Today we are delighted to share an article written by the author of The Nearly Girl. The award winning author will be touring with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours during the entire month of November. There is a link below that will show you the various sites she will visit.
Do stop by to learn more about Lisa and her novels. You will find reviews, articles, interviews, and more.
Her newest release will have you questioning what is actually normal? Who’s to say?
We asked Ms. de Nikolits what it takes for the germ of an idea to become a book she will write.
Thank you so much for sharing with us, Lisa!
What does it take for an idea to become a book?
I wrote the first draft of The Nearly Girl in December of 2013. The trip was memorable for three things. The first was that my nephew Grayson was just six months old and I met him for the first time. The second was that I was writing the book on a tiny ancient Macbook Pro (on which I write most of my first drafts as there is no internet or other distractions), and the third thing is that I got caught in a flash storm and was stranded at a ferry stop in Sydney, with the computer tightly tucked under my t-shirt and wrapped in a plastic bag I had found – I had no backup of my work and I couldn’t bear to lose this story!
But before that, how did I come to have the idea itself?
I start with a single idea. For example, with The Nearly Girl, it happened like this. I was on a bus, in winter, going to a book event. I didn’t know if I was on the correct bus since I had not been to that area before and I was anxious. Then I realized how interesting it was, to be on an unfamiliar bus, on an unfamiliar route, with all kinds of interesting people. What was fascinating was how significantly visually collective they were as a group and how extremely different they were to the usual bunch on my regular bus. I wondered about their jobs, their families and their lives and I thought that I definitely should take more random busses.
At one point, I looked out the window as we drove past the beach and the sun had just set and there was a snow storm and I felt sad that we were prohibited by bodies that forced us to follow the seasons and obey the rules – what we could just have a picnic in the snow? Sit on the snow in shorts and a t-shirt, with the sleet hitting our bare arms while we made Smores.
And there it was. The Nearly Girl. The nearly girl would be out there, she would be doing exactly that, sitting on the snow, toasting marshmallows.
And then I had to figure out the rest from there. But I had a protagonist, an idea and a name for the book.
I always have a bunch of ideas floating around in my head, a cast of characters that I’d like to write about.
For example, in The Nearly Girl, we have Dr. Frances Carroll and he (or the idea of someone like him) had been with me for quite some time.
My very first inspiration for a crazed psychiatrist as a character came about in 1984.
1984 was, as those of you who were around at that time would agree, a stellar year for shoulder pads, Bananarama, Wham! (yes, still with George Michael), Billy Ocean and Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69. TV shows were all fired up: Magnum, P.I., Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Hill Street Blues, Cheers, Knight Rider and The A-Team. Cindy Crawford, Elle Macpherson, Brooke Shields and my own personal fav, Paulina Porizkova, were hot on the covers of Elle and Marie Claire. Hair was big, jeans were pleated and the fashions will never see a revival, as dreadful as they were but there’s no doubt, we were living large and loving every moment!
And none of that has anything to do with The Nearly Girl.
But one book did. The Dice Man. Penned by George Cockcroft under the pen name of Luke Rhinehart, the novel is about a psychiatrist who makes decisions for himself and his patients according to the cast of the dice. Hailed as a cult classic that would change your life, it did change mine. I read it in 1984 and it made me want to write a book of my own with a crazed psychiatrist with his own therapeutic methods of treatment.
It took a long time for my psychiatrist to come to me with his own unique therapy – there was no short cut to my meeting with Dr. Frances Carroll. The road involved an intense study of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insomnia and claustrophobia – the treatment was successful for the latter but not for the former but hey, the less you sleep, the more time you have to write, I guess.
And one day, mulling over my problem(s) and feeling super-annoyed with myself for having said problems, I snapped at myself – ‘just stop it! Just do the opposite thing and you will be cured! Just sleep! Just get in elevators, just go on subways, just get on planes!’
Of course, not being a qualified therapist, this did not achieve the desired result BUT it did spawn my dearly beloved Dr. Frances Carroll who is one of my favourite characters to date and I immediately knew that he would fit into The Nearly Girl and be my evil genius, the murderous villain that my protagonist would have to take down.
Once I have my single idea and my gang of characters, then I set down and work out the plot. I feel as if I am stuck in a café off some deserted Texas highway (I have no idea why it’s Texas) and my single idea is scrawled across one wall in neon writing and my cast are gathered around the diner counter, looking at me accusingly, all wanting to know their role in the story.
So I gather some people, tell them to sit down with me and I figure it out. Sometimes one of them will object and tell me that the action I had in mine wasn’t in his repertoire of personality and then I’ll be stuck for a bit but then another one will volunteer for the task and that can change the whole mood – suddenly the whole gang are helpful and next thing you know, dawn is breaking and we can all eat pancakes and settled down to actually write the thing.
I am a fast writer. I wrote the first draft of No Fury Like That in 12 days (18 hour days) at 90 000 words. But they are not nearly all that fast. Usually an unbroken six weeks of writing can result in an honourable first draft – if the map worked out as one hoped it would.
And reading is an essential part of writing.
I am one of the fastest readers I know – I can read a book in two evenings – a standard 600-page paperback. And I don’t miss a thing – my husband quizzes me to make sure! This is a hugely handy talent to have because reading is the foundation of any writer’s life.
I read anything and everything – here are some of my most recent reads (some of which are still works in progress, in a pile next to my bed): Jess Walter (The Financial Lives of Poets), Margaret Atwood (The Heart Goes Last), Garth Stein (A Sudden Light), David Adams Richards (Principles to Live By), Richard Flanagan, (The Narrow Road to the Deep North), Steve Burrows (A Cast of Falcons), Dietrich Kalteis (Triggerfish). Annie Proulx’ Barkskins is lined up, along with The Complete Book of Spells, Ceremonies and Magic by Migene Gonzalez-Whippler (research), The Odyssey by Homer (research), Paradise Lost by Milton (research).
I very much hope you have enjoyed this blog post and I would love to hear any comments and feedback! Thank you!
The Nearly Girl
by Lisa de Nikolits
on Tour November 2016
Fans of “A Prayer for Owen Meany” and “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” will love this clever, fast-paced and enjoyable thriller.
Like a modern-day Joan of Arc, Amelia Fisher attempts to carve out a ‘normal life’, showing us how mythic the idea of ‘normal’ really is.
With a poetic genius for a father, an obsessed body builder for a mother, and an enchantingly eccentric group seeking the help of an unorthodox therapist, what could possibly go wrong?
A chance discovery propels Amelia and fellow therapy attendee, Mike, with whom she is in love, into a life-threatening situation instigated by the crazed doctor’s own dark secret but Amelia’s psychosis saves the day.
Told with warmth, humor and populated with vividly original characters, this sprint-paced novel has it all, from restraining orders to sex in office bathrooms, and a nail-biting ending.
A novel about an unusual family, expected social norms and the twists and turns of getting it all slightly wrong, the consequences of which prove fatal for some.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Published by: Inanna Publications
Publication Date: October 2016
Number of Pages: 301
ISBN: 1771333138 (ISBN13: 9781771333139)
Purchase Links: Amazon 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, &INANNA 🔗