Monday, 1 April 2019

Author Interview: Jaclyn Moriarty

Today I would like to welcome author Jaclyn Moriarty to The Burgeoning Bookshelf.

About the author: 

Jaclyn Moriarty is an Australian writer of young adult literature.

She studied English at the University of Sydney, and law at Yale University and Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD.

She currently lives in Sydney.

So let's get started and find out a little more about Jaci and her writing. 

·         Hello Jaclyn, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how many books you have had published?

Hello!  Thanks for having me.  I’m a former media and entertainment lawyer, and have published twelve books.  Mostly, my books have been young adult fiction (both realistic/comedy fiction (the Ashbury series) and fantasy (the Colours of Madeleine trilogy).  However, recently I have started a series of stand-alone ‘Kingdom and Empire’ books for 9 to 12-year-olds (the Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone, and the Slightly Alarming Tale of the Whispering Wars), and I have just published a novel for adults, Gravity is the Thing.  So I am not very consistent...

·        What inspires you to write?
Walking up steep hills or flights of stairs (although that could just be because I want an excuse to stop walking up the steep hill or stairs), looking at the ocean or harbour, listening into other people’s conversations, music, and chocolate.

·         What is a typical writing day for you?
After I’ve driven my 12-year-old to the bus stop (or said goodbye to him at the door—he is supposed to walk to the bus stop, but I’m sympathetic because he has a very heavy schoolbag and it’s a steep hill…), I usually walk into Kirribilli, cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge, stare at the harbour for a while, come back, and go to a café where I write for a couple of hours.  Then I come home, have lunch and write at the dining room table until my son comes home from school (he seems fine walking down the hill from the bus stop).  When I say I ‘write at the dining room table,’ I mean I write for a few minutes then I get up to get more chocolate and tea, or to wander around the apartment in an aimless, restless way, and then I write for a few more minutes, and so on. 

·         Where is your favourite place to write?
Coco Chocolate, a chocolate shop in Kirribilli which has one big table where you can sit and drink hot chocolate beneath a chandelier made of teacups, surrounded by shelves and shelves of chocolate.
This sounds like my perfect place to be. I might just pay it a visit myself!

·         Do you have any writing rituals or good luck charms?
I have a blue ceramic bowl that was given to me by my sister for my birthday years ago, and I always have it beside me, filled with fruit and chocolate, when I’m writing at home.  I also have to drink peppermint tea when I’m writing (although hot chocolate is permissible if I’m at Coco Chocolate).

·         What are you currently reading?
Cocaine Blues, the first Phryne Fisher mystery, by Kerry Greenwood. I am loving it.

·         You are well known for your Young Adult novels. What inspired your move to the Contemporary Fiction genre?
I am usually writing a novel for grownups at the same time as I’m writing books for younger people.  Sometimes it’s because I want to explore an adult character more closely than I can in younger fiction, and sometimes it’s because I want to express thoughts and ideas about life in the grownup world that would be of no particular interest to younger readers…

·         Your latest book Gravity is the Thing was released on 26th March, how did you come up with the idea for Gravity is the Thing?
I often feel like I’m not very good at being a person.  I am very absent-minded and seem to miss rules about life that other people have figured out—such as how often you should go to the dentist and when you should start moisturising your face and how long you should stay in a relationship with somebody who is very pleasant but a bit of a bore.  So for a long time I had this fantasy that there should be an external committee providing everyone with regular, tailored updates, explaining exactly how their life should be lived.  This led me to the idea of the character named Abigail, who starts receiving chapters from The Guidebook, a self-help book, in the mail when she is fifteen years old, and continues to receive them until she is 35.  At that point, she is invited to an all-expenses paid retreat on an island to learn the ‘truth’ about The Guidebook.
Also, my young adult book, A Corner of White, had a teenage character whose father had gone missing, and I researched the field of missing persons for that book, so that I could try to understand how my character would feel.  I felt deeply moved by the suffering of people who have to live with the ambiguous loss of a missing family member or friend.  Abigail’s brother, Robert, went missing in the same year that she started receiving chapters from the Guidebook, and her search for the truth about what happened to him becomes entangled with her search for the truth about life, and how it should be led.

·         What would you like readers to get out of Gravity is the Thing?
I hope it makes them happy!  
Judging by the glowing reviews already coming through you have achieved your goal.

·         What's next for Jaclyn Moriarty? Do you have a new WIP?
I am in the middle of a new middle grade fiction (with the working title, The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst) and am researching and writing notes for a new novel for grownups about time travel. 
I'm a recent convert to Time Travel novels so I am excited to read your novel when it's finished.

Thank you for stopping by and spending some time with us on The Burgeoning Bookshelf.
Thanks for having me!  

You can connect with Jaclyn at the following sites:

Gravity is the thing is out now and should be hitting bookshops shelves all over the country.

Abigail Sorensen has spent her life trying to unwrap the events of 1990.

It was the year she started receiving random chapters from a self-help book called The Guidebook in the post.

It was also the year Robert, her brother, disappeared on the eve of her sixteenth birthday.

She believes the absurdity of The Guidebook and the mystery of her brother's disappearance must be connected.

Now thirty-five, owner of The Happiness Café and mother of four-year-old Oscar, Abigail has been invited to learn the truth behind The Guidebook at an all-expenses-paid retreat.

What she finds will be unexpected, life-affirming, and heartbreaking.

A story with extraordinary heart, warmth and wisdom.




  1. I loved the interview. And I will be in the look out for Kindom & empire for my kids. Thank you

    1. Thank you. Jaclyn's writing is wonderful. I'm hoping to read a few more of her books myself.