I’m so pleased to have fellow Inanna Publications author, Lisa de Nikolits, on the blog today! Lisa and I met back in the fall of 2018 at multi-author book launch of, among others, her last book Rotten Peaches and my literary fiction novel, Side by Side. I knew instantly that she was a warm and generous person and writer. I hope you enjoy getting to know more about Lisa and her latest, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution. I know I have!
Thank you, Lisa, and congratulations on your new book!
A :-) xo
AK: Tell us a little about yourself.
LdK: Here’s my official bio: Lisa de Nikolits is the international award-winning author of nine novels (all Inanna Publications). No Fury Like That was published in Italian in 2019 by Edizione Le Assassine as Una furia dell’altro mondo. Her short fiction and poetry have also been published in various anthologies and journals internationally. She is a member of the Mesdames of Mayhem, the Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, The Australian Crime Writers, The Short Fiction Mystery Association and the International Thriller Writers. Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits came to Canada in 2000. She lives and writes in Toronto.
But in less formal terms, I am a cat lover with Benny Ethel Birdstar for company! Benny is a rescue cat and we’ve had her for five months. She’s come a very long way – when we first got her, she ran under the bed and I was convinced she’d never come out! But she did and she’s the sweetest little thing. She’s still very skittish but she makes the most adorable little birdlike noises whenever I touch her! The only thing she doesn’t do (yet!) is sit on my lap but I am hopeful that one day she’ll change her mind about this!
I try to play the classical guitar, I knit, I do yoga, I love walking and listening to old David Bowie songs like Life On Mars or Blue Jean. I have a fondness for 80’s tech music and I don’t know anybody who would gladly share my playlists!
In my day job, I’m an art director with Hello! Canada magazine which is fun. I love layout and design.
I love Canada very much but I do find myself pining for the weather in South Africa. I haven’t been back in years as my family all live in Australia but I am hoping to visit South Africa in the next year or so – I really miss the smell of that red African dust.
A quirky thing on a personal note is that I can’t cook! Cooking is such wonderful artistry. When I tell people I can’t cook (with the implication that I don’t really want to, either!) they kindly shower me with recipes, but I’m not good at following rules of any kind and by the second line, I start winging it. Bad idea! Last Christmas, I decided to make Melk Tert, a traditional South African custard pie and I succeeded in making the filling but only because my husband supervised me and he wouldn’t let me derail by even the slightest ounce! He’s a marvellous cook whereas my go-to cooking comes down to two things: baking and boiling. I bake a potato pretty much every night, boil some cauliflower or broccoli, arrange it artistically on a plate alongside a colourful designer paper napkin (choosing my napkin is an end-of-day-ritual treat!), then I throw on a bunch of Frank’s Hot Sauce, add a dollop of canned soup (currently Cream of Celery) and I’m good to go.
And if it sounds like I’m a health nut, that’s far from the truth! Regular top ups of chocolate and hazelnut coffee get me through the day and if I had my druthers, I’d have birthday cake for breakfast every morning, corner slice please, with lots of icing!
AK: What’s the premise of your book?
LdK: The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution is about a couple experiencing a crisis. The husband, Lyndon, loses his job as editor of a financial magazine. Neither are happy with aging. Lyndon has gotten by with charm and frozen emotions. The wife, Margaux, has no idea how angry she is with him for his detachment. It is her idea to sell the house and just travel. But he is not coping well with retirement, so he simply walks off a ferry in Australia and leaves her. He steals a cat (well, he steals an expensive SUV that happens to have a cat onboard) and he flees Sydney, ending up in Apollo Bay, a few hours south-west of Melbourne, where he falls in with a group of anarchists and punk rockers in a tattoo parlour, planning revolution.
Meanwhile, Margaux sits tight in Sydney with no idea of where her husband might be or what happened. She moves into the red-light Kings Cross area, befriending the owner of the hostel, a seventy-year-old ex-cop drag queen from Saint John, New Brunswick, and waits to hear from her husband.
When she learns that her husband is fine, she is consumed by wrath and she invokes the angry spirit of an evil nurse, a key player in the terrible Chelmsworth sleep therapy in which many patients died (historical fact). While Lyndon gets in touch with his original career ambition to become an artist and wrestles with anarchism versus capitalism, Margaux learns to deal with her rage.
A serio-comedic thriller about a couple who embark on an unintentionally life-changing around-the-world adventure, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution is about the meaning of life, healing from old wounds, romantic love at all ages, and how love and passion can make a difference, at any age.
AK: What inspired you to write it?
LdK: While in Australia, I thought my husband had fallen overboard into Sydney Harbour. In fact, I missed the ferry stop! But I truly thought he was gone. And in that moment, a hundred scenarios flashed across my mind. None of them made it into the book but the seed was sown and I reaped it with all my might!
On the same trip, we visited Balmain and it was there, at the abandoned Rozelle Asylum for the Criminally Insane, (ironically now home to the Sydney International Festival of Authors, among other things), that I felt the presence of the evil Nurse Nancy. Research into the asylum led to the discovery of the Chelmsford Sleep Therapy which tied in perfectly to the book. Add to that the fact that I’ve always loved Sid Vicious (who doesn’t?!) and have always wanted to write about him, I studied tarot, focusing on Liz Worth’s book (with her permission), Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot.
Also, I wondered about the statue of the Virgin Mary at Coogee for many years and I’ve wanted to work that into a story, as well as the lives of the drag queens in Kings Cross. I lived in Sydney for two years and I wanted to use the city as a backdrop for quite some time.
I also tried to research throwing a roll of toilet paper off the Sydney Harbour Bridge (picture below) but, contrary to my work of fiction, there are cameras and steel fencing everywhere you look! So me and my roll of toilet paper didn’t get to actually try the experiment, but I did the math and the toilet paper protest could, in theory, work!
And I wondered in as store full of anarchists, in Newtown – they frightened and fascinated me!
AK: What are you working on now?
LdK: The next project is science fiction, of all things. I never thought I’d write science fiction! It’s called The Rage Room.
I had an idea years ago, to write about a man who wanted to be the perfect husband, father and son and because he couldn’t achieve it (he’s in debt up to his eyeballs and about to be fired), he comes home on Christmas Eve, looks around at the Hallmark perfection of the moment and decides that there is a way he can keep it like that forever. He kills his family. That way they’ll never know what a loser he is or how he failed them.
Pretty dark, I know. The novel was intended to be a suspense psychological thriller about family dynamics and the average Joe trying to succeed in this life, and how, as time went on, he couldn’t hack it.
But when I began to write the novel, it morphed into a time travel story. Talk about horror! I hate time travel! It fries my brain! But I needed it in order to explore the moral compass of the story, to be able to look at the permutations of what might have saved him or saved his family.
AK: What did you enjoy most about writing The Occult Persuasion and The Anarchist’s Solution?
LdK: Ah I loved the whole thing! I loved the sense of excitement, wonder and adventure. I loved the lessons learned by each of my characters and I hoped I’d internalize those lessons too!
I particularly loved Jason, the ex-punk rocker, and his fascination with Sid Vicious.
I loved using every place I loved in Australia to come to life in this book; Apollo Bay, Melbourne, Sydney, with Newtown in particular and the walk along from Coogee to Bondi. It was fabulous writing about it because it was like being there meanwhile it was the dead of winter here in Canada!
I loved all the relationships, the idea of fresh starts at any age.
AK: If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I’d do yoga with Jason the ex-punk rocker, up on his roof! And then later, we’d go the protest together! And I’d keep my t-shirt even although it was against the rules!
AK: Name a few of books you’d recommend others read:
LdK: I Become A Delight to My Enemies by Sara Peters and The Tender Birds by Carole Giangrande. They were both such memorable books – and Side By Side of course, it was incredibly moving and memorable.
The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution is about a couple experiencing a mid-life crisis. The husband loses his job as editor of a financial magazine. Neither are happy with their aging bodies. He seems to have gotten by with charm and frozen emotions. The wife has no idea how angry she is with him for his detachment. It is her idea to sell the house and just travel. But he is not coping well with retirement, so he simply walks off a ferry in Australia and leaves her. He steals a cat (well, he steals an expensive SUV that happens to have a cat onboard) and he flees Sydney, ending up in Apollo Bay, a few hours south-west of Melbourne, where he falls in with a group of anarchists and punk rockers in a tattoo parlour, planning revolution. Meanwhile, the wife sits tight in Sydney with no idea of where her husband might be or what happened. She moves into the red-light Kings Cross area, befriending the owner of the hostel, a seventy-year-old ex-cop drag queen from Saint John, New Brunswick, and waits to hear from her husband. When she learns that her husband is fine, consumed by wrath, she invokes the angry spirit of an evil nurse, a key player in the terrible Chelmsworth sleep therapy in which many patients died (historical fact). While Lyndon gets in touch with his original career ambition to become an artist and wrestles with anarchism and capitalism, Margaux gets in touch with her rage and meets people who can help her deal with it. A serio-comedic thriller about a post-retirement couple who embark on an unintentionally life-changing around-the-world adventure, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution is about the meaning of life, healing from old wounds, romantic love at all ages, and how with love and passion, we can make a difference, at any age.
Let’s Get Social:
Publisher’s website: https://www.inanna.ca/product/the-occult-persuasion-and-the-anarchists-solution/