Guest Author Lisa de Nikolits Guest Author

Jodi and Robyn, those fabulous ladies from WOW, are stopping by again today to introduce us to a very versatile and busy author.  Welcome Ms. Lisa de Nikolits!!


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 had 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 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 out more about Lisa by visiting her online:
Author website and Art design website.



Creating Three-Dimensional Characters

A few of nights ago over dinner, a couple of author friends and I were discussing a workshop we’re thinking of hosting. We were bouncing ideas back and forth about what we each of us could contribute and one of my friends turned to me and said, “you should talk about character development. Your characters are wonderfully idiosyncratic and yet they’re absolutely believable. They have depth to them and their dialogue is great.”

Talk about pleased! I nearly fell off my chair with delight. So, when the opportunity for this post came up, I thought it was timeous for me to give some thought to my characters and how I go about creating them. Of course, I immediately panicked, worrying that, faced with dissection, they would vanish on me, never to return. We writers can be such panic-stricken, phobic folk!

But then I realised that I’m as likely to lose my characters as I am to lose my friends – because my characters aremy friends. I love hanging out with them, I love watching them evolve – it’s as if they exist out there in the ether and I draw them closer by experimentation and endless questioning; does this one love computer games or prefer long walks in the park? What does he or she wear? What are their teeth like? Noses? How many earrings adorn their lobes, eyebrows or other body parts? I consider tattoos, height, hair color, the shape of their eyes, what their voices sound like, how they laugh… Do they have an accent and if so, how does this tie into the story? Did they like school, and were they bullied or maybe they were bullies themselves? Are they peaceful, angry, restless, hungry, lazy or perhaps they’re apathetic, waiting for that jolt of action, that catalyst that I’ll throw their way, the one that will spur them to action?

Familial relationships, geneology, childhood vacations, most-hated foods, most loved foods, favourite bedtime story, the sound of a sneeze, changing body language in different situations – the list of things to ponder and imagine is endless.

I wouldn’t be surprised if readers of this blog stop at this point and say, “oh really, that’s just NOT realistic – what is she doing, writing a backstory that’s as long as War and Peace?” and the answer is yes and no – yes, in that I think about all of that – but no in terms of how much of it actually makes it into the book – that might well just end up being a couple of lines. However, if you’ve mapped out all of the above (and then some!), the authenticity of the backstory will shine through so strongly that your character will be utterly believable even when the only thing you mention is the curve of her cheekbone.

And your in-depth backstory will help you with the dialogue too – you’ll know what kind of expressions your character will use, or the tone and inflection with which she’ll say things.

 The most helpful tip I’ve learnt for achieving effective dialogue is this: read your copy out loud. You may think you sound as foolish as all heck, but give it a try, it really works.

Once you have all these elements, you can go even further by adding a sprinkle of idiosyncrasy and this is where you can have all kinds of fun. And because of all your hard work in understanding your protagonist and fleshing out her backstory, her idiosyncrasies will be believable and then, because of the idiosyncrasies, she’ll be unforgettable which is just about the best thing one can achieve with a character.

And don’t forget, you also have to name your protagonist and my goodness, is this ever a challenge! A name immediately reveals so much and is critically important, because this is your reader’s first introduction to your key player (or any player in fact. Even minor bit part players add weight to the richness of a book and their names are equally as important).

I always hope that even if my characters aren’t immediately likeable, that they will be intriguing. A reader doesn’t particularly have to like a character but they do need to care about them and while that may sound odd or contradictory, think about all the great villains in literature – nice guys are tossed aside in favour the bad boy for good reason – they’re far more entertaining!

So there you have it, three key points to 3D character development: backstory, dialogue and idiosyncrasies – plus a few other bits and pieces that I hope you’ll find helpful.




Emotionally battered and bruised, 29-year-old Australian immigrant Benny is looking for escape, not redemption. Escape from herself and the dismal failures of her life: her first solo art exhibition is panned by critics and her husband left her for an Andy Warhol look-alike. Isolated from her family, her career as an abstract artist in ruins, she comes to Canada and finds solace working eighteen hours a day as a graphic designer in a disreputable agency. Numbing her pain with hard work, she self-medicates with prescription meds, and becomes involved in a series of increasingly dubious relationships with ill-suited unreliable men who lead her into danger. Cutting off all ties with normalized daily routines, Benny leaves her job and sets off on a road trip adventure across Canada, hoping she will discover who she wants to be and where she wants to be it.
During the bus trip she discovers junk food, cigarettes, hash and drinks a lot of alcohol. She confuses sexual attraction with love in a series of relationships with loser bad boys and continues to put herself in destructive, potentially dangerous situations. Hardcore, she travels for the most part by Greyhound bus, sinking deeper into the underbelly of a world that offers her the anonymity she seeks. Funny, aggressive, fearless and vulnerable, Benny is a road-warrior with a backpack of opiates, a map and a guileless sense of naiveté. In seventy-two days, she travels nearly ten thousand miles overland and more by flight and train; she’s a determined modern-day pioneer.
This coming-of-age novel is narrated with wry humour and filled with a cast of engaging characters. A tale of sexual adventure and feminist learning, Benny looks for escape but emerges a heroine instead; with mistakes, epiphanies and friendships helping forge her a home and a sense of identity in the true North.
“Travelling along with Benny on her journey of self-discovery is an adventure – I kept wanting more of this witty character. Living vicariously through her fearless choices and adventure-filled travels made me want to hop on a bus to see the country. Through West of Wawa’s funny and fulfilling story, you can’t help but root for Benny and her broken heart. And there’s no doubt you’ll be pleased by the story’s outcome.”
Watch the trailer:
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I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

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2 thoughts on “Guest Author Lisa de Nikolits Guest Author

  1. I’ve never read anything by this author, but I love that she hopes her characters aren’t immediately likable to her readers, but that they will be intriguing to them! It’s the intrigue that keeps me wanting to read.

    Love this guest post!!

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