Q&A: Liz Nugent, Author of LYING IN WAIT
Gallery/Scout Press; June 12, 2018
The wait is almost over! Liz Nugent’s sophomore novel LYING IN WAIT releases tomorrow (6/12/18)—I absolutely loved this astute, psychologically complex crime novel, and highly recommend it for your summer reading list! LYING IN WAIT is a story of ordinary people whose lives take a very dark turn when one of their own commits a terrible crime. Nugent explores the fallout of this crime in a razor-sharp story of interpersonal suspense; readers looking for a crime novel with rich character development and a fresh take on psychological suspense will love LYING IN WAIT. I had the chance to ask a few questions of Liz, and I’m thrilled to share our Q&A with CBTB readers today! In this conversation, Liz and I discuss everything from her affinity for writing complex characters to her advice for aspiring writers and much more.
Before we dive into our Q&A, a quick recap of what I loved about this book:
About LYING IN WAIT:
From the international bestselling author of Unraveling Oliver, an “unputdownable psychological thriller with an ending that lingers long after turning the final page” (The Irish Times) about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly revealed.
My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.
On the surface, Lydia Fitzsimons has the perfect life—wife of a respected, successful judge, mother to a beloved son, mistress of a beautiful house in Dublin. That beautiful house, however, holds a secret. And when Lydia’s son, Laurence, discovers its secret, wheels are set in motion that lead to an increasingly claustrophobic and devastatingly dark climax.
For fans of Ruth Ware and Gillian Flynn, this novel is a “seductively sinister story. The twists come together in a superbly scary denouement, which delivers a final sting in the tail. Brilliantly macabre” (Sunday Mirror).
Author Q&A: Liz Nugent
Crime by the Book: First things first - thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions! Could you tell us a little bit about LYING IN WAIT?
Liz Nugent: In the opening pages, a respectable judge and his wife murder a young woman and bury her in their back garden. The rest of the book explores what led up to this event, through the eyes of formidable and callous Lydia, the wife; their naive teenage son, Laurence, and determined beautiful Karen, the sister of the murder victim who relentlessly pursues the truth. The book explores the consequences of the murder from the point of view of the perpetrators and the survivors.
CBTB: If you had to describe LYING IN WAIT in three adjectives, which would you choose?
LN: Modern gothic noir.
CBTB: LYING IN WAIT is your second novel - your debut, UNRAVELING OLIVER, released in the US last summer. What does LYING IN WAIT have in common with UNRAVELING OLIVER? What most sets them apart?
LN: Both books feature characters that might be described as sociopathic who do horrific things, but they also look at the roots of the bad behaviour and examine events in each character’s childhood when murderous seeds may have been planted.
The difference between the books is the quest. Unraveling Oliver was about Oliver’s subconscious search for family and belonging. Lying in Wait is about Lydia’s determination to cling to the past and her fear of change.
CBTB: One of my personal favorite qualities of this book is how it takes in - in a very digestible, easy-to-binge way - the life cycle of a crime. That is, we see the crime happen, then we learn what precipitated it and we see its fallout over the years. How do you prepare to write a book with that kind of large scope? How do you keep everything straight?
LN: I always start with seemingly ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I then explore how they react in the immediate aftermath. That tells you immediately about their character. After that, I work backwards to explain all of the circumstances that led up to this event. I keep a separate timeline document at all times, that details exact dates of particular incidents, what age each character is. I mark their birthdays, graduation, weddings etc. I don’t have a wall of posits like some of my writer friends and I’m blessed with an excellent memory, so most of it is in my head, though I like to surprise myself (and the reader) by doing what is unexpected, where possible.
CBTB: Of all the characters readers meet in LYING IN WAIT, do you have a personal favorite? Or a character whom you found most interesting to write?
LN: Even though Karen is the most morally righteous character, I feel closest to Laurence. He tries to do the decent thing but is horribly manipulated by his mother and her outrageous neediness, but also, he is a coward like me. Laurence and I fear conflict!
Lydia was the most fun to write because she is so utterly selfish and can’t even see it. She presents herself as someone who is doing everything for her son, but really, it’s all about her. It’s very liberating to write from that self-obsessed point of view.
CBTB: Something your books seem to have in common to me is their willingness to explore genuinely unlikable people. Why choose to write characters who are sometimes a bit (or a lot) unsympathetic? What interests you about them?
LN: I am fascinated by very flawed characters and find them attractive (in fiction!). In televisual terms, I’d rather watch Tony Soprano or Walter White than John Boy Walton or Charles Ingalls. I love watching their transformation and seeing their vulnerabilities. The so-called ‘hard men’ are usually the weakest.
CBTB: When you’re not writing crime fiction, do you read crime fiction too? If so, could you share a few crime books you’ve recently read and loved?
LN: I read lots of genres, but regarding crime, I am currently hooked on Ruth Ware’s forthcoming The Death of Mrs Westaway. Griptastic! The Legacy by Icelandic Yrsa Sigurdardottir was an excellent detective novel with quite an unusual detective, because he gets things wrong. And Irish writer Catherine Ryan Howard has just published the wonderful The Liar’s Girl, about a campus serial killer and the consequences for his girlfriend ten years after his arrest.
CBTB: What are you working on next?
LN: I have just started my fourth novel tentatively called Brothers, about murder, mental illness and family dysfunction.
CBTB: What piece of advice would you share with any aspiring writers who might be reading this?
LN: Don’t wait until you have the time. Get off the internet and start writing now. You can come up with a thousand excuses but I’m not buying them because I can only type with one hand and I’ve published three books! If you really want to write, you will find the time. The only thing stopping you, is you. Just make a start. There’s all kinds of magic in starting something. The stars collide and help arrives in the most unexpected ways. Start, and then keep going until you finish. Every day that you write is a day that you don’t feel guilty about not writing. Would you rather the guilt or the manuscript?
Many thanks to Liz for answering my questions about her outstanding novel LYING IN WAIT!
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press (June 12, 2018)
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