Liane Moriarty has always been one of our favorite authors. We like to take a little credit for saying out loud that The Husband’s Secret was going to be a hit, and for getting behind Big Little Lies early. So hear this: Truly Madly Guilty, the Australian author’s latest novel, is going to make her many fans happy – and make her many happy new fans. We talked to Moriarty about the new book as she was visiting the set of the TV series being made from Big Little Lies. (Check out her new best friend on the set, below.)
Amazon Book Review: Truly Madly Guilty is such a great title. How did you think of it?
Liane Moriarty: I can’t take any credit for it because I was inspired by the movie, Truly Madly Deeply: a beautiful movie made in the nineties directed by Anthony Minghella and starring Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson.
ABR: One of our favorite characters is Vid. He might be your best male character to date. He seems so uncomplicated, yet we come to see that in fact he’s very complex. Is how you approach your male characters any different than how you craft your female ones?
LM: No, I don’t think there is any difference to the way I approach female or male characters, although I will admit that I find it easier to write female characters because I think I have a more instinctive grasp of how their minds work. Having said that, Vid came to me no problem at all. Maybe that’s why he works so well. I’m very fond of him.
ABR: Why do you think you’re often identified as a female writer who writes about the suburbs and the school gates? How do you feel about that? (Your male counterparts are never referred to as writers of male fiction.)
LM: I guess because I AM a female writer who often writes about the suburbs and what goes on at the school gates, but yes, I’d love to see how my books would be described in a parallel universe where my name was Liam Moriarty. I do become enraged when I am bafflingly and erroneously described as a ‘suburban housewife’ much to the amusement of my husband, who is a stay-at-home Dad and who doesn’t think much of my abilities with housework. I was a full-time writer before and after I had children.
ABR: You were recently on the set of Big Little Lies and spent time with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman. Who would you cast in the movie of Truly Madly Guilty?
LM: The only star I can see who would be perfectly cast would be the late James Gandolfini for the character of Vid. He would have been perfect. So I’m not much use as a casting director am I?
ABR: How did it feel to watch your words being spoken by others while on the movie set for Big Little Lies?
LM: It was a strange, surreal, thrilling experience.
Liane Moriarty and Reese Witherspoon
ABR: Some writers prefer to just give over their books when they sell to TV or film. Too anxiety-producing they say. You apparently did not feel that way, right? Why?
LM: Well, I did in effect hand over my book, and of course I did feel nervous about it, but I guess any anxiety I felt was allayed by the fact that Bruna Papandrea, Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman were producing, the wonderful David E.Kelley was writing the script, the amazing director Jean-Marc Vallee was in charge and by the dazzling array of stars who signed up to join the cast! That is a lot of talent and experience right there in one place. I think it’s going to be amazing.
ABR: Did you learn anything that you’ll apply to your future books from watching the way Big Little Lies played out on film?
LM: No. I think it would be a mistake if I started writing books as future movies, as if that was the ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is still the book.
ABR: When we spoke about the book a few years ago, you said that in some ways Madeline was the most like you – except that she was too carefully dressed. Which of the three women in the show version is the most like you?
LM: Did I really say that? I don’t think any of the characters in Big Little Lies are anything at all like me. Although perhaps I felt that Jane and Celeste were even less like me, so if I really had to pick one, it would have been Madeline! I think most people who know me would say I’m nothing like her. I don’t think the women in the show version are anything like me either!