Published: 1 August 2017
ISBN ePUB: 9781925183887
Lisa Dempster has been Director and CEO of the Melbourne Writers Festival and the former Director of the Emerging Writers’ Festival, where she founded both the Digital Writers’ Conference and EWFdigital, an innovative online programming stream.
Lisa has pioneered online literary programming in Australia and in 2012 she curated Future Bookshop, a National Gallery of Victoria studio exhibition, which explored how Australians will be reading, writing and publishing in coming years. Lisa is a professional writer and editor with five book titles, including travel memoir Neon Pilgrim, and was formerly Publisher at indie outfit Vignette Press, where she created The Mook subcultural journal.
During a culture-shocked exchange year in Japan, fifteen-year-old Lisa Dempster’s imagination is ignited by the story of the henro michi, an arduous 1200 kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan.
Perfectly suiting the romantic view of herself as a dusty, travel-worn explorer (well, one day), she promises to return to Japan and walk the henro michi, one way or another, as soon as humanely possible.
Fast-forward thirteen years, and Lisa’s life is vastly different to what she pictured it would be. Severely depressed, socially withdrawn, overweight, on the dole and living with her mum, she is 28 and miserable.
And then, completely by chance, the henro michi comes back into her life, through a book at her local library. It’s a sign. She decides then and there to go back to Japan almost immediately: to walk the henro michi, and walk herself back to health.
Brushing aside the barriers that other people might find daunting – the 1200km of mountainous terrain, the sweltering Japanese summer, the fact she has no money and has never done a multi-day hike before – Lisa is determined to walk the pilgrimage, or die trying.
Praise for Neon Pilgrim
'Consider this book the Japanese version of Robyn Davidson’s Tracks. It will appeal to anyone who feels as if they’re standing at the crossroads of life, to lovers of Japanese culture, and to those who still want to believe anything is possible if you can simply take some time to think it through.'
'I highly recommend it to anyone who has ever yearned for adventure but has found many excuses why they can’t do it – Lisa’s honest account of her pilgrimage proves that where there is a will, there is a way!'
BUT BOOKS ARE BETTER
'This is such an honourable story, told from the heart and never, ever pretending to be anything other than truthful... a personal journey that is worth reading for the inspiration, courage and beautiful scenery along the way.'
BLUE WOLF REVIEWS
'It's entertaining, educational and enlightening and most importantly it makes you want to catch a plane to Japan and set out on the Henro Micho pilgrimage trail yourself.'
SOUTH COAST REGISTER