Everything You Dream Is Real by Lisa de Nikolits Genre: Speculative Fantasy Fiction, Romance
From the award-winning “Queen of Canadian Speculative Fiction” comes a futuristic, multigenerational love story and a gripping edge-of-your-seat thriller. Filled with a cast of loveable, unforgettable, and entirely unique characters, the novel is a fabulous, adventure-filled sequel to highly-acclaimedThe Rage Room –or read it as a standalone.Mad Max: Fury Roadmeets a futuristicTrue Romancein a highly original and imaginative novel.
Eleven years after a world war destroyed the consumer-driven, plastic-based existence of 2055, a new order of players jostles for power. Streaky electricity, ravaging drought, a scarcity of food, and deadly Monarch butterflies make for an increasingly desperate situation.
Worlds collide when both Mother and Sharps’s children are kidnapped by the unstable plastic surgeon Alpha Plus and taken to The Fountain of Youth compound. There’s flowing water and beautiful people and beautiful clothes and an incongruous convent where children wear smart uniforms and are tutored by nuns. Lovely, until they discover that a subterranean sex trade funds the compound and the man who leads it is mad. Can Mother, Sharps, and the others take down Alpha Plus and his army? Or will they too become pawns in his bid for world domination?
Hilarious and at the same time poignant, Everything You Dream Is Real is a fabulous, adventure-filled sequel to highly acclaimed The Rage Room that will delight fans both new and old.
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Lisa de Nikolits is the internationally award-winning author of ten 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.
Where did you get the idea to writeEverything You Dream is Real?
The idea for this book was simple: I had to rescue my protagonist from where I’d left him in The Rage Room! However, that said, Everything You Dream is Real can be read as a sequel or a standalone. It’s a very different book to The Rage Room and there isn’t any time travel in this one. An editor I worked with on the book, described it as a “glorious kaleidescope of fun” and I really hope readers will find it to be that too! I wanted older generational love, and a complete escape from reality. I can’t tell you where some of the more outrageous ideas came from (for example Monarch butterflies have morphed into venonous creatures with addictive opiods hidden behind their butt sacs and there’s a crazed plastic surgeon with a penchant for turning his patients into real life Barbies), but I hope I made them believable. It may read like a dream world but none of it was impossible.
Do you always write speculative fiction?
I usually write literary fiction or genre fiction so The Rage Room and Everything You Dream is Real are my first forays into speculative fiction. I don’t believe we’re limited to this corporeal world. Writing sci-fi and fantasy is, for me, an exploration of other possible worlds. I truly do believe that everything I dream could indeed be real, and all my imaginings find their way into my books. That said, I some of my dreams are extremely strange and I’d very much prefer they never become real! Or perhaps, I could try my hand at horror!
Tell us a bit about how you started writing this book.
In 2017, my husband and I went to visit my family in Australia. My sister booked a beautiful beach house in an idyllic seaside town a few hours north of Sydney and we all enjoyed a fantastic seaside holiday. That’s when I began to write what would become (well, parts of it would become) Everything You Dream is Real.
It all started when I wandered off for a walk while my family were out paddle boarding, and (and I kid you not!) I met the perfect cult leader stripping down to his birthday suit in a deserted parking lot! Of course he wasn’t really a cult leader but after chatting to him for a few minutes, the voices in my head were screaming “he’s a great character for a cult leader!” and I always listen to the voices in my head!
And he became Axel Patterson (Alpha Plus), the cult leader in Everything You Dream is Real.
Did the ending of your novel change at all through your drafts? If so, how?
The ending didn’t change but the road to get there most certainly did! That’s the thing with me — I always know the title of the book, I always know the beginning and I always know the end. And I always ‘think’ I know the middle, but it never turns out the way I expect it to. And that’s why I find writing a book so exhausting. I start off calmly, in full control of the characters and the narrative, and then the characters step up and rewrite the script. And they don’t mess around. It’s like having a very rowdy circus in my head!
I’m very old-fashioned – I map out my novel on paper. I stick large sheets of brown paper up on the walls and then, much like those crime scene maps with pictures and linking bits of string, I keep track visually. I’ve tried Excel spreadsheets and the like but I’m an arts and crafts person so I like to glue pictures on paper and have fun that way! I stick up pictures of what I think my protagonists look like too.
Did you find yourself having a “favourite” amongst your characters? If so, who was it and why? I always love my secondary characters the most. It’s almost a trend that secondary characters in my short stories become protagonists in later novels. Mother/Mariangela was a minor character in The Rage Room but she’s a big shiny star in in Everything You Dream is Real, because I just knew she had so much more to give.
I was particularly fond of the convicts who get trapped inside Sharps’ head (he’s the protagonist of The Rage Room.) I loved the convicts so much that I extravagantly overwrote them. There were so many of them that they were a book unto themselves and my substantive editor had to rigorously cull a lot of the content.
I love so many of the characters in Everything You Dream is Real. Take Anise, for example. She’s so sassy, with such great style (I picture her as Linda Evangelista in the 1990’s) but the character development she shows is heart wrenching at times. She’s a beautiful baddass who’s been through a lot.
If you had to describe your book in one sentence, what would you say? Planet Earth, irremediably afflicted by a war born from mankind’s avarice and negligence, is now home to the remnants of a civilization forced to navigate a decadent world.
Your cover is great. Can you tell us a bit about designing it? Thank you! I’m an art director/graphic designer in my day job and I love working on my covers.
I was sitting at my work-from-home desk after a long tough day at work (during the worst of the Covid times), when an idea for the front cover popped into my head. Ah, I’ll do it later, I thought. There’s so still much time left to work on the cover. But then I heard my publisher’s voice saying “Try it now Dearheart, why not?” I always listen to my publisher, so I did just that and the cover came together in an hour.
Did you celebrate finishing your final draft or any other milestones during the writing process? If so, how? I admit I’m not good at celebrating! I set a deadline, then I nearly die of exertion getting myself there, then I have a nap, get up and set the next deadline! I do eat a lot of chocolate along the way and I light a lot of scented candles to make the journey more enjoyable.
Many years ago, I wanted to celebrate the publication of The Witchdoctor’s Bones with a tattoo under my foot: “Thank You” in a lovely scripty font (because the journey to fashion that manuscript into a publication-worthy book was the most intense of all my novels). I told God and the universe and all the angels and saints that if that book ever became a real part of the world, that I’d get the tattoo and that I’d NEVER want for anything ever again!
But apparently, you can’t get the undersoles of your feet tattoed, and needless to say, I didn’t keep my promise to God and the universe, because a few months later, all I wanted was another book! And, by another book, I didn’t mean a published book, I just wanted to see if I could get the next idea in my head on paper in a real way.
The real reward of the books is the writing of them – I just love figuring out the puzzle of a plot in my head and then fleshing out the characters to make it happen.