Lisa de Nikolits, author of West of Wawa, launches her blog tour

Monday, February 27, 2012

& book giveaway contest!

Remember those car trips of your childhood? Trapped in a vehicle with people (also known as siblings) who wouldn't stop talking or kicking your seat or flicking your ear? Eating cold lunches at picnic tables and greasy fried food at questionable diners? Feeling if you didn't escape the Midwest flatness (or the mountains or the shoreline) you would go crazy? Would you voluntarily take that same trip today?

West of Wawa is about taking that seemingly endless car trip except instead of family you're traveling with a revolving cast of complete strangers and instead of a few days the trip last for weeks. Loveless and jobless, Benny thinks maybe she'll find what she's looking for on a bus trip across Canada. Her adventure—like life—is a mixture of humor, horror, the unexpected, and boredom that readers won't soon forget.

Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Inanna Publications
ISBN-10: 1926708245
ISBN-13: 978-1926708249
Twitter Hashtag: #WestOfWawa

West of Wawa is available online at Amazon and Indigo as well as at your local bookstores.

Book Giveaway Contest: If you would like to win a copy of West of Wawa, please leave a comment at the end of this post to be entered in the random drawing. The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, March 1 at 11:59 PM PST. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #WestOfWawa, then come back and leave us a link to your tweet. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post on the following day Friday, March 2. Good luck!

About the Author:

Originally from South Africa, Lisa has been a Canadian citizen since 2003—although she still retains a lilting voice that causes fellow Canadians to ask, "You aren't from Canada, eh?" With a Bachelor's of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy, Lisa has also lived and worked in the United States, Australia, and Great Britain.

Lisa thought she was on her way to fame and fortune when the South African edition of Cosmopolitan bought two of her poems in 1986. Sadly, the road to being a published writer was not as easy as she hoped! Throughout her writing career, Lisa has tried her hand at everything from children's picture books to short stories to novellas to feature magazine articles. Her first novel The Hungry Mirror, which won an IPPY Gold Medal for Women's Fiction in 2011, was inspired by her work as art director for magazines including Vogue and Marie Claire. Lisa is now working on her next novel Between the Cracks She Fell.

Find the Author Online:

Author Website:


Twitter: @lisadenikolits

Book Reading:

--------Interview by Jodi Webb

WOW: Often we hear that art imitates life. Did you ever take a trip across Canada? Is that how you got the idea for West of Wawa?

Lisa: Yes. I took a road trip across Canada—and yes, on a bus! I didn't get the idea for the book on that trip though—the idea came many years later after I had just been let go from a job that I thought would be the best job ever and I was feeling really down in the dumps. I remember sitting in a coffee shop and overhearing some trendy young fellows (gosh I sound about ninety!) anyway, they were chatting with great confidence about the manuscripts they were working on and I thought "I used to do that—I used to write."

You see, I hadn't written in ages because I'd been busy; moving from South Africa to Australia and then from Australia to Canada and then I was employed in a job where there was a lot of travel but I didn't write at all—I was too busy working (as an art director) and creating magazines. But there I was, magazineless and jobless and I overheard their conversation and I sat up straight and thought, go home and write a novel NOW!

The funny thing, is really do believe that books and stories come to me, as opposed to me chasing books or plots or stories—because this story came to me. However, in its first incarnation, it was a rather lukewarm offering and subsequently needed to be completely rewritten but as a first draft, it got the ball rolling.

I have visited all the places I mention in the book but not in that order and not all at once. I've also visited other places in Canada which I didn't put in the book because they didn't have a place in this novel.

The interesting thing for me was seeing the trip again through Benny's eyes—it was a different trip really—so I got to do it twice—once with myself and then again with Benny. It was a wild ride, being alongside Benny, there were times I had no idea what she'd do next or where she'd go.

By the way, can I say that I think that one way or another, art always imitates life—even if one is a Salvador Dali kind of writer—our origin of idea is always our experiences but the expression or finished 'painting' has our own individual magic to thank.

WOW: Do you keep a journal when you travel to record all the places you visit and your impressions? Take photographs?

Lisa: I sometimes keep a journal and other times not. For example, I went to Peru for my fortieth birthday and I didn't write a thing—and yet it was a great adventure and I'm sure there was a fantastic story in there somewhere but just not one that called out to me. I photographed everything in sight bit I didn't take a single note. I wonder if perhaps there's something at work in my subconscious that tells me when I need to pay attention and keep a journal, versus the times of just being on holiday for holiday's sake. Because I did take notes of my Canadian adventure and I took notes of my trip to Namibia and they both evolved into novels. Although when I went to Namibia, I decided to write about it en route because I wanted to share everything with my husband who'd been unable to come with me. For the most part, I write about the scenery and I carefully document the weather and hours of travel and such—the characters in my book come from elsewhere.

I'm not sure what my specific motivation was for keeping a travel journal when I took my trip across Canada apart from the fact that it felt companionable to do and also, I thought that when I'm (really) old, I'd be able to reread about my adventures and relive my journey.

When I was thinking about your questions, I dug around my study to take a look at my journals and I must admit, my writing's terrible! I can hardly make sense of any of it—I've got no idea why I wrote with such tiny handwriting—it's all cramped together and it's nearly undecipherable. I also don't seem to have one style of handwriting—I'm not sure what that says about my personality! I write with a backslant, in all caps, then in a sort of forward leaning tiny cursive, then in big upright block letters that seem quite square and mannish—I dig hard into the paper and it's clear that I don't like to leave a single inch uncovered—I also seem to write in a hurry, as if anxious the words will leave me before they become pressed onto the page.

I always take photographs. A camera is a friend, particularly when one is traveling alone. There's a great comfort in the study of taking a shot—it's a creative experience and you focus fully on the task at hand—I find it quite meditative. Your seeing eye is very different when you are looking through a camera and I find it to be a restorative experience. Back in the day though, upon returning home, I'd sort through all my images carefully and send them to everyone and print copies and stick prints up on my walls but these days I have to admit I'm too busy to do most of that—I still take pictures but I don't work on them to the same degree.

I recall, when my now-husband and I were courting, I showed him my pictures of Peru and several hours later he commented that I'd documented the life span of a llama—very true! I loved the llama to the point that I subjected the poor man to a good few hours of looking at them from every angle. I have yet to write about a llama though.

WOW: If you could set a future book in any spot—one you've visited or one you haven't—where would it take place?

Lisa: Ooh, what a lovely question! Hmmmm, let me think. Anywhere? I think I'd like to visit Hungary again (I was there once, briefly) and I'd like to work a novel around that. Hungary is such a rich country and I love the food, the clothes, the textures, the colours, the language (although I can't speak it). My father was born in Hungary (although he arrived in South Africa when he was only six years old) but all our family's traditions—Easter, Christmas, and the like—were all very Hungarian and I love that. So yes, I'd pick Hungary but then maybe make it a train adventure that takes me to Poland and all over Eastern Europe. And what would the story be about? I have no idea! And would it be summer or winter? Winter would be more of an adventure and probably more interesting for a story too...although then again, summer opens up the plot to other interesting avenues too...

Or you know, I'd love to write a novel set on a cruise ship—sure it's been done but the possibilities for ideas are endless...

WOW: You've traveled to many different spots around the world. Have you ever used your travels in other types of writing?

Lisa: As I mentioned earlier, I went back to find my travel journal for my trip across Canada and I found it in a box with a large number of hand-written short stories about South Africa and my Christmas trips back home—talk about surprises! I had no idea I'd written those short stories (or anything) on those trips. Now I'm inspired to input those and see if they're any good for anything...interesting! And I also found poems—how odd! So, were it not for this interview, I might never have looked in that box. Now I want to go through every piece of paper in that closet in my study!

WOW: Glad we could help you rediscover a treasure trove! Since this is your second novel you must be an old hand a promotion by now! Any useful lessons for us?

Lisa: Well, first off, I did make one mistake—I thought I could do this (promoting) without WOW! Women On Writing—big mistake! The thing is, you make it look so easy and after the success of our tour with The Hungry Mirror, I thought, I can do that, it won't take much time, shouldn't be hard at all... but then I got distracted writing a new novel that came out of nowhere and when I looked up, I'd lost three months and so I thought it's time to call the experts! So I have learned that lesson—that just because something looks easy doesn't mean it is, and that having help from friends, colleagues, and professionals is a wonderful thing. One of the things I love about what we do—the marketing aspects, I mean—is that people are so generous with their time and blogs and support—that's crucial and it validates one's writing too—it's wonderful to get response and support.

I do think it's easier this time around in terms of having people endorse the book for jacket comments and things like that. I have a reading coming up at the Toronto Public Library, at the same branch I read at the last time, and so relationships have been built which is very helpful.

WOW: One piece of advice you'd like to share with us about the writing life?

Lisa: Writing is not for the faint-hearted. You need gumption and determination—you have to keep forging on even in the face of rejection—or worse, in the face of silence. Sometimes you have no idea at all if your work will ever see the light of day but you have to keep on writing, you have to keep the faith in yourself. If you don't stay the long, tough course then you won't make it to the finish line. I hope I'm not alarming people by saying this! I'm just saying most of the time it's you, alone, tired, and not sure if the words will ever find their place in the world but like a pilgrim on a dark road with only a candle for light, you have to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Goodness, I sound apocalyptic!

WOW: So what's next?

Lisa: My next novel is a murder mystery set in Namibia—yes, after four years, this novel is still a work in progress but it is moving forward! I've just received a lot of great comments from my publisher about how to improve the novel and that will be my next goal; to do the rewrites and cutting and then hope that the novel cuts the mustard with my publisher. I feel as if I've been working on this particular novel forever and so now I'm going to approach these rewrites as if I've never looked at the work before. I love this book so much—if everything pans out, this novel will hopefully come out in 2013—something to look forward to—if the Mayan Calendar was wrong, which hopefully it was—I've got to many books to write for the world to end! Thank you WOW! Women On Writing and thank you Jodi!

WOW: My pleasure! A murder mystery...what a new direction for you! I look forward to it. And I'm sure the Mayans will cooperate!

--------Blog Tour Dates

Thursday, March 1 @ Book Bags and Cat Naps
Don't miss Lisa de Nikolits' post "The Road to Publishing is as Long as the Transcanada Highway" as well as a review of her novel West of Wawa. And stop by @wowblogtour to tell us how long you think the Transcanada Highway is—you could win a prize!

Friday, March 2 @ Book Bags and Cat Naps
Interview with Lisa de Nikolits, author of West of Wawa, and a chance to win a Twitter contest by visiting @wowblogtour.

Monday, March 5 @ A Writer's Life
Learn more about author Lisa de Nikolits during an interview today and stop back on Thursday for more fun!

Wednesday, March 7 @ A Writer's Life
Don't miss today's review of a West of Wawa, the tale of a life's bus!

Thursday, March 8 @ Selling Books
Get the insider's scoop on Lisa de Nikolits, author of West of Wawa, a novel about self-discovery.

Friday, March 9 @ Books, Books the Magical Fruit
Novelist Lisa de Nikolits tells readers why Canada should be their next vacation destination...and she should know, her latest novel West of Wawa is about a trip across Canada.

Sunday, March 11 @ Lit Endeavors
Don't miss a review of Lisa de Nikolits' novel West of Wawa, the story of a woman's search for her life along the transcanadian highway.

Friday, March 16 @ Me and Reading
Lisa de Nikolits shares "Five Tips to Make You a Better Writer" and a review of her new novel West of Wawa.

Monday, March 26 @ Selling Books
Don't just write postcards on your next vacation—novelist Lisa de Nikolits tells how to "Weave Your Travels into Fiction Writing."

Tuesday, March 27 @ Lit Endeavors
Today Lisa de Nikolits answers questions about being a novelist, the beauty of Canada, and more.

Thursday, March 29 @ Cathy C. Hall
All your dreams are coming true! They're publishing your book. But before you can pop the champagne the publishing house closes. Sound like a horror story? Actually, it's novelist Lisa de Nikolits' real experience. Stop by to find out what happened next!

Friday, March 30 @ Cindy's Love of Books
Get some insight about the drive to write in this interview with Lisa de Nikolits.

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

Get Involved!

If you have a blog or website and would like to host one of our touring authors or schedule a tour of your own, please email Jodi or Robyn at

Book Giveaway Contest:

Enter to win a print copy of West of Wawa by Lisa de Nikolits. Here's how you enter:

1. For your first entry, just leave a comment on this post! Leave a comment or ask Lisa a question to be entered in the random drawing.

2. For an extra entry, link to this post on Twitter with the hashtag #WestOfWawa then come back and leave us a link to your tweet.

The giveaway contest closes this Thursday, March 1 at 11:59 PM PST. We will announce the winner in the comments section of this post the following day—Friday, March 2, and if we have the winner's email address from the comments section, we will also notify the winner via email.

Good luck!


Deni Cary Phillips said...

I am fascinated by your synopsis and can hardly wait to read the book. It sounds like it was a bunch of fun to write. Right? Hope it sells like crazy! Deni

Lisa de Nikolits said...

Dear Deni, it was great fun to write! Thank you for your kind words :))

Lisa Hayes said...

West of Wawa sounds like an interesting ride! And I loved your One Piece of Advice...thanks so much for sharing.

Margo Dill said...

What an interesting bio! I took a bus trip (GREYHOUND) one time from Houston to Austin. I thought it was so interesting--my husband said NEVER AGAIN. In line for the bathroom, this fellow bus passenger starts telling me how she just got out of jail, can't wait to see her kids, etc, etc. :) Anyway, I can imagine a bus trip would make a great novel with an interesting cast of characters. Good luck to you!

Lisa de Nikolits said...

Oh my goodness Margo! Well, there's definitely a whole story in itself there!
Thank you everyone, for your lovely words :))

Kim Wyant said...

Fascinating life Lisa! I'm an aspiring to be published writer and I love motivating comments like yours ( you didn't sound apocolyptic to me!). Wawa makes me think of snacks and sandwiches and the idea of a bus trip across a huge country like Canada sounds intriguing to say the least. I'm looking forward to reading this.

Lisa de Nikolits said...

Thank you very much indeed Dear Kim! :)))
Lisa said...

Have you been back to south Africa?

Diane Baum

WOW! said...

Happy Friday everyone!

Thank you for your comments. We held a random drawing (via random dot org) for Lisa de Nikolits' novel, West of Wawa, and the winner is... Kim Wayant!

Congratulations, Kim! Please send your mailing address to and we will forward it to Lisa for you.

For everyone else, make sure you check out the rest of the stops on this tour for more giveaways and fantastic advice from Lisa!

Write on!

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top