Moriarty writes to explore the lives of others

BY ELLE WIGNALL | JULY 12, 2012 6:30 AM

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Novelist Laura Moriarty planned to use her degree in social work from the University of Kansas to go to medical school.

"I had really liked to do something useful and pragmatic," she said.

When she actually entered the profession, however, she found herself writing.

"I started writing at night really as a way to sort of process everything that was happening during the day," she said. "Much of my first novel comes from the social-work experience."

Moriarty is one of around 75 visiting authors in this weekend's fourth-annual Iowa City Book Festival, presented by the University of Iowa Libraries and community partners.

Festival Director Kristi Bontrager said that this year's event brings in writers of all genres for everyone to enjoy.

"Since the Book Festival comes out of the library, part of our mission as librarians is to provide access to books and reading and writing to everyone," she said. "That's the guiding principle that we had. We want to provide access to authors and all this great literature to appeal to a lot of different people."

This is Moriarty's first year at the festival, and she comes having just recently published her fourth novel in June, The Chaperone.

The work is a historical novel about a woman who chaperoned silent film star Louise Brooks to New York City in 1922.

Moriarty said writing a historical novel required a lot of research to build a believable story.

 "[Louise Brooks] is a real person with biographies and autobiographies," she said. "I read all of that; I read about her life, I watched her movie."

While the well-known Brooks is a major character in "The Chaperone," the main character is a work of fiction.

"The main character [Cora] is completely invented," Moriarty said. "I wrapped the imaginary story around Loiuse Brooks' life. Even for the imagined character I had to do a lot of research."

Her research helped her build a believable image of the '20s women and society.

"It's gotten really, really wonderful reviews," Iowa Book employee Matt Lage said. "Her first three novels did rather well, but this is being positioned as her breakthrough novel."

None of Moriarty's first three novels are quite the same.

"I really like to write about people who aren't me and aren't like me, because it's sort of the same pleasure as reading," she said. "I can really kind of experience a different world."

In addition to writing, she is also a creative-writing professor at the University of Kansas. She is looking forward to the opportunity to spend the weekend in Iowa City.

Moriarty will speak at Wild Bill's Coffee Shop at 11 a.m. July 15.

 "I think that's really nice to meet readers face to face," she said. "It's really fun when they've read your novels."

In today's issue:

comments powered by Disqus

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.