Sunday, March 20, 2011

Interview--DEE DAVIS 1

BIO: Author Dee Davis has a BA in Political Science and History, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. During a ten-year career in public relations, she spent three years on the public speaking circuit, edited two newsletters, wrote three award winning public service announcements, did television and radio commercials, starred in the Seven Year Itch, taught college classes, lobbied both the Texas State Legislature and the US Congress, and served as the director of two associations. She’s won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. To date, she has sold eighteen books and three novellas in contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and time travel romance including: Set-Up in Soho, A Match Made in Manhattan, Midnight Rain, Dancing in the Dark, Chain Reaction, Exposure, Enigma, After Twilight, and Just Breathe. She’s lived in Austria and traveled in Europe extensively, and although she now lives in New York, she still considers Texas home.

Thanks for being here, Dee. It’s a pleasure.

#1- Tell us a little about yourself outside of your writing career…

Actually, I write full time. So these days that occupies most of my time. As well as becoming an expert on colleges on the Eastern Sea Board. My daughter is heading to college in 2011 and we’re commencing to begin the college search. And since I’m originally from the Southwest, I’m a newbie when it comes to all the schools up here, so there’s a lot to learn. Should be fun. We’ve been in this part of the country for almost seven years now, and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring the area. There is so much to see and do. We’ve really enjoyed our vacation time, particularly a week spent in Boothbay Harbor, Maine. And of course there’s the city to explore. I’ve wanted to live in Manhattan all my life and here I am. Every day is an adventure. Studying, the architecture alone could be a full time occupation. And then there’s the theatre, the museums… There’s a never ending supply of amazing things to see and do. I also love to cook, especially trying to copy favorite restaurant recipes. Most recently we’ve tackled making pasta, which is actually fairly simple, but tends to leave our entire apartment draped in spaghetti or ravioli, or whatever we’re attempting that night. Next up gnocchi. Although I’d also like another crack at tamales.

#2- You starred in THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH. Please do tell us about that.
It was a very long time ago when I was younger and thinner. I’ve always loved acting, and this was a return to my roots so to speak. I hadn’t really done any theatre since high school and so when I got my first job—it took me to Waco, Texas (yes, Waco, Tx). And the civic theatre there was really good, and so on a lark I decided to try out for the production. Two auditions later, I was onstage channeling Marilyn Monroe. It was a marvelous production and believe it or not I actually have the entire thing on video tape. (Gosh, that dates me). Anyway, haven’t done theatre since, but I think writing more than fulfills that creative need. In fact in many ways it’s even better. I get to be writer, actor and director all rolled into one.

#3- As you know, I reviewed your title DARK DECEPTIONS for Bookpleasures and loved it. But how do you handle the negative reviews and critiques you receive?

Well, when I first started I’d cry. And then usually, being somewhat masochistic, read them again and cry some more, certain that my career was over. But these days, while they still sting—I try to maintain balance. Reading is a subjective thing. What moves me, may not move you. And something that I am tempted to throw against a wall may actually be something that other people find engrossing. It’s all about personal choice. That said, I do think that there is a line between criticizing a work of fiction and criticizing the person who wrote it. It should never be personal. And to be honest, even though it may be hard to take, criticism can be a learning experience. Sometimes it’s nice to see your work through the eyes of someone more removed. That’s what editors do after all—and they almost always make the story stronger.

#4- You’ve had a lot of experiences outside of writing. How do you feel they have inspired you or have they prompted any good plots?

I think when you hear people say “write what you know” that’s what they’re referring to, the cumulative experiences of a writer’s life that influence the way they see the world and therefore the tone of their writing. I’ve never worked for the CIA, never killed anyone, and certainly never had to dismantle a bomb. But I can take the ordinary experiences I’ve had and extend them into the world I create for my characters. As a political science major a lot of my romantic suspense novels involve the intricate dance between government and policy. Two degrees in a subject will do that to you.

Just Breathe was predicated on a fear I had of falling off a train. There’s a gap between the train and the platform, and in Europe there are also steps leading down from the train. I was terrified the entire time we lived there of dropping my then six month old in the effort to get her and her stroller off the train. It never happened, but that fear turned into Chloe falling off of a train onto a dead man.

Settings are also affected by my personal experiences. Both After Twilight and Just Breathe were set in places I’d either lived in or visited overseas. (the west coast of Ireland and Vienna, respectively). I also have written about New York City (in both suspense and contemporary romance). Dark Deceptions takes place, in part in Manhattan, as does the third A-Tac book, Desperate Deeds. And Sunderland College, the fictional university where A-Tac exists is located in upstate New York, but in reality it’s based on Hendrix College in Arkansas where I went to school. I’ve also written books set in Austin, Texas where I lived for many years and Creede, Colorado (which I used in Dark Deceptions, Chain Reaction, and The Promise) where my family has a summer home. I also use various things I’ve observed. Like an outgoing train that pulls out of Poughkeepsie almost at the same time the incoming train arrives—just across the platform. That little tidbit became a major plot point in Silent Night.

I think one’s experiences can come out subliminally as well. My father died four years ago from lymphoma and I’ve been interested to find that many of my characters now have had some relationship with cancer, directly or indirectly. I didn’t do it on purpose, it just happened, and I think it’s my way of working through tough times. So, yes, my experiences have most definitely become part of the stories I write.

#5- Assuming you get any time to read, what authors do you like to read, and were there any books that stand out from your childhood as favorites?

I read anything and everything that appeals to me. My current favorite authors are Barbara Samuel/O’Neal and Julia Quinn. Barbara’s (writing as O’Neal now) novels are so vividly written than you can feel and smell the world she creates. The food, the wind, the touch of a lover. She’s amazing. It helps of course that she writes about the southwest, a world I love and that will always be home to me. Quinn writes wonderfully vivid characters with wit and charm. And the world she’s created is one that allows readers to feel as if they’re coming home, even though each book presents a brand new set of characters.

My all time favorite author is Mary Stewart. I’ve told this story before, but when my first book came out, I treated myself by buying old hardback copies of all of her books, even one I hadn’t known existed (it was only published in England). Michael Crichton is another favorite, as are Robert Ludlum, Alistair MacLean and Linda Howard. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. From my childhood, my all time favorites are Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Although I was also really fond of Winnie the Pooh, both Alice books and all things Seuss. Basically, I love novels. They take you away to discover new worlds imagined or real. It’s magic really.

#6- Are there any upcoming releases we would like to know about, and could you give us your web site so readers can check it out?

Dark Deceptions (April) is the first of a new series for me, all featuring the men and women of the American Tactical Intelligence Command (A-Tac). A-Tac is an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Brilliant, badass, and seemingly bulletproof, the members of A-Tac are assigned to the riskiest missions and the most elusive targets. And of course in the midst of all that—there’s always a chance to find true love. The second book, Dangerous Desires (Drake’s book) is coming out in July. And the third, Desperate Deeds (Tyler’s book) is coming in August. I’m so excited to get to write a series where the characters continue to evolve even after the spotlight is shifted to others. It’s been great fun, and I look forward to more to come. To check out the series, as well as my backlist, go to where you’ll find contests, excerpts, covers and more.

#7- This about concludes it. Thank you again for joining us. Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just that it’s been great to be here and visit with you. Writing is a solitary endeavor, so it’s great fun to come out of the garret for a moment in the light!

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