“There are some darker scenes, which were quite confronting to research and to write”: Writer Nicola Moriarty discusses her latest book ahead of library author talk

Pictured: Nicola Moriarty

The Hills Shire Library Service’s In Conversations series returns in 2021 with author extraordinaire Nicola Moriarty.

This will be the first In Conversation event at Castle Hill Library in almost 12 months after the series was postponed due to the restrictions that were put in place to manage the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

Ahead of the author talk on Thursday, May 27, Focus caught up with Nicola to discuss her latest book, You Need To Know and all things writing related, like bad reviews, procrastination and the best career advice for budding writers.

This is what Nicola had to say:

Q: Why should people attend your author talk at Castle Hill Library on May 27?

A: Because I would love to see them! Ha, no I guess they should come along because I think it’s nice to hear about the behind-the-scenes process of writing a book. But also, because I’m a local Hills girl from way back and I really would like to see them!

Q: How did the idea for You Need to Know come about?

A: This book began with the simple idea of imagining a person coming across a tragic car accident, believing they are simply a bystander who has stopped to help, but then having the horrific realisation that they know the people involved in the accident. The story grew from there and as I wondered what the cause of the accident would be, I found myself constantly thinking about a book I used to read to my children: Who Sank The Boat, By Pamela Allen. I kept thinking of the line, ‘Who sank the boat, was it the mouse, who was lightest of all, the last to get it, could it be him?’ This line became my mantra as I wrote the story.

Q: How long did it take you to write? 

A: Most of my books take approximately a year to write, I think this one was somewhere between 12 and 18 months.

Q: You tackle some pretty intense stuff in You Need To Know. Was it hard to write some of the more difficult scenes? If yes, why?

A: Yes, absolutely. Without giving away spoilers, there are some darker scenes, which were quite confronting to research and to write.

Q: You come from a family of writers and in your latest book, you write about a family of writers.  Why did you decide to do this? Do any of the writers in your book resemble you?

A: I thought it might be nice to include a character who was a writer because it’s always good to write what you know – but then the idea came to me to make all three brothers’ writers and I guess it began as a bit of a tongue-in-cheek nod to my family, but then as I delved further into the story, the three brothers very quickly became completely different from my family. So the three brothers are very much their own people! Although Darren’s struggles with procrastination are probably a bit similar to my own experiences!

Q: One of your characters struggles to write after receiving a bad review. Has this ever happened to you?

A: I’ve definitely struggled to write in the past, and at times, there have been lines from bad reviews running through my head, and voices telling me that I can’t do it, or that I’m not good enough. But in the end, I’ve always managed to push through and use those bad reviews as motivation to do better and prove them wrong instead.

Q: What books did you enjoy reading when you grew up?

A: I loved reading Enid Blyton books like The Enchanted Forest or The Famous Five books as well as lots of Roald Dahl books growing up.

Q: Are there any particular authors or books that helped shape your writing career?

A: I’ve always been a big fan of Marian Keyes so I think my love of her heart-felt, hilarious books was a definite inspiration.

Pictured: Nicola’s latest book, You Need to Know

Q: What is the most valuable piece of advice that you’ve been given as a writer? 

A: My Dad once talked to me about the importance of always striving for more, of not settling with the success I’ve achieved so far because then I might start to give up. I really loved this advice because it meant that instead of feeling disappointed that I haven’t reached the ‘top’ of my career, I’m glad that I’ve still got more to strive for.

Q: What risks have you taken as a writer that have paid off? 

A: I don’t know that I’ve really taken any huge risks so far. I guess I took a bit of a risk when I wrote a romance novella after my first two books – although that one didn’t really pay off in the end! I’m glad I came back to a genre that suited me better!

Q: Do you have any advice for those wanting to pursue a career in writing?

A: Two things: First, don’t force yourself to write; write because you want to write, because you enjoy writing, because you can’t imagine doing anything else. Second, write about something you feel passionate about, something you care about; write within a genre you yourself love to read, within a style you feel comfortable writing within. And then later, when you’ve hit your stride – if you want – move outside your comfort zone, experiment, try new things!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I’m currently working on my next novel about a woman who is trying to solve her own murder in her last dying minutes!

To book your place: https://www.thehills.nsw.gov.au/Upcoming-Events-Activities/An-Evening-in-Conversation-with-Nicola-Moriarty

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