Good question! Although James Mycroft and Sherlock have a lot of similarities – they’re both brilliant, charismatic, deeply repressed – I think I wanted James to be a bit different from the original Sherlock. He has personality traits that Holmes himself never had, like being chatty and funny and charming (and lusty – he’s seventeen, after all. Although the way Johnny Lee Miller portrays Sherlock is quite sexy as well, so maybe the canon is changing!). Anyway, I wanted James to be aware of the Holmes stories, but not squashing himself in to fit a mould of ‘Sherlock’ as we know him.
So I liked the idea of Mycroft Holmes – this other ‘even-smarter’ brother who is still a bit of a mystery, even in Conan Doyle’s stories. I guess I wanted James to be coloured by the Sherlock stories, but still have room to stretch as a character, so I gave him the name of the mysterious brother!
Rapid Fire Round
1. Do you watch BBC’s Sherlock, and if so, did you enjoy it?
I do watch it, compulsively, and I love it! I’m hanging out for next season right now J
2. What do you snack on while writing?
I don’t eat while writing, but I drink a lot of tea from the thermos beside me. A LOT of tea. I probably drink about a litre of tea before breakfast – I’ll die of tannin poisoning one of these days.
3. Nutella or Vegemite?
Vegemite, on toast with avocado.
4. Can you tell us how many books are planned for the series?
There will be three books all together – Every Word will be out in June next year, and Every Move is scheduled for 2015.
Thanks for having me visit, Shaheen! I had a lot of fun answering these questions!
I think we’re all going to go crazy waiting for Sherlock 3 (but they did finish filming it a while ago, so yay?). A huge thank you to Ellie for answering my questions, and for Allen & Unwin for organising this awesome blog tour!