The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist's Solution
by Lisa de Nikolits
Genre: Humorous Thriller
Publisher: Inanna Poetry and Fiction Series
Publication Date: September 30, 2019
The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution is about a couple experiencing a crisis. The husband, Lyndon, loses his job as editor of a financial magazine. Neither are happy with aging. Lyndon has gotten by with charm and frozen emotions. The wife, Margaux, has no idea how angry she is with him for his detachment. It is her idea to sell the house and just travel. But he is not coping well with retirement, so he simply walks off a ferry in Australia and leaves her. He steals a cat (well, he steals an expensive SUV that happens to have a cat onboard) and he flees Sydney, ending up in Apollo Bay, a few hours south-west of Melbourne, where he falls in with a group of anarchists and punk rockers in a tattoo parlour, planning revolution.
Meanwhile, Margaux sits tight in Sydney with no idea of where her husband might be or what happened. She moves into the red-light Kings Cross area, befriending the owner of the hostel, a seventy-year-old ex-cop drag queen from Saint John, New Brunswick, and waits to hear from her husband.
When she learns that her husband is fine, she is consumed by wrath and she invokes the angry spirit of an evil nurse, a key player in the terrible Chelmsworth sleep therapy in which many patients died (historical fact). While Lyndon gets in touch with his original career ambition to become an artist and wrestles with anarchism versus capitalism, Margaux learns to deal with her rage.
A serio-comedic thriller about a couple who embark on an unintentionally life-changing around-the-world adventure, The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution is about the meaning of life, healing from old wounds, romantic love at all ages, and how love and passion can make a difference, at any age.
Lisa de Nikolits is the international award-winning author of nine novels (all Inanna Publications). No Fury Like That was published in Italian in 2019 by Edizione Le Assassine as Una furia dell’altro mondo. Her short fiction and poetry have also been published in various anthologies and journals internationally. She is a member of the Mesdames of Mayhem, the Crime Writers of Canada, Sisters in Crime, The Australian Crime Writers, The Short Fiction Mystery Association and the International Thriller Writers. Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits came to Canada in 2000. She lives and writes in Toronto.
What are you passionate about these days?
Recycling! I share Lyndon’s passion in The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution. I truly do believe that capitalism is the bruise on the body of the earth (in the book) but more than a bruise, the results of our consumption are wounding the earth. Climate change and how we are destroying our world devastates me. I try extremely hard to not use single-use plastics, to recycle responsibly and to do whatever I can. But one feels like a tiny ant while the elephants of the giant corporations trample our efforts into the ground. But we cannot give up!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I play the classical guitar, chat to my cat, Benny Ethel Birdstar and I shamelessly binge-watch series on Netflix! The last one counts as book ‘research’, right? Benny is a new addition to our family as my BFF Isabella Creamy Diva died at 16. How sad was I! But then I saw a picture of Benny on the Humane Society page and she stole my heart. I try to do yoga at least three for four times a week. I’ve studied yoga for years and it’s a dream of mine to one day be a teacher. But I have a lot of work to do before I’d be of that level!
BUT! My most important way to rewind and relax is to spend time with my wonderful husband. He’s a photographer and we love nothing more than hitting the highway and going out to see and photograph the world. Being with him and exploring the world is my most favourite way to unwind and relax!
Although, can I admit that there’s never really an ‘off’ switch! Even in the middle of a trip or the countryside, I stop to dictate something to myself or scribble a note about a book I am working on!
How to find time to write with a full time job?
It’s a challenge! I’m currently the Acting Associate Art Director of Hello! Canada magazine (a magazine shamelessly devoted to celebrities and primarily Royals around the world, focused on the British Royals). We’re a weekly publication which is not for the faint of heart! My working body clocks starts early and doesn’t run very late but Hello! goes pretty late hours. Which means I am struggling a bit to get the writing hours in which is where sheer determination and force of will comes in.
When it comes to writing, my motto is very simple: Do One Thing A Day For Your Writing. Whether it’s writing ten thousand words (on a very good day!) or scribbling a sentence on a post-it note, do that one thing. And it has stood me in good stead. Of course there are days when we have deadlines for the manuscript and I have to simply do what has to be done, work the hours needed.
I write a lot of lists and I am very disciplined. I also practice mindfulness in that I attend to whatever is at hand with the utmost focus – when I am at work, I am at work. When I am writing, I am writing, when promoting, promoting. I compartmentalize very carefully. I’m not saying I don’t get tired! I get very tired!
As for time – I utilize every moment I can and sometimes my friends get impatient – what do you mean you don’t have time for a coffee? Everyone has time for a coffee! But I don’t!
Describe your writing style.
I write genre-bending suspense thrillers with a social conscience, a sense of humour and an unafraid approach to noir.
I describe The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution as a one-of-kind punk-themed suspense thriller that combines the winning elements of many bestselling novels. A picaresque thriller with elements of punk rock, combined with domestic thriller intrigue, aspects of esoteric spirituality, unexpected adventures and a brand new cast of unique, hilarious, and relatable characters.
I wish I could write straightforward genre novels, thrillers or mysteries. But it’s not to be. I’ve come to accept my writing style. As with so many things in life, one oftens wishes one could be different but we are who we are and it’s the same when it comes to our writing – or any artistry for that matter.
One can improve, that for sure and the only controllable thing – one can and must improve. With every book, with every sentence. Make it better! Sure you have a style but make it shine in the best way possible, never be satisfied, never think good enough is good enough. Good enough is bad!
What makes a good story?
Anything a reader can’t put down! So plot yes, but how the book is written, how it grabs you, keeps you enthralled and won’t let you go. A book that makes you miss your bedtime and read into the early hours of the morning – that’s a good book! A book where you miss the characters when you close that last page. A book you think about when you can’t be reading it, a book you want to get back to, a book you read when you’re walking, a book that makes you glad you missed the bus – all these are signs of a good book!
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first? What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I just dive in the deep and go for it! Because the idea all comes as one thing – one big fat idea – splat! It hits my brain and the only thing I can do is sit down and start typing as fast as I can. I keep an eye on the word count – at this point, I should have this amount of words, I should have this much story left.
It’s as if a part of my brain is studying a map while the other part drives the car – are we where we need to be on the map? Oops we took a wrong turn, dead end, go back, try again.
It’s almost like going into a maze and following the sun to get out. You have a sense of direction but you have to figure out the specifics as you go.
Take The Occult Persuasion and the Anarchist’s Solution: husband falls into Sydney Harbour. Husband runs away.
That’s all I had! So then… where does he go? Oh look, he steals a Jeep with a cat! And the wife? How does she feel? What does she do? She finds a hostel in Kings Cross. What happens next?
I cannot but believe that my books are gifts to me, gifts from some kind benefactor and if that benefactor is the dark recesses of my brain, then thank you brain! Thank you whatever or whoever!
I dedicated the book to my husband and to ‘The places where stories come from’ – because truly, who knows? I don’t!
I often have to stop and map it out on paper. I have large sheets tacked up to the walls – this leads to that, leads to this. I need to see it visually, like an org chart. That way I can mark things off and make sure I don’t get lost.
I make a lot of lists particularly when it comes to timelines. When did we start? How much time has lapsed. Names, dates, ages, seasons, who is related to who, what do they look like? Are their names too similar? Keep track all the time – is this character thoroughly convincing from start to finish? Does he or she waver? If so, fix it! Again, herding, herding, rewriting, refining, tweaking, adjusting.
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