Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Front Page - Pho­tog­ra­phy DANIEL NADEL Nine Per­fect Strangers,

iane Mo­ri­arty was driv­ing back from the snow and on the phone to a Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer when she ut­tered a sen­tence she never thought she would say: “I’m writ­ing a char­ac­ter for Meryl Streep.” The au­thor was up­dat­ing the Big Lit­tle Lies team on how the story for the sec­ond sea­son was com­ing along. “Oh Liane,” the pro­ducer on the other end teased. “You’ve be­come so Hol­ly­wood. Listen to you say­ing, ‘Get me Meryl.’” While she laughs at her own au­dac­ity, Mo­ri­arty clearly has chutz­pah – and clout. While writ­ing a char­ac­ter for Streep may have been a fan­ci­ful pipedream cooked up in a mo­ment of whimsy for the 51-year- old Syd­ney au­thor, the leg­endary ac­tor liked the role so much that she did, in­deed, sign on to star in the multi award-win­ning se­ries. Film­ing is now com­plete, but Mo­ri­arty is still in­cred­u­lous – and not

just about Meryl. She was ini­tially re­luc­tant to write a fol­low-up to her best­selling book, but ideas on how to pro­pel the story for­ward kept sneak­ing into her head. “I was talk­ing to my sis­ter and she said I should only do it if it was fun to do, so I came up with the idea of bring­ing in the moth­ers’ moth­ers be­cause they’re so im­por­tant in our lives.”

The first HBO se­ries fea­tured Ni­cole Kid­man, Reese Wither­spoon, Laura Dern and Shai­lene Wood­ley as a group of mums liv­ing in a beach­side sub­urb, but Mo­ri­arty wanted to ex­tend the cast. With Streep in mind for the role of the moth­erin-law to Celeste, who is played by Kid­man, she cheek­ily named the char­ac­ter Mary Louise af­ter dis­cov­er­ing it was Streep’s real name. In the end it was Kid­man who se­cured the cel­e­brated ac­tor for the part. “Ni­cole sent me an email say­ing, ‘Ask and you shall re­ceive,’” Mo­ri­arty says. “It’s all ex­tra­or­di­nary and laugh­ably sur­real.”

Life is about to be­come even more ex­tra­or­di­nary for the au­thor. Her new novel,

While crit­i­cal and com­mer­cial suc­cess bring huge re­wards, they can also bring more pres­sure. Hav­ing had two books de­but in the top spot on The New York Times best­seller list, she’d nat­u­rally like Nine Per­fect Strangers to be as well re­ceived and ad­mits to a sense of fore­bod­ing. But she tries to dis­miss ex­pec­ta­tions – both oth­ers’ and her own. She’ll never for­get car­ry­ing her daugh­ter into a cafe and re­ceiv­ing a mes­sage say­ing The Hus­band’s Se­cret had made it onto the cel­e­brated list.

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