Keeping Up With The Moriartys
by Nicola Moriarty
Recently I discovered (along with the millions of others that tuned in to watch The Voice here in Australia) that singer Guy Sebastian has a brother. A brother who also sings, and who no longer wants to live in his older brother’s successful shadow. For just one second before he began to sing I thought, ‘Well really, what are the chances that he can sing too?’ And I immediately had to bite my tongue. One word rose up in front of me: hypocrite. Because just a second later, I realised that I could in fact empathise with Chris Sebastian. I’m the youngest in a family of six children. Of those six, fifty per cent of us are published authors. Yep, three sisters from the one family, all writing and I’m the latest one to join the ranks.
At the top end of the family, my eldest sisters, Liane and Jaclyn Moriarty are internationally best-selling, award-winning authors. And then there’s me. The baby of the family, trying to make a name for myself. Tensing up every time I read a review of my debut novel Free-Falling because I’m waiting for the moment when someone compares me to my sisters and reaches the conclusion that I’ve come up short. Terrified when I ask my publisher the following four words: ‘how are sales going?’ Rushing to reassure people when I tell them what I do, ‘But I did always love writing, honestly!’
So the one question that seems to come to mind for most people when they hear about my family is, ‘What was your upbringing like?’ And it makes sense; when you hear about a family of musicians, you imagine their childhood to be full of musical instruments and sing-alongs; maybe you picture them in a mini-bus, crossing the country to visit concerts and festivals. But I’m not sure what the equivalent upbringing is for a family of writers. Literary discussions around the kitchen table? Poetry workshops in the rumpus room? I can’t say that I can recall anything quite like that. But what I do remember is Liane making up my bedtime stories instead of reading to me, and I was always enthralled because she wrote me in as the heroine of the story. I remember my sister Kati using Blyton classics to teach me to read. I remember that I loved escaping into the worlds that reading books provided and I equally loved making my own attempts at creating those worlds.
I visited several different career paths before returning to my love of literature and I was asked recently if I would have written a novel had my eldest sisters not done so first. In all honesty, I was stumped by the question. I know that I most definitely would have been writing, because that’s always been a part of my life – but I do wonder if I would have been compelled to complete an entire novel without that confidence boost that comes from a lot of inspiration, plenty of pride and just a little bit of (perfectly healthy!?) envy. So while coming from a family of writers may fuel my insecurities, I have a LOT to be grateful for, because becoming a writer feels very much like coming home, which really is quite lovely.
Nicola Moriarty is a writer, student and mum from Sydney’s north west. Her debut novel Free-Falling was released in February and is a tragic-romantic comedy, about two women dealing with the loss of one man. Her second novel is due out early next year. She loves hearing feedback from readers (particularly nice feedback) because it helps to quell her inferiority complex.