Curley, Marianne 1959–
Curley, Marianne 1959–
PERSONAL: Born May 20, 1959, in Windsor, New South Wales, Australia; daughter of Joseph Michael (a caretaker) and Mary Violet (a dressmaker) Mizzi; married John Joseph Curley (a horticulturist); children: Amanda, Danielle, Christopher. Education: Blacktown Secretarial College, Day Secretarial Certificate, 1975; Coffs Harbour TAFE College, certificate in word processing, 1991, basic methods of instruction course, 1992; Sydney Open College, typewriting and advanced shorthand teaching certificates, 1991. Religion: Roman Catholic.
CAREER: Novelist and educator. Electricity Commission of New South Wales, New South Wales, Australia, senior legal stenographer, 1976–81; Benchmark Frames and Trusses, secretary/receptionist, 1991; Skillshare Coffs Harbour, part-time trainer, 1992; part-time teacher, 1992–96; word processing operator, 1997; private computer instructor, 1997.
MEMBER: Australian Society of Authors, Federation of Australian Writers, New South Wales Writers' Centre.
Old Magic (novel), Bloomsbury Children's Books (London, England), 2000.
"GUARDIANS OF TIME" NOVEL TRILOGY
The Named, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2002.
The Dark, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Key, Bloomsbury Children's Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Author's works have been translated into other languages, including Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, and German.
SIDELIGHTS: A former teacher and secretary, Australian novelist Marianne Curley is the author of Old Magic as well as of three novels in her "Guardians of Time" series: The Named, The Dark, and The Key. A high schooler discovers he has paranormal abilities in Old Magic, a promising first novel that School Library Journal critic Molly S. Kinney praised for its well-researched plot while deeming Curley "definitely an author to watch." Combining action, suspense, and intriguing characters, the "Guardians of Time" books focus on an Australian teen whose ability to alter history may change forces that threaten present-day Earth.
In The Named sixteen-year-old Ethan Roberts learns that he is one of nine individuals collectively known as the Named. Part of the Guard, a group led by the immortal Lorian, Ethan and his fellow Named battle the forces of Chaos marshaled by Lorian's sister, the evil Lathenia. Lathenia's goal is to gain ultimate power by altering the present; her method is to both control and disrupt world history. Despite his status, Ethan is no superhero; he is a normal Australian high-school student. When he makes a new friend in fellow high-schooler Isabel Becket, the teen soon finds more to distract him from his studies than his ability to travel through time: a romantic crush blooms as Ethan decides to train his new friend in the ways of the Named. Featuring a trip back to Arthurian Briton, The Named was praised by Booklist contributor Shelle Rosenfeld for its "intriguing, well-integrated themes." The critic adding that Curley's first-person narration introduces teen characters who are "lively and personable." The Named features an "appealingly witchy atmosphere combined with breathlessly over-the-top narration," according to a Publishers Weekly contributor, and a Kirkus Reviews writer noted that "swashbuckling time-travel plus soap-opera relationships make for a page-turning start to a promised trilogy" by Curley.
As The Dark opens, continuing the "Guardians of Time" saga, the Order of Chaos is defeating the Guardians and their leader Lorian. As the evil-doers alter history, the present begins to change in subtle ways, changes noticed by both Ethan and Isabel. Joined by Isabel's brother Matt, the teens brave an unsanctioned trip back through ancient Rome and into a threatening underworld in order to save the immortal Arkarian, the teens' 600-year-old mentor and one of the few able to battle the evil Order. Praising the book's "swash-buckling action" and "lively, believable characters," Booklist contributor Ed Sullivan dubbed The Dark an "imaginative, sus-penseful" fantasy, although a Kirkus Reviews writer described the novel as somewhat "heavy on the melodrama."
The battle between good and evil concludes in The Key, as Lathenia and the Order of Chaos initiate the final, brutal attack they hope will bring about the end of the Named and gain them total control. Now Ethan, Isabel, and the other Named begin a desperate search for a key known to unlock a store of powerful weapons, not realizing that a spy for the Order is following their every move. In a subplot, Captain Cook's mid-eighteenth-century voyage to discover the Australian continent is rescued by the time travelers. In Booklist, Rosenfeld described The Key as an "engrossing, if not dense, read" featuring "detailed descriptions of a dizzying array of magic devices, events, time periods, and settings."
Curley once commented: "Writing is an extension of my love for reading. When I first started writing, I was surprised at how natural it felt. My first attempt was a romance novel (for adults). And even though it was terrible, I knew writing was what I wanted to do with my life from that moment on. So I worked at learning the craft. I took several writing courses and for a long time struggled to find my 'voice.' I started writing young adult literature after a conversation with my daughters, aged thirteen and fourteen, at the dinner table one night. Both avid readers, they were complaining about not having enough good books to read and urged me to write something for their age group. I tossed around an idea I'd been thinking about and they encouraged me to write it.
"It took many attempts (and many rejections) before my writing was of a publishable standard. While learning to write I taught office studies and computers at the Coffs Harbour TAFE College. I gave myself five years to make a go of my writing, and during my fourth year my first book, Old Magic, a young adult fantasy, was sold to a UK publisher, Bloomsbury Children's Books."
"Writing for young adults is very satisfying," Curley more recently added. "My primary objective is to create a story that will sweep the reader away, to give them time out from everyday life, with all its difficulties, even if it is only for a few hours. To accomplish this, the story needs to be fast-paced, with characters so real they could be the girl or boy next door.
"I do my writing on a computer, typing straight to the screen. It helps having previous typing skills—eighty odd words a minute—so when I'm on a roll, I can type anything up to four or five thousand words a day. Of course this is rare! I would probably manage to average two thousand words a day on the first draft. It's this first draft, which I call the 'skeleton': that is the bones to the story. It takes about six weeks to complete, then I go back and re-write it all over again, fleshing in the characters now that I know them better.
"The best advice I can give an aspiring writer is to persist and keep working at improving your craft. It helps to be attuned to the market, having a sense of what is going to be popular in the future. Otherwise keep trying and don't be afraid to put your work out there with publishers you might have never thought of, as long as they deal in your kind of literature. To me, success came only after my agent decided to try a market outside my homeland Australia."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2002, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of The Named, p. 590; October 1, 2003, Ed Sullivan, review of The Dark, p. 310; May 15, 2005, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of The Key, p. 1651.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, April, 2002, review of Old Magic, p. 276.
Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2002, review of The Named, p. 1466; October 1, 2003, review of The Dark, p. 1222.
Publishers Weekly, February 4, 2002, review of Old Magic, p. 77; September 16, 2002, review of The Named, p. 69.
School Library Journal, May, 2002, Molly S. Kinney, review of Old Magic, p. 148; January, 2003, Steven Engelfried, review of The Named, p. 134; January, 2004, Susan L. Rogers, review of The Key, p. 1651.
Times Educational Supplement, February 2, 2001, Fergus Crow, review of Old Magic, p. 20.
Voice of Youth Advocates, August, 2002, review of Old Magic, p. 187; February, 2003, review of The Named, p. 486; April, 2005, Michael Levy, review of The Key, p. 54.
Marianne Curley Home Page, http://www.mariannecurley.com (December 19, 2006).