On the WOW! Blog Book Tour: Lisa de Nikolits and her West of Wawa

It’s another WOW! book on the blog tour this week, but don’t you worry. The books are worlds apart–on SO many levels. So let’s just jump in to West of Wawa by Lisa de Nikolits and see what it’s all about.

Oh, hold on a tic. Like most good stories, there’s a story behind the story. West of Wawa is a road trip novel, a journey her character makes from one end of Canada to the other. But for Lisa, getting this book published was quite a journey, too. I asked her to share about What To Do When Your Publisher Closes Shop. (Yes, Virginia, that really happens.)

“Weep. Flail. Gnash one’s teeth. Climb into your favorite pajamas and go to bed for a week.

Speaking from experience, the disappointment is crushing.

And not only did your publisher close shop, they closed shop two weeks before your book was supposed to hit the e-reading world with a vengeance. You’d spent a long year on edits, rewrites, proofs, galleys and a front cover that you just loved. And then, in one fell swoop, you’re left with nothing except your manuscript which, you can’t help thinking, is pretty much what you started out with in the first place.

So you try to take the good you can from it; you tell yourself that at least you’ve got a polished manuscript, one that’s ready to shop around–yes, you tell yourself, you’re actually lucky, because it’s going to be really easy from here…

Also, you say to yourself that the book was only accepted for e-book publication, and who knows, maybe this was all meant to be– maybe your book was really destined for print and that’s why the company folded–everything happens for a reason, right? So this is a good thing!

You submit your manuscript to a highly-respected publishing house that you’ve been dying to work with.

 They take six months to read it. You wait, gnawing on those nails, daydreaming, and hoping and suffering from awful nightmares. Eventually you tell yourself that you don’t care if the answer’s no, you just need to know.

And then you hear and the answer is no. Actually it’s a soul-crushing no.

“The scenery’s great, but the character lacks depth. She professes to learn and grow but she ends up doing the same things as she did in the beginning of the book. She’s vacuous and we just couldn’t warm to her.”

And you thought you couldn’t be more crushed than you were when the e-book company folded.

So you weep. You flail. You gnash your teeth. You take to bed in your pajamas and mourn the loss of your beloved novel. You try to work through the stages of grief in one sitting, aided by ice cream and bottles of fine Kentucky bourbon.

It’s all over, you think. You’re moving on. Heck, you’ve been wanting to knit that scarf for ages, now at least you’ll have the time. You’re still weeping when you pull out the tangled yarn and then it hits you…what if your character did something completely different? What if your character does…and you’re off, into that wonderful land of make-believe where anything’s possible.

And before you know it, you’ve got a new protagonist in mind and with her, comes all kinds of adventures, adventures that only she would have. And gosh darn it, this girl’s got gumption, she’s not lily-livered like her vacuous predecessor.

Next thing, you can’t even remember what your original book was like and when you do have fleeting memories, all you can think is thank heavens that book didn’t see the light of day, thank heavens you were given this opportunity to create something better, something fresh, new and strong.

So you finish the new manuscript and you send it to a publishing house that by this time has released another of your works and with whom you have an excellent relationship.

“The book’s terrific,” they tell you and you’re over the moon. And, a year later, as you hold the beautiful printed copy of West of Wawa, you offer a silent prayer to the goddesses of publishing who made sure that, while the path was a tough one, you were led to a better place.”

And that’s how West of Wawa came to be published. So good things can come out of a bad experience. Which now that I think of it, could be the theme of Lisa’s novel.

West of Wawa follows Benny, a young woman on the brink of turning 30, who’s suddenly found herself floundering. A series of catastrophic events relating to her career and home life rock her to the core of who she is, and so she leaves Sydney, Australia and heads to Canada. There she begins a cross-country journey, mostly to hide from her past, her family, and herself.  But eventually, she begins to seek again and through her myriad adventures, finds her way out of the ashes of her old life to begin building a better Benny. Is it worth the trip? I reckon you’ll have to read West of Wawa to find out.

I should warn you that West of Wawa is darkly funny, but a gritty, and at times, disturbing read. Benny’s need to escape includes an overindulgence in drugs and alcohol and this flaw leads her into extremely dangerous situations. She celebrates at the end of her long trip, and honestly, I was just glad she made it out alive. That she finds her way back to those she loves, and the art she loves, is such a relief. But I would have liked to see more of that process of discovery along the way.

So, a couple of details for you…you can follow her on Twitter (@lisadenikolits) and she’s on Facebook, as well. You can check out her website to find where her book’s available. And one more thing. If you’ve always wanted to travel across Canada to all those provinces, I mean really get the good, the bad and yes, the ugly on that huge expanse of land to our north, save yourself the bus trip and read West of Wawa. It’s all there–but you can enjoy it in clean, not to mention odor-free, comfort.

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