THEIane Moriarty has the Midas touch when it comes to attracting A-listers. The novels of the Australian author Big little lies and Nine Perfect Strangers became the gold of prestige drama, adapted respectively into a series of Golden Globes and a main event Hulu. Even the biggest names don’t have to ask twice.

“I’m so spoiled I asked for Melissa and got Melissa,” she laughs, as in McCarthy, who stars in Nine Perfect Strangers. “And I asked for Meryl and I got Meryl.” She of course means Streep, who was gleefully sinister as stepmother Mary-Louise in the second series of Big little lies. Now Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, who both produced and starred in this latest series, jokingly tell her, “Oh Liane, you’ve become so Hollywood.”

In the dark comic Big little lies, Kidman played the fragile Celeste, one of five Californian moms – including Madeline of Witherspoon – who are involved in a murder investigation. Kidman starred in Nine Perfect Strangers, too, having reclaimed the rights to the film even before the ink was dry. In this, she was the unethical Russian welfare guru, Masha, whose nine retired guests include McCarthy’s romantic novelist, Frances.

Despite its mixed reviews, Nine Perfect Strangers would have been the most watched original Hulu of all time. But there is no hint of arrogance in Moriarty, who speaks from his home office in Sydney. The 54-year-old is promoting her new book, Apples never fall, a dark, winding and compulsive family saga that is a kind of spiritual sister to Big little lies, exploring the sordid side of the suburbs again. It sits on the bookshelf behind her.

Moriarty’s strong point is discovering seemingly perfect lives with keen insight and a dark mind. In Apples never fall case, it’s the tennis-crazy Delaney family who go into emotional free fall when the matriarch disappears into thin air.

Moriarty, who lives with her husband Adam and their two children George, 13, and Anna, 11, has had his own seizure since the end of his ninth novel. Within two weeks of handing over the manuscript for the book, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“He was caught early,” says Moriarty, who was and is stuck in her house during Australia’s strict lockdown. “So, I feel lucky to have kept my date. There was a “silver lining” in his proof. “I had a valid reason for leaving home every day because I was undergoing radiation therapy.” She posted the news on her Facebook page “to remind people” not to forget checkups. “I think because we’re so distracted by the pandemic people are postponing dates,” she said.

Moriarty was popular in the United States long before gaining recognition in her home country and has sold over 20 million copies of her books worldwide. But it was her fifth novel, 2013’s The husband’s secret, as a result of the murder of a child, who first reached the first place The New York Times List of bestsellers and put it on a writing roll on much more thorny themes: grief, bullying, murder and sexual violence. His books have never been far from this charter of taste since: Big little lies debuted at No.1 the following year and Nine Perfect Strangers spent eight weeks there, while being the best-selling UK paperback in 2019.

Nicole Kidman as Celeste Wright and Meryl Streep as her stepmother Mary Louise Wright in season two of “Big Little Lies”

(HBO / Kobal / Shutterstock)

It is Big little lies it made Moriarty a household name. The show won eight Emmy Awards and four Golden Globes – such a hit that Moriarty was commissioned to write a 50,000-word novel to further the story of the second series. This is how she ended up concocting the role of Mary-Louise with Streep in mind. “I absolutely wrote the part just for her, just for fun,” says Moriarty, following her younger sister Jaclyn’s suggestion to write a character for her favorite actor. “And it seemed incredibly daring that it would eventually happen.”

But it was a unique case. Moriarty doesn’t write novels with “one eye on the television screen,” she says, even if “no one believes me.”

“I definitely created the character of Masha before I remember thinking, ‘There you go, Nicole,'” she says of the lead guru in Nine Perfect Strangers. “I just knew the role would be perfect for Nicole.”

This time, however, Kidman didn’t go for the TV adaptation of Apples never fall. “There is no role for her [Kidman] in Apples never fall… there really isn’t, ”says Moriarty.

Instead, he was snapped up by David Heyman, the Harry Potter and Once upon a time in hollywood producer, although it’s not yet clear whether it’s the small screen or the big screen.

Kidman as Russian wellness guru Masha in Liane Moriarty’s TV adaptation of “Nine Perfect Strangers”


From the slogan of the new book – “The Delaney family love each other very much – it’s just that sometimes they want to be murdered …” – it is clear that we are in another Big little lies-type looks at the dysfunction behind the closed doors of a seemingly idyllic family life. Former tennis coaches Stan Delaney and his wife Joy have just retired when Joy goes missing. Even the waitress in the cafe overhearing the siblings discussing their mother’s whereabouts gets hooked – just like me in the six pages. “She doesn’t lack technically. She texted us, ”said one of them. “Maybe dad has something to do with it,” said another.

It’s impossible to predict where Moriarty will take a story. Even she can’t; she never plans a book. “I don’t know the turn,” she adds of her writing “see where this takes me”. “So I prefer the twist to surprise me the same way it surprises the reader.”

Moriarty is the oldest of six siblings, including her two sisters Jaclyn and Nicola, both of whom are also bestselling authors. Her father inspired her to write her first novel while she was still in elementary school, offering her a $ 1 advance. It led to the three-volume series The Mystery of Deadman’s Island.

After college, Moriarty started an advertising agency, then did freelance writing. The idea of ​​getting a novel published always seemed out of reach, so she didn’t care. It wasn’t until Jaclyn’s first young adult novel, Feeling sorry for Celia, was published in 2000 that Moriarty felt pressured by the sibling rivalry to release a book, admitting to feelings of “envy” because, unlike Jaclyn, she had not yet achieved their childhood dream. common. And so in 2003 she published her first novel Three wishes, on triplets with problems.

A-listers Kidman and Reese Witherspoon with Moriarty (center)


Since then, she has become by far the best-selling author in her family, although Moriaty says she and her sisters are not competitive in sales. Rather, they argue over who will use the family stories. “There is definitely a rivalry for the hardware… there is a competition for who can use it first because of course once one of us has used it in a book, it is not. more on the table. “

If there’s one thing that Moriarty’s books lack, it’s diversity. It has been suggested that she wrote primarily about privilege – especially privileged whites. “I think people think that because of the HBO series [Big Little Lies], “she says.” I made Celeste glamorous and rich, but none of the other characters in this book were particularly rich. “

She adds, “I’m sure my books are probably too white… I think it’s a natural tendency for any author to write about characters that are too similar to themselves. And I think that’s something everyone is trying to do. We need more diversity and, really in some ways automatically giving characters the same kind of Irish Catholic names as I do… it really doesn’t take much to add more diversity to your character pool.

Moriarty’s new book, “Apples Never Fall”, is a dark, curvy, compulsive family saga that is sort of a spiritual sister to “Big Little Lies”


But even complaining about the pressure on writers to get it right, she says, “it stinks of privilege.” “You have to put all of that aside while you write, and then just write your story. I appreciate having attentive readers before it goes to print, to make sure I’m not offending anyone… which I never wanted to do.

Moriarty being such a word magician, why doesn’t she write the screenplays for these adaptations herself – like, say, George RR Martin or Margaret Atwood? “I think I would try to hang on too tightly to my own script, and I think that’s a mistake,” she says. “I don’t think adaptations should be completely faithful to the source material.”

However, some changes must bother her. It’s a thing that in televisions Big little lies, Madeline ends up having an affair – something Moriarty’s character in the book would never have done – but what about Kidman’s long locks Nine Perfect Strangers? She described her in the book as having “hardly any hair.”

Moriarty laughs. “But I think it looks so beautiful. It’s quite different… they changed history more than they did with Big little lies. Maybe more twists were needed. Will she always fade away? She pauses. “Maybe one day I could write an original screenplay – it could be fun. ”

I can almost hear the sound of the A-listers rushing in.

‘Apples Never Fall’ is now available