Author Interview: Jaclyn Moriarty

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Jaclyn Moriarty has recently released A Corner of White, the first book of her new trilogy. I was lucky enough to ask her some questions in the lead up to the September 18 release – and then my computer had a little meltdown which turned out to be slightly more major than I’d hoped. The meltdown just happened to be the same night I was supposed to be putting this together.

So, I now bring you Jaclyn Moriarty. A little later than release date but early enough that I really want to go check out her change of direction.

From lawyer to novelist, this is quite a change, can we ask why the change of direction?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was six years old. I became a lawyer because I thought you didn’t get to be a writer in the real world.

The Kingdom of Cello is the setting for part of ‘A Corner of White’, your new book released September 18, can you tell us a little about the Kingdom?

The Kingdom of Cello is made up of six named provinces and one Undisclosed Province. It is occasionally troubled by storms of Colours, some of which can tear you to pieces, or blind you, or deafen you, or get into your coffee beans. There are also issues with wandering hostiles who want to bring down the royal family. In Cello, the seasons drift languidly, moving on whenever they grow bored.

Where did the Kingdom of Cello first appear, has it been in any of your previous books?

The Kingdom of Cello came to me when I was living in Montreal, Canada. One snowy winter day, I went to a café to work on one of my books about Ashbury High School. A friend had given me a notebook bound in soft red suede, which opened to reveal a row of coloured pencils. Instead of doing my real world, I started drawing pictures of a Kingdom which I called Cello (because I like the word). I forgot about it for five or six years and then started writing this book. My previous books have all been set in the real world, so this is Cello’s first appearance.

A Corner of White is a whole new series but are there any crossover characters or places to tie it to previous works?

All of my other books have been set in the Hills District, in the north-west of Sydney, but this one is set partly in Cambridge, England, and partly in the Kingdom of Cello. So there’s not much room for crossover. I think the only connection with the other books is the fact that the two main characters are teenagers, and that they communicate by writing letters to each other: I seem to have a strange obsession with letters. They keep turning up in all my books.


What made you choose to write Young Adult fiction?

I like the imaginative range of children’s books, and I like adult books for the scope of issues you can explore. So young adult fiction sometimes seems to be the perfect balance of both. At the same time, I think young adults can make great characters because they are often intense, confused, insightful, passionate and they’re always changing and growing.

Do you plot your novels or allow the story to steer itself?

I plan the novels carefully and then end up ignoring the plan and letting the story take whatever direction it wants. Sometimes that really bothers me about myself. All that planning work wasted.

A Corner of White is the first book in a trilogy, do you know how it ends?

I think so, because I’ve planned each book of the trilogy in detail. On the other hand, there’s that issue of my stories ignoring the plan. So I’m a bit uneasy about the ending, to be honest.

What are you reading at the moment?

I have just had the flu so I’ve been reading books by Diana Wynne Jones and Eva Ibbotson. I always read them when I feel unwell or my heart is hurting. They create such pure imaginative worlds, complex and satisfying plots, and sensible, strong, funny, honest characters. Also, in Ibbotson’s book, the ordinary girl with a smile that scrunches up her face always gets the sexy leading man.

You have a gorgeous young son, what is your favourite book to read to him, and his favourite to have you read him?

Thank you! Charlie just turned six, and our favourite books change constantly. I’ve always loved reading him books by Sandra Boynton and Alison Jay. I read Good Night, Moon to him over and over, and it never stopped making him smile. The one that Charlie requests most often is the Big Big Big Book of Tashi books by Anna Fienberg and Barbara Fienberg.

What do you think is the best part of being a writer?

Being able to live in a world that is a little off-centre from the real world, that is in some ways more intimate and real than that world, and that tries to get to the heart of what really counts.

What does being a woman mean to you?

Being able to live in a world that is a little off-centre from the real world, that is in some ways more intimate and real than that world, and that tries to get to the heart of what really counts.


Thanks for chatting with us Jaclyn, it’s been a pleasure learning a little more about your world.

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