Please welcome Australian author Natalie Barelli, who will describe the influences on the thread of her new novel, UNTIL I MET HER:
Writers and Lies Natalie Barelli
Writers and lies
My new suspense novel, Until I Met Her, is loosely about a woman who pretends to be
the author of very successful novel.
I didn’t set out to write a novel about a writer, I set out
to write a novel about a lie, but the two are strangely intertwined: after all, it can be argued
that all crime writers are also consummate liars: they set out to tell you a story, which we,
the readers, take at face value, only to find out at the last minute that we were led up the
garden path and we are left to reel in shock at the deceit that was played out.
In Until I Met Her, Emma isn’t a writer at all, and she doesn’t harbour any ambitions of being
one, either. In her case, it all starts out as a favour to a friend. Put that way, if you were asked to put your name to a novel you didn’t write, would you?
That depends on who’s doing the asking, I hear you say. Which is a fair comment, so
let’s assume it’s your favourite thriller author: your favourite thriller author has asked you to
pretend that you wrote his or her latest book. Why? because it’s different from anything
she’s written before, because she’s typecast, she wants the novel to be received at face
Why not write under a pseudonym? you ask. Sure, but there’s a publicity tour to be
done, there are TV interviews lined up, magazine profiles wanting to be written.
Would you be Jill Emerson? Rosamond Smith? Robert Galbraith?
Of course you would.
These are all pen names, but here is a real life story: In the mid 70s, the famous French
author Romain Gary wrote a novel under the pseudonym Emile Ajar. The novel became so
successful that it became impossible for “Ajar” to stay out of the public eye. But no one
had ever met Ajar, not even his publisher. So under such pressure, Romain Gary enlisted
his nephew to front up and pretend to be “Ajar”.
It may have been decades before the age of the internet, but it still didn’t take long for
someone to point out that Ajar was in fact a man called Paul Pavlowitch. So Paul
Pavlowitch did yet more interviews admitting that yes, he had been writing under a
pseudonym. He was the nephew of a very famous author after all, he wanted some
anonymity. This multilayered subterfuge went on for a few years, during which “Emile Ajar”
published three more novels, and when Romain Gary died in 1980, Pavlowitch/Ajar came
out publicly and revealed the duplicity.
Back in the fictional realm, writers and lies make for some gripping thrillers, and some of
my favourites are John Colapinto’s About the Author, Sascha Arango’s The Truth and
Other Lies, and Lie with Me, the beautifully written latest novel by the brilliant Sabine
Durrant. In all these, the protagonist is either a writer who lies about what they’ve written,
or someone who lies about being a writer.
In Until I Met Her, Emma has only recently met Beatrice, a famous crime writer, a woman
Emma admires, and they are fast becoming friends. Then Beatrice asks for a favour: she
needs someone to be “the author” of her yet to be published novel, someone not shackled
by the expectations of fame and genre. Would Emma be willing?
Of course she would.
Neither Beatrice nor Emma have any expectations of the novel breaking any records. It’s well and truly a literary effort, it might do well with the critics, but such novels
traditionally sell little on the commercial front.
Except that it does do well. So well, in fact, that very quickly, Emma becomes rich, famous,
and hailed as one of the most talented authors of her generation.
And now, Beatrice wants her novel back.
Until I Met Her is published on amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Until-Met-Her-
You will usually find Natalie Barelli reading a book, and that book will more likely than not be a psychological thriller. When not absorbed in the latest gripping page-turner, Natalie works as an IT professional, loves cooking when she has the time, knits very badly and spends far too much time at the computer. She lives in rural NSW, in Australia.
Until I Met Her is her first novel.