FEATURED AUTHOR: LISA DE NIKOLITS
ABOUT THE BOOKRotten Peaches is a gripping epic filled with disturbing and unforgettable insights into the human condition. Love, lust, race, and greed. How far will you go? Two women. Two men. One happy ending. It takes place in Canada, the U.S. and South Africa. Nature or nurture. South Africa, racism and old prejudices — these are hardly old topics, but what happens when biological half-siblings meet with insidious intentions? Can their moral corruption be blamed on genetics — were they born rotten to begin with? And what happens when they meet up with more of their ilk? What further havoc can be wreaked, with devastating familial consequences?
Title: Rotten Peaches
Author’s name: Lisa de Nikolits
Genre: Noir Suspense Thriller
Publisher: Inanna Poetry & Fiction Series (September 20th 2018)
Print length: 300 pages
On tour with: Partners In Crime Book Tours
INTERVIEW WITH LISA DE NIKOLITS
Q: Lisa, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
A: Rotten Peaches is about four very nasty people–two men and two women. Their lives intersect, and their heinous crimes and raging passions have dire consequences for one another. I was worried that the nastiness of the characters would turn people off the book, but it’s being hailed as a real page turner, with readers emailing and messaging me almost daily to say how much they’re enjoying it! I read Gone Girl many years ago, and I wanted to write a nasty book, as it seemed like a really fun thing to do!
Q: Where’s home for you?
A: Home is Toronto, Ontario, Canada. We live in the Beach. (Some call it the Beaches, and there’s actually a massive divide between who calls it what! I go for Beach!)
Q: Where did you grow up?
A: I grew up on a patch of land a few hours north of Johannesburg, in a place called Honeydew. Then we moved down the road to Harveston! We had six acres and horses, and it was a lovely way to grow up.
Q: What’s your favorite memory?
A: Swimming with my horse in a lake. Or just riding around on my horse, singing very badly! My horse was a beautiful dappled grey, called Jamaican Melody. Well, that’s my childhood favourite memory. My more recent favourite memory (eight years ago) was when my husband and I got married in Las Vegas and we went up the tower for lunch afterwards. My husband and his brother were convinced the tower was turning, but my husband’s sister and I knew it wasn’t! It was such a lovely day!
Q: If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
A: Wow, that’s a tough one! Right now I feel so stiff and out of shape I’d get a personal trainer to help me ease out all the kinks!
Q: What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
A: Gosh, I’ve made so many, it’s hard to count. I always feel so dreadful when I’ve wasted money although usually the sums are $20 here and there so they aren’t huge amounts. But still, I hate wasting money! I buy knockoff purses, and they sometimes smell of that awful chemical plastic. Oh, and I should never buy on sale, I never make the right choices! I bought a pair of Frye’s boots once (they were way more than $20!), and trying to break them in nearly broke my feet! But I still wear them to readings and book events where I don’t have to walk a lot, so I guess they’re okay!
Q: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?
A: I feel like I’ve learned so many valuable things along the way. I was a very career-driven high-profile art director for some twenty years, and I thought that would stand me in good stead, all that time I invested in my career. I’ve subsequently learned that time invested in working is like playing a moody stock market; it doesn’t usually pay the dividends you hoped for. But that said, would I do anything differently? Probably not, because I loved working on magazines, and so while they didn’t prove the safety net I had hoped, in later years, they were still such a joy to be a part of.
Q: Who would you pick to write your biography?
A: J.R. Moehringer, the author of The Tender Bar. Such a wonderful book!
Q: What do you love about where you live?
A: It’s extremely beautiful for seven months of the year; the people are wonderful; there’s a lot of cultural diversity and shared creativity.
Q: What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
A: I’m not sure we have as much choice in life as we’d like! For example, in my day job, I’m an art director, and as soon as I saw that the industry was dying, I tried my darndest to make a change and was foiled at every turn. They say when one door closes another one opens, but I’m not sure that’s the case! Sometimes it feels like life has a plan for you and you have to ride it out, hoping you won’t get dumped by the next big wave!
Q: What makes you nervous?
A: LOL, pretty much everything!
Q: What makes you happy?
A: Typing "The End" on the first draft of a manuscript! Holding the first published copy of a book fresh out of the box. Meeting a reader who enjoyed my book.
Q: What makes you scared?
A: Being home alone at night. And our basement. I won’t go down to our basement at night, even when my husband is home. I’m convinced it’s haunted.
Q: What makes you excited?
A: The prospect of a new novel in the works!
Q: Do you have another job outside of writing?
A: Yes, I’m an art director and a graphic designer. In my heyday, I worked on fantastic magazines like marie claire, Vogue Australia, Vogue Living, Canadian Living, Cosmopolitan, and a few other highflyers! It was crazy and exhausting and harrowing, but it was also fantastic! Now I’m a freelance designer, and I hate the uncertainty of it all!
Q: How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first sight?
A: Oh yes! I saw him walking down the hallway, and I immediately asked my colleague who he was. We were both working on the Sears catalogue, and Brad is a photographer. It took me six months to get him to go out with me! Six months! And now we’ve been together for twelve years, married for eight.
Q: What are your most cherished mementoes?
A: I have a room full of them! They are stacked three deep! Everything is extremely neatly ordered and in its place, and there must be hundreds of items! I truly believe that mementoes carry a marvelous energy, and while some people would call my stuff junk, each tiny souvenir or saved gift or photograph makes me happy. The happy energy you had when you found or bought or were given the thing stays with you.
Q: If you could only save one thing from your house, what would it be?
A: You mean apart from my spouse, my cat, my laptop, my phone, my desktop computer, and the family crest ring my father gave me on my 21st birthday?! I guess my books!
Q: What brings you sheer delight?
A: Being in the sunshine, and watching soap bubbles float against a blue sky!
Q: Would you rather be a lonely genius, or a sociable idiot?
A: Lonely genius!
A: Climb Huayna Picchu, and take the chair lift to the Great Wall of China!
Q: What is the stupidest thing you've ever done?
A: I suffer from claustrophobia when I fly, and once on a long haul trip, I was feeling no pain (or comprehension for that matter), and I bought a Mont Blanc pencil on a stopover at the Frankfurt airport for $250! A pencil!! You can imagine my horror when I was going through my receipts! What madness was that! I still have the pencil, and I do love it, using it very occasionally.
Q: What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
A: I was a very happy teenager, and I had no idea how hard life could be! So I’d leave my teenage self as she was, happily reading, riding her horse, and writing poetry!
Q: What’s one thing you wish your younger writer self knew?
A: Learn the craft! Writing isn’t just writing! Learn about plot arcs and the structure of a novel, how to make characters sing and really come alive, how to make dialogue zip along, and how to make the plot really intersect and work and end with a bang!
Q: What makes you bored?
A: Small talk.
Q: What is your most embarrassing moment?
A: Forgetting people’s names. Particularly when it comes to book signing. I will blank out at the worst possible moments. I’ve tried all the memory tricks mentioned, but nothing works. So that is hugely embarrassing. One time I even inscribed a book with the wrong name, and the person was too polite to say anything. I woke up in a hostel in Shanghai, months later, in absolute horror! I emailed him to apologize, and I sent him a new book with the correct inscription!
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world, where in the world would it be?
A: Somewhere where it’s summer all year around! The winters in Canada are very long and very brown and very grey!
Q: What’s your favorite line from a book?
A: “You see, boxing and writing are very similar. You get in the guard position, you decided to throw yourself into battle, you lift your fists, and you hurl yourself at your opponent. A book is more or less the same. A book is a battle.” From The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker.
Q: What would your main character say about you?
A: I think all my characters would find me really boring! In fact, I know they would!
Q: How did you create the plot for this book?
A: Plotting this book took all the tenacity I had! I had a firm idea of how I wanted the story to go, but then (as always!) the characters up and did things that totally upset the apple cart! I always find writing to be a wild ride, you think you’re headed in one direction and then it turns around and swings on you! I had to keep up with what all my characters were doing! And I find that as you go, gaps appear that you didn’t know were there, and then you have to fill them in.
Q: Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
A: I once had an Afrikaans boyfriend who wouldn’t go all the way because of his religion! So that’s where I got the idea for Dirk. And I met a lot of married men when I was young, in South Africa and they thought it was perfectly fine for them to hit on me as long as we didn’t actually have sex! I thought that was extremely hypocritical, and I’ve wanted to write about it for a long time. Rotten Peaches was the perfect vehicle for it!
Q: Is your book based on real events?
A: Nope! I’m not even sure it’s possible to blow up the Voortrekker Monument! Actually, I tried to turn one event into reality and that was Bake Your Way to Happiness. In Rotten Peaches, Bernice is the author of self-help cookbooks, and I thought this would be a hit in real life! So I got together with a wonderful therapist, Marilyn Riesz, and an extremely talented food editor, Gilean Watts, and we came up with Bake Your Way to Happiness. You can still find it on Amazon. Unfortunately this book did not fly in the way that I truly believed it would, but you never know – it really is a wonderful book and got great reviews. (Please forgive the shameless plug for Bake Your Way to Happiness!)
Q: Are you like any of your characters?
A: I think every character I have ever written has tiny aspects of someone I could have possibly been in a different life. That’s what makes them so real to me. But that tiny seed of my potential self grows into a forest that’s entirely different to my life or anyone I could or would want to be. I’m not like anyone in Rotten Peaches, but I am quite a lot like Amelia in The Nearly Girl.
Q: One of your characters has just found out you’re about to kill him off. He/she decides to beat you to the punch. How would he kill you?
A: I’d probably die of a headache! I get very bad migraines, and so my character could easily switch my meds with a poisonous version thereof, and I’d be dead before you know it!
Q: With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
A: Linwood Barclay (he is SO funny!), Stephen King, D.J. McIntosh, J.R. Moehringer, and J.K. Rowling.
Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Graham Greene, Annie Proulx, Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), John Steinbeck, Harry Crews.
Q: What book are you currently reading?
A: The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer, Insomniac City by Bill Hayes, The Outsider by Stephen King, Skyjack by K.J. Howe, Steel Animals by SK Diment, How Your Brain Works by the New Scientist Instant Expert, Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig.
Q: What’s one pet peeve you have when you read?
A: When authors pad their work by repetition.
Q: Do you have a routine for writing?
A: Nope! Just get it done! And I get very stressed if I don’t get it done! I often have to write at night which is fine by me. And I write a lot on weekends.
Q: Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
A: I like writing at home for the simple convenience of it. I can write anywhere, and I do mean anywhere! People have often commented how I can write at a party, or at an airport while waiting in line, or on holiday, or while traveling. I use every possible moment I can to write.
Q: What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
A: Two things. That the reader couldn’t put the book down. And that they loved the writing.
Q: If you could be a ghostwriter for any famous author, whom would you pick?
A: J.K. Rowling!
Q: What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to write?
A: I’m working on a sci fi time travel book now, and it’s being SO tough! Sci if thrillers are not my forté, but for some reason I wanted to write this book, and so I am forging through it! I have a pretty good rough draft, and I’m going to keep polishing it.
Q: Where is your favorite library, and what do you love about it?
A: The Toronto Reference Library. It’s marvelous, marvelous place! I love the architecture and everything about it. They have wonderful talks there too. It’s one of my favourite places really.
Q: You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
A: I’m not sure! I’d be someone rich, and I’d go shopping! (Nothing superficial there!)
Q: What’s the worst thing someone has said about your writing? How did you deal with it?
A: A reviewer called my prose “naïve.” Wow, that really hurt! I haven’t really gotten over it!
Q: What would your dream office look like?
A: I’d have a huge desk, mahogany, more like a boardroom table than a desk. It would be shiny, and the surface would be utterly clear of any kind of ornamentation. I’d have a great view of the city from my window, and a fantastically comfortable chair!
Q: Why did you decide to publish with Inanna Publisher?
A: I’ve been publishing with Inanna since 2010, and every year I thank them for making my most important dreams come true. I’d publish all of my books with them, but I have two new manuscripts that just don’t fit the mandate, so I’ll have to look elsewhere. Inanna are wonderful, so supportive and generous, and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful to them. I actually came by Inanna via a rejection letter–that publisher suggested I try Inanna, and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’ve got a few things on the go! Touring Rotten Peaches, and trying to help it get its moment in the sun. I’m self-editing this year’s book, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution. I'm working on two manuscripts that I’d like to shop around: Boomerang Beach and The Rage Room.
READ AN EXCERPT
It’s the middle of the day and the ghost of a cat walks across my bed. I am hidden in the downy softness of bleach-laundered sheets, sheets ironed with starch and cleansed of their filthy sins by scalding Catholic water.
The bed is high and wide and the pillows are like clouds ripped from a summer’s sky. I bury my head in cotton balls, puffy meringues and whipped cream, and try to ignore the ghost of the cat that is walking the length of my back.
The cat settles at my feet but it gets up again and pads along my legs. When it first started its prowl, I sat up and reached for it but, like all ghosts, it immediately vanished and waited for me to turn away before settling in a warm, heavy lump against my side. Its weight is comforting in a way, like being massaged by the hand of God, but it isn’t God. It can’t be,because God, like luck, has left the building of my life.
Excerpt from Rotten Peaches by Lisa de Nikolits. Copyright © 2018 by Lisa de Nikolits. Reproduced with permission from Lisa de Nikolits. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has lived in Canada since 2000. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain. Her seventh novel, No Fury Like That will be published in Italian, under the title Una furia dell'altro mondo, in 2019. Previous works include The Hungry Mirror, West of Wawa, A Glittering Chaos, Witchdoctor’s Bones, Between The Cracks She Fell and The Nearly Girl. Lisa lives and writes in Toronto, and her very new book, Rotten Peaches is hot off the press to reader and literary acclaim. Lisa a member of the Sisters in Crime, Toronto Chapter, Sisters in Crime, Mesdames of Mayhem, and The International Thriller Writers.
Connect with Lisa:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Buy the book:
Amazon | Inanna