Nicola Moriarty has been a popular novelist in the first two years of the AWW Challenge with more than 14 reviews of her novels Paper Chains, Captivation and Free-Falling.
Paper Chains is a heart-warming story of family, friendship and forgiveness – and the crazy twists of fate that shape our lives. Hannah and India are new best friends. Hannah is running from her life back in Sydney. Now in London, she’s trying to put the past behind her, if only she could stop punishing herself for what she did. India knows Hannah is hiding something big, and she’s determined to figure it out. Because India has a secret of her own… one that is currently sealed in a love letter that’s making its journey across Europe. Before it reaches its destination, can India help Hannah learn to forgive herself? And will Hannah wake up and realise that India needs rescuing too?
Nicola Moriarty is a writer, student and mum to two small (but remarkably strong willed) daughters. Her writing was once referred to as ‘inept’ by The Melbourne Age. Luckily on that same day The Brisbane Courier Mail called her work ‘accomplished, edgy and real.’ She has been fueled by a desire to prove The Age wrong ever since. She has now published two novels and one novella with Random House Australia and has written for the websites Mamamia.com and iVillage Australia. She blogs regularly on her website. I interviewed Nicola about the influence of her writing siblings and the difficulties of overcoming writer’s block, as well as her favourite books from the AWW Challenge.
Did you grow up in a bookish house? What was your early relationship with books? I think my house was pretty bookish – definitely my elder sisters were big readers. I can remember my sister Kati teaching me to read by reading The Enchanted Forest to me, she would get me to (very slowly) read one page out loud, and then my reward was her reading the rest of the chapter out to me! I also remember taking Flowers in the Attic from one of my sister’s book shelves to read when I’m sure I was far too young for that book! I think I was fairly traumatised by the story.
When did you begin writing in a serious way, and what motivated that? I started writing more seriously in my mid-20s and it was definitely my sisters’ success that motivated me. Seeing both Liane and Jaci get published made the possibility so much more real for me and much less of an unobtainable, crazy dream. I’d always loved to write, but I don’t think being published had occurred to me until I saw it happen to them!
How did your debut novel Free-Falling come to be published? After getting about fifteen friends and family members to read it and reassure me that it was good enough, I finally sent it off to a literary agent (at Curtis Brown). She passed it on to one of her colleagues, who agreed to represent me and then sent it out to about 9 publishers. I got back 8 rejections, but luckily I only needed that one yes!
What research did you have to do for Paper Chains and how did you go about it? Much of Paper Chains is based around post-natal depression. As this is something I’ve suffered from myself, a lot of the book draws from personal experiences. However there was some medical information I needed, and for that I spoke with a few friends who are nurses, they were very patient with my incessant questions and gave me a lot of valuable advice and assistance.
Have you had any surprising or unusual reader responses to Paper Chains? I’ve had some lovely feedback from readers who identified with Hannah, in particular, there was one review (from the very wonderful Inkcrush blog) that talked about feeling liberated from having read Paper Chains, “from things (she) didn’t even realise she was holding onto… secret thoughts and pressures. Doubts and expectations…” This was definitely unexpected, I had never imagined that anyone would be affected in this way from my writing and it made me feel as though whatever happens now with my writing career, even if I never sell another book, I’ve achieved something to be proud of.
What are your writing habits? At the moment, my writing habits are DISGRACFUL! I think perhaps I’ve hit a spot of writer’s block… maybe because right now I have about 4 different book ideas and I can’t decide which one to work on first! However, usually, if things are going well, I set myself word limits that I want to reach (either daily or weekly), and I find I have to leave the house to work – so I either go to a café or work in the office with my husband (we run a design business together). I also usually need music to write, preferably The Submarines or Group Love or Little Birdy!
What do you do when you feel creatively stuck? Well, as you now know from my last answer, I happen to be a bit stuck right now, so I should probably pay attention to how I answer this question and actually put it into practice! I either do some free writing, to try and get myself to relax and stop over-thinking things, or, I eat some chocolate (okay, that’s just an excuse to eat chocolate), or change my environment, go outside, write in the sunshine… or just stop for a bit – leave it until I’m really in the right frame of mind.
What are you working on now? Good question! But I think I’m going to be working on a novel length version of a short story that I wrote for the Sunlounger anthology earlier this year (that’s one of the 4 book ideas I currently have and I’m pretty sure that’s the one I’m not leaning towards working on first). It’s called ‘The Red Glove’ and it’s about a single mum called Penny who lives in outback NSW and sometimes has prophetic dreams…
What’s your favourite book by an Australian female author? I’m going to have to choose two:
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty
I love all of my sisters’ books, but these are two of my favourites!
Your turn: Have you read Nicola’s books? Which has been your favourite?
This interview is part of a series with authors of popular books in the AWW challenge. You might enjoy reading these other interviews:
Annabel Smith is the author of Whisky Charlie Foxtrot, and A New Map of the Universe, which was shortlisted for the WA Premier’s Book Awards. She has had short fiction and commentary published in Westerly and Southerly and holds a PhD in Writing from Edith Cowan University.