Authors, teachers, business-women, and so much more…
Our own Joan O’Callaghan presents a series of interviews with each of our Mesdames.
Lisa has a great passion for mystery, crime and short stories and is thrilled to be invited to join the Mesdames of Mayhem.
She has worked on international titles such as Vogue Australia, Vogue Living, Cosmopolitan, marie claire and SHE.
Lisa designed the book covers for A Glittering Chaos and The Witchdoctor’s Bones and provided the artwork for West of Wawa (photo by Bradford Dunlop).
Joan: What have you written?
Lisa: I am the author of four published novels, The Hungry Mirror, West of Wawa, A Glittering Chaos, The Witchdoctor’s Bones (all Inanna Publications) and I have a new novel coming out in Fall 2015, Between The Cracks She Fell. I also have a first draft of a novel titled The Nearly Girl and another, Purgatory. I have a short story which I hope will be included in the next anthology by the Mesdames of Mayhem, “Troubled Times”. I also have a short story, “Bleach”, due in 2015 Postscripts to Darkness and two stories, “Henry and Hannah” and “The Love Triangle”, in Maud.Lin House, a new literary anthology.
Joan: When did you start writing?
Lisa: I started in my early teens but I really put my mind to learning the craft in 2005. I have worked on my writing every day since July 2005, treating it as if it were a full time job.
Joan: Why write mysteries?
Lisa: I actually write all kinds of novels but I love writing mysteries because not only does one get to explore the darker side of life and human nature (which you can do in literary fiction) but you also get to create and resolve a puzzle. That’s a lot of hard work but it’s also a lot of fun!
Joan: Why do you think people like to read mysteries?
Lisa: Mysteries are fascinating! They’re entertaining and complex and the characters are so multi-dimensional. People are intrigued by crimes and all the mischief out there and there is nothing better than to fall into a good book and get carried away into a dangerous place where you can hold your breathe in horror while the protagonist goes from one life-threatening situation to another.
Joan: Is there a favourite place you like to write or ritual you go through when writing?
Lisa: I don’t have any particular place, in fact, I have a few places! I like to write in bed sometimes, with my laptop balanced on a pillow. In summer, I like to write in my little sun room and I watch the world go by while I am furiously typing. I also have a wonderful study that is crammed with knick knacks from my travels and adventures and I like to write there, using my Grandfather’s old dining room table for a desk. I like to wear a hat when I am writing. I have quite a few hats!
I used to light a candle but then I realized I am irresponsible and I have left a few burning and so I stopped doing this for fear of burning down the house. I write at all times of the day and night.
I take a notebook with me when I take a bath since it’s very annoying to be hit by inspiration and have to rush out, dripping water everywhere.
Joan: How do you balance writing with the demands of a day job and/or family?
Lisa: I have always prided myself on being a very good time manager. I juggle things well. However, the writing comes first, after having a job thas it, although I am currently unemployed (that said, looking for a job is even more work than having a job!).
My husband is very patient, as are my friends, and I think they let me go off and write because if they don’t, I am impossible to be around, I am distracted and annoying, so it’s better if I just hunker down and write! Sometimes the house becomes quite feral with dust bunnies the size of rats and we run out of groceries and I live on pancakes because they are easy and there’s always a box of Aunt Jemima’s for emergencies!
I am extremely disciplined about my time and I map it all out carefully: there’s the job (or job search), the writing, the family, the guitar playing (I study the classical guitar), friends and recreational time (of which I really have very little). It may all sound dreadfully dull but when writing matters so much, and it really is the thing I love to be doing the most, then in a way, it is the recreation.
Joan: What awards or other forms of recognition have you received for your writing?
Lisa: I have been very fortunate: The Hungry Mirror won the 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award. West of Wawa won a 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick and was featured extensively on the Chatelaine Book Club. A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction and was endorsed by the literary magazine Broken Pencil. The Witchdoctor’s Bones was endorsed by Canadian Living magazine.
Joan: What are you working on now?
Lisa: I am working on the novel titled Purgatory, revising the first draft. Then I am going to return to The Nearly Girl and work that novel harder; I have some plot ideas that I need to address. Then I am going to do a thorough self-edit of Between The Cracks She Fell before sending that off to my publisher. One of the things I love about my publisher is that she is very happy for me to sculpt to my heart’s content. I will submit that to her by year-end. I am aiming for all these to be completed by year-end, and then I can start work on a new novel, about a man with two families.
That’s all I’ve got for now, he’s polygamist with two families and then, there’s murder and two families become tangled.
Joan: As a writer, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Lisa: Keep writing! Keep coming up with new ideas for novels, short stories and even poems. Write something, every day. Be it a small paragraph or thousands of words, just keep writing! And then, keep revising, keep sculpting, keep looking for ways to improve. Study style guides and books on characterization. Keep writing, keep revising, keep studying about writing.
Joan: What do you like about being one of the Mesdames?
Lisa: The Mesdames are all such amazingly talented and dedicated writers that I am hugely honoured to be among them. I think I will only really feel like a real Mesdame once the next anthology is out and hopefully I will have a short story in it. Only then will I feel like I am really part of the wonderful gang!
Joan: Is there anything you’d like to add?
Lisa: Love, friendship, books and writing are what make the world go round! Oh, and pets! Any information about me would be utterly incomplete without a mention of Isabella Creamy Diva, my moody, loveable, adorable and spectacular blue point Himalayan cat.
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a proud Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror, won the 2011 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY) Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award.
Her second novel, West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was one of Chatelaine’s four Editor’s Picks.
Her third novel, A Glittering Chaos, launched in Spring 2013 to reader and reviewer acclaim, and is about murder, madness, illicit love and poetry. A Glittering Chaos tied to win an IPPY Silver Medal for Popular Fiction.
Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched in Spring 2014. The Witchdoctor’s Bones is a thriller about the darkest secrets of African evil; the novel seamlessly weaves witchcraft and ancient folklore into a plot of loss, passion and intrigue and a holiday becomes a test of moral character.
All books are published by Inanna Publications.
Joan O’Callaghan is the author of educational books and short stories, including Sugar ‘N’ Spice in the anthology THIRTEEN (Carrick Publishing, 2013). Her short story George is available for e-readers everywhere, including Amazon Kindle.