PAC'N HEAT: Meet The Contributors! Lisa de Nikolits

PAC'N HEAT: A Noir Homage To Ms. Pac-Man will be available November 2016! Advance Copies will be for sale at CANZINE 2016! Let's Meet The Contributors...

Lisa de Nikolits


1. Did you ever play Ms. Pac-Man?

Yes, I did. Imagine a seventeen-year old girl in the countryside of what was then the Transvaal (now, it is Gauteng). Imagine a hot, dusty, dry area a couple of hours north of Johannesburg. Imagine a strip mall that isn’t even a strip mall, it is more like a tiny gathering of rural stores; a tack shop with saddles, bridles and anything you might need for your horse. There’s a May’s Chemist (a drugstore), a Spar (like an IGA), a realtor’s office, a post office and a fast-food store. The fast food store is called O. Platanos which is a strange name, we always thought, my family and I. O. Platanos. A place where you can buy fish and chips or Russian sausages and chips (my dad’s favourite), or you can buy hamburgers and other dubious deeply-fried delights. This is a place where I once ordered a packet of burgers and a chip. My sister fell about laughing and she rushed out to tell my mother of the faux pas that I committed in front of the love of my life, a boy I will call Max H. Oh, be still my heart. He was a rich boy, his parents owned a cucumber farm close to our small-holding (we had six acres, home to our family of four, three dogs, two cats and four horses, one for each of us.) At the time in life, we were all about the horses – but I was mostly all about Max H. The daydreams of his and my happy-ever never amounted to anything more than me standing beside him, playing Ms. Pac-Man while he played Space Invaders, both of us waiting for takeout in the tiny greasy confines of O. Platanos. So, if you ask me what I love about Ms. Pac-Man and what I remember most, it is that eternal summer of being seventeen and being in love with a boy who had no idea I existed, despite the fact that I put myself in his path constantly and quite obviously. I am not sure what happened to Max H and I would prefer not to know, but to remember him as a youthful beauty, back in the day, when Ms. Pac-Man herself was but a wee babe.

2. Did you play other video games?

Yes, I loved Donkey Kong! And Asteroids, Space Invaders, Pac-Man.

3. What did you find most frustrating thing about playing?

I hated losing! I am not a diplomatic loser! And it annoyed me that my sister was much better at video games than I was. And she was not diplomatic about beating me!

4. What was most appealing about playing video games?

Boys! There were always boys around the video games. But I also loved the noises and music, the squawks, the screeches, the sirens, the blips and bleeps and the bells and chimes. I loved the colours, the graphics and, of course, the excitement of playing. When I go into a casino, I feel like I am in a video arcade and I am filled with the happy feeling of a free afternoon in the summer after school.

5. What video game do you wish existed?

It would be really cool to have a Scrabble Ms. Pac-Man! So you could chomp up dots and fruits while you build words and get chased by ghosts!

6. What's better: Original 80s or Retro 80’s?

As a genuine retro relic from the Original 80s, I vote for Original! I am an Original Retro 80’s relic and I am proud of it!

7. What about Noir appeals to you?

Apparently some people wear rose-coloured spectacles when they look at the world. My spectacles are noir. I laugh because sometimes people tell me that I am one of the most positive people that they know but really, I am very noir! For example, when I stop to smell the roses in summer, I cannot help but see their inevitable death. In a way, seeing the withered dead petals of the future makes me appreciate the transient beauty of the moment even more. Being noir-aware makes one so much conscious of the fragility of life but also, of the indestructible determination for survival.

8. What is your favourite work of Noir?

Sin City. The first one. I loved Will Christopher Baer’s Penny Dreadful (but only Season 1). I think Craig Davidson is very noir, as is his alter-ego Nick Cutter, although Nick is of course, more horror. I love all Craig and Nick’s books. I loved the book Night Film by Marissa Pessl who also wrote Special Topics In Calamity Physics and I thought The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter was quite noir in a way, although very funny too. I loved Fight Club. It’s interesting, the things you learn while doing research for blog posts! For example, it seems that I am more into neo-noir than I am into noir -– Shutter Island by Denis Lehane is categorized as neo-noir and I loved that book. My short stories tend to be very noir. I have a collection titled Cannibals of the Afterlife and one of the stories from that was published in Postscripts To Darkness, Volume 6, and I was delighted that they liked it. The story, Eve Ago, is about an obese woman, so obese that she is exhibited by her siblings as installation art and she sits in a red velvet throne in restaurants and people line up to feed her. Eve is televised and followed and adored. And then the viewers watch her die, the television screen fades to black and her siblings eat Eve and they never find her remains. There’s lots of very noir content in Cannibals!

9. What are you working on now?

A novel titled The Occult Persuasion. It’s very much in the plotting and planning stages and I am exploring the characters. The Occult Persuasion will see a series of lives intersecting; a group of young people back-packing through Europe, a middle-aged couple holidaying in Australia, a patient of an insane asylum in Sydney Australia in the 1930’s (clearly no longer alive but appearing as in photographs with a message that only one young man can see). I am still at the gathering of data stage for this one but hope to have the first draft of this written by the end of the year.

10. What are you reading these days?

Paradise Lost (Milton), The Odyssey (Homer), Kant’s Moral Philosophy (HB Acton), Do Not Say We Have Nothing (Madeleine Thien), Barkskins (Annie Proulx), Principles To Live By (David Adams Richards), All The Missing Girls (Megan Miranda). I am very behind on reading Canadian authors – I missed all the Spring launches due to work and I plan to rectify that with Fall!

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