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Free-Falling – Nicola Moriarty + Author Interview

on March 16, 2012

Free-Falling
Nicola Moriarty
Random House AU
2012, 305p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Belinda is reeling after losing her fiance Andy in a terrible event. She’s left alone to pick up the pieces of her life without him, struggling to move on. At only 24, they had their whole lives stretching ahead of them and now their future together has vanished. Belinda finds herself starting to spot little signs that maybe Andy isn’t entirely… gone. She seems them everywhere, believing that he’s sticking around to give her a little help. And soon she’s about to discover that Andy may have given her the most amazing parting gift of all.

Evelyn is Andy’s mother, who is struggling to cope with the loss of her golden boy. Needing someone to blame, she launches into Belinda, hating her privately and denouncing her publicly. A dignified, straight-laced sort of woman, she finds herself shoplifting and taking up skydiving as ways to deal with her grief. To her surprise, she makes a friend in ‘Baz’, her sky-diving instructor who couldn’t be more different from her. Not the sort of person Evelyn would normally associate with, she finds that she can confide in Bazza and she enjoys his frank comments and attitude to life, even if he does insist on being called such a ridiculous nickname.

Belinda and Evelyn, linked by their overwhelming grief at the loss of a man they both adored but yet divided because of the sheer overwhelming pressure of it.  Can they ever find a way to reconcile and come together in order to  look towards their future?

Free-Falling is the first novel from Nicola Moriarty, sister to already well known Australian novelists Liane and Jaclyn Moriarty. I’ve read books by both Liane and Jaclyn and jumped at the opportunity to read and review Free-Falling and also interview Nicola. I had some expectations going into Free-Falling and I’m happy to say this book lived up to every one of them.

Split into three narratives, this novel is beautifully written in that over the course of the time it took me to read it, I giggled, I cried (more than once) and I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting, totally immersing myself in the lives of Belinda, Evelyn and Bazza. Andy’s death is a tragedy, he’s so young and it’s an utterly senseless and unnecessary way in which he dies. We learn about him and Belinda as a couple in flashbacks, memories and thoughts she has of their time together.After he is gone, she stays in their apartment, surrounded by these memories, using them as a blanket. She drinks too much, she doesn’t always take care of herself whilst she is moving through the stage of crushing grief. By the time she gets some startling news, she has not a lot of time to prepare for it but the way in which she copes with this little gift shows her strength of character.

Evelyn is difficult to like at first, which is I’m sure, the aim. She’s cold, unforgiving and what she does to Belinda is so terrible it makes you want to jump into the book and slap her! But she’s a grieving mother too, having already lost her husband she has now lost one of her sons as well. She funnels her grief into jumping out of planes, an endeavor that leads her to meet Bazza, a young and experienced sky diver with whom she strikes up a very unlikely deep friendship. Some of the scenes between Evelyn and Bazza were the highlights of the novel for me – watching them connect and seeing Evelyn relax a little of her icy exterior and start to open up to Bazza was a lovely experience. I really enjoyed watching Evelyn become changed, little by little, through her association with Bazza, who provided a sympathetic ear and was someone that knew nothing about her, didn’t judge and didn’t coddle her either.

I have to admit I was a little wary of the story line where Belinda believes that Andy is hanging around, due to such things as mysterious flowers turning up on her doorstep, her shopping being brought upstairs to her apartment one day from her car, because those types of things rarely register as believable for me! I can understand it – if I lost my fiance/husband/etc in the tragic way in which Belinda did, I would cling to any hope that he was still around, in any capacity. But I’m quite a skeptic from way back so I was happy that I really enjoyed the way in which this story unfolded and although it wasn’t entirely hard to guess what was happening, the way the three narratives (Belinda’s, Evelyn’s and Bazza’s) all married up and presented events from different points of view was very well done.

Free-Falling is such a lovely novel, even though it’s based around a tragic and sad event, there’s a lot of warmth, humour and hope within it too. It’s the kind of story you can get lost in, where you end up caring for all the characters (yep, even Evelyn!) and become invested in their lives and you find yourself mapping out their futures in your head. A highly impressive debut and I can’t wait for her next novel.

Recommended!

9/10

Book #34 of 2012

Photo from Random House AU – visit Nicola’s page

Now I am super excited to share my interview with Nicola!

1.) Firstly Nicola thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations on the publication of your debut novel, Free-Falling. Can you tell me a little bit about how the idea for the novel came about?

Hi Bree, no problem at all and thank you! The idea for Free-Falling grew from one simple concept: how would I feel if I lost my husband? I sat down at the computer and tried to imagine what I would do during that first awful day and I just wrote whatever came to mind. It wasn’t until I’d completed that first chapter that I then began to think about plot and other characters. Even then though, I still tried not be to rigid with my planning, as I wanted to be able to allow the story to grow and change as I wrote.

2). What sort of writer are you? Do you treat it like a 9-5 job and write to schedule or do you fit it in whenever you can? Do you plot everything out in meticulous detail from start to finish and write chronologically, or do you just let the words flow and write whatever scene takes your fancy, stitching it all together later?

I used to just write whenever I could fit it in and whenever I was feeling creative, but now that I have actual deadlines to meet, I set aside specific times to get my writing done and I usually find I need to get out of the house so that I’m not distracted by other things that need to be done! In terms of the actual writing, I much prefer to let the words flow, that way, sometimes the writing can surprise me and I absolutely love it when that happens. Then on the second draft I go back through to see which bits don’t make sense or need to be moved around!

3). Two of your sisters are acclaimed novelists – Liane writes women’s fiction and Jaclyn is known for her YA. It must’ve been nice having them along to read your drafts and perhaps offer some writing or publishing advice. Was it ever daunting knowing you were going to be the third Moriarty sister published? Did you feel as though people might expect unrealistic things, given your pedigree and the fact that your sisters have so much publishing experience?

It was definitely wonderful to have their support and encouragement, but yes at the same time, very daunting! I was (and still am) terrified of being compared to them and not living up to reader’s expectations. I also worry that people might think the only reason I’m writing is because I want to follow in their footsteps, but the truth is, I’ve always loved to write, they’ve just given me the inspiration to really put everything into it

4). What do you like to read in your spare time? Care to share some of your favourite authors?

I enjoy a mix of different books, women’s commercial fiction, fantasy and adventure novels, thrillers! I love Kathryn Fox, I’m a Harry Potter fan from way back, I enjoy Marian Keyes, Melanie La’Brooy, Jodi Picoult, Neil Gaiman and Diana Wynne-Jones. And of course, Liane and Jaclyn Moriarty!

5). What was your ‘previous life’ like before you started writing and getting published?

I moved through several different careers: swimming teacher, sales, marketing, waitress and I worked for lots of different businesses: a window company, a chocolate company, a children’s play land, an advertising firm (to name a few!). But I think I always had the niggling feeling that none of it was really right for me, so I think really I was just waiting for the day when I realised it was time to stop, sit down and start writing.

6). Describe yourself and also Free-Falling in three words

Me: curly, honest, spontaneous.

Free-Falling: bittersweet, humorous, feel-good

7). What’s next for Nicola Moriarty? Are you taking a bit of a break or have you begun a second novel already?

My second novel is very close to completion (which is good because it’s due to the publishers in a couple of weeks!). After that, my plan is to keep writing, writing, writing. Hopefully I’ll never have to stop!

Thank you so much both to Nicola for taking the time to provide such wonderful answers to my question, and also to Random House AU for providing the copy of Free-Falling and arranging the interview.

Free-Falling definitely counts towards my Australian Women Writers Challenge 2012. It’s the 9th book I have completed.


10 responses to “Free-Falling – Nicola Moriarty + Author Interview

  1. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    Great interview! I loved Free-Falling as well 🙂

    Shelleyrae

  2. Nicola Moriarty says:

    Thank you so much for the great review of Free-Falling and for taking the time to come up with the interview questions as well! It was lovely to be a part of your blog and also a part of your Australian Women Writer’s Challenge journey!

    Best wishes,
    Nicola
    x

  3. Excellent review and interview! Nicola seems like such a likeable person, and very down-to-earth. I’ve been hearing a lot about this book, and would like to read it.

  4. […] Nicola – Free Falling (Random House) Romantic Comedy Bree: review and interview, Stephanie @RIAS, Shelleyrae @ Book’d […]

  5. […] Nicola – Free Falling (Random House) Bree: review and interview, Stephanie @RIASS Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out […]

  6. […] Girl 2 Many Books has an interview and review, here’s a little of what she had to say: “It’s the kind of story you can get lost in, […]

  7. […] Free-Falling, by Nicola Moriarty (includes author interview) […]

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