The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

Interview: Marnie Riches

Marnie Riches is the author of the new thriller ‘The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die’. Pegged as a “home-grown Steig Larsson,” I chatted with Marnie about her new book and the life of an author

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The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is the first book in a trilogy focused around Georgina McKenzie, a criminologist who is asked by the police to help find the killer after a bomb explodes at the University of Amsterdam.

Marnie grew up in Manchester. After gaining a degree in German and Dutch at Cambridge, she got into writing for children but now is a crime and contemporary women’s fiction author. I talked with Marnie about her new book and her life as an author.

Initially, I asked Marnie why she decided to write such a thriller. Citing her love of crime fiction spanning 20 years and seeing The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris as a catalyst, she said that writing crime thrillers was always an aspiration of hers. Starting off as a children’s author, Marnie read Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy and came across the main heroine, Lisbeth Salander. Being inspired by this character, Marnie realised that she wanted to move towards writing more about crime and to create a heroine that was just as inspiring as Salander as the character was not appearing in any more books due to Larsson’s death. “Her name is George McKenzie and she is The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die.”

I asked her about her life in Manchester and how much it has influenced her work. She stated that growing up on a rough estate in north Manchester exposed her to a lot of real life crime and many of the things that happened to one of the characters in her book, Ella, happened to her as a teenager.

“My mother and I were terrorised in our council house by feral kids on the prowl at night. We were always poor. It was always a struggle. The streets of cities have a complex subtext of violence, corruption and heartbreak, lurking beneath the grime.”

And that’s were her inspiration came from. Spending some time in South East London also gave her a lot more experience of the criminal world. Spending years in Cambridge as a student inspired Marnie take her interest of crime and put it into the academic world.

There are always people who are trying to get their work published. I asked Marnie what advice she would give to aspiring authors.

“Read widely. Aspire to write like your idols. Observe the world around you, ruminating on the things that are just hidden from view and listening to the things that are not said. Therein lies the intrigue of life.”

The next thing she said was to just write as much as you can.

“Write shit, with the intention of it being a work of genius. Throw your heart and soul into it, but know it is probably utter bollocks in the beginning. Practice makes perfect. Get really good. Then, feel the fear and submit it anyway. If you never submit your writing to an agent or publisher, you can be damned sure you will never get published.”

She says that rejection is part of life and in order to be successful, you just have to get back up when you’re shot down.

“Dare to be heard. Dare to be read. Dare to fail.”

The new age of technology has people worrying that reading is dying out. I was interested to ask Marnie her thoughts on this.

She says this is not the case. In fact, the publishing industry has never been in a better way. With new media of reading such as e-readers, smartphones and the Internet, “the book industry has evolved to meet the thirst for new technology, but at its heart lies great writing.

“People will always need stories… there is a book out there for everyone.”

The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is a book concerned with more than just a bomb explosion. I asked Marnie about her thoughts on conspiracy theories. She states that she’s not really a fan of those involving aliens or terror plots that turn out to be government propaganda. What she is really interested in is international crime and the corruption of individuals and the government.

“I’m interested in racial and sexual politics—themes that run through all three of my George McKenzie thrillers. The way news is portrayed by the media fascinates me. Everyone has their own agenda. Western newspapers will present a story one way. Journalists in the East will have a completely different take. The US media often ignore all that goes on in the rest of the world in a blinkered, disconnected fashion.

“Everything, including history, is open to alternative interpretations, and that, for a writer, is fascinating. Or perhaps being a Mancunian has turned me into a nosey, cynical old bag with the love of a good, twisty yarn and a dirty joke!”

Marnie Riches has been described as a “home-grown Steig Larsson” and is a name to watch out for. The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is available for purchase online as an e-Book.