Blog tour: The Lizard

Welcome to the blog tour for Dugald Bruce-Lockhart’s debut novel, The Lizard, published by Muswell Press.

Ahead of the online virtual launch, which is happening on Facebook on May 5th, I am honoured to be able to share a Q&A with the author himself:

Hi Dugald! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Lizard! Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Thank you!

Set in 1988, it’s about a Philosophy and German undergraduate, Alistair Haston, who heads to the Greek islands to get over a broken heart and broaden his horizons. There, he meets Ricky, a magnetic Australian, who promises a cushy job on the Island of Paros recruiting models for a retired German artist. With mega earning potential and addictive benefits, Haston soon sheds his conservative skin and is swept up in a cocktail of hedonistic pursuits, but when the body of a missing tourist is found, the finger of blame points at Haston and his world collapses. The body count increases and Haston is forced on the run, relying on raw survival instincts in his attempt to make it out alive.

Did you have the plot entirely figured out when you started writing the book or did it take an unexpected turn as the characters grew on the page?

A: No – in fact, I started writing the piece ten years ago in the third person, and it was heading to be an almost auto-biographical novel. (The novel is inspired by a trip I took to Paros in ’88). I subsequently met a published writer who told me that a biographical novel wouldn’t sell – I needed to stick a murder in there. Not having ever murdered anyone, I realised I had to draw on my experiences at the time, but essentially make the whole thing up, almost from scratch. It then shifted to a first-person narrative, and turned into an adventure/suspense thriller. I decided to get the set up right and then let the action unfold from minute to minute in pretty much real time – and suddenly all sorts of minor characters became major ones. I knew the ending – roughly, but I didn’t know how I was going to get there. Like Haston!

Why the choice of Greece as the setting for your novel? How important is location for you?

A: I went to school in Cyprus when I was 9/10 years old and have always loved everything Greek. The music, the food - the sea above all. Year on year of holidaying in Greece and the islands, I felt I had to write the story I’d been sitting on for thirty years. (Also - growing up, my favourite author was Gerald Durrell).

If this novel was going to be turned into a film, who would you cast in the role of Alistair?

A: A young Tom Hardy or Andrew Garfield. Now, though – I’m not too sure. But I’ll know him when I see him.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: The scene where Alistair has late night dinner with the beautiful Amara (the on-off girlfriend of Haston’s mentor, Ricky) on the roof-terrace of her father’s house in Naxos, is my favourite scene. A slow-motion chess-game-cum-car-crash, that precedes all hell breaking loose for our protagonist.

Is there anything that didn’t make it into the final version of the book?

A: A couple of unnecessary sexual exploits were edited out – they were fun but didn’t really advance the plot – and there was a danger of Haston turning into a Lothario – which he isn’t!

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: It is titled ‘Second Skin’ – the sequel to The Lizard. Set in 1994, a bombshell out of the blue forces Haston to return to Greece, where he is drawn once again into the world of corruption, duplicity and espionage.

What are you reading at the moment?

A: Report To Greco, by Nikos Kazantsakis. A biographical novel – but more of a metaphysical and moral journey through life. (Wonderful and extraordinary.) 

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: They don’t disrupt at all – (home schooling is a far harder hurdle for the writer!!) However, I do find it difficult pushing myself on social media – it feels wrong somehow. But I understand that one has to do it. It’s tricky – the subtler you try to be, the more it looks like you’re trying to push a sell. In the end, I have decided to be upfront and try to find interesting ways of doing it.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Find a mentor. I spent years working alone on the first three chapters. When I finally met my writing coach and also Lit agent, Jeff Ourvan, of The Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency New York, I wrote the story in nine months. Someone needs to encourage as well as crack the whip!

Thank you for your time!

A: Thank you!

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