Liane Moriarity Talks About What Alice Forgot
The author answers questions from the Real Simple No-Obligation Book Club about her thought-provoking novel.
Though her new book, The Husband’s Secret, won’t be published in the United States until the end of July, it has already been released in Liane Moriarty’s native Australia (and will be out in the United Kingdom at the end of September). Which means that she has work to do, promoting it. Still, Moriarty took time out to talk about What Alice Forgot, answering questions from NOBC members about our April 2013 read. See what she has to say about her inspiration for the book, her passion for a certain Jim Carrey movie, and her role in the film version of Alice. (Note: All spellings are the author’s Australian originals.) Enjoy!
From reader himmel: What was your motivation to write this story in this fashion? Did you think of using memory loss as a way to review Alice’s life when you started writing or did that come after the story of Alice and Nick?
The memory loss was definitely my starting point. I was inspired by a true story of a woman in the UK who lost her memory and thought she was a teenage girl. She didn’t recognise her husband or children. The interesting part to me was that she apparently behaved like a teenager as well. So it was like she’d time-travelled into her future. I’m sure I was also subconsciously influenced by the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is one of my favourite movies of all time. (I saw it with a friend who didn’t like it! It really put a strain on our friendship.) I just loved the idea of how shocked you’d be if you found out how a relationship was going to end when you were all starry-eyed at the beginning, and how if you wiped your memory clean after a relationship break-up, you’d probably just fall in love with that same person all over again.
From reader swansonkl: I always hope the movie follows true to the book so my question for Ms. Moriarty is how much influence and advising will she have over the movie’s content? Will she be helping with writing the script? Does she have any input as to who she think might be good for the parts?
I wouldn’t have any input over the script or casting. It’s not my area of expertise, so to be honest I’m perfectly happy to hand it over to the experts. I wouldn’t mind if they changed aspects of my story—I understand that movies sometimes have to combine characters and that sort of thing. Having said that I’d obviously prefer it to be a GOOD movie, so I didn’t feel like I had to hide behind my popcorn when I went to see it.
From reader dconnolly: Since our discussion earlier this week, regarding this book becoming a movie, I have been very intrigued to find out if the movie is yet in production, and if so, if casting is in place (or has begun). So that is my question for Liane … anything that she can tell us about the upcoming movie. I really enjoyed this book and have already recommended it to many others!
The last I heard was that a scriptwriter was working on the adaptation. However, I’ve heard from many other authors that you shouldn’t expect anything until they actually start shooting the movie. It’s a long process and film studios option many zillions of books (I use the word “zillion” because I have no idea of the actual number) that never end up as movies. So I try not to waste too much time dreaming about what I’d wear to the premiere.
From deputy editor Maura Fritz: I'd love to know two things: Did the author always know that Alice and Nick would reconcile, or was that the conclusion the story led her to? And for my own curiosity, was the story always so loaded with American pop culture reference, or was it Americanized for the audience here?
I didn’t know that they’d reconcile. At one point I thought that they might just end up as friends and perhaps that would have made a more realistic, grittier ending. However, by the end of the book, once I knew both my characters, it would have broken my heart to have kept them apart. It seemed to make sense that we would finish with Alice and Dominick still together, but then in the epilogue we once again “time-travelled” another 10 years, and found out how her life had once again been transformed over the past decade. That felt right to me—and I think most readers were happy with it, although I know some people were cross with me.
There was definitely no Americanizing of the book—apart from changing a “step class” to a spin class, and there might have been a few words here and there that we changed, if we knew that it wouldn’t make any sense to the reader and would spoil their enjoyment of the book. Apart from that I really fought to keep in as much Australian slang as possible, although I had to let you have your funny spelling! In regard to the pop culture references, your pop culture tends to be our pop culture—Australians watch a lot of the same TV shows, listen to the same music, obsess about the same celebrities etc, so that just happened naturally.