Many of you may have noticed that I absolutely LOVE Lying In Wait by Liz Nugent and I recently had it as one of my favourite books of 2016. I am, therefore, beyond excited to be a part of the paperback publication blog tour and am thrilled to have been able to ask the queen of the killer first line a few questions. So, today I have for you a Q&A session with Liz and am sharing my review again. Hope you enjoy!
When did you first start writing and what/who encouraged you to put pen to paper and write your first novel?
The first complete piece I ever wrote was for a nostalgia series on Irish radio. It was a true story about a random act of kindness when a lady in a shop gave me an exquisite and very expensive pair of gloves. When it was accepted for broadcast, it gave me the confidence to write more. I subsequently wrote a radio play, a children’s animation series, a TV drama and some short stories. With each step, I enjoyed it more, but I always felt I wanted to write something more substantial. I began to develop one of the short stories into a novel and that evolved and became Unravelling Oliver. It all started with that kind lady.
How was your journey from writing your first novel to getting published? Did it happen quickly or did it take time?
At the time, it seemed to take FOREVER. I finished writing Unravelling Oliver on New Year’s Eve 2011, submitted it to agents in March 2012, got a book deal in July 2012 and was finally published in February 2014. I honestly thought I would die of old age before it ever got to print! I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. Some books can spend five years waiting for the right agent and the right publisher, and some books never get published at all.
How long did it take you to get Lying In Wait from initial idea to publication?
Two years in total.
What was the inspiration behind Lying In Wait?
A man once told me that he strongly suspected his father had murdered a prostitute in the 1960s. He had no evidence or no way of proving it. He never had the courage to challenge his father and went to his grave wondering. He told me this story about 25 years ago and he is long dead now. I always wondered what it would be like to grow up in a house where you suspect your father is a murderer.
The first line in Lying In Wait is something a lot of people have talked about, it grabs you immediately. How long did it take you to come up with it and did it come to you at the start of writing the novel, in the middle or at the end?
It came right at the very end. Originally, the first line was ‘Technically, it was manslaughter’ but it didn’t grab the reader by the throat so I cut it and went with the second line ‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’ It was the very last thing I changed. I’m so glad I did.
The structure of Lying In Wait is complex with three different voices and three different time periods. How do you keep track and plot it in order for it all to make sense and fall into place?
I don’t tend to have story boards or charts or calendars or anything like that but I am blessed with a very good memory and it is very important to me know what each character knows about the other characters, so I try to think like them when I’m writing from their point of view, and that clarifies everything.
As said above there are three different perspectives throughout the novel and each character has their own unique voice. How did you go about creating the characters and ensuring their individuality comes through?
Writing Lydia was really interesting. Without giving anything away, an incident that happened on her ninth birthday has left her emotionally stunted, so even when she is nearly 50 years old, she still speaks like someone in 1940. Her language is formal, but she is an expert manipulator who must always find justifications for her actions.
Laurence, her only son, has quite a sophisticated vocabulary for a young man, but that is because he had no siblings and therefore grew up mollycoddled in the company of two middle-class educated adults. He does, however, have his teenage influences from tv shows and pop music so his language is more relaxed than that of his mother. He is not clinging to the past in the way that she is.
Karen comes from a working class background. Her father and sister both have dyslexia and can barely read. A lot of the time she speaks in a way that is grammatically incorrect, but she is smart and has no problem making herself understood. She speaks the vernacular that she grew up with. Her vocabulary is more limited than the other two narrators, but she is emotionally more advanced than either of them.
Lydia is an odious character who clearly has issues. Did you do any research into personality traits in order to create her?
I didn’t! I have no degree in psychology but I think we have all come across extremely manipulative people in our lives, and while I don’t like spending any time with them, I find them fascinating. I wonder what happened to them in childhood to make them so unbalanced. That is what I tried to explore with Lydia.
For me, Avalon plays a large part in the book symbolising a kind of prison for those who inhabit it due to the lies it conceals. Was this your intention and where did the inspiration for this come from?
I used to work as a theatre stage manager and I always loved plays set around big houses like Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard or Tenessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof or Brian Friel’s Aristocrats. In each of these plays, the house was almost a character and maybe one day, I’d like to adapt the book for the stage. I think it could work well.
The class differences between the two families are very apparent and have been turned on their head as it would generally be expected that those of a higher status would have the greater moral standing. Is this something that you wanted to be an important feature of Lying In Wait and if so why?
I don’t think class has any influence on moral behaviour at all. But the middle classes tend to get away with it a lot more because they have resources and contacts in high places and education, but they can be rotten to the core. I like writing about those characters and exposing the dark underbelly of the veneer of appearances.
A huge thank you for taking part.
Thank you so much and for all your support! x
‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’
Lydia Fitzsimons lives in the perfect house with her adoring husband and beloved son. There is just one thing Lydia yearns for to make her perfect life complete, though the last thing she expects is that pursuing it will lead to murder. However, needs must – because nothing can stop this mother from getting what she wants…
Oh my goodness, where to start with this review! This is one hell of a creepy book: from the first chilling sentence, where Liz immediately draws you into the world of the dysfunctional family that are the Fitzsimmons, to the incredibly disturbing final chapter.
Told from the perspectives of Lydia, Laurence and Karen, during three time periods, it charts the impact of a murder. Lydia is one of the killers, Laurence is her son and Karen is the sister of the victim. The first person narrative throughout is flawless and gives each character their clearly distinguishable voice. The class differences between the Fitzsimmons (Lydia and Laurence) and Karen come through clearly. I loved the irony that it is the ordinary, working class family with a disreputable daughter that are far more trustworthy than the upper class, so-called pillars of society.
Through the gradual unfolding of the story we see how truly abhorrent Lydia is. She is jealous, obsessive, manipulative, controlling – basically totally screwed up! There were moments during reading when I would take an intake of breath and whisper “oh my God” to my kindle. The execution of Lydia is fantastic and I reckon that Liz has created one of the most despicable characters of the year. I felt a kind of weird sympathy for her at the beginning, but this slowly changed as the book progressed.
Laurence is unwittingly bound up in his family’s secrets and lies and I really felt for him.
And then there is Avalon…the Fitzsimmons’s family home looms like a spectre in the background becoming almost like a prison to those who inhabit it, such are the secrets that it holds.
This is a family wrapped in lies with a skewed view of what is acceptable. As the secrets unfold it becomes apparent that this family are a psychologist’s dream! I had no idea how this sordid story would end.
A truly dark, unsavoury tale that is utterly compelling, Liz has written a cracker of a thriller. The ending will haunt you for days to come. Absolutely fantastic and very highly recommended.
A huge thank you to Sara D’Arcey at Penguin and Liz Nugent for inviting me to take part in the Lying In Wait blog tour and my copy in exchange for my review. Be sure to catch the other stops on the blog tour for more guest posts by Liz and reviews!