Welcome back Lisa Walker!
Just a few short months ago I featured Lisa Walker and her novel, Liar Bird. Today I am happy to welcome her back to share in her delight at her new release, Sex. Lies and Bonsai due for publication on January 1st 2013.
Have you ever felt the need to start again?
Dumped by text message, Edie flees Sydney for the refuge of her childhood home, taking only a wilting bonsai as a reminder of her failure. But in this small coastal town, shy, awkward Edie has always lived in the shadow of her surf champion father. How can she move on from her ex — and from her past?
Her best friend and life-coach, Sally, is full of dubious advice, but Edie finds there are many ways to mess things up all by herself. A new-found talent for erotic writing, a job drawing crab larvae, unrequited lust for a professor with hidden depths and a maddening musician with troubles of his own add to her swag of problems. And then things get complicated …
A tender and witty tale about finding your voice, falling in love … and crab sex.
My review can be found HERE but first I have a treat for you – a few words from Lisa and an exclusive preview of the first chapter.
Introducing… the shy erotic writer
Authors, like mothers, are probably not supposed to have favourites, but my second novel, ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ has a special place in my heart. The story is set in Darling Head, a thinly fictionalised version of my hometown, Lennox Head. Dumped by text message, the protagonist, Edie, flees Sydney and washes up back in her childhood home. Darling Head is a serious surf town and Edie’s father, a former Australian surf champion, is the local celebrity. Edie, however, hasn’t been in the sea since she was twelve.
The inspiration for Edie’s story came from a few different places. One of these was seeing the way that surfing was so much a part of life in Lennox Head, I wondered what it would be like to be an outsider – a girl who is scared of the water. While I am a surfer myself, my kids are fairly apathetic about it. In a town with such a strong surfing culture, whether you do or don’t surf becomes an important part of who you are.
Edie gets a part-time job drawing crab larvae at the local university and, in an effort to supplement her income, also takes up erotic writing. Way back when I was studying zoology, I had a job drawing crab larvae for one of the professors at the university. It is very intricate and quite boring work and unfortunately I didn’t have Edie’s sexy boss to take my mind off things.
Edie’s feelings of anxiety about being outed as an erotic writer in her home town stem in part from my own anxiety about having my first novel ‘Liar Bird’ published. I immediately imagined everyone I knew poring through its pages, trying to recognise the characters. And I’m sorry, but they were all made up!
I think the reason I am so fond of ‘Sex, Lies and Bonsai’ is that it is a story about that amazing feeling of finding someone who accepts you for what you are. Edie has spent most of her life trying to hide what she sees as her peculiarities. I wanted to see what would happen if she was brave enough to let all that rich inner life come out.
A first peek..
Sex, Lies and Bonsai
by Lisa Walker
Chapter One: There are no accidents whatsoever in the universe.(Sigmund Freud)
I always knew Daniel would find me out one day. That’s why his text message, although it was a shock, wasn’t really a surprise.
E, I can’t stand it anymore, his message said. Daniel never uses abbreviations when texting. Apart from my name. I wonder why that is.
It wasn’t defined. I knew what he meant though. It was the gap between the image of myself I’d sold him on and the reality. He’d fallen for the advertisement, but hadn’t read the fine print. Now he wanted to return me like a defective product.
It was my deficiencies – my social awkwardness, lack of interest in being a domestic goddess and laziness, for starters. Then there was the way I drifted off when he explained the finer points of his job to me and hid in a corner at his important work functions.
It was the way I couldn’t understand the effect of nitrates on river systems, how I stuck my fingers in my ears and hummed when he tried to explain this to me and how I never gave the right answer when he asked what he’d been saying.
It was me.
Another one word text came through shortly after the first. Sorry.
I’d contemplated that word with all its meanings and decided to take it at face value. Daniel was nothing if not politically correct and if he said sorry, then he meant it. But if he was sorry, I was sorrier.
Daniel and I were together for twelve months and twenty days. I’ve spent most of the last six weeks wondering how I can fix it so that Daniel will love me again.
I swerve to avoid a large fish head someone has left on the sand. Its eyes are dull and glassy, its skeleton bare. It has been six weeks since Daniel dumped me, but I still feel no less gutted than that fish. A cold wind is whipping up the waves; it’s time to head home. My feet drag as I make my way back up the beach. My shoulder bag bumps against my hip and I can feel the sharp edges of my new purchase inside.
Daniel and I met at a poetry reading organised by the local writers’ centre. This unlikely intersection of Daniel’s interests and mine occurred in Gleebooks in Sydney. I say unlikely, because Daniel isn’t into poetry. Daniel is into environmental law. Our meeting was doubly unlikely because I had never planned to read my work aloud at all. On such strange chances lives do turn…
The night started predictably enough. A middle-aged woman with fire engine red hair emoted about her secret lover. She counted off the syllables with hand movements that made me dizzy. An earnest young man delivered a ringing testament to vegetarianism – No meat/It’s sweet. A dreadlocked student rapped about being oppressed. It was hard to see how he was – he was wearing ninety dollar Vans on his feet – but you had to keep an open mind.
I had been to open mic events before. I liked to sit in a dark corner and listen. Poets are used to people like me; they left me alone. Though I never performed, I always brought a poem and told myself maybe next time as I left. I knew I never would.
On this night, the featured poet, a scary woman with asymmetrical black hair and elbow-high vinyl gloves, was launching her first collection – Dark Hymns from the Street. Cheap plonk flowed like the Parramatta River in flood. Alcohol contributed to the ensuing events, but it was not solely to blame. A lucky door prize was on offer – the winner would receive one hour of tattooing from the local tattoo shop. Tattoos have become so run of the mill lately. For most people that is. Not for me.
However, after three glasses of wine, it seemed possible that a tattoo might be just what I needed. After four glasses of wine, as it turned out, it was very easy to make a simple mistake regarding the correct hat in which to place your name for the lucky door prize.
I was thinking about what sort of tattoo I wanted when they called my name – perhaps a small line of poetry in a hidden location? The Tay Bridge Disaster – the worst poem in history – sprung to mind. The stronger we our houses do build/The less chance we have of being killed. So true. I ran up to the stage; hand out, ready for the voucher. When the MC passed me the mic and asked me to read my poem, I was too bemused and terrorised to resist. Coughing, I pulled my crumpled paper from my jeans. Luckily, I’d already written an introduction.
‘My poem, Three Deer and a Sheep, isa thrilling epic in rhyming couplets about a New Zealand hunter who woos a single mother by making sausages to his special recipe…’ The mic squealed and I blinked like a spot-lit deer.
It was at this point that Daniel just happened to wander in, looking for the latest book on climate change.
I read my poem as if it was a shopping list – later, my understated delivery was much praised; Leonard Cohen may have been mentioned. Three Deer and a Sheep was a smash hit – a sensation. The poets clapped and cheered and yelled for more. The featured poet looked distinctly pissed off – no one had cheered for her. I felt like Mick Jagger. One more glass of wine and I definitely would have crowd surfed. One less, and I never would have read at all. The whims of fate…
Soon after, when I was naked in Daniel’s arms (I never have been good at playing hard to get) he told me he was entranced from the first line.
I have never understood what it was about It rains a lot in Glenorchy that captured his interest, but I’m that grateful it did. Even now. When I’m feeling low, which is quite often, I think Three Deer and a Sheep was almost certainly the zenith of my performance poetry career.
Sex, Lies and Bonsai is available to purchase
Pre-order the print edition due Jan 1st 2013: @Booktopia
Find Lisa Walker