Liane Moriarty is the author of the wildly popular What Alice Forgot and THE HYPNOTIST’S LOVE STORY out in paperback this month from Berkley. It’s a captivating page-turner about how complicated love can be—especially when your new boyfriend is being stalked by a former love. With her trademark wit and penetrating insight into the human heart, Moriarty explores the crazy things we all do when navigating through treacherous relationship waters.
Welcome Liane! Liane joins us today to tell us why she had to be hypnotized to write her latest novel…
I’d never been to a live show by a hypnotist, but I was always intrigued by those snippets I saw on TV, the way audience volunteers would slump, heads lolling, arms dangling, the instant the hypnotist touched their shoulder and ordered, “Sleep.”
I’d never been to a hypnotherapist either, but again, I was always fascinated by people who had. “Do you think you were really hypnotised?” I’d say. “Or were you just, you know, relaxed?” (“I don’t know,” was the most common, frustrating, answer.)
Having said that, I didn’t set out to write about hypnotism when I began THE HYPNOTIST’S LOVE STORY. My initial premise was this: a woman falls in love with a man who is being stalked by his ex-girlfriend. Instead of being frightened, she’s intrigued. She becomes almost as obsessed with her boyfriend’s stalker as the stalker is with her.
I soon realized that to make it believable, my character needed a valid reason for her slightly offbeat reaction. At first I considered making her a psychiatrist. She’d have a professional interest in the stalker. But that seemed too serious a profession for the character I had in mind. I saw a soft, caring, new age woman who meditated and dabbled in Buddhism. And that’s when it hit me. My character, Ellen, would be a hypnotherapist. Of course. She was a hypnotherapist. She always had been.
Then I thought, Right. Now I have to learn about hypnotherapy. I ordered a few dozen books on Amazon. Then I booked a series of sessions with a hypnotherapist. I decided I would be upfront and say that I was researching a novel. That way I could ask a lot of questions and take notes. However I would also mention that I was desperately trying to get pregnant with my second child. I had heard hypnotherapy could sometimes help with fertility problems. Why not? It was worth a shot.
Nine months later I gave birth to a little girl.
(When I told this story at an author talk to promote the book, someone in the audience put up her hand and asked, innocently, “Um. Was the hypnotherapist a man?” The audience fell about laughing. I didn’t get it. I woke up in my hotel room in the middle of the night and got it. I am often quite slow.(The hypnotherapist was not a man.))
I have no idea if the hypnotherapy helped me get pregnant or not. I sat in a soft green leather chair and listened to my hypnotherapist’s melodious, nurturing voice. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. Your therapist simply guides you to use your own imagination to reach a trance-like state, where your subconscious is more open to suggestions. It doesn’t mean you lose control. My therapist could not have got me to cluck like a chicken.
“Were you hypnotised?” people ask me, and I answer, honestly, “I don’t know.” I do know that if I was ever to need help with an addiction or a phobia I would definitely consider hypnotherapy. (After the book was published, I was thrilled to hear from hypnotherapists who said I’d got all the details of their profession just right, although they all said they wouldn’t behave like Ellen.)
I do know that researching, creating and writing Ellen gave me so much pleasure. As does my little girl. We called her Anna. She has very hypnotic blue eyes.
UPDATE: Liane has kindly offered to give away a copy of THE HYPNOTIST’S LOVE STORY to one lucky US reader! Just tell us in the comments whether you’ve ever been hypnotized…or if you’d ever give it a try!