The Moriarty sisters: When blood is as thick as ink

“The thing about sisters,” says the young adult fiction writer Jaclyn Moriarty, “is we understand the importance of praise.

“We are honest with each other but we also understand that you need your first reader to think this is the best book that’s ever been written.”

Jaclyn and her youngest sister, Nicola, have come together for coffee in Kirribilli at the end of a week in which their eldest sister, Liane, is dominating ‘s fiction bestseller list with three titles and a television tie-in of the David E. Kelley adaption of Big Little Lies featuring Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

Nicola’s The Fifth Letter, a domestic drama about four 30-something friends who share crises of infidelity, infertility and motherhood, is in seventh position.

Jaclyn and Liane are delighted for their youngest sister. No one can remember exactly the last time siblings featured in the n fiction bestseller list but Liane thinks it might have been another family milestone when the elder two had books in the top 10 n fiction bestseller list many years ago. ”I clearly remember us all ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ over the newspaper clipping at a family birthday event. Now I’m crossing my fingers for the day all three of us appear together.”

It was Jaclyn’s success with Feeling Sorry for Celia that showed Nicola and Liane it was possible to be a published author but Nicola always felt the pressure of comparison. When she got a two-book deal with Random House in 2012, Nicola thought, “Well, they’d already done it, so it’s not that big of a deal.”

”Liane was the same,” Jaclyn says. “When she got her first offer she called me from the States and said, ‘Do you think they only offered it to me because you are published?’ She had all these insecurities which she does not have any more. Within the next couple of books she had found her own place and I think with Nicola this book is the one.”

???The Fifth Letter is the first of Nicola’s books to be distributed in the United States and Britain. She writes what she likes to read – contemporary dramas with happy endings.

“Nicola’s got great pace and snappy dialogue, and I especially like her male characters,” says Liane. ”It’s because Mum and Dad sent her to a co-ed school. I went to a girls-only Catholic school, that’s why she’ll always be cooler and edgier than me. She also excels at the social media side of being an author. She and her husband look after my social media for me.”

Jaclyn has a new book out in November – The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone. “I like the title,” Nicola nods, adding that the only competition between sisters is for family anecdotes. “It’s first in best served – whoever gets it into a book first.”

At Nicola’s book launch recently another sister Fiona was talking of her new job as a taste tester and Liane was interested. “Too late,” Jaclyn told her sister. “I’ve already claimed it.”

Nicola is the youngest of five sisters and one brother. All four sisters read to her as a child. Liane, 15 years older than her, would often take her out and be mistaken for her teenage mother.

“I can remember writing a story when I was young and showing it to Jaci and it was a complete rip-off of something she had written and being surprised when she wasn’t overly impressed by it,” says Nicola.

“I remember trying to be kind,” Jaclyn interjects, “and saying, perhaps you need to find your own voice.”

Their father Bernie likes to take credit for his daughters’ publishing careers, his motto being ‘Never spoil a story with the facts’. Their mother Diane has a way of seeing the world with childlike wonder, the sisters say.

“She texts us almost every day and creates these long stories,” says Nicola. “Things that you would think meaningless she turns into an event.”