Lisa de Nikolits, author of The Hungry Mirror, launches her blog tour!

Monday, May 03, 2010

& Book Giveaway Comments Contest!

Lisa made a family road trip a little more interesting when she was ten by announcing that she had decided on her pee-u-da-name. After a moment of silence her father asked if she meant pseudonym? Exactly! And the name she had spent endless miles mulling over was Elizabeth Deane. Although Elizabeth Deane has no bylines, Lisa de Nikolits--the name Lisa's parents mulled over endlessly--has many.

At age twenty-one Lisa started out as a feature writer at a South African magazine. After a few months she was asked to pinch hit for the layout artist. She had found her true love--she enjoyed designing pages, it was fun! So much fun that she spent the next twenty years as art director for magazines including Vogue and Marie Claire.

But one of the best things about her job was that she got to meet remarkable women every day. Women who were crying out to be written about. So Lisa wrote. Late at night on borrowed typewriters and eventually a dinosaur of a PC. With orange type that flickered on a black screen, she captured stories of women who populated her days.

Her short stories have appeared in various anthologies, her poetry received a bronze medal in Canada, and her book Single Girls Go Mad Sooner was published in 1995. Along the way she's also dealt with the heartache of the book that went into final proofs before the publisher shut down because of financial troubles, leaving Lisa's literary baby stranded. Despite setbacks, this writer/art director/photographer who calls Toronto home is still "fired up" with the help of her supportive parents, feisty sister, and companion and fellow photographer Bradford Dunlop.

Find out more about Lisa by visiting her website:

The Hungry Mirror
By Lisa de Nikolits

Zero wins! Working at a fashion magazine, a young woman finds herself as the perpetuator of the myth of beauty. She spends hours retouching photos into perfection and fooling ordinary women into believing that perfection is achievable. She even fools herself. In starving herself she fast becomes trapped in a cage of addictions walled by self-hatred and filled with doubt.

This novel, written in first person, is the story of everywoman and her relentless struggle with body image. Finally the young woman realizes the choice is hers--to live or die. She learns to look beyond the media's definition of beauty, the complex friendships between women, the unspoken truths about marriage and sexuality as well as various religious and spiritual messages, ancient philosophies, fairytales and legends.

In the end, the young woman learns the true value of size zero is indeed nothing.

Genre: Poetry & Fiction
Hardcover: 244 pages
Publisher: Inanna Publications (April 2010)
ISBN: 1926708008
Read an excerpt on Lisa's site, and purchase on Amazon.

Book Giveaway Comments Contest!
If you received our Events Newsletter, remember, we are holding a contest to win a copy of Lisa de Nikolits's novel The Hungry Mirror to those that comment. So, grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and enjoy the chat, and share your thoughts, and comments, at the end. We will randomly choose a winner from those who comment.

Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Welcome, Lisa! Like so many writers, you've worked in many formats: feature articles, poetry, short stories, books. Do you have a format that is your favorite or comes easiest to you?

I love novel writing. I never seem to struggle with finding enough information for novels. In fact, my work is always too lengthy. I do love writing a short story though--but again, even my short stories are too long. One of my goals is to learn to edit, edit, edit. I have a current work-in-progress that a publishing house is interested in--but I have to edit it down by half; it currently sits at 220,000 words.

WOW: Oh my! That's going to be tough to cut! I can totally relate. Besides writing, you spent many years on the visual side as an art director and photographer. Do you think all writers should dabble in other arts?

I would dare to say that most writers do dabble in many other art forms. I think the creative spirit lives in many different areas of one's life. Painters are poets, and poets, painters. It all comes down to how much time you have. I am studying the classical guitar, for example, and I try to practice for at least half an hour every day. However, because of my commitment to writing, I will never be able to take the guitar as far as I would like to. One has to make decisions about what's important at the time. For a long time, the most important thing to me was being an art director and I worked eighteen hours a day on that, focusing on little else. In my teens I was a passionate showjumper and I also did a lot of karate--so you have to choose your priorities.

WOW: You're a real Renaissance woman! Speaking of, is there a reason that most of your writing has focused on women and their lives?

Lisa: I find women infinitely fascinating. Women are so complex and interesting. I have no idea why, but we seem to struggle more in life and generally struggle more with life. This is a generalization but we seem to analyze our struggles more than men do. We want to know the why of the struggle. I am however, delving into the male psyche and developing more male characters and it's a lot of fun. I think I have been fortunate in that I have met so many fascinating women and my relationships with them have definitely been a springboard for my creativity.

WOW: Can you tell us a little about the idea behind
The Hungry Mirror? Is it based on real life?

That's an excellent question. The Hungry Mirror is without a doubt a very controversial book and it does say a lot about me. It's a solid work of fiction in that the main character is entirely her own person and all the characters in the book are also works of fiction, but I have had my own issues with body image and food since I was fourteen. It would be true to say that I have personally researched every aspect mentioned in the book in more depth than I would have liked to.

I have been deeply encouraged by my friends' reactions to the book... I wasn't sure what to expect. I wasn't sure what they would think of it. The same thing for my family. But you know, the response has been overwhelming support and love--and interest in, and compassion for, the book. I have people emailing me every day describing how much they love the book, how they relate to a certain character, and letting me know in detail what resonates with them. More than just a few women have, in confidence, told me of their own issues, or of family members who have suffered or who are suffering from an aspect mentioned in the book. I even have male readers who have told me they thoroughly enjoyed the book as well as having learned a lot from it.

I wrote
The Hungry Mirror because I felt that eating disorders and body image are misunderstood, particularly for adult women, professional adult women with families and marriages. It's so easy to think that a person with an eating disorder just needs to eat a thing--or not eat it, as the case might be. What is less understood is the emotional relationship one can have with food, the addictive nature of that relationship or the potentially devastating power of negative body image. Particularly in a society where it seems we have it all. I have had people say to me, "Why can't you just be happy? Why can't you just eat that thing (or leave it be)?" There are a myriad of reasons for eating disorders and body image concerns, and I hope that the book sheds some light on those reasons.

The other very important aspect of this novel, for me, was the age of the main character. I have realized that very few people, if any, 'grow out' of an addiction or problem. You don't just wake up one morning and there you go, problem solved. I personally hoped that would happen for years. Or, I hoped that marriage would 'cure' me. Or, a new and better job. I kept waiting for circumstance to heal me and it was a long time before I realized that wasn't going to happen. It does seem so unfair and unbalanced how easy addictions are to learn, and yet, so incredibly hard to unlearn. You have to work very hard at unlearning harmful self-behaviors.

WOW: You're so right. I can see this is a topic you're very passionate about, and it's one that isn't frequently talked about. It's wonderful you've touched so many lives by writing this book. How long did it take to write?

Lisa: I began
The Hungry Mirror as a short story some fifteen years ago. I worked on it for about six or seven years and then put it aside, to work on other projects and ideas, focusing for many years on art directing, particularly when I left South Africa to go to Australia. But I always had the manuscript ready, it was never abandoned or forgotten.

WOW: That's dedication! I'm glad you were able to see it through. So often we, as writers, let projects go after some time. Can you tell us a little about your road to publication?

Lisa: As a first time novelist, this has been an incredible experience. I have learned so much. Apropos of the most valuable lesson I've learned; I finished reading Child 44 in which Rob Tom Smith thanks "James Gill for taking on the book once it was finished, only for him to tell me it wasn't finished at all, making me rewrite it again."

I laughed when I read this because when Inanna Publishing and Luciana Riciutelli signed me for the book I had no idea it was really a first draft they were signing. I had no idea about rewrites. My publisher, Luciana has been fantastic. She has taught me about timelines, taking out unnecessary padding, about being focused on the storyline. She was wonderfully insightful at pointing out gaps in the story. I would read her comments and think My word, I assumed so much. I assumed readers would make the connections I had, in terms of character and plot, but why would they? The connections only existed in my head. Luciana also helped me develop the emotional depth of the characters. I think that I may have been unsure of my ability to really express what the characters felt but Luciana's trust in my writing has built my confidence in a very substantial way.

And how did I get to Luciana? I had sent the manuscript to a publisher in Toronto who turned it down. They liked it, they said, but they wanted a more teen-based work. But, I wanted to object, anybody can do a teen-based work on eating disorders, what about the adult sufferers? I didn't say that but I did send a note back saying I was rather disappointed. You have to know, I have had my fair share of rejections for various works of mine, and unlike Stephen King, who kept his letters thrust onto a spike on the wall, I crumpled up my standard 'careful considerations' and threw them away. This was the first rejection for The Hungry Mirror though and you'd have thought I would just have remained quiet, after all, one doesn't like to complain. But I did reply, expressing my disappointment. To my surprise, I received a lovely email from the managing editor who suggested I try Inanna Publishing. Which I did. At the launch of
The Hungry Mirror, Luciana thanked them for passing me along! So, rejection can be a good thing!

WOW: Let's all have that printed on shirts, ladies! "Rejection can be a good thing!" So what are you working on next, Lisa?

Lisa: I have three novels in progress, one halfway to first draft, the others are first draft completed, but need a lot of work.

The Corner of the Desert is a murder mystery set in Namibia. A busload of tourists traverse the harsh landscape and the intrigue builds as they respond to their isolated surroundings by indulging in their darkest fantasies. A publisher in Toronto liked this but said it was too long--it's currently 220,000 words and needs to be cut in half.

West of Wawa is about a girl who emigrates to Canada from Australia in reaction to public humiliation and marital disaster. She finds the new life she is looking for but before she can find happiness or security, she has to face a number of spiritual, romantic and psychological challenges. She travels across Canada and whether she is running away or running to, she cannot know until the very end of her journey. A tale of modern heroism, with poisoned toads and potholes abounding.

So, to sum it up, writing is such a joy for me, and hopefully there is lots of good stuff ahead. Thank you!

WOW: Thank you, Lisa! We look forward to your books; they sound fascinating! It was such a pleasure chatting with you today.

Want to join Lisa on her blog tour? Check out these dates and mark your calendar! You can also snag a copy of WOW's Events Calendar HERE.

Blog Tour Dates: Come and join the fun!

May 3, 2010 Monday
Lisa will be chatting with WOW! Women On Writing at The Muffin. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Lisa's book!

May 5, 2010 Wednesday
Do you love your author photo? Do you even have an author photo? Lisa de Nikolits, author of the novel The Hungry Mirror and an art director for Vogue and Marie Claire, gives us some tips on taking the perfect author photo.

May 6, 2010 Thursday
Lisa will be stopping by Mom-e-Centric for a surprise guest post!

May 7, 2010 Friday
How can you manage to place real people in works of fiction without causing a brouhaha? Get advice from novelist Lisa de Nikolits and a chance to win her debut novel The Hungry Mirror!

May 10, 2010 Monday
Does your family think you're crazy because you want to write fiction? Lisa de Nikolits stops by Meryl's Notes today to share her post: Let's Talk About Writing: I Want to Write Fiction, My Family Wants to Have Me Committed.

May 12, 2010 Wednesday
Stop by for a fun interview with Lisa de Nikolits about writing and what's up next for her.

May 14, 2010 Friday
Don't miss a great interview with Lisa de Nikolits, a debut novelist that explored body image and eating disorders in her new release The Hungry Mirror.

May 19, 2010 Wednesday
Don't miss a special treat today at Readaholic--a video visit with Lisa de Nikolits!

May 21, 2010 Friday
Stop by 5 Minutes for Books for a review of Lisa de Nikolits's novel The Hungry Mirror.

May 23, 2010 Sunday
Lisa is back at 5 Minutes for Books to contribute to their On Reading column.

To view all of our touring authors, check out our Events Calendar HERE.

Get involved!

If you have a blog or website and would like to host Lisa de Nikolits or schedule a tour of your own, please email Angela and Jodi at:

And be sure to comment on this post to enter in a drawing for a copy of Lisa de Nikolits's novel The Hungry Mirror! And check back in a couple of days in the comments section to see if you won!


Jodi Webb said...

Thanks for a great interview Lisa! What was so encouraging to me was that you worked-on and off-for a long time on this novel. Sometimes I think we worry that if a project is taking too long maybe it's flawed and we give it up. Readers, how long have you been working on your latest project?

Margo Dill said...

This sounds like a book I would definitely like to read! :) I think the press is interesting, too as I had never heard of Inanna Publishing--I LOVE YOUR rejection story. (And I also don't stake my rejections to the wall, but some editors. . .NO, just kidding.) Anyway, thanks for the interview. Would love to win this book.


PatriciaW said...

How fascinating! As a 40-something mother of three children, I definitely struggle with body image. But the truth is I can't remember a time when I didn't going all the way back to when I was as young as 8 or 9. This is a book I'd love to read.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on your success! I like your comments on rejection! Laura Ingalls Wilder once said, the end seems sad, but it isn't, really, it is only the beginning of something new. That was when she didn't graduate school, since she was getting married. However, she did teach, and eventually wrote the "Little House" series. I, too, want to write a series of books, about staying in one place when growing up (hers were about moving about when growing up).

I also have an ongoing book about being a mother of a child who has two rare disorders that make him the only one, worldwide, with both. After 22 hours of brain surgery at age 15 (talk about body image), I want to inform all parents on how to optimize their own children's potential for typical and atypical children. I know if I can cut it down to the most important steps, it would be more "publishable". However, I cut things down to a Flesch-Kincaid reading score of 12.0 or higher, that is my problem. Does your editor or publisher have that in mind when they want you to do re-writes?

Beth Morey said...

Great article, interview, and giveaway! I am a survivor of anorexia and continue to struggle with food, body image, and disordered eating. I would love to read a copy of this book.

Lisa de Nikolits said...

Dear Jennifer, thank you very much for your comments!

I would have to ask my publisher but I don't think (I am assuming) that she was that mathematical about it.

My rewrites were predominantly content based; to bridge gaps in the story (I made some assumptions in my mind), to fix timelines, take out excess padding, provide more detailed character insights and change internal narrative into dialogue.

And then, taking my cue from my publisher's suggestions, I would run with the ball, often getting back to her and saying "I hope you don't mind but I changed this too..." So it was a great collaborative relationship.

I would suggest you write it exactly as you need to, and then your publisher can guide you from there

Marcia Peterson said...

I would love to read this book, and may even buy it if I don't win it. ;) The themes are of interest to me and the interview made me even more interested. Then there's the bonus of the writer inspiration aspect of the chat. Wow!

Thanks, and I'll be following this tour.

Lisa said...

thank you MP - and everybody! The themes are indeed complex ones, so I really appreciate the support and interest :))

Susan said...

This book sounds amazing. I find this topic is such an important one and yet one that is rarely discussed. I also love to hear about other writers that work on a project for years!

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed this interview. As someone who has struggled with my weight and self-image for many years I am really interested in The Hungry Mirror.

Nikki (Sarah) said...

this is a topic that needs to be explored. Sounds great. I just did an article on Anorexia in the elderly...Eating disorders affect every age...unfortunately.

Lisa said...

Dear Sarah, I realised, when I was about 35, that my issues weren't going to resolve themselves.

I somehow thought that I would reach a certain age and my brain would 'come right' or that I would just outgrow my concerns.

But I realised that if anything, issues become worse unless treated, and I had a vision of myself in my sixties, still suffering the same torments and I didn't want that.

Thank you for writing that story.

WOW! said...

Thank you for all your comments! :) We conducted a random drawing by writing all your names on a slip of paper and picking one out of a bag.

Congratulations goes to Sarah! You've won a copy of The Hungry Mirror by Lisa de Nikolits. Please e-mail with your mailing address and we will pass the info along. :)

Be sure to check out other stops on this tour for more fantastic advice and inspiration from Lisa.

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