Strange Sally Diamond’s Liz Nugent on her latest novel, typing one handed, and why we love crime

Virgin Radio

3 Apr 2024, 13:54

Liz Nugent and Ryan Tubridy chatting in the Virgin Radio UK studio

Credit: Virgin Radio

Bestselling author Liz Nugent was Ryan Tubridy’s latest guest on his mid-morning show segment, Talking Books.

Speaking with listeners on Virgin Radio UK, the Irish writer talked all things crime writing, from hanging out at an old haunt of Agatha Christie's to coping with only being able to type with one hand.

In Nugent’s latest novel Strange Sally Diamond, reclusive and over-trusting lead character Sally becomes the centre of attention after honestly trying to act out the "unorthodox" last wishes of her late-father. Thrust into the terrors of the outside world by a prying media, Sally begins to learn about her horrific hidden past while coming to terms also with her newfound notoriety.

“Her backstory is darker than she ever knew,” Nugent teased while appearing on Ryan’s show, as he described the novel as a “deliciously dark adventure.”

Asked by Ryan why she thinks crime writing in general remains so popular in today’s world, Nugent suggested: “The world isn’t very fair at the moment, and it seems that there’s a lot of injustice going on. 

“When people read a crime novel, they know that the bad guy is going to get caught in the end, that there is going to be justice,” she continued. Nugent then warned, however: “Unfortunately, they don’t get that in my books! I don’t do happy endings.”

One of the signs of the popularity of crime writing today is the success of several crime writing festivals, one of which is Harrogate's Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival which is held annually in July, and which Nugent is a regular attendee.

“Everybody converges on the Old Swan Hotel - which is the hotel where Agatha Christie went to hide when she went missing back in the day,” she explained. “Crime writers from all over the world come to that [festival].”

Opening up about her own writing habits, Nugent also explained to Ryan that due a fall she had when a child, she can only use one of her hands to type her novels.

“I have a condition called dystonia, which I have had since I fell down the stairs when I was seven years old,” Nugent shared. “It affects the right-hand side of my body, so I can’t type for example with my right hand.”

But the author evidently hasn’t been held back by this limitation, as she later joked with Ryan that her typing simply is “as slow as I am”.

Strange Sally Diamond by Liz Nugent is out now in bookshops and online.