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Episode 32 – Author’s Choice

Ellie Marney

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Joining me for this episode’s online chat is award-winning Young Adult crime author, Ellie Marney. Ellie has been involved in the creation of the national campaign #LoveOzYA to promote and advocate for Australian YA literature, she has contributed to the critically-acclaimed Begin End Begin: A #LoveOzYA Anthology and she co-runs the popular #LoveOzYAbookclub online.

Ellie’s books include the Circus Hearts series, White Night and the Every trilogy which begins with Every Breath and was her first young adult book published in 2013.

Her latest book is None Shall Sleep which was released in September 2020 and is a dark and chilling read following two teenagers unfortunately familiar with the violence of serial killers who are drawn into an FBI case and become the conduit between the FBI and an incarcerated teenage serial killer, who seems to have insight into the current case.

We chat about writing crime for young adults, the question at the heart of crime fiction, sociopaths and geniuses and how difficult they are to write when they are teenagers!

The pairings:

The Erasure Initiative by Lili Wilkinson

A girl wakes up on a self-driving bus. She has no memory of how she got there or who she is. Her nametag reads CECILY. The six other people on the bus are just like her: no memories, only nametags. There’s a screen on each seatback that gives them instructions. A series of tests begin, with simulations projected onto the front window of the bus. The passengers must each choose an outcome; majority wins. But as the testing progresses, deadly secrets are revealed, and the stakes get higher and higher. Soon Cecily is no longer just fighting for her freedom – she’s fighting for her life.

Ellie loves this book for its fast-paced storytelling and its mystery meat sandwiches so to pair with it she recommends Peck’s Paste sandwiches and a Long Island Iced Tea cause you’ll need a stiff drink before you’re done!


Circe by Madeline Miller

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus. But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Ellie found this a completely engrossing read, the kind of book you neglect your family over, beautifully written, refreshing, it left a profound impression. She suggests the only appropriate pairing is a platter of delicious feta cheese, dolmades, crusty bread and oil with a delicious chilled wine and I quite agree 🙂


The last days of Jack Sparks by Jason Arnopp

This is not a new book, it was published in 2016, but it is one of the creepiest yet funnest books i’ve read – and i’m not someone who likes creepy or scary books all that much! But, because i loved None Shall Sleep, and because it’s October here we go.

Jack Sparks died whilst writing this book. To his fans, Jack was a fearless rebel; to his detractors, he was a talentless hack. Either way, his death came as a shock to everyone. This book, compiled from the files found after his death, reveals the chilling details of Jack’s final hours. So Jack Sparks is a journalist researching the occult for his new book. He’d already triggered a furious Twitter storm by mocking an exorcism he witnessed. And then there was that video: thirty-six seconds of chilling footage that Jack repeatedly claimed was not of his making, yet was posted from his own YouTube account. Nobody knew what happened to Jack in the days that followed his death. 

This is a book that really creeps up on you in every sense of that word. Jack is incredibly unlikeable as narrators go – opinionated, egotistical, confrontational – but he also seems to be a little self-aware about this which means you can’t dislike him completely and so are drawn into his story. It’s a different kind of book, very creepy, very funny, even quite wry … until it’s not at all funny and all it is, is eerily quiet and you don’t want to be alone reading it. The main character, Jack, doesn’t believe in the supernatural, at least on the surface, but then we follow along with his story and we discover certain childhood experiences which led to his current profession of unearthing the supernatural. As we go on, we discover the end is actually the beginning – stick with it as it does start rather slowly but then it becomes really creepy and all is made clear by the ending. It’s clever, multi-layered, exploring spirituality, belief, possession, guilt, the after-life.

I found it pretty darn scary and I feel like the best thing to drink with this book would be a strong coffee, followed by a chamomile tea – one to keep you alert, the other to calm the nerves!




This episode of Literary Elixirs was recorded via Zoom, please forgive any minor technical glitches!   

Into/Outro music is Mosquito Mojito by Rachel K. Collier. Sourced from Free Music Archive under a Creative Commons Licence.