Every month, we’ll be giving you the opportunity to interview a favourite author in our newsletter by asking for your questions via Twitter. This month, in the first installment of Twitterview, you quizzed bestselling author of The Husband’s Secret, Liane Moriarty.
At the heart of The Husband's Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read.
‘My darling Cecilia, if you're reading this, then I've died...’
Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret-something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive…
So begins The Husband’s Secret.
It’s an honour to hear from you, Jill! I do remember saying to my sister that I thought I was writing either my best or worst book. Funnily enough I’ve noticed that some Amazon reviewers say it’s my best, and others are equally adamant that it’s my worst. So I still don’t know. (Some readers are disappointed that I took a darker turn than my previous books. One man wrote and said, “You used to be so funny! I hope you perk up soon.” Which I have to admit did make me laugh.)
Honestly, no, because I knew who they were, and how they were connected. For some reason I find it easier to swap from character to character (which makes some readers cranky with me). It’s my goal to one day write a book from only ONE character’s point of view, because I do understand, as a reader, that you become fond of a character and you want to stay in their story.
@pauladalyauthor asked: What do you like to read? Who are your favourite authors?
I LOVE to read. My worst fear is being stuck waiting somewhere without a book. I have a book on my lap in car-line at school pick-up. I sometimes sit on the kitchen floor to read when I’m in the middle of cooking dinner. (I burn things a lot.) My favourite authors include Anne Tyler, Maggie O’Farrell, Kate Atkinson, Anna Quindlen, Sophie Hannah, Elinor Lipman, Margaret Drabble, Penelope Lively, Joanna Trollope, Ber Carroll, Emily Giffen, Dianne Blacklock, Anne Lammott, Patrick Gale, Karen Joy Fowler, Elizabeth Berg, Barbara Trapido, Jaclyn Moriarty (sister!), Nicola Moriarty (another sister!) – I could go on and on. (I probably should try to read some more male authors, shouldn’t I?)
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind The Husband’s Secret?
Two years ago I stumbled upon a fascinating article about real life deathbed confessions. I learned about Christian Spurling, who confessed on his deathbed to faking a notorious photo of the Loch Ness Monster. There was a famous songwriter who was dying of cancer and wrote a letter admitting, after years of adamant denials, that she had plagiarized a lullaby melody. Then there was the hapless man who, after suffering a stroke, confessed he’d killed his neighbour thirty years earlier. The only problem was that he didn’t end up dying. After he was released from hospital he went straight to jail. The article, particularly the story of the man who didn’t die, got me thinking. I was intrigued by that overwhelming desire to share your darkest secret. That’s when I came up with the idea of a man who feels such a powerful desire to share a secret that he sits down and writes a letter to his wife, to be opened in the event of his death. It’s a deathbed confession, except he’s not dead.
Would you have opened the letter?
Absolutely. My desire to know would outweigh any ethical considerations. It has been fun doing author talks and asking the audience whether they’d open it. I normally hear a chorus of ‘Absolutely!’ My husband says that he is well aware of this, and that’s why he’d never be so foolish as to write such a letter. He, on the other hand, would not open such a letter. I’m not sure if that makes him morally superior or just not as interested in what I have to say. Obviously in my case Cecilia had to open the letter, because otherwise it would have been a very short book.
Did your own imagined reaction to the scenario have any effect on the characters’ actions in the book?
I guess I probably always do think to myself, How would I react to this? And then I think, OK, that’s me, but how would this particular character react?
CBS Films recently acquired the movie rights to the book. What actors and actresses could you see playing your characters?
I’m afraid I come over all giggly and star-struck when people ask me this question, but I will do my best. Let’s see. I think Laura Linney would be perfect for the role of Cecilia. Besides being a brilliant actress, she has dimples exactly like Cecilia. George Clooney should definitely be given a role. Any role at all. He’s a little too good-looking for the role of John-Paul, but that’s not his fault. I think John Cusack would be great for Will and Matt Damon would be perfect for Connor. He would be just so perfect. Let’s all just stop and think for a moment about how perfect he’d be. I’d quite like to see Tess played by Rachel McAdams (I’m in love with her smile) and Rachel played by Diane Keaton (she’s too young, but I adore her.) It’s just as well I don’t have a job in casting, as I think might be sort of missing the point and just imagining a movie with all my favourite actors in it.
Can you tell us a little bit about your average writing day?
I have a five year old son and a three year old daughter. My daughter has just started preschool two days a week, so I fit writing in between drop-off and pick-up, hanging the washing on the line, talking to Mum while I empty the dishwasher etc. Up until this year I could only write when I had a babysitter to take care of the children. She would come for 3 or 4 hour sessions and I would close my office door and write. This is the first year I’ve had two child-free days and I blissfully assumed I’d be SO productive in the silent house. In actual fact, I work much harder when I know there is someone there to observe me wandering out of my office for yet another cup of tea. A friend suggested I hire the children’s nanny even when they’re not there. She could sit outside my office like a sentry. I’m seriously considering it.
Do you have any writing advice you'd like to share?
To think of nothing else but your story – not the world of publishing, or what makes a best-seller, or should you self-publish or not, or should it be more erotic or funnier or sadder, or how will you make sure nobody else steals your ideas – just lose yourself in the pleasure of writing your story. Then edit, edit, edit. THEN and only then should you think about all that other stuff.
Join us on Twitter this month and keep your eye out for our next Twitterview open call for your chance to quiz an author.