Title: Every Word
Author: Ellie Marney
Genre: YA crime/thriller
Length: 340 pages
Published by: Allen and Unwin
Published on: June 1st 2014
Source: received in exchange for review (this is why I love Allen and Unwin – THANK YOU)
James Mycroft has just left for London to investigate a car accident similar to the one that killed his parents seven years ago…without saying goodbye to Rachel Watts, his ‘partner in crime’.
Rachel is furious and worried about his strange behaviour – not that Mycroft’s ever exactly normal, but London is the scene of so many of his nightmares. So Rachel jumps on a plane to follow him…and lands straight in a whole storm of trouble.
The theft of a copy of Shakespeare’s First Folio, the possible murder of a rare books conservator, and the deaths of Mycroft’s parents…Can Watts help Mycroft make sense of the three events – or will she lose him forever?
Sparks fly when Watts and Mycroft reunite in this second sophisticated thriller about the teen sleuthing duo.
This is only going to be a mini-review, because we’ve also got a FANTASTIC Q and A with Ellie Marney, Awesome Aussie Author. She’s lovely.
I reviewed Every Breath back when I was a little baby blogger. You can read that review here. AND I LOVED IT. So of course I had to be part of the Every Word blog tour.
A quick list of awesome things:
– It’s quite a bit darker than the first book. There was a lot more character growth, and plot growth, and I really liked that transition.
– Fantastic setting. Ellie Marney crafts a London so vivid that I felt like I was right there alongside Mycroft and Rachel.
– Some quite excellent make-out scenes.
– A few “CANNOT CLOSE THE BOOK NOW BECAUSE OMG WHAT JUST HAPPENED I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT’S NEXT.” Yeah, a few of those.
– A villain that was not only believable but complex.
– Friendship between Rachel and Mycroft that was extremely sweet. Even though I wanted to headbutt Mycroft a few times.
– I really like that Rachel isn’t your typical heroine. She’s not really that brave in the way you’d expect, but I love her as a protagonist. She’s loyal and a bit crazy and determined.
– Family. I love Rachel’s brother Mike. And his girlfriend Alicia. She added a nice element to it all.
– Some elements from the original Sherlock that you might recognise…but I won’t say anymore.
– THE ENDING. Just…I can’t wait until you guys read it, so you’ll want the next book as much as I do.
Rating: 4.5/5 Wonderkitties
Now let’s meet Ellie Marney! Bold = me (Emily), and non-bold = Ellie’s answers
TAKE NOTE that there may be spoilers.
1. What is the strangest thing you discovered during the research process for Every Word?
That there’s a hundred different ways to blow things up with household materials! An old friend who has some professional experience with homemade explosives (don’t ask) gave me some very nifty advice about this…I was actually kind of astonished to discover how much damage you can do with some basic chemicals and household items!
I am interested in this because of reasons.
I also discovered, when I toured the Westminster Mortuary, that a morgue has a very curious smell – like a cross between a hospital and a butcher’s shop. Yeah – quite disturbing, actually. The people who work in this field, however, are really lovely; friendly, generous people. I was also interested to note that in the staffroom of the morgue, they had a bookshelf with a sizeable collection of…you guessed it, crime novels! And really nitty-gritty ones too – Thomas Harris and Patricia Cornwell… It surprised me, that the folk who work in the morgue would want to read forensic procedurals as after-hours entertainment, but there you go!
2 There are parts in this book that are a lot darker than Every Breath. What was the intention behind this?
Yeah, it is a bit darker, isn’t it? I was aiming for an Empire Strikes Back tone… Nah, not really – I wasn’t even thinking about it when I wrote it! It just came out darker. It wasn’t even until I’d finished editing and reading it through that I realised the change of tone is about Rachel growing up.
You know when you’re growing up, how you sometimes go from one extreme to the other? Rachel has been so good, such a rock for her family pretty much her whole life – she’s the responsible one, the stable one. In Every Breath she starts spreading her wings, taking chances…and in Every Word, she goes a bit crazy (this is quite true). She’s trying to break free, find her own life, and sometimes when you do that you sort of unconsciously veer from one side of the spectrum to the other. Rachel makes a few crazy decisions in Every Word – with the best of intentions, of course, but usually at that age your decisions are made with the best of intentions.
She screws up a bit – and so does Mycroft. Some of the decisions they make are life-threatening – but again, you sometimes do make life-threatening or life-changing decisions at that age. Will I get in the car with my drunk best friend? Or, what is that drug really like? That stage of your life often involves making some screwed up decisions, then working your way out of them, and learning a bit of balance. Rachel and James’s decisions are scary, the situations they find themselves in are genuinely scary, but I think they’ve started to work things out a bit by the end of the book.
3. Was it harder to write Every Word than Every Breath? Why or why not?
Actually it was way easier! Writing Every Word was kind of like…channelling spirits or something. The writing just flowed so easily – I wrote the book very quickly, in the space of a few intense months. In fact it was almost completely written before I finished the final editing process for Every Breath. And the editing process for Every Word was much simpler, because even my editors said it already felt very complete. It’s actually made me quite nervous about the release, and the reception of the book, because I always worry when things seem too easy, like maybe it’s not as good! But I think Every Word really went a long way towards making me realise that I should trust my instincts when I’m writing.
I don’t think you have to worry about that. Every Word is incredibly awesome.
With Every Word, I was just really in the groove with the characters…I knew them so well, they were already really alive and active and talkative in my head. The only hiccup was when I had to work out how to write the details of the scenes in London.
That’s a nice segue into the next question…
4. Every Word is set in England. Have you been there? How did you research the setting?
Yes, that was what happened actually – I had to go to London to research! Because the whole ‘write what you know’ thing actually seems to apply most of all to writing location! My husband actually suggested that I go, and then I said that he should come too, and it kind of snowballed into this ten-day magical mystery tour of London! (And yes, it was very cold, because we went in November – my husband now keeps suggesting that maybe the next book I write should be set in Hawaii or something…)
I spent those ten days walking around London, getting a feel for the place. We stayed right in the area Rachel would have stayed in – the hostel strip in Pimlico, near Westminster Cathedral, which was conveniently located right near New Scotland Yard, and the Westminster Mortuary… So while my husband went to museums and stuff, I got to tour the morgue, and interview staff at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, and visit all the places that Rachel and Mycroft would have visited, like the murder scene in High Wycombe, and the area around Brentford, where they’re held hostage… It was definitely an unconventional tour of London!
Soooo I’m going to England at the end of this year, and I definitely think a morgue/murder tour would be fantastic. Maybe all writers are just morbid?
5. I absolutely LOVE retellings – though Every Word is definitely its own original murder mystery, there are those distinct connections to the Sherlock Holmes stories. Can you tell us a few of your favourite YA retellings?
Well, I have to say I’m in love with Maureen Johnson’s take on the Jack the Ripper mystery in her Shades of London series – the first book The Name of the Star blew me away, and the second book, The Madness Underneath, nearly killed me!
OH MY GOSH, I loved those books.
And just quietly, I always think of The Hunger Games as a superior re-telling of Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, but of course that’s just me…
6. Mycroft is hard to be sympathetic towards occasionally, but he and Rachel find ways to understand each other. Was it difficult to balance Mycroft’s character so that he didn’t come across as too unlikeable?
Yeah, Mycroft’s pretty down on himself in this book, which I guess is understandable – he’s gone back to the place where his parents died and his whole life altered, so he’s pretty angsty and stressed out. I tried to make sure he wasn’t being too self-pitying, because that makes him seem a bit whiny. Also I wanted him to come round in the end to the idea that he can mature and move forward – characters have to change, by a book’s end, or it’s just not plausible. Real people grow through their experiences, and we want to see that happen.
I think, too, that readers are rooting for Mycroft to grow up a bit, to grow into his potential – he has a lot of potential! Eventually, if he can get his act together, he’s going to be this incredibly hot, super-smart forensic investigator, and we really want to see that happen for him (and I think Rachel does too J ).
7. Can you share a few sneak peeks of the third book, Every Move? (pleeeease?)
Well, I can’t say too much…but oh yeah, all right, you twisted my arm! (mwahaha) We’ve discovered a lot about Mycroft’s past in Every Word, and I felt that Every Move should be more about Rachel, where she’s come from and what her hidden skills are. So Every Move involves a return to Rachel’s old life, and possibly an old flame…but things are hotting up with Mycroft too, that’s getting kind of serious. More serious is the fact that Mycroft’s own personal Moriarty seems to be chasing right behind them…
Every Move is currently going through editing, so I can’t give too much away. But it will be a heart-stopping end to the series, I can tell you that much!
I think I need to create a “count-down to Every Move calendar”. I’m so excited to see how it will end! 😀
8. This is a three-book series. What’s next for you after Every Move comes out?
I’m kind of hoping to have a little holiday at some point – writing three books back-to-back is kind of exhausting! But actually I’ll probably spend any quiet time I get jotting down ideas for another book. Writing isn’t something you ever really stop doing, or switch off from (seconded. My characters never leave me alone). I would write every single day of the year – Christmas and birthdays too – if my family would let me! (actually having a whole day to write on my birthday would kind of be the best present of all…)
I’m currently working on a new idea for another YA crime book. It’s still in the development stages, so I can’t really say much about it (bad luck!) but it involves a girl in a wheelchair, and a dark hulking boy from the wrong side of the tracks… Like I said, I’m still working it up, but that’s the book I’d like to concentrate on next.
It already sounds awesome.
9. Favourite thing to do when you’re not writing?
Um, this is kind of predictable, but…I read! No, seriously, I would read endlessly if I had nothing else to do. I read really fast – I just read three books in the past three days (The Sky So Heavy by Claire Zorn, The Body Finder by Kimberley Derting, and These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner – I’m kind of working my way through the Inky longlist, with some YA crime books sprinkled in between) so I have to have a steady supply of books on hand!
I also love listening to music (in the car, generally), and gardening – I haven’t had enough time to get out in the garden lately, but writing is a pretty good consolation prize J
10. And finally, what’s the best part of being an author?
Oh, that is a bit two-fold – I love just having permission to sit for hours and write characters, and make up stories out of my head. That is kind of my dream come true, since primary school! But I also love hearing from people who’ve read the books I write and enjoyed them enough to tell me – getting feedback from readers has been something I hadn’t really anticipated, and what an amazing perk it is! If people love my book enough to tell me so…that is something really special.
(Have I mentioned I love your book?)
Thanks for having me over to visit, Emily! Great questions, and I hope you enjoyed the book!
Thanks for letting me interview you, Ellie! It was great reading your answers. And yes, I THOROUGHLY enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the last one in the series 🙂