An Interview with Jaclyn Moriarty, author of The Colours of Madeleine trilogy.
I’m going to be reviewing three of your novels from The Colours of Madeleine. From your other published novels, are there some that I should absolutely read?
Are you mad? All of them! (Well, if you like comedy/friendship/romance/letters, then the first two, Feeling Sorry for Celia and Finding Cassie Crazy might be good. If you want to read a murder mystery about the least popular girl in the school, Bindy Mackenzie makes sense, and if you’re drawn to ghost stories, Dreaming of Amelia might be best. Finally, The Spell Book of Listen Taylor is a strange and fantastical book about a shy girl who finds a book of spells.)
I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels for specific novels, other than this set?
I think it’s VERY important for a novel to be complete within itself, even if it’s part of a series. As long as there is some kind of story arc that has been completed, I don’t mind if there’s more of the story to come – that makes sense when it’s part of a series – and I don’t even mind if there’s an unexpected twist at the very end that creates a kind of cliffhanger. But I can’t stand it when you turn the page and the story’s suddenly, unexpectedly over and the characters are just in a room looking at you blankly. As if you’re in one of those chain-story games where the person next to you needs to take up the reigns.
There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?
I am working on few different books. One is about a girl whose parents have run away to have adventures with pirates (the working title of that one is, ‘pirate book’, so it’s not even really a working title); one is about a woman who joins a self-help course which claims it will teach her to fly (the working title is The Effort of Pleasure but I’ve also got a title in mind that I love and don’t want to say it in case anybody dislikes it); one is a new Ashbury-Brookfield book about Emily’s younger brother (working title is, Killing the Hummingbird); and one is about time travel.
Also, I want to write a book about my great-grandmother whose name was Keziah. So that just has the working title: Keziah.
Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about choppingup ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!
I wrote my first (illustrated) novel when I was seven and it’s a minor masterpiece about talking dolls that is extremely reminiscent of Enid Blyton, and it earned me a dollar. My dad used to commission us to write novels.
Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?
In the mornings I work in a cafe. My favourite is the chocolate cafe, which meets my writing needs in the following ways: it is small and quiet; they play great music yet the music is not distracting; every now and then people come in and have interesting conversations and it’s easy to eavesdrop and take notes; they give you chocolate with your tea.
In the afternoons, I work in my study at home which meets my writing needs in the following ways: my window looks out onto the courtyard so I can watch people come and go from their apartments and, if I don’t know what a character is wearing, I just steal the clothes of one of those people; there is a computer on the desk; my kitchen is down the hall and it provides tea and chocolate.
What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-itnotes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?
In the mornings, I use notepads and coloured textas and pencils in a cafe. I draw pictures and scribble notes, plan chapters and do research. In the afternoons I write the chapter on the computer, or half the chapter, or a paragraph of the chapter, or a sentence.
How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?
I don’t know. I always think I could keep rewriting and reworking forever. It’s usually the fact that the deadline has passed or I’ve run out of money that makes me send the manuscript out into the world.
Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.
Paperback, but I don’t mind people reading ebooks. One day I will try one…
Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?
People tell me I need to use more social media and I try for a minute, in a chaotic, helpless way, and then I stop, and then it happens all over again.
You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?
I wish somebody had asked: ‘Would you like some chocolate?’
This interview is as part of the A Tangle of Gold Blog Tour by Macmillan Australia – I will be reviewing all three novels in this series over the next couple of days, so check back in!