Author Spotlight - Ellie Marney Guest Post

No Limits Rip

I have a playlist on my phone called ‘No Limits Rip’ that is just music I listened to while writing the

Actually, no, it’s not music I listened to while writing, cos generally I don’t do that, I prefer silence so
the words in my head don’t get mixed up with the lyric words in music. But I had songs on a playlist I could repeat that captured the mood of the story or maybe evoked a certain feeling. Occasionally I
got an idea that some song referenced a particular character, so I stuck that in as well.

I generally listen to playlists while driving. During the writing of No Limits I was working night shifts, so spinning these songs in the car on my way to and from work, late at night along lonely country roads, gave me a chance to really sink into a character’s head.

Do I Wanna Know – Arctic Monkeys

This song is referenced in the very first line of the book, which is my favourite line of the book: ‘Blue-and-red lights swirling over a windscreen whiteout, and the siren sounds exactly like the guitar
feedback loop on an Arctic Monkeys track.’ And it does – the guitar feedback during the final strains
of the song actually sounds exactly like a police siren. Have a listen. Speaking of opening lines: quite
often, you don’t get to keep your favourite opening lines (I have been known to excise the first
chapter entirely during book edits). But this one I liked, so I kept it.

The sense of menace and bad karma in this track seemed a good fit for the start of the story. Now
every time I hear this song, it just reminds me of Harris.

Crystal Balling – Jackie Onassis

I listened to a lot – I mean, a lot – of Aussie hip hop during the writing of the book. Some of it made it into the story, too: this song is referenced explicitly when Harris escapes his Dad’s house and makes a painful eight-kay trek on crutches to the Five Flags, the Five Mile pub, where he enters a raucous Friday night ‘blokes at the pub’ scene.

I like the track because it has that very strident Australian language and a Friday-night feel, plus an awesome brass chorus – it’s kind of uplifting but real, if you know what I mean.

Run – Seth Sentry

I fucking love Seth Sentry. Seriously, I think he could be one of the smartest, most genuine hip hop artists out there right now, and I love this song, which is about being a kid growing up in the suburban Australian peninsula town of Frankston. Again with the Australian language, and a great sense of what it’s like being a teenage shithead, which I thought fit Harris pretty well – he’s a shithead, and he’s trying to cut loose, stay a few steps ahead of the cops and everybody else.

A Place Like This – Majid Jordan

A grim and evocative song for a character like Reggie – Recep ‘Fuck off, soccer’s for wogs’  McLeod.

Lots of kids I know of got into drugs pretty early: a local kid whose family I know was already an ice addict at fifteen. People use drugs for all kinds of reasons, but when you’re still a kid you don’t tend to make very considered choices, y’know? And ice is cheap, and available…and it’s all pretty much downhill from there.

I never saw Reggie as just a bit player in No Limits. He’s probably one of the main reasons I wrote the book. I mean, sure, I wrote it for Harris and Amie, to get their stories told. But the stories that occupy the backdrop to the main action are sometimes the pivots on which events turn. Reggie is a character who showed up on the day and just demanded to be written on his own terms. I’d really like to see him play in the local footy league one day – and if he gets his shit together after No Limits, I think it could actually happen.

Resolution – Matt Corby

There’s a lot of turning points in the story, but I think one of them happens on the day Harris buys a car – which becomes the Pitbull – from Nick Partridge. It’s during the conversation with Nick that Harris realises his interest in Amita Blunt is more than just a passing regard. Something is starting to change inside him, something is pushing him towards finding an escape from his current life of desperation, and he recognises it happening. I like the staunchness of this song, and I love Matt Corby’s voice, and the whole resonance of it.

The Ship Song – Nick Cave

‘I put the radio on. It’s the end of an old Nick Cave song, and Harris starts singing along. I’m somehow not surprised to discover his voice is a warm baritone. He smiles while he sings, hair blowing in his face, and he glances at me until I laugh and join in…’ 

Nuff said 😊

Burn the Pages – Sia

I love the fierceness of Sia’s voice, and the sense of her being street-wise but still sensitive to life – I think Amie Blunt shows similar characteristics. Amie spends a lot of time twisting herself into knots trying to please other people, which I guess is her way of holding onto them, and holding onto the past. But Amie’s self-awareness and her sense of responsibility also makes her view the world slightly differently. Which might be one of the reasons why she never views Harris in a blinkered way: she’s open to the idea that people change, that everyone is trying to work out life for themselves. Unlike lots of other people in town, she doesn’t denigrate Harris for his choices or his past, or look down on him. And her high expectations give him something to aspire to. Amie’s natural optimism might come across as naivete if her own life experiences haven’t tempered her, given her some fortitude.

Harris’s voice seemed to come naturally, almost fully formed, but Amie was a tougher nut to crack. I had to work quite hard to get into Amie’s head and understand her voice – I certainly spent more time thinking about Amie, and her life, than I spent thinking about Harris and his. But it was important to do that: I had to put Amie in some hair-raising situations, so I needed to understand how she would react. It didn’t really surprise me to discover that, when she’s put under pressure, Amie’s innate courage and resilience come strongly to the fore.

That’s it. A few other songs made it onto the playlist – Hey Now by London Grammar, Brainbox by Hilltop Hoods, This Is Not the Way Home by The Cruel Sea, Turn Down For What by DJ Snake & Lil John, amongst others – but the ones I already talked about were the important ones.

I hope these notes give you some sense of the inspirations behind the writing of No Limits. People are always asking where the ideas come from: mostly the ideas come from inside my weird brain, but music and art and nature and a whole bunch of things go towards sustaining your energy and maintaining flow during the long slog towards the first-draft finish line.

So now No Limits is out in the world – fly free, little bird! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


No Limits is available to pre-order now, and to purchase on April 14, 2017.

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