Lying in Wait was one of my favourite books of 2016. I raved about it when I first read it and have been recommending it to anyone who will listen ever since. So when I was asked to take part in the blog tour for the paperback release, I jumped at the chance.
Thank you to Liz Nugent for taking time out of her writing schedule to answer my questions.
Lying in Wait, like Unravelling Oliver before it, has a brilliant opening line. Did you start with these lines or did they come later in the writing process?
When I wrote Unravelling Oliver, I had that first line in my head for a year before I wrote it down ‘I expected more of a reaction before I hit her.’ Even then, I wasn’t sure who was speaking, but you have to start somewhere.
Much later, after it was published, everybody talked about that line so much that I knew Lying in Wait would have to kick off with something just as throat-grabbing, but it was only when I finished writing Lying in Wait that I went back and toyed around with the first line and settled on ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle but the lying tramp deserved it.’ That was my sixth attempt, I think!
Lying in Wait is told from multiple perspectives, how did you ensure that Lydia, Laurence and Karen each have distinct voices?
Lydia is emotionally stuck in the 1940s, so her language is quite formal and precise. Her son Laurence is very close to her, but he has grown up in the 70s and is a little more relaxed. He also watches American tv shows and is slightly influenced by them. Karen is a working class Dubliner whose father can’t read so she probably didn’t grow up surrounded by books. Her vocabulary is limited and I had to stop myself (and the copy editors) from correcting her grammar.
Writing is a solitary process. Do you have a routine to ensure you don’t get completely lost in the world(s) you are creating?
I write at home in my kitchen or in my local library and I rarely get lost in my fictional world because my attention span is so ridiculously short. I write in fifteen-minute bursts. I wish this wasn’t the case! When I go to the artists retreat at Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Co Monaghan, I am better able to remove myself from distraction. My best work happens there.
Crime fiction, particularly crime fiction written by women, is growing in popularity, why do you think this is?
I really don’t know the answer to why women are writing more crime. I guess that for years, women wrote romantic fiction and men wrote thrillers and that was accepted practise. I’m not sure when that started to change, but the crime genre has broadened so much in recent years and women are writing the hard core violent stuff as much as the cosy crime and I think I fall somewhere in the middle with psychological suspense/domestic noir.
I think the rise in popularity of crime fiction may have something to do with the breakdown of trust in society. People used to put their faith in the church or their politicians or their police service but in very recent times, democracy has given us shocking results which goes to prove that the ‘establishment’ is losing its grip. Crime fiction explores the fallibility of all institutions from the family all the way up to the government.
They say that to be a great writer you must first be an avid reader. I love hearing what people are passionate about reading, even if they can’t narrow it down to a favourite. Which book do you wish you could thrust into the arms of strangers and demand they read it immediately?
To my immense shame, I have only just discovered Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) and The Dark Adapted Eye is an absolute masterpiece. I was GrippyMacGripped all the way through it! I’ve just bought six copies of it because I want everyone else to read it, but I know I’m going to read it again, so they are not getting my copy.
Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent is published by Penguin Random House and is available in trade paperback, paperback and ebook format.