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Jaclyn Moriarty Biography

Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

Born in Australia; Education: University of Sydney, B.A.; Yale University, M.A.; Cambridge University, Ph.D.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, House of Anansi Press, 110 Spadina Ave., Ste. 801, Toronto, Ontario M5V 2K4, Canada; fax: 416-363-1017.


Writer. Media and entertainment lawyer practicing in Sydney, Australia.


Cicada Summer ("Paradise Point" series), Pan Australia (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.

Feeling Sorry for Celia, Pan Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2000, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.

Finding Cassie Crazy, Pan Macmillan (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2003, published as The Year of Secret Assignments, Arthur A. Levine (New York, NY), 2004.

I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes (adult novel), Picador (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2004.

(With Paul Mallam and Sophie Dawson) Media and Internet Law and Practice (for adults), Thomson Lawbook (Pyrmont, New South Wales, Australia), 2005.


Jaclyn Moriarty, who began writing fiction at an early age, was inspired to study law by one of her favorite books, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. However, when she received her law degree, she also received a congratulations card from an old English teacher, which read, "P. S. But remember you are really a writer." "I sat down and wrote a short story the same day," she explained to Teenreads.com interviewer Lucy Burns. "And that's why I started writing again." Now Moriarty lives in both worlds, working as a media and entertainment lawyer as well as a writer of teen fiction.

After publishing a novel for the "Paradise Point" series, Moriarty published her first solo novel, Feeling Sorry for Celia, which is told entirely through letters, post-it notes, and other messages left in writing. As the story opens, Elizabeth Clarry, whose mother is an advertising executive and whose best friend has run away to join the circus, is having a rough year. Her father has reappeared in her life, and she is also receiving anonymous letters from a secret admirer. It seems like an assignment from her English teacher to write to a girl at a nearby high school will only make things worse, but Elizabeth's pen-pal Christina ends up being a person in her life who can recognize her talents. "Moriarty poignantly captures the trials of adolescent friendships," wrote Elsa Gaztambide in her Booklist review. Miranda Doyle, writing for School Library Journal, called Feeling Sorry for Celia "a light, enjoyable novel about a memorable young woman," while Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick noted: "Here's hoping this first-time author will continue writing for YAs."

Moriarty began writing Feeling Sorry for Celia as a traditional narrative that included the occasional letter. She explained to Burns, "The straight narrative got smaller and smaller until one night—it was the middle of the Jaclyn Moriarty's pastiche of scribbled notes, postcards from absent friends, and sometimes imaginary letters gels into highly praised novel about a young teen's coming of age and the family and friendships that shape her life.night and I was working on the book—I had this revelation. Why does there need to be a third person narrative at all? Why can't I write all of it in letters?"

The new style of narrative worked so well that the book took off on its own, and Moriarty again used the storytelling style for her second novel, Finding Cassie Crazy, which was published in the United States as The Year of Secret Assignments. Em, Lyd, and Cassie are part of the same pen-pal exchange program that Elizabeth participated in in Feeling Sorry for Celia, but instead of finding a listening ear and a female friend, all three girls are paired up with boys. Cassie and her mother are still recovering from Cassie's father's death, and sadly, Cassie is paired with a boy who threatens her, causing her to become increasingly vulnerable. It's up to Em, Lydia, and their pen-pals Charlie and Seb to help Cassie overcome her grief. "Who can resist Moriarty's biting humor?" asked a Kirkus Reviews contributor in a review of Finding Cassie Crazy, while Gillian Engberg, writing for Booklist, commented on the "exhilarating pace, irrepressible characters, and a screwball humor that will easily attract teens." A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that the novel contains "elements of mystery, espionage, romance, and revenge," while School Library Journal contributor Janet Hilbun commented that the friends' adventures are "funny, exciting, and, at times, poignant." Claire Rosser, writing for Kliatt, called the book "intelligent fun," while a reviewer for Horn Book noted that the novel contains "enormous depth, wit, and poignancy."

Moriarty chose a more traditional narrative form for I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes, which is something of a fairy tale for adults. The Zing family are surrounded by magic as well as state-of-the-art technology. Each Zing has a special ability: exceptional speed, grace, or slipperiness. As well as these talents, the Zings have a family secret, and the mystery of what they hide forms the core of the novel as the youngest family members, Listen and Cassie, go about solving the riddle. Michele Perry, writing for TheBlurb.com, called the novel "a delightful read for adults wishing to let their imaginations be stretched," and called the story itself "a very ingenious and witty idea brought to the page by Moriarty."

In addition to penning books for younger readers, Moriarty is also the coauthor, with other lawyers, of a book on media and entertainment law. She divides her time between Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and Sydney, Australia, where she lives with her husband.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Booklist, November 15, 2000, Elsa Gaztambide, review of Feeling Sorry for Celia, p. 621; January 1, 2004, Gil-
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lian Engberg, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 858; January 1, 2005, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 772.

Horn Book, March-April, 2004, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 185; January-February, 2005, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 15.

Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2004, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 86.

Kliatt, March, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Feeling Sorry for Celia, p. 17; January, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 10.

Library Journal, March 15, 2001, Rebecca Sturm Kelm, review of Feeling Sorry for Celia, p. 106.

Publishers Weekly, February 2, 2004, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 78.

School Library Journal, May, 2001, Miranda Doyle, review of Feeling Sorry for Celia, p. 156; March, 2004, Janet Hilbun, review of The Year of Secret Assignments, p. 220.


TheBlurb.com, http://www.theblurb.com.au/ (July 12, 2005), Michele Perry, review of I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes.

Teenreads.com, http://www.teenreads.com/ (July 12, 2005), Lucy Burns, interview with Moriarty.

Additional topics

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