Good Reading : March 2017
Nicola Moriarty’s surveyor father never liked reading stories to his children. Instead he regaled Nicola and her five older siblings with improvised tales at bedtime. Nicola’s older sisters inherited this duty as they grew older, supplementing their made-up stories with the occasional Enid Blyton novel – ‘The Faraway Tree’ books were favour ites. Later, in high school, Nicola refused to read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, one of the prescr ibed English texts. She claimed it was too upsetting. She decided instead to read the controversial 1979 novel Flowers in the Attic after nicking a copy off the shelves of one of her sisters. Upon finishing, she says, she spent a couple of days in shock. Nicola also took her love for story onto the stage dur ing her school years and beyond. In one memorable drama class, she was set to perform a self-penned monologue about a girl who wakes up in the middle of the night, intent on murdering her parents. The pivotal prop was a large knife. But instead of investing in a fake stage knife, Nicola just grabbed one from her kitchen drawer. The ensuing performance, which involved blood-curdling screams, a CD player blasting Metallica, and fevered brandishing of said knife, brought about the desired effect: the drama teacher was filled with terror. Now, as a mother of two, the author is ensuring that her kids inherit this affinity for storytelling, which isn’t hard when Nicola herself is the main character in one of her daughters’ regular bedtime reads – ‘The Space Brigade’ series by her sister Liane Moriarty. ‘It was based on a story that Liane wrote for my 10th birthday,’ Nicola explains at a shaded Sydney café, where we’ve taken refuge from the midsummer heat. ‘It was a story about a girl who got picked to go into space with aliens and save the world. Liane turned it into a three-book series. We were halfway through the first book one night when my youngest said, “I know you’re going to say no to this, but is this story true?” I had to say I wish it were, but no, I haven’t been to space!’ Nicola and Liane (whose 2016 release Truly Madly Guilty is set to became a film produced by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman) are also sisters to Jaclyn Moriarty, known for her YA novel Feeling Sorry for Celia and more recently her ‘The Colours of Madeleine’ fantasy ser ies. Having two older sisters who work as full-time novelists is excellent for obtaining advice and feedback on early drafts, but it’s not always peachy – sometimes the sisters quarrel over who has ownership of family anecdotes. ‘Sometimes, when the whole family is together, one of us will tell a story from AUTHOR PROFILE 2 Australian novelist NICOLA MORIARTY is the youngest of six siblings, two of whom – Jacyln and Liane – are also accomplished novelists. Her latest novel, The Fifth Letter, examines the relationships of a group of friends after a letter-writing dare uncovers a festering cache of secrets and resentment. ANGUS DALTON reports. GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING MARCH 2017 22 ScribesisterScribesister of secrets and resentment. ANGUS DALTON reports. of secrets and resentment. ANGUS DALTON reports.