In con­ver­sa­tion with Liane Mo­ri­arty We chat to the prize-win­ning au­thor

The best­selling au­thor of Big Lit­tle Lies talks to Fanny Blake about be­ing one of five sis­ters, the joy of a spa break – and sur­viv­ing a mi­nor heart at­tack

Woman & Home - - In This Issue… -

Liane, 51, was born in Syd­ney and is the old­est of six chil­dren – she has four sis­ters and a brother. When the youngest was two, their mother be­gan fos­ter­ing chil­dren, so there was al­ways a baby in the house. Liane still lives in Syd­ney with Adam, her part­ner of 14 years, and their two chil­dren Anna, 10, and Ge­orge, eight.

Hav­ing four sis­ters is a great thing.

I feel so lucky that I’m still so close to them. ni­cola, Ja­clyn and I are the writ­ers in the fam­ily, and we’re all quite dif­fer­ent, even though we shared the same typ­i­cal 70s sub­ur­ban child­hood.

My fa­ther was a self-made busi­ness­man who paid us to write.

I think it was a dol­lar for an ex­er­cise book filled with words. He en­cour­aged us in the dis­cov­ery of how won­der­ful it is to be paid for do­ing some­thing you love. That’s ex­actly how I feel to­day.

When i was lit­tle i wanted to be a writer but then i just lost that crazy con­fi­dence you have as a child.

I ended up ac­ci­den­tally fall­ing into ad­ver­tis­ing. my fa­ther al­ways re­mem­bers the line I wrote for a nail pol­ish with a fin­ger point­ing to­wards the bot­tle: “The di­rec­tion to per­fec­tion”.

i got the kick i needed when Ja­clyn told me her first novel, Feel­ing Sorry for Celia, had been ac­cepted for pub­li­ca­tion. I was happy for her but I was also filled with envy and sort of a rage di­rected at my­self be­cause I’d spent all those years with­out even try­ing. That’s when I started writ­ing. My first book, The An­i­mal Olympics, a chil­dren’s book, was re­jected by ev­ery­one. Then I wrote Three Wishes, an adult novel about triplet sis­ters that was ac­cepted for pub­li­ca­tion and sold mod­estly around the world.

The Hus­band’s Se­cret was my break­through novel and Big Lit­tle Lies came next. I got an email from my agent say­ing ni­cole Kid­man was in­ter­ested in op­tion­ing it for TV, so I had cof­fee with her here in Syd­ney. That would have been enough of a thrill in it­self – but for the film­ing to ac­tu­ally go ahead and hap­pen was amaz­ing.

i’ve writ­ten 50,000 words to­wards a se­cond series. It’s not a screen­play or a novel, so it’s an in­ter­est­ing ex­er­cise for me be­cause I didn’t have the strug­gle of get­ting char­ac­ters from room to room, and no beau­ti­ful de­scrip­tions. I thought about turn­ing it into a novel after­wards but be­cause I’ve writ­ten so much, it feels too much like hard work!

i pre­fer to start with a premise but that’s all. With The Hus­band’s Se­cret, I knew what the se­cret was but I didn’t know what the ram­i­fi­ca­tions would be of re­veal­ing it. With Big Lit­tle Lies

I knew some­thing ter­ri­ble would hap­pen on trivia night but I didn’t know who would die or why.

in my new book, Nine Per­fect Strangers, nine men and women come to­gether at a small health re­sort, tran­quil­lum House, look­ing to trans­form their lives. Peo­ple will do the most ridicu­lous things in search of self-im­prove­ment and I wanted to poke fun at that de­sire and show its pit­falls. I still un­der­stand that and sym­pa­thise, and I still wouldn’t mind be­ing trans­formed my­self! So I hope I show both sides.

i did go to one spa for five days of re­search. I loved it. I planned to visit more but I like cof­fee too much. How­ever, I read a lot and I talked to a lot of peo­ple who had been to var­i­ous health re­sorts. Tran­quil­lum House is very dif­fer­ent, although I did take lots of ideas from them, like do­ing tai chi at sun­rise, clients hav­ing pizza de­liv­ered round the back, staff check­ing lug­gage for con­tra­band – that sort of thing.

“It’s won­der­ful to be paid for do­ing some­thing you love”

Health re­sorts of­fer re­lax­ation and a break from your nor­mal life. That can make you feel trans­formed. It’s lovely to have beau­ti­ful creams rubbed on your face and to think that they might be do­ing some­thing. They’re prob­a­bly not, but who cares?

i do try and look after my­self, es­pe­cially since i had a mi­nor heart at­tack five years ago. We were on hol­i­day when I had what I thought was a painful stom­ach virus. Fi­nally I got chest pains and I re­mem­ber think­ing, “Thank good­ness! now we can fi­nally call an am­bu­lance.” I re­cov­ered pretty

quickly but I didn’t trans­form my­self in the way masha, one of my char­ac­ters, does in Nine Per­fect Strangers.

Adam and i met through friends. We had our first child when I was 40 thanks to IVF. I feel very lucky that we’ve had both chil­dren. In my novel, What Alice For­got, I had a char­ac­ter strug­gling with in­fer­til­ity, so I put a lot of my own ex­pe­ri­ence into that.

One of the won­der­ful ben­e­fits of my suc­cess is that Adam has been able to give up his job in the cor­po­rate world to be a stay-at-home dad. He be­came very sup­port­ive of my ca­reer when he learned that mar­ian Keyes bought her hus­band a maserati – but he’s still wait­ing… My favourite thing to do as a fam­ily is bush-walk­ing. We’re all to­gether and the chil­dren talk more when they’re walk­ing with us. There’s a lovely place where we bush-walk up a hill with lots of beau­ti­ful views of the ocean, and we end up at the top at a café where we have scones with jam and cream. That’s my idea of heaven.

i’ve de­cided that next year will be my gap year.

I’d like to take a lit­tle bit more time for the next book. I don’t have a glim­mer of an idea yet but I’m look­ing for­ward to writ­ing it.

nine Per­fect Strangers by Liane Mo­ri­arty (Michael Joseph) is out now.

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