On the eve of releasing her second book, Paper Chains, writer Nicola Moriarty talks about her journey to become a published author — and why salted caramel macarons are so important to her creative process.
SheKnows AU: How did you get your start as a writer?
Nicola Moriarty: I grew up loving books. I loved to read, I loved to write and I loved it when my big sister made up stories to entertain me. In school, writing was always my strong point — in art and drama, my best marks were always for the theory component, and in English, my best marks were when we studied creative writing! I’m currently studying a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in writing, it’s heaven for me!
SKAU: How many books have you written?
NM: I’ve published two novels, Free-Falling and Paper Chains and am currently working on my third. I’ve also started several others that were quickly abandoned when I realised that they were in fact terrible.
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SKAU: When did you know you wanted to be a writer/novelist?
NM: In primary school I remember a teacher making a big fuss over a children’s story that I wrote and illustrated. I was so proud that I decided then and there that I was going to write books when I grew up. But it took a long time for me to remember that dream, and I visited several different careers in between then and now. I’m just grateful that I eventually wound my way back to writing!
SKAU: How did you get your literary “big break”?
NM: Coming from a family of writers — two of my sisters are also authors — was definitely a big help. One of my sisters introduced me to her literary agent, who was kind enough to read my first manuscript. That agent then passed me on to another agent who found my publishers for me. I didn’t end up with the same publishers as my sisters though, they’re both with Pan Macmillan while I’m with Random House. Now we fight over the family stories that we want to use in our books!
SKAU: Where do you draw inspiration for your books?
NM: The main plot generally comes from a “what if” style scenario, for example, Free-Falling began with the question, “What if my husband never came home from work one day?” Then I draw a lot from the little stories and anecdotes that I come across throughout life to add as much realism as I can to my books. Paper Chains draws on a lot of my own experiences coping with depression.
SKAU: What is the biggest stumbling block you’ve encountered when writing a book?
NM: Time and motivation. When I’m in the mood to write, or an idea jumps into my head, it’s often at that inconvenient moment when you’re, say, bathing the children, and leaving them to sit down at your computer would be somewhat irresponsible. Besides, when they’re in the bath they’re at their cutest, offering me bubbly cups of tea. But then when the kids are at preschool, I’ll often find myself staring at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to hit… and then I jump into procrastination mode: Social media is evil. Also, lovely. But evil.
SKAU: Outside of writing, what are you passionate about?
NM: Teaching — I used to be a swimming teacher, and I still miss it sometimes, but not the chlorine. Making cupcakes — mainly so that I can eat as much of the mixture as possible before it makes it into the oven. Eating chocolate — I’m pleased to see that Cadbury Crème eggs are already out for Easter.
SKAU: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
NM: Try out lots of different styles and genres. My first attempt at a novel was a thriller, but after 10,000 stilted, sluggish words I realised it simply wasn’t working for me. So I switched genres, and then the writing suddenly began to flow.
Free writing also helps if you’re feeling stuck, for example, don’t think — just start writing, write anything that jumps into your head, it will often get the creative part of your mind to kick back into gear for you.
Whenever possible, take a break and have a cappuccino and a salted caramel macaron. Wait, no don’t, you need to leave all of the salted caramel macarons for me. All of them. Thank you, carry on.