neon pilgrim

Lisa Dempster with her new book, Neon Pilgrim and emcee and fellow author, Simon Groth at Avid Reader, Brisbane.

This past Wednesday night I had the pleasure of being in attendance when my friend Lisa Dempster launched her first full-flung, non-fiction book, Neon Pilgrim at Avid Reader in the West End of Brisbane.

*Seriously unfit and unmotivated, Lisa Dempster is an unlikely candidate for a gruelling outdoor adventure. But when her life needs a shake-up, she decides the only thing for it is to hike the henro michi, a 1200 kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan.

Lisa plunges into life on the road, getting well off the beaten track and experiencing the highs and devastating lows of solo long-distance hiking. Along the way she sleeps in a public toilet, befriends a motley crew of wandering ascetics, falls in lust with a monk and tries her darndest to avoid the local wildlife. As the kilometres tick excruciatingly by, she realises that to finish the pilgrimage it’s more than just physical hardship that she’ll need to overcome…

Lisa’s journey from overweight dole bludger to intrepid explorer is a witty and fascinating insight into Japan’s famed 88 Temple Pilgrimage.*

Having predominantly been on the publisher / editor side of things, this was Lisa’s first experience on the side of being a solo author (she previously co-authored Veg*n Shopper: an essential pocket reference with aduki publisher Emily Clark), and from what I’ve read so far, she has an extremely engaging and honest style of writing; and I have absolute respect for her in even contemplating the pilgrimage she undertook.

I met Lisa through a mutual friend a few years back, and completed a commission of covers for the first series of her Mini Shots series, as well as contributing to The Sex Mook and The Death Mook and with this latest book, its preceding hike, and her role as owner and publisher at Vignette Press I am always amazed at her energy, enthusiasm and tenacity.

If you have a chance, you should check out the following artist talks and Melbourne book launch:

1-4 October – Book launch and reading, plus panel appearances at the National Young Writers’ Festival, Newcastle (NSW)

6 October – Author talk, Ashfield Library, Sydney (NSW)

10 October – Workshop at Art Jam Festival, Fyshwick (ACT)

14 October – Book launch at Readings, Carlton (VIC)

11 November – Author Talk at Whitehorse Manningham Library, Nunawading (VIC)

18 November – Author talk at Burnside Library, Adelaide (SA)

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