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Tuesday 1 November 2016

ℚ♫ The Nearly Girl - Lisa de Nikolits

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about The Nearly Girl (, Inanna Poetry and Fiction Series, 300 pages), a Mystery Thriller.

"In her latest novel, "The Nearly Girl," Lisa de Nikolits takes us deep into the complex workings of an extraordinary mind. Amelia Fisher, the protagonist of de Nikolits's latest offering, reminds readers of the importance of passion and adventure in a world that wishes to keep our wilder urges contained. Like a modern-day Joan of Arc, Fisher's attempts to carve out a 'normal life', take her to the fringes of social acceptability-showing us how mythic the idea of 'normal' really is. Through a story that urprises, page after page, "The Nearly Girl" will take readers on an unexpected adventure-where the lines between the rational and irrational are blurred. From hoarding to the fear of public speaking, this psychiatric thriller excavates the phobias, idiosyncrasies and character oddities that make us human at the core." --Andrea Thompson, author of "Over Our Heads"

|| Synopsis || Trailer || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Lisa de Nikolits; thank you for joining us!

Here at BooksChatter we love music; do you have a music playlist that you used in The Nearly Girl, or which inspired you whilst you were writing it?

"[Below is] my favourite playlist – which might have your readers running in horror!"
:-D I loved it! That is what I call eclectic and a blast from the past - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for The Nearly Girl?
"My very first inspiration for the book 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 AdamsSummer 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 supermodel, 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!"
... Paulina... married to Rick Ocasek from The Cars... and of course, talking of Magnum PI, she starred with Tom Selleck in Her Alibi. Then you had Yasmin  Parvaneh, Renée Simonsen...
Nope, I don't remember it much :-P 

"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."
The Dice Man: funnily enough I have that book and it has been on my to-read list for some time :-)

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"Let’s start by answering that by talking about my dear Amelia, the protagonist in all of this. She is The Nearly Girl and I was inspired by her by my own inabilities to do certain things correctly – make lunch dates and stick to them, or use the oven as a filing cabinet for my manuscripts and printouts, use Vim to clean the dishes and dish detergent to clean the bathtub. And the temptation to just get on a bus, any bus and believe it would get me to my location because really, a bus is just a bus.

I have always struggled with so many of the rules of social engagement – like being at a job for example. At my first place of employment, I phoned my mother. “I can’t stand being trapped like this,” I said. “I have to leave. I can’t understand this rigidity.” She told me to get used it and I realized from her tone that she wasn’t joking.

So Amelia, dear to my heart, is based on my struggles but of course my struggles are just boring and tedious and have financial repercussions and no advantages whereas Amelia is much more interesting than me, and so are her adventures.

And then there is Dr. Frances Carroll, the somewhat deranged but utterly brilliant psychiatrist and developer of Do The Opposite Thing (D.T.O.T.) which is his form of therapy. The road to finding this character involved a lot of personal experience, primarily 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.

Such a nutter! And yet, so funny. Well, I think he is hilarious and I hope readers will too but I shouldn’t set expectations about the book in any shape or form – some readers may find him dangerous, or annoying and think he should be locked up. All of these observations would also be correct."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for The Nearly Girl - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I really hope you like the cover of The Nearly Girl because I am the artist and I art directed my husband, a photographer, with the shoot of the popsicle. I am an art director in my day job – I have worked for Vogue Australia, Marie Claire South Africa, Canadian Health and Living and a whole host of other magazines. So designing is my day job and my publisher is very happy for me to design my book covers.

I loved the combination of the melting home-made popsicle (representing the ‘out-of-timeness of The Nearly Girl) with the neon typeface – she is the kind of girl who would stand under a neon sign in the middle of the night, in winter, eating a homemade KoolAid popsicle and so the cover is very representative of her and of the book’s themes."
Why should we read The Nearly Girl and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"I write stand-alone books and not only are they stand-alone, they really are one-of-a-kind, in theme, tone and focus. I try to address a social issue – in this case it is what it feels like to do things in a way that society finds unacceptable. We live in an age where peer pressure is so intense and I wanted to create a character who was clearly not of the norm but she doesn’t care – she is like a modern day Joan of Arc and her cause is her right to her own individuality.

Another aspect that I love about this this book is the fact that it is funny. I am not funny. Or if I am, I am funny by mistake. I feel that I lack a sense of humour in general - I am always the last one to catch the joke and most of the time it has to be explained to me. I generally avoid watching comedies because I find them very stressful – the level of chaos upsets me and I just want it to be over and everything to be alright! Also the pressure to get the joke, to laugh — it’s all too much!

But this book, remarkably, is funny. Well, parts of it are. There are parts that are downright heartbreaking too and while I never fail to laugh at the funny bits, the heartbreaking bits are equally as wretched, no matter how many times I read them too.

Shortly before the book goes to press, the author has read and reread it countless times and sometimes one does weary. And sometimes, I admit that the thought of reading it yet again was daunting but then as soon as I started, I was delighted to be hanging out with these characters. It never got old."
Can you tell us something quirky about The Nearly Girl, its story and characters?
"Yes. Ethel and Ed were named after my Great Auntie Ethel and my Great Uncle Ed. I took their kindness and the contents of their big hearts and I filled the hearts of my characters with that same open-hearted generosity.

Auntie Ethel, a very talented writer, held a story time in the local hospital for many years and both she and Uncle Ed opened their home to youngsters, even although they had children of their own and weren’t financially wealthy. I thank Auntie Ethel and Uncle Ed in the back of the book and I hope that wherever they are, that they can see that."
Who would you recommend The Nearly Girl to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"The book is about mental health and some of the group therapy scenes could be upsetting to people with sensitivities. However, the book is also very funny, as are the group therapy scenes, so there might not be anything to worry about. I would say to readers that if anything does start to feel uncomfortable, just toss the book aside. It is actually a feel-good book and a book that encourages empowerment, so hopefully it would have the effect of making people feel better about any issues they do have."
If you could / wished to turn The Nearly Girl into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Nora Ephron would direct it (I know she’s dead but still!)

Amelia would be played by Dakota Fanning (although she would have blue hair and hand-drawn henna art. Mike would be played by Max Thieriot, young Henry by Eric Christian Olsen and Paul Giamatti would have to play Dr. Carroll – I even like him to Paul Giamatti in the book."

What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I love to write about different things. Once a book is written, that’s it, the topic is done and over with. For example, in A Glittering Chaos, the themes are of a long-last brother and sister, psychics who can find missing people and love that comes later in life. So that’s that, those themes are done.

In The Nearly Girl, we have a collection of interesting misfits and actually, even although Amelia (protagonist of The Nearly Girl) most certainly will be a one-off with her particular nature and problems, I do like to explore characters who don’t fit in in life, in one way or another. So for sure, my future books will features characters who are outcasts in some way but the expressions of their particular manifestations will be very different."
What is your writing process?
"I start with one idea. For example, I was having dinner with a friend of mine and she told me about an experience she had had, with a friend in Barcelona and I immediately said “that’s a great opening for a book. I don’t know what will come after that but please can I use that in a book?” and she was very happy for me to do that.

And then I start my magpie gathering of experiences that could feature as a part of the book, or lead to something that could lead to something… that sounds so vague I know but for example the friend is young, on Instagram, maybe there is something in a photo she took… but what…. What could she see? Or not see, that was there? I start playing with ideas and I jot down notes and I carry on doing this until I have a bunch of characters and situations that I know I can bring together. Then I start reading books that put me in the mindset of what I am thinking about and then, once I have that mindset in place, I sit down and write."
What is in store next?
"I have two books signed with Inanna for 2017 and 2018 – No Fury Like That (a revenge novel set in Purgatory and on Earth and with elements of magical realism) and Rotten Peaches (about obsessive love that can go horribly wrong). Those books are signed and that’s great so now I am moving onto a new work titled The Occult Persuasion which uses the opener I mention above.

The Occult Persuasion will have a series of lives intersecting; the young people holidaying in Europe, a middle-aged couple holidaying in Australia, a patient of an insane asylum in Sydney Australia in the 1930’s (clearly no longer alive but appearing as in photographs with a message that only one young man can see or hear). I am still at the gathering of data stage for this one but hope to have it written by the end of the year."
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I have an amazing cat! Isabella Creamy Diva! She is my partner-in-crime and I love her to pieces!"
Hello Bella! Lots of head scratches and cuddles to you!

She is so beautiful I just had to feature her ;-) Thank you for sharing her and giving us so much insight into The Nearly Girl!

"Thank you very much for having me as a guest on your blog!"

The Nearly Girl
Available NOW!

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Lisa de Nikolits said...

Dear BooksChatter, thank you very much for having me as a guest today! I love your site and thank you for liking my playlist - not many people like my music! :)

I hope readers will enjoy the post as much as I enjoyed our chat!

BooksChatter said...

Hello Lisa, thank you for popping by! I love playlists, and yours - I ended up playing Barracuda a few times :-)

1984... I remember it well :-P

I am just about to add a few links and pics to the post (.... I am running behind as usual...)

Have a great tour!


CMash said...

The 80s!!! I have to read this book. Great interview!

Lisa de Nikolits said...

Thank you very much Dear Flora! I always love Partners in Crime tours, I think this is my third or fourth tour with them! Yes, here's to 1984, a stellar year!

Lisa de Nikolits said...

Wonderful! Thank you! And I am very happy we have another '80s fan onboard!

BooksChatter said...

You also made me laugh with Vim as we used to have it in Italy but I have never seen it here in the UK! :-)
Pics all added... and I had to add Renee and Yasmin to the model line up ;-)

Take care,


Lisa de Nikolits said...

The pics look so great! This is really fantastic, thank you very much Dear Flora! I love it! The songs, the CBT, the Vim, the Dice Man and the mag covers (and yes, that's my fav one of Paulina and yes, to Renee and Yasmin for sure!) - it's all really great! Love from me and Bella!