No 'suburban housewife': The rise of Big Little Lies author, Liane Moriarty

No ‘suburban housewife’: The rise of Big Little Lies author, Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty
Liane Moriarty, says she still experiences overwhelming fear that no one will turn up to her book signings, but last night she had nothing to worry about.

Thanks to Business Chicks, over 700 of the author’s fans congregated at the Westin Sydney to hear more about her latest novel Nine Perfect Strangers, and to meet their idol in the flesh. I was lucky enough to be one of them.

Moriarty is undoubtedly one of the country’s biggest literary success stories and her star seems only to get brighter with each published work. Her narratives are typically based in and around Sydney, but have global appeal. She carefully taps into the human condition with ease.

Fellow author, Kate Morton aptly describes Moriarty as the “mistress of the razor-sharp observation”. Her storylines stem from “overheard conversations, from things people have told me, and from what they’ve said” she explains to the audience.

The concept for her most famous novel, Big Little Lies (which in 2016, was made into wildly popular HBO series commissioned by Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman) sprung to life when a friend of Moriarty’s recounted an incident at her child’s school in which two little girls had been bitten. A small furore broke out amongst parents and teachers to uncover the culprit.

A normal person, would have listened to such an anecdote with mild amusement before discarding it from their memory altogether. Moriarty turned it into a tantalising storyline which quickly became a best-seller.

But despite this talent, Moriarty has often had to defend her books from those who seek to dismiss them offhand as “chick lit”. “Isn’t it just another show about desperate housewives?” Asked one (obnoxious) reporter in the lead up to Big Little Lies airing.

Moriarty is quick to point out that because the book and production centred around female protagonists (and mothers no less) they were viewed from the outset as less worthy– less serious. 

In truth however, Big Little Lies explores some of the most confronting, raw and emotive plot lines to ever hit the page or screen including; domestic violence, rape, isolation and the strength of female relationships. Moriarty has constructed a sequel text to be produced by Kidman and Witherspoon this year. The production will also star the magnificent Meryl Streep– Moriarty’s self proclaimed idol.

Moriarty humbly acknowledges the incredible fortune and success she’s had in her career, but says “certainly some things would not have happened” if she’d been male. She calls out the persistent default position of some media outlets to typecast her as a “suburban mum” or “suburban housewife”.

“We were paying the mortgage off the back of my books”, she says– stressing that her career was not a cute, unprofitable hobby. “I’m thrilled to be called a mother, but off the back of my books hitting the New York Times Bestseller List, I’d like to be called an author.”

With 11 published books, 14 million copies sold worldwide and two books (Big Little Lies and Truly, Madly, Guilty) shooting to the New York Times bestseller list in their first week of release, she’s more than earned that right.


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