I enjoy celebrating Canada Day as it is my new homeland. We are lucky to have a deck overlooking part of the parade route so can sit in comfort and watch it drive past. Canada is a young country, becoming the Dominion of Canada on July 1, 1867. This is in direct contrast to my former homeland, Britain which was founded a lot earlier.
United Kingdom = England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Kingdom of England was founded in 927 AD and The Kingdom of Wales was founded in 1283. They joined together in 1536 so Britain was founded in 1536. The Kingdom of Scotland was founded in 843 AD.
I do miss the history and pageantry as well as the ancient sites, historical houses and castles but have been fortunate to have traveled quite a lot of the province’s of Alberta and British Columbia by way of road trips. When I first came to Canada, I had no real sense of the vastness of the continent until someone showed me this view of the whole of Britain easily fitting into Alberta. This is just one province of ten!
I have seen wildlife and plants I would never have observed, spectacular scenery and many objects purportedly to be the largest! Here are some of them.
I also ‘discovered’ a passion for writing in Canada, which may never have been part of my life elsewhere. It was a happy accident walking into that first sharing meeting of the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County in 2009. Not only do I have something that interests and absorbs me but it has also given me some incredible friendships. I am making up for ‘lost’ time publishing (to date) seven books, with several in the pipeline but it is the process of creating that engages me and having the opportunity to share my stories.
Here’s to many more years discovering this country, writing stories and enjoying family and friends.
What inspired your latest novel? – I have written a trilogy and two children’s books. My trilogy, Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairy tale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy. My published children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, comes from my experiences as a professional Nanny. My soon-to-be published, children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, comes from my childhood fantasies.
How did you come up with the title? The real name of the cottage in my trilogy was Scotland Lodge. I didn’t want to use that name so I changed it to Merryweather Lodge. I thought it sounded cozy and quaint and a tad mysterious.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? My protagonist, Emily Fletcher, has a message. She is an attractive, strong-willed young woman, who struggles with her self-image, volatile temper and bad habits. She’s a vegetarian and a progressive thinker. Like me, she likes her own space and often wanders into the country to ponder and seek solace from Mother Nature. She has always dreamt of living a simple life, in her aunts enchanting little cottage, with her gorgeous prince charming. Slowly, she learns how to conquer her fears, get in touch with her intuition, overcome her struggles, tame her temper and enhance her self-esteem.
How much of the book is realistic? My books are fiction, with an element of truth.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? My characters are bits and pieces of the personalities and characteristics of myself, friends, relatives, acquaintances, the woman behind the counter, etc. And yes, they are based on events in my own life.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog? I do not have a blog anymore. Here is my website paulineholyoak.com You will find links to my social media sites on there.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a standalone? I am working on a standalone, paranormal, suspense novel. And, I have a middle grade book, Carly’s Incredible Dream, due to be released this spring.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? My reader’s favorite Merryweather Lodge character was my protagonist’s aunt, Auntie Em. She was, not only in her appearance but in her personality and idiosyncrasies, a mixture of my mother and grandmother. All their good parts blended into one.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one? Actually, I write in a lot of different genres. My short stories range from, political lit to romance. My trilogy is paranormal suspense. I am now in the process of writing a paranormal romance. My children’s books cover a wide range of genres.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer? Seat of the pants, for sure.
What is your best marketing tip? Keep a consistent online presence. And, hand out as many bookmarks, promo cards etc. as you can afford.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance? I think the internet, is the most powerful tool an author has. There are literally hundreds of sites that will promote ones book, some are free and some are very costly. I blog, tweet, do online interviews, reviews, facebook and try to keep a consistent online presence. It can be extremely time consuming but I know it’s an important element in establishing my writing career.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. LOL
Has your genre changed or stayed the same? I have always like to cover a wide range of genres.
What genre are you currently reading? Suspense.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both? Pleasure.
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager? My muse.
Where is your favorite writing space? My office. It is my private domain, my retreat, with my favorite quotes, family pics and art work, created by my granddaughters, on the walls. No one is allowed in there but me! LOL
Do you belong to a writing group? If so which one? No, but I’m thinking of starting one.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why? Probably Steven King. I love his books and he always has such great advice. There are so many…
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be? I would love to live part of the year in England. I was born and grew up there. I adore the English countryside. It is a smorgasbord for the artistically inclined.. I would have moved back there years ago, if it weren’t for my children and now, grandchildren.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Oh yes. Dark chocolate and red wine. Yummy!!!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? Dark chocolate and red wine..LOL
About me – I grew in Southeast England, in a coal mining village lovingly nicknamed, “The place that time forgot.” Go to my website, click on ‘Articles’ and find out why. I immigrated to Canada when I was 21 in search of adventure and a new life. I currently live in Alberta with my adorable sheltie dog. I am the proud mother of two grown children and three adorable granddaughters’.
As far back as I can remember the pen and paper have been my faithful companions and story telling my forte. As a child I was shy and reclusive. I lived in my inner world of fantasy and make-believe, preferring the company of Mother Nature and my imaginary friend, than that of other children. Often, I would sneak away from the mundane adult world, find a private retreat (usually behind the garden shed) and imagine. There in my own little sanctuary with tools in hand, I’d conjure up all kinds of intriguing tales and colorful characters, then I’d read them to my imaginary friend. She was always ‘so’ attentive. I remember writing a story in school; I must have been about 8 years old, at the time. It was about a rabbit and a hare, cousins I think, running away from home and getting into all kinds of mischief. I still remember my teacher’s reaction after she read it. She looked at me with a stern faced and asked, “Did you copy this?” “No, Miss Finn, I pleaded, “It just, came right out of my head.” “Hmmmm” she scoffed suspiciously. I was devastated but it never stopped me, I kept writing whatever, just, came out of my head. In my teen years my journal became my confident, revealing all my hidden secrets, private fantasies and wild, wild, notions within its pages. Later I started to write poems, articles and short stories, and pondered the thought of becoming a writer.
After I settled in Canada, I buried my dreams under layers of real life clutter. I chose a safe and practical career in child care, married and raised a family. But my creative spirit kept trying to dig its way out. I was asked to write articles and editorials for our local church. I taught a story time class at our local school, which lead me to writing a children’s book. I wrote an article about my husbands’ prestigious grandfather and sent it to our local newspaper. They printed it. I kept sending them articles, they kept printing them. I was surprised at the compliments I received from the editor and readers. It was evident to me then, that I had excavated my creative spirit.
I decided to take a comprehensive writing course to improve my technique. With help from a proficient and supportive tutor, who told me I had a gift, I began to cultivate my skill. My articles started to sell and I received an assignment from a major Canadian magazine. I have spent the past 25 years writing, articles, short stories and books.
About my trilogy – Merryweather Lodge, was inspired by my own experiences in a remote and mysterious little cottage near Stonehenge. This cottage was called Scotland Lodge and belonged to my aunt and uncle. We would spend our summer holidays there when I was a child. It was my fairytale kingdom but it had a sinister twist. The memories of my summers at Scotland Lodge stayed with me, as a sort of nagging unsolved mystery all my life. A few years ago I revisited my childhood wonderland and was led to concocting this story and writing this trilogy. This wonderland and my childhood fantasies were the catalyst for my writing career and the inspiration for my trilogy.
The first book in my Merryweather Lodge trilogy Merryweather Lodge – Ancient Revenge, was the Readers Favorite 2011 Silver Award Winner for paranormal fiction. Book two, Merryweather Lodge – Malevolent Spirit, was a Readers Favorite finalist. My first children’s book, Melanie Gets A Nanny, is about a strong willed young girl with a wild and wacky imagination. It is published by, Wee Creek Press. I have just sighed a publishing contract for my second children’s book, Carly’s Incredible Dream.. Yay! Twenty five of my articles have been published.
What is the title of your most recent book?Between The Cracks She Fell.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)?
This is my fifth book – all my books have been published by Inanna and I love being one of their authors. They have such a commitment to giving voice to stories that unafraid to explore the tougher things in life.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes. I hope to show the complex interplay between real life and religion, to show what happens when our lives derail though no fault of our own and we are left to pick up the pieces. There are times in all of our lives when we feel terribly alone and abandoned by all that we put our trust into – I wanted readers to come on a journey with me and a young woman who falls between the cracks and has to make some difficult choices, some of which involve murder.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Actually yes! The idea for the entire book came to me when I was talking to a new friend and I discovered that he had been disfellowshipped by the Jehovah’s Witness church. His family, even his twin sister, swore never to see him again unless he repented and to this day (that was seven years ago), they have stayed true to their word.
I was very moved by this and I asked him if I could write about it, imagining his life, have him as my muse. He agreed and I have kept him in the loop of all the twists and turns of the book. None the book is reflective of his life, apart from that religious aspect.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
Great question! I love my evil male villains. Hans in A Glittering Chaos, Rydell in The Witchdoctor’s Bones, Mickey in West of Wawa, and now, Lenny in Between The Cracks She Fell. Why? Because they are such enormous fun to write! I swear I might have multiple personality disorder because I really feel as if I have lived their fragile and evil lives. They are only secondary characters but I love them so much.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I would change the beginning in The Witchdoctor’s Bones. I would start with more action and less narrative and dialogue introducing the characters.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food? Chocolate-covered peanuts! South African coffee called Ricoffy. Chocolate-covered pretzels are also good, along with rum-flavoured toffees!
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline? I think the reward is having made the deadline! I’m usually so tired by that point that I fall into bed and crash!
Have you ever hated something you wrote? No. I do think I am improving as a writer though and for me, that’s the most important thing. But I would never hate anything I have written because it was written in a time when that was the best I could do. And I am always proud of myself for trying. So many people out there want to write but don’t (because yes, it’s hellishly hard), so I am always grateful to myself (and to the words) for trying to say something.
What book do you wish you had written? I wish I had written The Night Stages by Jane Urqhart.or Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.
What genre is Between The Cracks She Fell?I am genre-less! But if pressed I’d say it is literary fiction with elements of crime and noir.
How do we find your books, blog and bio? All info here:
Bio and links:
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award), West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick). A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell will launch in Fall 2015. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House. She will also have a short story coming out with the Mesdames of Mayhem, in the anthology, Thirteen o’Clock, also in Fall 2015.
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 also lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Lisa de Nikolits is the author of five novels: The Hungry Mirror (2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and long-listed for a ReLit Award), West of Wawa (2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick). A Glittering Chaos tied to win the 2014 Silver IPPY for Popular Fiction. Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones launched Spring 2014 to literary acclaim and her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell recently launched in Fall 2015. Lisa has a short story in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, 2015, and flash fiction and a short story in the debut issue of Maud.Lin House as well as poetry in Canada Woman Studies Journal (Remembering, 2013, and Water, 2015).
Before we start, I would like to say without Linda’s solid friendship, belief in my writing ability and encouragement, I, for one, would not be a published author. Her constant drive to enable numerous authors to realize their publishing dreams is not only commendable but a reflection of her generosity of spirit and expertise in making a manuscript become a published work. What inspired you to write your first book? Although other books have been published before An Elizabethan Affair was finished, I am going to speak of EA as my first novel length idea. It was inspired by my love for Shakespeare and deep longing for finding that perfect soul mate. I have always wanted to write a novel – it is on my list of life long goals and/or dreams written some time ago. As a writer, it was an obvious destination for my journey. How did you come up with the title? It is inspired by my secret obsession of falling in love with that which or whom you cannot have… It refers to affair as in not only of the clandestine variety, but of or concerning the Elizabethan era. It puts forth the truth, yet alludes to the impossible, drawing together fact and fiction. Is this your first book? How many books have you written (published or unpublished)? I have contributed submissions (poetry, short stories, and essays) to a number of anthologies, co-authored history books, and contributed to a memoir writing instruction workbook. I am currently ghost writing a 3 book memoir for a client, and a business humor series. I have 2 novels published (An Elizabethan Affair, Power Struggle), 2 novellas of a YA series published (A Journey of Brothers, A Journey of Truth), and have several others in various stages, including the 3rd novella in the YA adventure series (A Journey of Desires). Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? With regard to An Elizabethan Affair – I guess the main message would be to never give up on your dreams no matter how big, how out there, or seemingly impossible they may be. Of course, we know we can never go back and have a time travel affair, no matter how much you wished for it, but the allusion to living for your passion is there. Do what you love. How much of the book is realistic? I did a lot of research and a lot of reading on Shakespeare and Elizabethan times – and based on that, it is my hope that references and descriptions are as realistic as they can possibly be. There are advantages to writing of something so distant that those things we know to be true are usually easy to find – the rest can be left to speculation with imagination playing a huge part in drawing the work together. Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life? I based the book, obviously, on William Shakespeare’s life. The life of co-protagonist, modern day Elizabeth, is fictitious with real characteristics based on my own life – single mom, love of writing, love for the words of the masters of literature, and some of the references were based on my experience of living for a short time during 2005 in Toronto. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? Nothing would change in this book. I used part of it to apply for a summer writing program in Toronto at Humber College. The author mentor I worked with suggested cutting all the description to clean up the manuscript. Like all good students, I took her suggestions to heart, but did not have the heart to cut it as suggested – it was the type of book I was going for and the way it is written suits the subject. Always be true to your own spirit in your work. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for reading and supporting writers/authors and the literary arts. It is this connection that encourages us to continue to share, although a writer will always write, whether publishing or not. What is your favourite theme/genre to write? There is no one favorite – I like to experience variety in my writing journey. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? Anything that exploits children. A recent challenge was to ghost write a book on the topic of abuse to the worst degree – a memoir – so you know it to be true. What book are you reading now? My own novella one to ensure there is continuity in the follow up editions. As an editor and publisher, I am always reading and am privy to new works to be released by my own company. Nothing else at this time from already published works. Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Through my company I have read some amazing work and am so appreciative of the chance to share an author’s journey in that way. Do you see writing as a career? Definitely, yes. Part of my journey. In different ways. Where do you see yourself in ten years? Behind the lap top writing. The setting might change (hopefully to mountainous or nature inspired views) – but the passion will not go away. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Focusing on my own work while fulfilling responsibilities to client’s projects. But, a weekend retreat is always welcome on the agenda for writing. Have you ever hated something you wrote? Not really. If it is not for publishing or public, then private it doesn’t matter. I don’t write anything to hurt anyone and there are topics I won’t write on so I cannot end up hating if for one reason or another. What book do you wish you had written? I don’t. I love my own style and writing and never wish to have done what someone else has done – I love the vision that comes from others’ works, such as Shakespeare, Tolkien, poet Frost, et al., and hope that one day something I have created is used in a similar fashion – to inspire others to follow their own journey. What is your best marketing tip?
Don’t sell yourself short.
Don’t oversell yourself.
(Sounds contradictory, but it covers the range from: “be humble, appreciative, proud, and own your work” to “don’t constantly stick in others’ faces with buy my book, buy my book, buy my book…”)
If you don’t know, ask.
What genre is your next project? What is it about? I have not decided what project will be next – I have a novel to edit written a few years ago. I have to format and release on of my novels on EBook, and another vice versa – in print. I have several ideas on file awaiting their turn, and other projects poking their heads into current business. Genre? Not sure. Can you tell us about your upcoming book? Novella II is just released, A Journey of Truth, which continues the story of Aaslan and his sister, Aisha, from A Journey of Brothers, released in 2012. Novella III, A Journey of Desires, completes the 3 part YA adventure series set in Turkey. (No, I’ve never been there… research!) How do we find your books, blog and bio? I publish through my own company Dream Write Publishing. You can find my books in print and online, POD and EBook. www.dreamwritepublishing.ca You can follow me on my blog “Freeing the Creative Spirit” for ongoing writing, projects, travel writing & photography, reflections on my writing life, poetry, etc. with links to my social media pages, and for more information about me. www.wildhorse33.wordpress.com