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A Conversation with Liane Moriarty

A Conversation with Liane Moriarty

I am so excited to welcome Liane Moriarty to my Conversation series! As many of you know, we are friends, colleagues, co-anchors of Book Chat along with Ber Carroll, and the three of us appear regularly together at events. Since the success of THE HUSBAND’S SECRET, and now BIG LITTLE LIES, Liane’s star has risen to a whole other stratosphere from us mere mortal mid-listers, but she’s still the same girl at heart – warm, natural and self-deprecating, and I couldn’t wait to introduce you to her, here on my blog.

 We started our conversation back when BIG LITTLE LIES was released, but writers are real people too, and in Liane’s case, have small children and go away for the school holidays! At that time, BIG LITTLE LIES had debuted at Number 1 in the New York Times Bestseller List, after the phenomenal ongoing success of THE HUSBAND’S SECRET, which was still on the list after a year! So I asked Liane … 

How does it feel to have not just one book in the NYT Bestseller List, but two!?

Thank you so much for dropping that into the conversation, Di! It feels wonderful and surreal, almost like a practical joke. I emailed my publisher in the US and asked if someone could please send me an actual real copy of the New York Times because I don’t think I will believe it until I can actually hold the newspaper in my hands. Then I’ll be able to keep it for my grandchildren. (Although knowing me I’ll probably lose it.)

I can imagine that it feels very surreal! Such an amazing accomplishment – from what I understand it’s incredibly rare for any author to have 2 books in the list at the same time, let alone an Australian. Do you think this puts paid to the idea that Americans won’t read or understand books set in Australia? Have you had to make any substantial adjustments to your stories for the American market?

I actually just this moment got an email from the US that began, ‘Holy Crap!’ with the news that the paperback edition of WHAT ALICE FORGOT has made it on to the bestseller list, so apparently an Australian author now has three books on the New York Times bestseller list!  All three books are set in Australia, so yes, I think American readers are OK with an Australian setting. I haven’t made any substantial adjustments. We always leave in Australian colloquialisms, slang etc. if they make sense in context.

The only thing that has sometimes created confusion is the change in seasons.

Until I put a note on my website, I was receiving many emails from US readers of THE HUSBAND’S SECRET gently pointing out that Easter takes place in the spring, not the autumn.

Well, that’s adorable. And even more congratulations are in order! 3 books in the NY Times bestseller list, PLUS the film rights sold to Nicole Kidman and Reece Witherspoon!! I’ve heard that Nicole wants to play the part of Celeste, do you know which character Reece intends to play? (I’m calling them by their first names, because they’re obviously friends of mine now too, by virtue of the six degrees of separation rule.) And just for a bit of fun, do you have a wishlist of actors to fill the other roles?

 I am guessing that Reese maybe wants to play Madeline, but I don’t actually have any idea. I think both she and Nicole would be amazing as Celeste and Madeline. It would truly be a dream come true to see them playing my characters.

In regard to the other characters, a friend suggested Hugh Jackman for Perry, and I agree he’d be perfect. I also think Matt Damon is perfect for any role he would like. Any role at all. He probably likes to work with his old Oceans 11 friends, so we might need to make room for George, Brad etc. I’m happy to do a rewrite of the book if necessary. You can see that I start behaving like a fifteen year old whenever this subject comes up. 

I think it would only be fair to make room for George and Brad, and I’m more than happy to help out with casting. In fact, I’d be prepared to take it off your hands altogether, Liane. If you could just organise to get their contact details for me, I’ll take it from there. Really, it’s no trouble … Who’s behaving like a fifteen year old now? But seriously, I reckon Matt Damon could totally play Ed, Madeline’s husband – he has that air of decency about him. Though I was picturing maybe Paul Rudd, who could nail Ed’s sense of humour and deadpan delivery. His one-liner comebacks at Madeline are hilarious. In fact, their whole relationship crackles with life, it was one of my favourite things about BIG LITTLE LIES. What did you enjoy about writing the book, and were there any parts you found more difficult?

I really enjoyed writing the interview snippets from the parents who were at the Trivia Night – my ‘suburban Greek chorus’. They were mostly minor characters, who were there to help build a picture of the main characters, and to give different perspectives on the events of the night, and some were purely for satirical/comedy purposes, so it meant I could have lots of fun with them. I also loved the setting, as I don’t actually live in an idyllic seaside community so it was lovely to sit down at the computer each day and feel like I was heading off to the beach. There were some panicky moments when I was writing Big Little Lies. I’m not a planner, so I never know how my books are going to end or how my plot is going to come together. It’s always such a relief when I’m about two thirds of the way through by which point I’ve worked out my ending, I’ve got to know my characters and they’re all behaving themselves (or misbehaving) and the writing just flows. I wish I could jump ahead to that point with my next novel. (I’m currently at the panicky point!) 

Oh no! Then I best not keep you any longer! Except to say that I laugh-out-loud loved the Greek chorus too, and I still can’t get over how you can pull together such intricate plots and bring it all to such a satisfying conclusion. You’re a wonder.

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