From the incomparable crafter of nine cross-genre works of fiction, Lisa de Nikolits expands her horizons to pen a multi-layered, grab-you-by-the-throat, feminist dystopian domestic suspense thriller, a speculative-fiction murder mystery in the style of Groundhog Day meets The Matrix. The perfect father kills his family on Christmas Eve, and tries to undo his actions by jumping back in time. The result is murder and mayhem in dystopia.
Lisa de Nikolits recently spent some time with The Big Thrill discussing her latest thriller, THE RAGE ROOM:
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
Setting. A colleague at work mentioned that her best friend’s marriage had ended and, in order to celebrate the occasion, the woman had organized a girl’s night out to a rage room. I was immediately obsessed. “What’s a rage room?” I asked, and before the sentence was even said out loud, I knew I had to write a book with a rage room as its central focus.
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
Getting the science right. Time travel, as one of the characters points out, is a moody bitch. The science and world building was a massive challenge, but I loved it.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
THE RAGE ROOM isn’t just a speculative dystopian thriller, it’s prophetic. Reviewers have called the book highly original, unique, didactic—and whimsical!
Without spoilers, are there any genre conventions you wanted to upend or challenge with this book?
I wanted to do something different with time travel and dystopia. This isn’t easy to do in a time when this genre has been so explored. But I feel I succeeded:
“We’ve all wanted to go back to the past to fix the future—but Sharps Barkley has messed things up so much in his own high-tech future-world that he has to do it. Lisa de Nikolits takes us—and him—on a wild, high-octane ride into other times and places so bizarre, blighted, funny and wise that they just might seem chillingly familiar. She turns time travel on its proverbial ear, and you won’t want to get out of the passenger seat until the last page.” —Catherine Dunphy, author of Morgentaler, A Difficult Hero.
What authors or books have influenced your career as a writer, and why?
Harry Crews, Charles Bukowski, Margaret Atwood, John Irving, Lionel Shriver, Annie Proulx, Michael Ondaatje, John Steinbeck, Betty Smith.
All of these writers marry literary fiction with compelling human drama and unforgettable characters. And with human drama comes page-turning thrillers.
Is there a question that you feel is important to you and/or your novel? Write it in below, but be sure to answer it too!
What is one thing that people should know about your new book before reading it?
That none of the scenarios described in the book are unrealistic in the near future. The book takes place in 2055, and I truly believe that it’s all coming our way: the plastic world, the controlled weather, the bio-hackers, and the demise of nature. The encroachment of virtual reality into our lives and the accompanying erosion of our precarious social psychology that leaves us increasingly at the mercy of intrusive, targeted advertising.
And that the novel is very funny. Deeply, disturbingly funny.
And that the novel won’t be what you expect it to be. I realize that’s three things, so you can see why I try to stay away from math and science! But what goes on inside a rage room, in THE RAGE ROOM, is like nothing you can possibly have imagined.
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits is a multiple Independent Publisher Book Award winner and has appeared on recommended reading lists for Open Book Toronto, the 49th Shelf, the Toronto Star, and Hello! Canada, as well as being a Chatelaine Editor’s Pick and a Canadian Living Magazine Must Read. All books by Inanna Publications. THE RAGE ROOM is her tenth book.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.