About Marianne Curley
Marianne Curley is an Australian author of young adult fiction. Her specialty is writing fantasy in a realistic, contemporary setting.
Her books so far: Old Magic, The Guardians of Time Trilogy - The Named, The Dark, The Key, and her new novels, Hidden and Broken, part of The Avena Series, with more to come.
Her novels are published the world over and can be found in all good bookstores.
What inspired you to write ‘Hidden’ and your new book ‘Broken’?
In 2004, after feeling run down and exhausted, I was diagnosed with aggressive Myeliofibrosis (bone marrow cancer). I had only a few weeks to live, but a stem-cell bone marrow transplant using my sister’s cells saved my life. I spent twenty weeks in hospital in an isolation ward where I endured some very dark and seemingly endless days and nights. But when I returned home I felt that I had been given a second chance and it was wonderful to be alive.
My illness was the catalyst for writing The Avena Series. As my concentration gradually returned and I started to think about writing again, by then I knew that I would write a paranormal love story about angels and second chances.
Is being an author all you expected it to be?
Being an author is not like a regular 9 to 5 job. Being a writer is a lifestyle that can sometimes be amazing and sometimes hard and disappointing. But I consider myself extremely lucky to be doing it at all, let alone have six books published with many international translations. In my world, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, and I couldn’t be happier.
My life as an author has definitely lived up to my expectations. Writing has put me in the position where I enjoy what I’m doing every day. My hard work is recognised, and when I pull that first copy of my new book out of the box, I’m rewarded with a sense of achievement I doubt I could get doing anything else.
The most important thing a young author should know is that books are about people and what they do to solve their problems. So knowing your characters is a vital first step. To do this effectively, a writer has to spend time with their characters, learn how they will react in certain situations, what they’re capable of doing, whether it’s climbing Mount Everest in bare feet or committing the crime of the century. Your characters are never all good or all bad. Know their loves as much as you know their faults and figure out what drives them to act the way they do in your story.
A good idea is to create character profiles that are as detailed as you can make them from physical appearances to their inner demons. These notes will come in handy later when you forget the colour of a character’s eyes, or the reason she catches the late train home every Friday. Remember to give your characters backgrounds that include such things as siblings, where they live now, where they grew up, are their parents still alive, who treats her well and who doesn’t, what his dreams for his future are, who does he see in the way of achieving them. This will help you create realistic characters who will drive your story all the way to an editor’s desk.
Are any of the characters in both of your books based on anyone you know or have known?
At the start of a book, I don’t set out to base my characters on real people or people I know in my own life, other than perhaps the shape of a character's eyes or the colour of his or her hair. But the people around me definitely have an influence on my life in general and it is quite possible I might inadvertently use an aspect of their personality, incorporating it into one of my characters to make the character more charming, or funny, or simply more realistic.
You have written many books, such as The Named, The Dark and The Key, to only name a few. Out of all of your publications which one did you most enjoy writing and why?
Of the first four books I have written, the book I enjoyed writing the most was The Key. This was because by the time I came to write the third book of the trilogy, I knew my characters so well it was an absolute joy to write the ending of their story. The same thing is happening all over again with Book 3 of The Avena Series. I’ve become attached to Ebony, Nathaneal and Jordan, and now that I’ve spent years with them inside my head, I care for them and understand who they are and what drives them. Writing their final chapters is a most enjoyable process, but it is also tinged with a little sadness, knowing that I’m drawing closer to letting them go.
What would you say was the greatest experience and or achievement you have had in your writing career?
I’ve had a quite a few special moments in my writing career, like meeting my readers for signings. At my launch for Hidden last year, I had the opportunity to meet some cancer survivors who had driven a long distance in pouring rain during a week-long flooding event to meet and talk to me face-to-face.
I’ve had other types of special experiences. One that stands out was in 2002 when my second book, The Named, had just been released. Warner Bros took out an option on the entire Guardians of Time Trilogy, with the idea of making a television series from the books. Warner Bros brought on board a well-known producer, director and had commissioned a scriptwriter. When the script for the pilot arrived, it was an extraordinary experience to read and visualise Arkarian, Ethan, Isabel and the other “Named” characters, played by young actors, appearing on my television screen in a weekly program. It was an exciting time with talk of going on board as a consultant for the show. Unfortunately, though, Warner Bros didn’t go ahead and pick up the option for a second year.
Are you reading a book at the moment? If so what?
The book I am reading at the moment is the Devil’s Diadem by the Australian author Sara Douglass, who tragically passed away in 2011 from cancer. I have read many of Sara’s books; fell in love with fantasy after reading her very first standalone novel, Beyond the Hanging Wall, which I quickly followed up with The Axis Trilogy and The Wayfarer Redemption Series. The Devil’s Diadem was given to me as a Christmas gift and I am enjoying it thoroughly. Again, Sara uses her talent of combining historical fiction with fantasy and horror. The Devil’s Diadem gives a realistic look at what life must have been like in the wealthy noble circles of 12th century England, the roles of women at the time, and the horror of the plague.
Do you have an all time favourite author and someone you admire?
An all time favourite author is a hard one to pick. If I could choose three, it would still be difficult, but here goes. My all time favourite author and someone I admire is Australian author Peter Watt. Peter has written fourteen books, at last count. He explains his work best on his website when he says, ‘As an author of the family saga I chose to paint my words on the canvass of history. I did so as my research of Australian history revealed a colourful and vibrant story – about the human condition – that is as relevant today as it was then.’ I admire Peter because not only is he a master storyteller of epic family war dramas, rich in historic detail, but I happen to know he’s a good person, a caring, community-minded individual who puts his life on the line fighting fires and attending car crashes as a volunteer Fire Fighter, even on the days he could otherwise be writing.
Do you have any hobbies that don’t involve reading, writing or drawing?
I enjoy gardening and knitting and crocheting. I’ve knitted or crocheted everything over the years from tiny infants clothing to king size blankets, beanies, scarves, dog jumpers and soft toys. I also enjoy walking and watching birds. I live on a mountain with a rainforest backyard and enjoy feeding a variety of beautiful birds on my back veranda, such as colourful Australian King Parrots, Rainbow Lorikeets, Crimson and Yellow Rosellas, Doves, the occasional Satin Bower Birds and others. My backyard is also home, and at times a nursery, for brush turkeys and possums. There’s even a python carpet snake who hibernates in my roof during winter.
What are your plans/hopes for the future in your career as an author?
My future plans are simple: to keep on writing and become better with each new book. I love writing for young adults and have no foreseeable plans to change that. My novels are adventures in paranormal fiction that sweep you away to another place, or another time, or world. I want to create more memorable characters, epic love stories, amazing fantasies, while continuing with the themes of first loves, friendships, trust, loyalty, second chances, right and wrong, good versus evil and figuring out what’s really important in life.
How can fans find out more about your work?