Meet Young Fiction Writer Marlee Jane Ward

The Rosie team chats to acclaimed author of the award winning novel Orphancorp.

Image from Marlee’s website

Firstly congratulations on the publication of your brilliant book Welcome to Orphancorp and on your many literary awards (second place in the 2014 Katherine Susannah Prichard Speculative Fiction Awards, Viva La Novella Prize, Victorian Premiers Literary Award for Young Adult Fiction and I’m sure there’s many more still to come!).

Can you tell us what inspired you to write Welcome to Orphancorp?

The idea came from a throw-away line in another story, but the writing itself was propelled by the desire to make the kind of book I would want to read, and see the kind of characters I’d have liked to see when I was younger.

We love that the protagonist of your book is a strong young woman who isn’t afraid to break the rules and stand up for what she believes in. Were you somewhat of a rebel-with-a-cause growing up?

Actually no, I was terrified of authority and of getting into trouble so I was a reasonably well-behaved child and teenager (reasonably). I’ve become better with age, but I doubt I could ever stick it to the man the way Mirii does. One area I have become braver in is standing up when I see something going down that isn’t fair or right. I’m trying to overcome the bystander effect and negotiate the balance between personal safety and pointing out unacceptable behaviour when I see it.

Marlee at Supanova April 2016 with her award winning novel Orphancorp. Image from

You’ve mentioned on your blog how you love to meet with and talk to other writers. Collaborating with and supporting other women and feminists is something we’re really passionate about at Rosie. Can you tell us about some awe-inspiring female writers we should know about?

Oh, oh. I love so many amazing female writers: Margo Lanagan, Amie Kaufman, Justine Larbalestier, Monica Byrne, Nicola Griffith, Charlie Jane Anders, Ann Leckie, Laurie Penny, Kate Tempest, Alyssa Wong, Brooke Bolander, Kij Johnson, Karen Joy Fowler, Cat Sparks, Isobelle Carmody. The women in the writing game are a bunch of stone cold goddesses. There’s so much exciting stuff out there and every single one that I’ve met has been so rad and kind.

We look forward to reading more of your writing in the future – can we expect more kick-arse female characters?

At the moment I’m just finishing up the sequel to Orphancorp. It’s less about Orphancorp and more about Mirii and her further adventures – going out into the world and getting by on her own, while trying to find her friend. I tend to skew more towards writing female characters. I love thinking up bad-ass ladies. All my short stories have female leads. I’m planning a novel for adults with an ensemble cast of female characters, and a new YA series to start when I finish the Mirii Mahoney trilogy.

What advice would you give to all the aspiring writers out there?

Just write. It takes a long time to get better, so write now. Even if you think the story is silly or not worth telling, just write it anyway, as practice. The next one will be better, and the one after that. Write the kind of stuff you’d like to read, because you’re going to tell it best. Writing to a market sucks the fun out of things. Write what you like and make your own market.

Marlee receiving the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. Image from

Maddy Crehan

Maddy regularly writes for Rosie, and is passionate about music, history, art and gender equality.

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