Monday, March 05, 2012



Please welcome Lisa de Nikolits to the blog.

Caroline: Where did you grow up? Siblings? Locale?

Lisa: I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. We lived an hour north of the city and had four hectares with horses and I enjoyed a wonderful time growing up.

I have one sister and she suffered the consequences of my book-wormish tendencies more than anyone – she was (is) very sporty and she was always begging me to play netball with her (she was captain of the A-team, while I hid under the bleachers and read). She recently sent me a photograph of the two of us when we were kids – she’s sitting chewing on a finger, looking bored and miserable, looking into the distance, and I’ve got my head down, nose in a book, happily reading, ignoring her entirely. I feel awfully bad about this now – now that we live so far apart (she’s in Australia and I live in Canada), I wish I’d played with her more even if I was bad at sports and hated them.

And now that I think about it, I wasn’t bad at all sports, just school ball-sports like tennis, hockey and netball. I loved swimming, and I did very well at show-jumping and I have my brown belt in karate (although that’s a skill sadly long-unused).

Caroline: It sounds as if you had a lovely childhood but were probably you considered a “bookworm.”  Married, single? Children?

Lisa: I am a married bookworm without any children. I knew my husband and I were a match when he took me home to see his apartment and he opened the door to one entire room filled with books – and I do mean filled! It was amazing.

He and I sometimes take a day on a weekend to just lie in bed and read – it’s really great! Of course we don’t get to do it too often but when we do, it’s such a treat. Or we’ll read late into Saturday nights and into the early hours of Sunday morning and there’ve been times when we’ve gone out to all-night doughnut shops for just that right hit of carbs and sugar to see us through to the end of our books!

Caroline: My husband is a bookworm also, which is wonderful for me. Who are your favorite authors and favorite genres?

Lisa: I read a huge variety of books. Huge. Here are just a few that I’ve read (and reread) in the past few months…. THE WITCH OF BABYLON by D.J. McIntosh; THE ANTOGONIST by Lynn Coady; MY SISTER, MY LOVE, by Joyce Carol Oates; HALF-BLOOD BLUES by Esi Edugyan; A CENTURY OF SOUTH AFRICAN SHORT STORIES; THE STORY OF AN AFRICAN FARM; COLD STONE JUG by Herman Charles Bosman. I read poetry, the classics, the dictionary, a book on synonyms – you name it, I read it!

As for all-time favourites; John Steinbeck, Annie Proulx, Charles Bukowski, Harry Crews, Mordecai Richler, Edeet Ravel.

I also love short story collections – I have such great respect for short story writers; they hone their craft like sculptors – not a single excess word. I strive to achieve that.

Caroline: One of my friends, Earl Staggs, has a great short story collection on Amazon, but I have trouble condensing what I want to say. What’s your favorite way to relax and recharge? Hobbies?

Lisa: I read, walk, knit, play the classical guitar, window-shop, daydream, make spirit sticks, celebrate the seasons and the various celebrations that come with them; I plant tulip bulbs, tend to my garden, ride my bike, paint Easter Eggs, decorate Christmas trees, hang Valentine decorations, celebration full moons (I just love a glorious full moon). I ruminate on new moons, I value the beauty that each season brings. I talk to my friends a lot, I eat Ethiopian food, I play with my cat, my Mom and I email a couple of times daily (she’s also in Australia)… I have an endless list really! I love taking long baths and a new bar of special soap is a joy as are scented lotions and candles. I love chocolate and make sure I treat myself well in this regard – not that I have to worry, my husband keeps me well-stocked!

And I just love every moment I get to spend with him. One of our greatest pleasures is heading out into the countryside in summer on road trips where we stop to photograph things and there was a while there where I felt the need for us to veer for every yard-sale and he obliged! I also do yoga and I recently discovered Bollyfit was just about the most fun ever!

Caroline: You definitely stay busy, and that’s good. I don’t understand people who are “bored” when there are so many choices. Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

Lisa: “There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” Albert Einstein

Caroline: I love that quote and it's also one of my favorites! How long have you been writing?

Lisa: All my life. Really! I can’t remember not writing. Or not thinking about writing. I suffered from terrible insomnia as a child and so my Mom taught me to read from a very early age. I can’t remember not being able to read. Words were my friends when everyone else had gone to bed.

Caroline: My youngest daughter suffers from insomnia, and she reads a lot. Where do you prefer to write? Do you need quiet, music, solitude? PC or laptop?

Lisa: My fantastic Apple laptop (MacBook Pro) is my writing partner. That, along with my Magic Mouse. They both help me to be super-speedy – they’re incredible time-savers and it’s like driving the very best BMW – smooth and fast! I’ve been working on Apples since their incarnation in the late 80’s (yes, I’m that old) in the design field and so I work on my writing on an Apple too, I simply can’t bear the clumsy contraption that is a PC! And yes, I offer my apologies to PC fans – I’ve just loved Apple for too long!

I definitely need quiet unless I am inputting corrections that I’ve made to hard copy. Then I need music and lots of it. And chocolate-covered peanuts.

I love a laptop because I move around the house to write. In summer I write in the sun-room or the living room during winter. I must edit in my study. Sometimes I write in bed. My laptop (covered in swirling glittery paisley decals) moves a lot! Her name is Uber Isis and she’s my ally!

Caroline: I do like my laptop, but I’m more a PC person in my study. Are you a plotter or a panzer?

Lisa: I’m both! I’m a panzer when I’m at my computer and I’m a plotter when I’m not! I plot on the subway, in the bathtub, on walks, while watching TV and then I get to my computer and I fire away!

Caroline: Do you use real events or persons in your stories or as an inspiration for stories?

Lisa: I definitely use real life as my starting point for my writing – but only as a starting point. Jeffrey Eugenides (THE MARRIAGE PLOT and THE VIRGIN SUICIDES) said (in a talk in Toronto) that real life is messy, and not dictated by dramatic events in the same way that fiction is. I take the shapeless messy clay of life around me, and life as I imagine it could or would be, and I use it as a medium from which to create a sculpture that bears no true resemblance to that from which it was plucked.

I think that this practice makes me a super-vigilant observer in life; I’m always on the lookout for some scrap or gem that I can take home and build a story out of.

Caroline: Yes, I think writers always collect kernels that could become stories. Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

Lisa: I make sure that I write every day. And even if that’s just a paragraph, I try to stick to it. Just one small bit, every day. I don’t worry about word count – I always write too long anyway! The main goal is to keep myself active by writing something, no matter how small.

Caroline: What do you hope your writing brings to readers?

Lisa: Ah, many things. I hope they enjoy the read. I hope they relate to the characters. I hope they learn something about themselves and I hope that my books help them to like themselves more and forgive themselves for the times in life when things haven’t gone so swimmingly well. I hope that they like my style of writing and I hope that they think my books have value in this world.

Caroline: What long-term plans do you have for your career?

Lisa: I’ve never been big on long-term planning. I’ve always thought that I just need to keep putting my one foot in front of the other, and working hard today, in this day and doing the very best I can, and hoping that God will smile upon me and that my efforts and my work will bear a fruitful harvest. I can’t really imagine thinking beyond that, nor do I think that it’s my job to think beyond that – I tell myself this daily; “just do your job today, do what’s needed today,” and if that means just writing a paragraph or doing a seven hour stretch on a weekend or staying up all night, or going back over my research – well that’s all I have to do – keep my chin up when the knocks come and keep doing my job. I have faith that the rest will take care of itself down the line. I really think that life is all about finding joy and gratitude in today. It’s hard because we are so encouraged to think about ‘when’ things are truly fantastic – meanwhile they’re really rather wonderful right now! And you know, when I started out as a layout artist creating real estate ads for a free brochure, I never dreamt I’d end up working for Vogue (Australia) but I did – and I attribute that to my just doing the best job I could, every single day, no matter how small or insignificant the task.

Caroline: That’s a terrific philosophy, and one that obviously works for you. Would you like to tell us what you’re working on now?

Lisa: I’m in the process of rewriting and cutting my murder mystery novel. My wonderful publisher evaluated the book and they think it has potential, and have mentioned a 2013 publishing date IF I can make the grade of doing what’s needed to reshape it. So that’s what I’m working on right now – and I’ve been working on this novel for four years; I’m heading into my fifth year on it. I also have to find a new title and I’m stuck between a few options – maybe your readers can weigh in on the choices? That would be great!

Some background info: it’s an Agatha Christie type of novel, very long, with over twenty characters all told – they go on a trip across the Namibian desert and all kinds of mayhem unfolds…

Here are my (current) prospective titles:


I hope your readers will tell me which one they like best!

Caroline: Each sounds intriguing. What advice would you give to unpublished authors?

Lisa: Never give up. Hone your craft. Take criticism with good cheer and think about what you can learn from rejection. There IS a hidden lining to every dark cloud and what looks like a blow can really make you stronger and can help you in the long run. Trust your creativity – if you need to rework something, don’t worry, the creativity will be there for you.

Caroline: Sage advice. Where can readers find your books?

Lisa: – –

Caroline: A fun fact that readers wouldn’t know about you.

Lisa: I always keep chocolate next to my bed in readiness for midnight ‘emergencies’!

Caroline: Clever girl! Something about you that would surprise readers.

Lisa: I was expelled from Catholic school – but I had to be reinstated!

The headmistress was having a ‘bad day’.

Caroline: Now there’s a story I’d love to hear! How can readers learn more about you?

Lisa: I have a website;
I’m also very active on Facebook and I post a daily quote on Twitter – I post the quotes in the morning and then say who said it in the afternoon. I love researching my quotes, I learn a lot.

Friend me on Facebook (I love connecting with fellow writers) or find me on Twitter:!/lisadenikolits


Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Lisa. 

Readers, please return on the 7th for a review of Lisa’s current release, WEST OF WAWA (Wawa is a town in Canada). In the meantime, please tell her which title you think is most engaging for her mystery in progress.

Thanks for stopping by!


Caroline Clemmons said...

Lisa, thanks for visiting today. The title I like best is AN ACCIDENTAL MADNESS.

Aurana Books said...

This is just what I was looking for. I did not expect that I’d get so much out of reading your write up! You’ve just earned yourself a returning visitor.