Writer’s Block with Liz Nugent

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With over 20 years of experience in the arts, Liz Nugent has carved out quite the enviable CV. She has written award-winning material for Irish television and radio drama, worked in theatre and film, and penned short stories for children as well as adults.

The rest of the time, Liz runs popular literary salons and workshops in writing for broadcast; it would seem that everything this crime fiction bestseller touches turns to gold.

In 2014 Liz enjoyed critical acclaim with her utterly engrossing first offering, Unravelling Oliver, which Frank McGuinness called ‘stunning, shocking and superb.’

It won the Best Crime Novel award at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards that same year.

This summer saw the hotly anticipated release of Lying in Wait, which according to Sebastian Barry is ‘taut, crisp, clear, a storm-warning of a book. It has the eeriness of The Turn Of The Screw; but as these screws turn, a mighty tension takes hold.’

Liz lives in Dublin with her husband. She is currently working on her next novel.

On home

I live in Blackrock, Co Dublin. My preferred supermarket is the Supervalu in Mount Merrion because the staff are so pleasant and the range of products is really good. Lidl in Stillorgan is pretty damn good too. Also, it’s quite small so you don’t have to walk miles to do your shopping. I don’t go to pubs that much any more but The Galloping Green is such an old fashioned boozer – an original stage coach stop, that if I was going for a local drink, it would be there. Blackrock village is blessed with great restaurants. The Mellow Fig does a brilliant brunch and Ouzo’s is a perfect lunch or dinner spot. I live in a former council estate in a mid-terrace house. Our neighbours are mostly retirees and they are all lovely. The house is pretty humble looking from the outside but we have a super big kitchen/diner that accommodates an island, dining table and piano. I grew up on the Stillorgan Road so I guess I wanted to stay around the area that I knew.  I have plenty of friends who live close by.

On creating

I work in the aforementioned kitchen, in a well upholstered armchair. I don’t write at a desk but with the laptop on my knees. I sit underneath rows of overstuffed bookshelves and two Rosie McGurran prints. I chose this room to write because it’s bright in the morning and the kettle is within reach for my endless cups of tea.

On beloved booksellers

Oh God, don’t make me choose. I love Louisa and Kim in Raven Books Blackrock, Bob and Marta in The Gutter Bookshop in Dalkey and Gwen in The Company of Books in Ranelagh. They all provide a very personal service. I can tweet them to see if they have a particular book in stock and they will get back to me within hours. Outside Dublin, I love O’Mahonys in Limerick. The bigger chains Dubray and Easons do a fine job too. Their staff are well-informed and well-read. I actually love all bookshops.

On literary greats

I would love to write with the mad ingenuity of Kevin Barry (City of Bohane), the sublime language of Paraic O’Donnell (The Maker of Swans), the passion of Emily Brontë (Wuthering Heights), the wit of Marian Keyes (Rachel’s Holiday) and the intelligence of Sebastian Barry (On Canaan’s Side).

On escapes

I would love a little bolt hole on the Côte d’Azur, but I’ll happily settle for The Tyrone Guthrie Artists Retreat on the lake at Annaghmakerrig, Co Monaghan.

On why crime sells

I have no idea, but long may it last. My guess is that people are fascinated by the grim side of life and they can release the darkness within by reading about it. Or maybe that’s just me?

On career highs

I recently curated the literary strand of Skibbereen Arts Festival and I got to choose other writers to interview, arrange their accommodation, expenses, fees, workshops etc. It was utterly exhausting but really worthwhile. I absolutely loved it. Thanks for asking me, Declan McCarthy!

On what’s next

Nose to the grindstone to get book three done and a couple of interesting short film and TV projects on the horizon. I’m pretty much booked up until the end of 2018.

Unravelling Oliver (€9.99) and Lying in Wait (€17.99) are both published by Penguin Ireland and available from all good bookshops.

Image by Beta Bajgartova

Sophie Grenham @SophieGrenham

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