FURY by Shirley Marr: Review & Author Interview

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Summary from publisher's website: Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.
Strap yourself in...

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.
So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

My review: Eliza was a mean, mean girl. Spoilt, sarcastic and a bit of a control freak (and a total snob). At the start of the book, I hated her. So what if she killed someone? And I hate - really, really hate - spoilt rich girl characters. But as I read she grew on me as a character... and I sympathised with her and her friends as the novel progressed. (Maybe Gossip Girl readers will like this?) Though I did want to smack her upside the head through most of it... but I think that was the point.

At times I felt the dialogue was a little unbelievable and I couldn't imagine it actually being spoken by young people. This was only really through the first part, when she's at school... after about the first third it became more realistic. It almost felt as if the writing was more assured as the novel progressed. The ending was brilliant, when the reader finds out the truth about Eliza and the murder. I was still left with lots of questions, though (which was good. It's the sort of book I thought about for a long time afterwards).

I liked the way in which the story was told, jumping between past and present, Eliza telling her version of events. It's difficult to review without giving too much away (I'd tell you I liked this plot point and disliked that plot point, but then the effect of the book will be ruined), so I'll keep it brief: I strongly recommend this book to readers who like teen psychological thrillers. If you liked Liar by Justine Larbalestier, I think you'll love this. It reminds me of Liar because Eliza is a character who, for most of the book, anyway, doesn't tell the whole story. I think adult YA readers may be frustrated by Eliza's immaturity and sarcasm, so I'd recommend this primarily to teenaged girls 14+.

A thrilling, fantastic (and sarcastic) read.

Author Interview: Shirley Marr

Shirley Marr is the author of the YA novel Fury released May 2010, published by black dog books. She's also a wearer of tutus, black hoodies, purple nail polish and eyeliner (so, you know, really awesome!). Read the interview and find out more about Shirley and the story behind Fury...

1. What inspired FURY? Which came first, the story or the characters?

I’ve actually been trying to write this story ever since, well, I decided I wanted to be a writer. You know how they say that everyone has one story inside of them? No matter what I wrote it would always come down to the same situation and ending, it was like being trapped in this perpetual writer’s groundhog day! They ranged from slightly gothic horror to the modern, the only thing they had in common, apart from being the same story is that they weren’t ever any good. That was until I found Eliza. I’ve always wanted to write a character like Mersault from Albert Camus “The Outsider”. Someone who commits a horrible crime and because they don’t act in a way society expects them to, by admitting their guilt and saying they’re sorry, they become condemned. I wanted to present this character to the reader and ask “do you hate this person or is it possible for you to understand who they are?” So when Eliza met my ‘groundhog day story’, it finally came right for me. The story came out. And quite naturally, the other characters who have played dress-ups as one person or another over the years, fell into place as well.

2. What was the process of writing FURY like? How long did you work on the book, what did your family think, and did you think it would get published?

Would you believe Fury only took me 3 months to write? I was so absorbed in it that I actually churned out a 80,000 ms. Obviously it was too long and even though it was full of passion and good intentions, being the first draft it was crap! It took me another 3 months to edit it to a reasonable shape. And it was still 80,000 words long. I wrote it for myself, just like everything else and didn’t have intentions of showing it to anyone, not even my family, let alone a publisher! That probably explained why it was so easy for me and I wasn’t wracked with self-doubt or pressure. Looking back, I think I had such a great time. Probably the best time of my life. It was idyllic. I was naive and mostly happy!

3. Can you share your road-to-publication story?

Oh the road has been very long! I decided I wanted to become a writer when I was still a teenager. That didn’t happen until 10 YEARS later! It basically took me that long until I decided I had written something good enough, so I don’t consider myself an overnight success story. But having that much practice did pay off, because the first time I submitted to a publisher (black dog books), I got instant interest back. Yes, it surprised me too! I thought rejection was a rite of passage (kinda like a writer’s “hazing” stage). Even our friends Jo Rowling and Steph Meyer got heaps of rejects. I reckon that wouldn’t have happened if I had just been too excited and sent in the very first thing I wrote. So if I have any advice, that’s to practice your writing until it’s close to perfect, without sacrificing the quirks that make your writing your own. And choose a publisher with books and an ethic very like your own, a perfect match might just be waiting to happen.

4. Imagining you could travel backwards in time and meet your younger self without tearing the universe apart, what advice would you give her about writing and life?

I would give my younger emo self a hug first. Then I will say “don’t give up”. There has been at least three or four occasions when I’ve chucked major wobblies and threatened to quit. Writing can be a very lonely and when what you come up with doesn’t even meet your own expectations, then it can feel very unrewarding and hopeless. I would also tell younger-emo-self to stop being so dramatic and OTT about everything cos life can be okay, y’know? But I don’t think I would change a thing about the past. I am sure younger-emo-self would refuse to listen to me and with or without my advice, I am sure she would continue to write anyway. I like to believe we all arrive at the same destination no matter what.

5. Are you working on a new novel right now? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes! The answer is yes, but I can’t say much more about it. She’s left me and is living with my editor Melissa right now. But as no one knows how well Fury is going to do, there’s no 100% guarantee she will ever be published. So if you enjoyed Fury, please let us know about the love. All I can say is that at the moment, she’s fully living up to the reputation of “the second difficult novel”. She’s not a sequel, but some familiar sounding names might pop up. Who doesn’t love a crossover?

6. What has been the best thing about getting a book published? What hopes do you have for the future?

This sounds really corny, but if this was Idol or Biggest Loser, they would be playing my package right now and it would take something like an hour. The best thing is that it feels I’ve come to the end of one journey and about to start another and I can’t wait. But because I’ve always been a writer (remember everyone is a writer, if not a published author, not yet anyway) I don’t think my future will be that much different. I would love to be able to have more novels published, but even if I didn’t, I would still write anyway. One day maybe, I hope to write a classic that will survive for a hundred years. I don’t want to write just so I can be famous and an author, I want to add something to the world. I really believe that is the purpose of every writer and if I don’t contribute something hopelessly beautiful and different, then I would have failed.


Thanks, Shirley! Check out Shirley's website to find out more about her (or read this excellent interview!) and remember to check out Fury!
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