Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Meet Lisa Maliga and 'Notes From Nadir'

Today, I am happy to welcome author Lisa Maliga to Andi's Book Reviews. She is sharing with us more about her book, Notes from Nadir, as well as giving us more insight into her life. Please feel free to leave your own questions for her below!

What was the inspiration for this book?
Library lunchtimes. Almost every weekday I'd sit in my car in the library parking lot with a view of the train tracks behind a grove of trees. One cold and drizzly November afternoon I thought that I should write about what I was going through…how I'd come from warm, sunny California to a place where I hadn't lived in many years. I thought I'd create a blog and share my story that way. That was how this book began.
What does the title mean?
Nadir is defined as the bottom, the lowest point. It's the polar opposite of zenith, which is the peak. The title is a shrouded reference to novelist Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt book, set in a small Midwestern city named Zenith. In fact, he fictionalized the name of the city and the state. In my book, I don't indicate what state it is, other than a Midwestern state---and a state of mind. So the title literally means notes from the bottom, notes from a place where the main character doesn’t want to be. The cover photo was taken in Nadir and shows a train track heading away from the place she loathes. It signifies hope that the character will be leaving.
To which character do you best relate?
The main character as this is the first time I've written a novel where I've named a character after myself.
What is one of your favorite things about this book?
The sarcastic humor that's found throughout. Some might think that it's a doom and gloom book but it actually isn't. There's even a bit of romance in it. That sarcastic tone is definitely needed when events change in significant ways for the main character.
This book is an expanded second edition. What is new in this edition?
About 30,000 more words! Actually, I've divided the book into two parts and part two consists of brand new, never-before-published chapters. In the first edition, I didn’t have chapters, now I do. Also, I could have easily divided the book into two parts in order to sell them separately, but I think it's simpler for the reader to just read the story in one book.
It is often said that even if you move, you take your problems with you. Why do so many people/characters need to move to a new environment to start their lives over, and how do they find success?
Sure, just look at The Wizard of Oz! Yes, your problems accompany you anywhere you travel. Sometimes success is found elsewhere, sometimes it's not. For some people it's necessary. For example, a marine biologist in Iowa may have more career satisfaction if they move to a coastal state. My character moved 2000 miles away for financial reasons. But is she successful in Nadir? That would be a matter of interpretation.
Please tell us about your other published works.
I write two kinds of books: fiction and nonfiction. Actually, I don't just write contemporary or mainstream fiction, I also write short stories, novelettes and novellas. I've written romance and horror books. I like to change genres as it depends on what I want to write about. In The Wilkes House Haunting I explore the paranormal but some would call if psychological horror. To me, that kind of horror is ripe for exploration and I think all my characters in that genre find themselves doing a lot of questioning. On the other side, I had so much fun writing a [literally] sweet romance entitled Sweet Dreams. I immersed myself in the world of bakeries; I read many cookbooks and visited a few bakeries. I learned a lot about Italian and French macarons and the various methods used to make these marvelous treats. Naturally, I had to buy some so I could taste the scrumptious pastries and am now a macaron addict. Some of my other fiction is darker, especially my two books that star Arlen J. Stevenson, a zombie author/narcissist.

As for nonfiction, most of that entails the subject of soap crafting, something I've done since 1998. As mentioned in The Joy of Melt and Pour Soap Crafting, I received one page's worth of instructions with the soap kit I bought. There wasn’t that much information available about melt and pour soap back then so I read what I could and learned the rest by trial and error. I've enjoyed sharing my recipes and have included numerous tips as well as mistakes to avoid so that a newcomer to soaping has a much easier time of it than I did!
You are also a photographer. Where can we find some of your pictures?
On my book covers. Inside any of my soap crafting books. Taking pictures of scenery and inanimate objects is a lot easier than taking pictures of people and animals. Also, taking photos of squirrels is even more difficult as they're wild animals and they're also pretty high strung.
On what other projects are you currently working?
I rarely discuss works in progress. I will say that I'm working on more works of fiction, possibly a short story collection, a novella, and am co-writing a nonfiction book. My latest book, The Prepper's Guide to Soap Crafting and Soap Storage, is bit of a departure as it's written for those who are into prepping/organizing/survivalism, as well as for the crafty individual.
You also like to make items, such as bath soap. Do you sell them?
I did for a few years. Now I make them for myself, I have about 50 pounds of soap so I won't be running out of it in the near future. Much of this was crafted for the books I write about making soap and shampoo bars. To me, it's fun to do although I don't have to make it every single day nor do I have to make soaps in fragrances that I'm not hugely fond of. Now I can always have a variety of soaps to choose from and I'm grateful that I do.
What is something readers may be surprised to learn about you?
Strawberry frosted Pop Tarts with sprinkles is absolute overkill. How is this considered a breakfast when it's too sweet for dessert? I occasionally like plain strawberry or blueberry Pop-Tarts – well after breakfast though.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
Always leave at the peak of the party.
Thank you so much for your time!
It's you I want to thank for taking the time to ask these excellent questions.

Notes from Nadir
by Lisa Maliga



A Los Angeles-based writer returns to her Midwestern home due to financial difficulties. Moving back in with Mom, she lands a job at an online auction site. From encountering wacky characters to dealing with unsympathetic relatives, to her mother's health issues, the narrator struggles with being in Nadir--the place and the state of mind.

Read an excerpt:
From Chapter 34 – Mom’s Garden

In her Hampton Lake home, Mom had a large garden surrounded by a tall wooden fence. She loved her creation and when I noticed it perking up in the warming days, I shared her joy. A winding path had been created from carefully placed white stones. Evergreen bushes covered one side. A few hanging plants contributed lush orange red and bright pink to the corners. Along the wall facing Hampton Lake was a petunia paradise. There were several potted begonias, red and pink geraniums, and even some chives and basil. Mom had comfortable furniture and of course, yours truly had to bring it out of the garage and set it up. But I didn't mind really, it made her happy to be out there. She had a mini storage compartment that held all her gardening gear. She wore her big floppy flowered sunhat, green patterned gloves, and had a garden kneeler, the double foam rubber cushion giving her a few minutes of comfort as she did her gardenly tasks.

My entertainment consisted of the latest Sookie Stackhouse novel [Dead & Gone book #9] and for a snack there was a pint of Ben & Jerry's strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Unless Mom got all revved up about some project that involved planting more flowers or moving something. If that happened, I knew that book would go unread and my ice cream would turn liquid as I'd be drafted into helping out.

So much time had passed since I last lived with her and had to endure all the bookish interruptions, "Lisa, you're strong, could you help me dig a hole for the new evergreen." The old pay me a compliment and get me to work trick. But it was far worse for my uncle whenever he visited as he was kept hopping doing plumbing and electrical repairs. Now, I was able to enjoy my ice cream and cool off in a shady spot while she sat in her chair and listened to my latest tales.

Buy links
Amazon US \ Amazon UK \ B&N \ Kobo \ Smashwords

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Lisa Maliga has been writing ever since she learned how to put crayon to paper back in kindergarten. Since then, she has learned to type and uses a laptop, citing it as way more convenient. She still makes and uses her own soapy creations. You'll find more about her work at:

Lisa will be awarding a PDF copy of Notes From Nadir plus their choice of one of the following ebooks: Sweet Dreams, Diary of a Hollywood Nobody, The Wilkes House Haunting, North of Sunset, South of Sunset or Out of the Blue to one randomly drawn commenter at each stop during the tour, and a Grand Prize of a Print Copy (US ONLY) of Notes From Nadir will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour. Follow the tour for more chances to win!


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