Blog Tour - Guest Post - Research: Someone's Got To Do It by Lisa Walker

I'm happy to announce that I am kicking off the Blog Tour of Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing written by Lisa Walker. Arkie's Pilgrimage is her third book with her first being Liar Bird and her second, Sex, Lies & Bonsai.

Lisa has very kindly offered to join me today on the blog to share some of her thoughts on one of the most important aspects of writing, that of research! At the end of this Guest Post is a link to the Blog Tour list as well as a link to the next blog on the tour. Please do visit the other blogs listed where you will find an array of Q & A's, Guest Posts as well as Reviews from other great Aussie book bloggers.

Born in Holland, having grown up in Fiji and spent her teenage years in Brisbane, Lisa has worked as a bartender, wilderness guide, igloo builder and tertiary lecturer. She now works part-time in community relations. Unable to decide whether she likes writing or science more, she has Masters Degrees in both natural resource management and creative writing.

Her half-hour radio Play Baddest Backpackers aired on ABC Radio National in 2008. She was a finalist in the ABC Regional Short Story Award and winner of the Byron Bay Writers Festival short story award. Her writing has been published in The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald Online and the Review of Australian Fiction.

She lives in a pole house on the far north coast of New South Wales. In her spare time she reads widely, surfs, backcountry skis and bushwalks. Although she is yet to do a pilgrimage, she still has a notion that at some stage she will head out - sans husband and kids - on a spiritual journey from which she will return changed for the better.

Before I kick off the tour, I would just like to thank Random House Australia for arranging Lisa's contribution and also Lisa for agreeing to share her take on research.

Arkie's Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing, released today, can be purchased from the following links:


Authors are often quite strategic about the books they choose to write. Settings like Paris or Antarctica mean – damn – I suppose I’m just going to have to go there and take a look. Google Street View is wonderful, but you can’t beat the little observations you make when you’re actually in a place.

When I originally started writing the book that became ‘Arkie’s Pilgrimage to the Next Big Thing’, I envisaged a story about a woman walking the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan. I read a lot of books about it and it sounded wonderful, but I wasn’t sure when I was ever going to find sixty days to do it — I have a job and kids — and I didn’t think I could write about the walk without doing it. So, rather than hold off writing the book until I could do the pilgrimage, I decided to write about someone who wants to do it, but can’t. Arkie, I decided, would have to have her pilgrimage right here in Australia.

I tried to think where you would go to do a ‘temple’ pilgrimage in Australia and the idea came to me one day as I was driving past the Big Prawn — more or less as it does for Arkie. I suppose Big Things appeal to my sense of the ridiculous. I like the way they become totems of the towns that have them and how surprisingly passionate people become about them. For me, they evoke a sense of nostalgia. I have extremely vivid memories of visiting the Big Banana and the Big Pineapple as a child and they seemed like the most exciting places in the world. Like Arkie, I still think there is something ‘weird and sweet’ about them.

In the course of researching ‘Arkie’s Pilgrimage’ my son and I embarked on a Big Things tour. He’s a keen filmmaker so he made a short film about it. Our tour included the Big Banana, Prawn, Avocado, Pie, Redback Spider, Pineapple, Macadamia, Cow, Shell, Pelican and Mower. We had a lot of fun doing the sorts of things that Arkie does — eating a pie at the Big Pie, eating fruit at the Big Avocado and cruising the kinky banana souvenirs at the Big Banana. My visit to the Big Macadamia was a bit like Arkie’s too — very intrepid.

At the time I did this tour, back in 2011, Ballina’s Big Prawn was just a shell and the closure of the Big Pineapple was breaking news. A local newspaper had a picture of a sad family who had supposedly driven all the way from Sydney just to go to the Big Pineapple, only to find out it was closed. But since then, both the Big Prawn and the Big Pineapple have happily experienced a new lease of life so I have reflected these changes in the book.

And coming up next? Well, it looks like I might have to take that trip to Paris… Ho hum.

Lisa, you make research sound so exciting. For all those aspiring authors out there - Good Luck with yours!

About the Book

A delightfully funny and inspiring novel about a very modern pilgrimage, and one woman's chance to rediscover what she's lost.

'I watch the highway go by and ponder my situation. I am on the run from my husband's divorce lawyer, my mojo is still missing in action and my demon ex-lover is lurking . . . But, all things considered, my pilgrimage is going well . . .'

Arkie used to be a trendspotter, running a successful business advising companies on ‘the next big thing'. Until she lost her marriage and her mojo along with it. 

Her eccentric new friend Haruko suggests a pilgrimage in Japan. But funds are tight, so instead Arkie's going on a very Australian trip, to all the ‘Big Things'. 

With Haruko as her guide, magic is everywhere. A Buddha appears next to the Big Redback, the Big Macadamia rises from the jungle like a lost temple and inside the Big Shell she can hear a tinkling voice, reminding her of the child she never had. 

As her improbable adventure unfolds, realisation dawns: could it be that, despite her celebrated foresight, Arkie's been missing what was right before her eyes?

Please do hop on over to 1 Girl 2 Many Books' blog where you will be treated to both a Review and Guest Post.

As promised above, for a list of the other blogs taking part, please click here where you will be re-directed to the Blog Tour page on Random House's website.

You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #ArkiesPilgrimage 


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