May 2009

Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty has just released her third novel What Alice Forgot about a woman who lost a decade of memories. She lives in Sydney with her husband and son.

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  1. What inspired your latest novel, What Alice Forgot?

    I read a newspaper article about a woman in the UK who had lost her memory and thought she was a teenage girl. She didn't recognise her husband or children, and she was like a sulky teenager. Her children were upset because she didn't want to cook dinner. I became fascinated with the idea of how your memory is the basis of your identity. I think I was also influenced by the movie, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It's about an unusual business offering a service that wipes memories of a bad relationship from your mind.

  2. Did you do much research into amnesia?

    I bought a whole lot of expensive books about the science of memory and wasted hours confusing myself.

  3. What part of your past 10 years would you most not want to forget? And anything you wish you could?

    I wouldn't want to forget so many lovely memories like meeting my husband, or my baby's first smile, or the delirious expression on his face when he ate chocolate for the first time, or my first Mother's Day morning. Then again, I don't want to forget the bad times of the past 10 years, because they make the happy times all the sweeter. I guess it would be quite nice to forget all the times I've said or done things that make me cringe.

  4. Where did the idea of the blogging grandma come from?

    I have recently developed an unhealthy obsession with reading blogs from all around the world. They're like true-life soap operas. So when I was thinking of how I would write the scenes from the grandmother's perspective, I thought, 'I know, I'll give her a blog'.

  5. How far into the writing process did you know how Alice's life was going to turn out in the epilogue?

    Not until I'd almost got there. I don't plan my novels at all, which makes the process exciting, although also a little terrifying. Each time I start a new novel, I think, 'This time I'm going to do a systematic chapter-by-chapter plan' but then I get bored and think, 'Oh, why don't I just start writing it and see what happens'.

  6. How did you go from advertising copywriter to published author?

    I was working as a freelance copywriter and that gave me the flexibility to do a Masters degree in creative writing. As part of the degree you're required to write a 30,000 word manuscript. I was so excited to be finally writing (after years of giving up after the first chapter) that I wrote 100,000 words. A few months after I graduated from the course, Three Wishes was accepted for publication by Pan Macmillan.

  7. Which of the three triplets from Three Wishes - Lyn, Cat or Gemma - do you most identify with?

    I think I identify mostly with Cat. I'm not as organised as Lyn, or as dreamy as Gemma. I recently found a reader on the Internet who said that Cat was a 'glass is half full sort of person.' She is not! Look at all the things I put that poor character through! Gosh, people are tough.

  8. And what inspired the famous fork in the stomach scene?

    I don't really know. I had written a short story about a woman throwing a fondue fork in a restaurant after she realises she's having dinner with a man who raped her as a teenager, and so I used that idea again. I'm sort of horrified at myself for thinking of it.

  9. How does being Australian influence your characters?

    I've never lived anywhere else but Australia, and I always set my books in Sydney (except for my intergalactic adventures for children), so I think my writing and my characters automatically and quite involuntarily have an Australian flavour. I don't know another way to be.

  10. And have you had any problems with your novels translating for the foreign market?

    Not really. Sometimes my editors asked me to change words and phrases they don't recognise. However if they make sense in context I always ask if they can be left, so the books still keep their Aussie feel. It doesn't hurt the rest of the world to learn that we call a 'water fountain' a 'bubbler'!

  11. Was there a real-life story that inspired your Munro Baby mystery in The Last Anniversary?

    In a roundabout way it was inspired by the mystery of the Mary Celeste - the abandoned ship found in the late 19th century. I was always fascinated by that story.

  12. How did growing up in a big family help your writing?

    It helped in that I had younger sisters and a brother who were always happy to listen to the stories I made up. Both my younger sister (Jaclyn Moriarty) and I were avid writers as children. When we grew up, Jaci was the first to be published when she wrote Feeling Sorry for Celia, so it was thanks to her inspiration that I finally finished my first novel.

  13. You are known for your quirky characters. What five words best describe you?

    I find it really difficult to answer these questions, so I outsourced and asked five people in my life how they would describe me: Mum: Lovely; Dad: Supercalafragilisticexpealadocious!; Husband: Bossy; Sister: Funny; Son: Mummummummum; Friend: Neurotic

  14. Do you ever daydream about what happens to your characters after you've finished the story?

    Yes. How did you know?

  15. What are you working on now?

    Late last night I just finished the editing of my third children's book, The Wicked War on the Planet of Whimsy. (It's part of the Space Brigade series.) Now I'm doing fun things like my tax, and going to Medicare. Soon I will start on that detailed chapter-by-chapter plan for my next novel.

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