This month I have the pleasure of hosting Nicola Moriarty. Author of the wonderful The Fifth Letter which is also my recommended holiday read for 2017, and sister to authors Lianne and Jaclyn Moriarty. She is also author of three other novels; Captivation, Paper Chains and Free-Falling. You can read my review of The Fifth Letter here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/12/24/the-fifth-letter-by-nicola-moriarty-review/
So without further ado, let’s begin the interview, What was your background and how did you get into writing?
My background includes everything from swimming teacher to door-to-door sales person to advertising, marketing, waitressing, amateur theatre and everything in-between! But I grew up with a love of both reading and writing and my dream when I was in primary school was to become an author and illustrator of children’s books. I let go of that dream after realising I had none of the artistic talent required to illustrate books! Later on in life though, I completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Major in Writing and around that same time I started working on my first novel.
What are your ambitions for your writing?
I want to allow people to escape from the real world when they read my books, just for a little while. And then I want them to be left with that feel-good glow, even if it’s only for the rest of the day after they finish reading. Finally, I want them to be hungry for more words – and not necessarily just my words!
That sounds like something you’ve experienced yourself when reading! Which writers inspire you?
In no particular order (and by no means an exhaustive list!): Marian Keyes, Neil Gaiman, Enid Blyton, Wendy James, Roald Dahl, Diana Wynne Jones, Caroline Overington, Nick Hornby, Melanie La’Brooy, Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty.
Where did the idea come from for The Fifth Letter? It’s a very different take on the ‘usual’ sort of friendship novels. Did writing it involve much research?
I have a great group of friends that have been with me since high school (we’ve been in each other’s lives for more than 20 years now!) Obviously our friendships have had their ups and downs, but despite this, we’re all still very close and we have girls’ holidays away together every now and then. These holidays often result in lots of drinking and chatting way into the night and during these late night, wine-fueled conversations, all sorts of revelations from our past often come up. Sometimes we do argue or get frustrated with one another, but usually, we can move past any disagreements.
I found myself wondering what would happen if something really serious, something really dark or sinister come up in one of these chats with my friends? What if it turned out that they were hiding secrets? That I didn’t actually know them as well as I thought I did?
At the same time, I already had this completely random idea at the back of my mind of a group of friends swapping anonymous letters. I think originally I was actually envisioning a group of high school students doing it on a dare or as a bit of fun. The two ideas sort of merged together and from there, the story of a group of long-term female friends sharing secrets in anonymous letters was formed.
I liked the concept of the feeling of helplessness you might feel if you read something heartbreaking in a letter and knew that one of your friends was hurting but you couldn’t help them because you didn’t know which friend it was.
The story didn’t require a great deal of research, but I did have to find out a bit about certain infertility issues, plus I learned a little about abseiling and I asked the advice of some friends who are nurses to help determine the possible outcomes of a certain injury.
Are you working on anything new at the moment?
Yes, I’m working on my next novel, which is about parenting in general plus the divide between working mums, stay at home mums and women without children. It’s also about the judgement between parents and about the sometimes toxic influence of social media groups on women… and that’s all I can say at this stage without giving too much away!
That sounds really interesting and I know I’ll definitely be giving it a read once it’s published! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc.
I mostly write on my laptop but I like to keep a little notepad and a pen on hand so I can jot down ideas that sometimes pop into my head. Pen and paper also sometimes comes in handy to do some timeline / plotting or character planning notes.
Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write?
I did attempt to write a murder mystery / thriller once – but I made it far too complicated and I gave up after only 10,000 words. I’d love to write fantasy or adventure novels, but I’m not sure if I could pull it off!
There’s so many great books out there it is hard to pick and stick to a genre! How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes?
Usually, at the start of a new novel, I just write when I can and when I’m feeling particularly creative. Then once I get into it (and especially once I’m getting closer to my next deadline), then I do often set myself word limits that I want to reach (either daily or weekly) to help me stay on track. Usually 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 something like The Submarines or Group Love or Little Birdy.
What sort of publishing route did you choose and why?
I sent my first manuscript off to a literary agent, who also represented my sister, Jaci. She was kind enough to pass it on to another agent – in order to avoid any conflict of interest. That agent then brokered my first book deal with Random House and she has represented me ever since. I’ve since moved on to HarperCollins here in Australia and the US and I’m with Penguin in the UK. The main reason for taking the traditional publishing route was simply because I wanted to give that a go first and I was lucky enough that it worked out for me. But I guess if that first agent hadn’t been interested I would have had a crack at the self-publishing path!
If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why?
The Enchanted Wood by Enid Blyton. It’s just such a wonderfully magical book that I adored as a child and I’d love to have that entire world inside my head!
That’s my absolute favourite Enid Blyton I loved that book as a child and still do to this day! What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews?
Good reviews are THE BEST! To be honest, I don’t know how much a review would really influence a book’s success, all I know is that a good review about one of my own books can make my day and inspire me to write and cause my heart to sing! Bad reviews are something that I’m getting used to. I accept that they have to exist because it would be a boring world if everyone had the same opinion, but they can still cause your heart to hurt. Then again, sometimes they do push me to work harder!
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me Nicola and all the best for your writing in the future!
If you want to see more from Nicola you can check out her social media pages and websites below:
Facebook (author page not personal): https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMoriartyAuthor/