Have you ever heard of a brilliantly written thriller called “The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die”?
It was written by Marnie Riches who I have the great pleasure to welcome on CHOUETT today. There is a lot more to this fabulous author that meets the eyes so take a moment to find out what she had to answer to my questions.
- You have been through quite a few changes in your life. I was wondering what you identified with the most having been a punk, a trainee rock star and a pretend artist in your earlier years. Who did you prefer and why?
Funnily enough, my experience of being a punk still resonates with me the most, although really, it was just a music/fashion phase in my teens. I’ve always had a fairly rebellious spirit. My writing, the books I love to read, the music I listen to and my favourite films all have bite. Although I lead a very run of the mill family life in private, I am interested in observing and writing about what happens on the fringes of society. I suppose that means there’s still a little of the punk about me. Being in a band and painting are symptomatic of my always having needed a creative outlet. I get very miserable when I’m not able to express myself artistically!
- As an author, you have written children and contemporary fiction. Do you have a preference between the two genres or are they both a comfortable fit? Is there another genre you would like to try?
I would say that crime fiction is my natural home. The task of putting together a very complex, full-length, multi-layered story, where points of view change and timelines skip around is deeply satisfying for me. You can’t do that so much with children’s fiction, although the bonus with children’s is that you can inject huge amounts of humour into your work. I do love writing comic scenes. My early drafts of The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die contained a lot more humour. I was reluctant to strip them out to get a mainstream publishing deal but most (not all) did get fileted out. I do also write contemporary women’s fiction and have a novel on submission to editors at the moment. It has a love story at its heart, but it’s mainly an acerbically funny, at times, poignant story about family, midlife crisis, and letting go.
- Have any of your illustrations been an inspiration for a book? If so, which one?
In my early days of writing seriously, when my children were very small, I wrote a picture book called Billy the Messy Hippo. It was an overly long, didactic tale about a selfish little Hippo, who wouldn’t tidy up after himself, getting his comeuppance. Because I was writing for children and could also paint, I thought that picture books were an ideal medium for me. Of course, I had underestimated the amount of time it takes to put the colour plates for a picture book together. I also hadn’t taken into account that there are SO many illustrators out there who are utterly brilliant at what they do and who have trained for years to do it. My efforts failed to find me an agent, so I stuck to words! None of my other paintings have inspired a story, as such.
- If you could only choose one between the artist and the author, who would you choose to be and why?
I am an author. I’ve worked for over ten years to get to this point in my career and to hone my craft to the point where I think my writing compares well with my crime-writing contemporaries. I hope to write until the day I die. I will always endeavour to keep improving my craft. Literature is my preferred art, now and is the most perfect way for me to communicate my thoughts, feelings, fears and desires. I’m simply not good enough to become a professional visual artist.
- Diversity permeates your art and the words you write. Why do you feel it is important to share it through your craft?
Having a very mixed ethnic heritage myself and as the only child of a single mother, growing up in 1970s and 1980s working class, ethnically diverse Manchester, I had always found, when reading books with white, Christian, middle class protagonists, that there was nobody with whom I could readily identify. Once I started to write seriously, it was a natural step for me to ensure that my own literary cast of characters was as ethnically and socially diverse as the people around me in real life are.
- Are you tempted by any other art form? And if so, which one?
I would love to write a film script. I did complete a script writing course some years ago and produced two scripts – one drama pilot with a series treatment and a script for a CBeebies pilot. They never saw the light of day, but I would like to work on a TV or film script for my books at some point in the future, should they ever get optioned. I may paint more in the future. I love doing portraiture. I have a couple of big ballads that I wrote years ago that could potentially become a real pension fund if I could get a music publishing deal for them. Maybe one day…
- What is a perfect day in the life of Marnie?
Get up early. Drink good coffee. Do some solid writing. Go out for lunch with a friend, maybe or with my family. Have a kip in the afternoon. Faff about on the internet or perhaps go shopping for clothes. Go out for dinner or have friends over for dinner. Drink and chat until 10.30pm. Go to bed and sleep like the dead. All of this would be greatly improved if the perfect day were set in the Maldives, thinking about it. I’d swap shopping for snorkelling and I’d incorporate a healthy dose of karaoke.
- Who is your favourite fictional detective and why?
Of the crime fiction that I’ve read, penned by others, I don’t have a favourite fictional detective. I often find the detectives boring, as they all lead rather regimented lives and almost always are tormented by the same demons of drink, workaholism and commitment-phobia. It’s usually the baddies that I love. Even Clarice Starling is put into the shade by Hannibal Lecter. Having said that, there is a mountain of crime fiction I’ve yet to read, so perhaps my favourite detective is out there, fighting crime in the next book on my TBR pile. I do love my own Chief Inspector Paul van den Bergen, though, with his misanthropy and health anxiety and love of art. I wrote him because I couldn’t find that sort of man in any of the other books I’d read.
- Can you tell us 10 things we don’t know about Marnie?
I love gardening.
I hate ironing.
I adore flash cars.
I can’t abide poor hygiene.
I swing from being intensely sociable to a semi-recluse.
I think I can twerk really well, but it turns out I can’t.
I have one poorly functioning kidney.
I floss while I’m at my desk.
I would have loved to try my hand at stand-up comedy.
I am an archaeology dork.
- If you could hang out with your favourite author for a day, what would you both do?
Drink a little gin and eat some good food in a nice place with clean toilets. We’d talk and talk and talk. This is not necessarily confined to my favourite author, actually. I have friends that I could spend days with and we still would not run out of things to talk about. My favourite author might turn out to be dull as hell. Just because you can write well, doesn’t make you necessarily scintillating (although pretty much every good author I’ve met has been deeply entertaining).
Thank you Marnie
You can also tweet Marnie @marnie_riches