Marlee Jane Ward
author of Welcome To Orphancorp
Six Sharp Questions
1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?
I grew up on the Central Coast of New South Wales, went to university in Wollongong and spent a good number of years in Sydney. Now I’m based in Melbourne and I like it best of all the places.
2.What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?
At twelve, a doctor. At eighteen, an actor. At thirty, a writer. Actually, I’ve wanted to be a writer all along – I was just never sure I could make a living from it.
3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?
I didn’t really think much of myself or see a bright future at eighteen, so I’m glad I’ve developed a greater sense of self and belief in my own abilities.
4. What are three works of art – book or painting or piece of music, etc – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced your own development as a writer?
When I was thirteen I read Stephen King’s The Stand and it instilled in me a love of genre fiction and a somewhat disturbing fascination for the end of the world that I’ve never been able to shake.
I’ve always loved artists who blend the physical with the aesthetic – artists like Marina Abramovich and Monika Tichacek who test their bodies physical limits in beautiful, powerful ways.
Music wise – I’m a sucker for girl rock. Artists like Shirley Manson from Garbage, Courtney Love of Hole, Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill and Chrissy Amphlett from The Divinyls have really helped shape me into someone who isn’t afraid to push the limits of femininity and sexuality.
5. Considering the innumerable artistic avenues open to you, why did you choose to write a novel?
Writing is a way to get the worlds I’ve got inside my head to come out. I have such rich worlds in there, and make up characters that feel so real that I have an obligation to write them out, or else they won’t exist.
6. Please tell us about your latest novel…
Welcome to Orphancorp is the story of Miriiyanan Mahoney’s last week in a corporate orphanage. It’s about friendship, loyalty and strength, about power imbalance and the corruption inherit when corporate interests overwhelm human rights. It’s queer-friendly, sex-positive and diverse.
Mostly, it’s a story about someone trying to get through the next hour, day, week, up against a system, up against other people, up against herself.
7. What do you hope people take away with them after reading your work?
I want people to read it and be entertained, to laugh, to see something of themselves in it. Maybe to come away with a bit of hope. A reader’s time is a precious investment, so I want the things I write to be worthy of the time they put in.
8.Whom do you most admire in the realm of writing and why?
More people than I can fit into this space. Stephen King, for making characters I care so much about, think of often, and miss as if they were real friends.
Kij Johnson, for creating such magnificent, evocative short stories – I’d love to be able to create masterful short pieces like hers.
I love Isobelle Carmody’s imagination and her characters that I have grown up with.
9. Many artists set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?
To have people read my stuff and like it. The prospect of that is so exciting for me. I’d love to make at least part of my living writing one day. At heart, I’m a realist, so I’m always modest in my ambitions. That way, I’m never disappointed and often pleasantly surprised.
10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?
Don’t try to be anyone else when you write. Not every piece needs to be a sacred work of glorious genius. Just tell good stories, write the stories you would want to read and never write to the market. Make your own damn market.
Welcome To Orphancorp
Marlee Jane Ward
‘Takes all of your dystopian nightmares and connects them to a mother lode of pure emotional intensity. There’s so much keen detail here about the cruel logic of oppressive institutions, you’ll feel Mirii’s yearning for freedom in your bones – and you’ll rejoice at every tiny moment of escape that she achieves.
Welcome to Orphancorp is harrowing, scarily real, and ultimately super moving.’ – Charlie Jane Anders (i09)
‘Punchy, crunchy, sexy and smart, Welcome to Orphancorp is a short, sharp shock of a story with bruised-but-not-broken … Read more.
About the Contributor
Andrew Cattanach is a regular contributor to The Booktopia Blog. He has been shortlisted for The Age Short Story Prize and was named a finalist for the 2015 Young Bookseller of the Year Award. He enjoys reading, writing and sleeping, though finds it difficult to do them all at once.
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