Read on for our exclusive Q&A and learn more about her writing process, screen adaptations and more!
Apples Never Fall centres around a tennis family. What drew you to focusing on that sport – do you play?
LM: I never set out to write a book about tennis but one day I was having a lesson - I’m a social player and was trying to improve my tennis so I could keep up with my teenage son, who had got too good for me! - and I was thinking about the novel I was writing and how I wanted my characters to work for a family business. The reason for this was purely one of convenience. I’m always looking for ways to keep my characters contained in the one spot (that’s why I sent them all off to a health resort in Nine Perfect Strangers).
As I tried to listen to my coach’s instructions for improving my backhand, I thought to myself, Why not make the family business be a tennis school? At first I thought that would be that, and tennis would just be the backdrop of the story but then as the novel progressed I thought, Well if these guys run a tennis school, they’re probably passionate about tennis, perhaps they used to be competitive players themselves, perhaps they dreamed of winning Wimbledon, perhaps they dreamed of their children winning Wimbledon. I started talking to tennis coaches and players and I became fascinated by the level of sacrifice that goes into a tennis career. That’s when tennis began to drive the plot.
We’re interested in your writing process. With the family mystery at the centre of Apples Never Fall, did you begin writing knowing how the story will play out, or did it unfold as you go?
LM: I know there are authors who plan out their novels before they write a single word, and make use of spreadsheets and post-it notes but I never plan my books. I normally begin with a ‘what if’ premise. In this case the premise was: What if your mother went missing and your father was the main suspect in her possible murder? I had no idea whether Joy was alive or dead, and I didn’t know if Stan was innocent or guilty. I love writing this way because I’m surprised along with the reader. I always hate writing this way because I’m in a constant state of panic until I reach a point about two thirds of the way through the manuscript when I finally work out what’s going to happen.
You have worldwide success, yet all your stories are set in Australia – will that continue?
LM: Absolutely. I have no desire to set my books anywhere else.
You have many high profile fans – from Reese Witherspoon, to Marian Keyes, Jane Harper and Nicole Kidman. Which writers are you a fan of?
LM: I’m a devoted fan of both Jane Harper and Marian Keyes, and I also love the brilliant work of Jaclyn Moriarty and Nicola Moriarty – and I would do so even if they weren’t my sisters. Other favourite authors include Anne Tyler, Kate Atkinson, Marian Keyes, Jojo Moyes, Maggie O’Farrell, Mary Lawson, Tessa Hadley, Sally Hepworth, Toni Jordan, B.M Carroll, Petronella McGovern, P.G. Wodehouse, Patrick Gale, Lionel Shriver, Elizabeth Berg, Margaret Drabble, Ian McEwan, Stephen King, Karen Joy Fowler, Carol Shields Emily McGuire, Joanna Trollope, Ann Patchett, Zadie Smith, Mirian Toews, Peter Heller – there are many more but I guess I need to stop at some point.
Both the Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers TV adaptations are wonderful. Any news on the Apples Never Fall series?
LM: Yes, it is being adapted right now by David Heyman, who produced Marriage Story, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood and the Harry Potter movies, so I’m very excited to see the end result.
Apples Never Fall and Liane Moriarty's previous novels are available online and at your local Dymocks store.