In her latest book, best-selling author Liane Moriarty ponders the question: If you found a letter from your husband to be opened only in the event of their death, would you open it?
Here, the international literary sensation shares her inspiration behind the devilishly suspenseful storylines that readers will ponder well after they’ve turned the last page.
SheKnows AU: How did you get your start as a writer?
Liane Moriarty: About 10 years ago, I got a phone call that would change my life. It was my sister calling to tell me that her young adult novel, Feeling Sorry For Celia, had been accepted for publication. My sister and I had always wanted to be authors. When we were children, our dad would commission us to write novels for him. At the time of my sister’s phone call, I was working as a freelance advertising copywriter, writing everything from websites to TV commercials. Although I occasionally wrote short stories and first chapters of novels that didn’t go any further, I’d let my childhood dream slide.
SK AU: So that phone call from your sister was a bit of a wake-up call?
LM: My sister’s news was the inspiration I needed to get me back to the keyboard! In a fever of sibling rivalry I wrote a children’s book, which was enthusiastically rejected by every publisher in Australia. I calmed down, and two years later, my first novel, Three Wishes, was published around the world.
Talent runs in the family! Q&A with Liane’s younger sister, author Nicola Moriarty >>
SK AU: How many books have you written?
LM: My fifth novel has just gone to print, and I have also written three books for children.
SK AU: What is your latest book, The Husband’s Secret, all about?
LM: It’s about a woman who finds a letter from her husband to be opened in the event of his death. The only problem is that her husband is very much alive. Should she open it? Of course, she does — and the consequences are catastrophic. It’s called The Husband’s Secret.
SK AU: How did you get your literary “big break”?
LM: I guess it was by sending my manuscript to Fiona Inglis at Curtis Brown Australia; she agreed to represent me and sold my first novel, Three Wishes, to Pan Macmillan Australia.
SK AU: Where do you draw inspiration for your books?
LM: From newspaper articles, blogs, television, books I’m reading, overheard conversations in coffee shops, anecdotes from other mothers at school drop-off, family folklore — although I have two sisters who are also writers, so I have to be quick to reserve the best stories. Dreams, things my children say, phone calls from friends, personal experiences — I am always scavenging about for material.
SK AU: What is the biggest stumbling block you’ve encountered when writing a book?
LM: Procrastination. Pretending I really need another cup of tea rather than writing the next tricky paragraph.
SK AU: Outside of writing, what are you passionate about?
LM: Chocolate, reading, DVDs; I’m currently obsessed with Treme, the series set in New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina — I’m thinking of taking up the trombone. Bubble baths — I guess I should really have put my beautiful children and husband at the top of the list, rather than all my self-indulgent pleasures…
SK AU: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
LM: To think of nothing else but the story — not the world of publishing, or what makes a best-seller, or should you self-publish or not, or should it be double-spaced — the answer is yes! — or should you make it more erotic — probably, if you can! Wish I could. Or how will you make sure nobody else steals your ideas; they won’t. Just lose yourself in the pleasure of writing your story. Then edit, edit, edit. Then and only then should you think about all that other stuff.