Liz Nugent is the latest in a long line of Holy Child Killiney literary alumnae.
Nobody could have foretold the impact a carefree slide down the banisters at the age of six could have had on Liz's life. Her fall resulted in a brain haemorrhage leaving Liz unable to write and dragging her right foot. Although in every negative situation it is possible to find a positive and this fall helped to shape her future as a writer albeit in an indirect way as Liz developed her lifelong love of books during her lengthy convalescence.
Liz has confessed to being “a bold, badly behaved student” – a bit of a rebel. After school she worked as an assistant buyer in a construction company in London until a fall dislocated her right kneecap at the age of 20 which helped to influence her decision to return to Dublin. Eventually Liz was diagnosed with dystonia, a neurological disorder affecting her muscles. This second health setback gave Liz time to think about her future. She joined the Gaiety School of Acting but quickly discovered that the precarious profession of acting was not for her but instead a career in stage management beckoned. Indeed it was while working as a production manager with “Riverdance” on Broadway that she met her husband Richard in 2000 and married in 2007.
Technology has played an important part in Liz's career and she quickly learned to type with her left hand which had fortunately for Liz, learned to compensate for her right since her childhood accident. She submitted her first piece for “Sunday Miscellany” in 2002 while working as a story associate on “Fair City” as well as writing a children's animation series for TG4 and a radio play.
A short story she wrote was shortlisted for the annual Francis McManus Short Story competition. This story was Liz's first novel “Unravelling Oliver” in its embryonic stages. A powerful, dramatic and thought provoking novel about authorOliver Ryan who appears to the outside world to have the perfect life but in reality is a cruel, unnerving individual whose dark past has shaped him into the character he hasbecome.
Following the great success of Unravelling Oliver Liz's second novel “Lying in Wait” was released. Pompous, delusional Lydia Fitzsimons, her weak downtrodden husband Andrew and her sad lonely son Laurence live the idyllic life of the upper classes in Dublin. Annie Doyle belongs at the other end of the class spectrum. How could their lives ever collide? By murder of course.
Skin Deep is Liz's third novel. We meet Delia who tries toleave behind her poverty-stricken upbringing in Ireland and transforms herself into “Cordelia” Russell who leads a less than perfect life on the sunny French Riviera while passing herself off as an English socialite.
Liz's more recent novel Our Little Cruelties was released in 2020 and examines the story of three brothers, Will, Brian and Luke. We know from the beginning of the book that one of them is dead - but which one, and who killed him?
Liz's books could be described as psychological examinations of what motivates people's actions or more simply - why do they do what they do? They are very much character driven with the reality being very much different from the idealistic picture the protagonists portray to the outside world. Every single word Liz writes plays a vital part in her storytelling.
I feel lucky to have met Liz at a Holy Child Killiney Alumnae event at the Royal Irish Yacht Club. She delighted an audience composed of fellow alumnae and teachers and she spoke about her time at school and beyond and her love of books and writing. She also read an excerpt from “Skin Deep” and generously answered questions from an enthusiastic audience. This multi-award winning author was most engaging and modest and genuinely thrilled at the response she received. Afterwards I spoke to her about our shared love of reading as well as our mutual appreciation of Malory Towers and St Clares stories that captivated us as children. I also asked her what advice she would give to any would-be writers. “Read as many books as you can” was the response – astute advice indeed!
Liz's colourful life has proved to be an exciting adventure so far, it could even form the basis of a fantastic novel!
I eagerly await her next publication.
By Sinéad Farrell