Wednesday, May 12, 2010
BITS & PIECES: DEE DAVIS
She encouraged me to eat my meal at the cozy diner in Midtown that she recommended we meet at for this column, but it was hard to eat because she is so full of energy, her presence is charged with an energy that crackles, and there is a constant fascinating anecdote or perspective that she has. But I managed to eat, and get all of the bits that I wanted down on paper.
Dee has the kind of professionalism and stamina that I only wish to have a quarter of in my career. In addition to be one of the most gracious people I have ever met, Dee embraces every bit of life and is so comfortable in her own skin. I love that she is an implanted New Yorker with a love for the city that rivals my own. She told me things about the city I did not know as a native and made me see things that I did not know. That is the magic of her as a person and as a storyteller. I was completely inspired by her and entertained. With her many incarnations in her other professional and creative endeavors, she is quite the entertainer and one smart cookie. And as I told her, she does not have a bad angle, and look at how photogenic she is! Read on for her bits and pieces.
“Oklahoma. Texas. Arkansas. Chicago. My father worked for International Harvester, and it was like being an army brat. We moved every two years my whole life. My dad actually had a commission in the army but my mom said not "no" but "&^% no". So we figure that after that he interviewed for jobs that moved more than the army.
“Every experience you have makes you the person you are. At any moment in time, if you turn left your whole world would be different than if you had turned right.
“I am obsessively curious about everything--I have never had a class I did not like or a topic that I did not find fascinating.
“I am also a product of my family. Tenacity is in my blood. And patience. My mom only had one piece of gum during WWII. How tenacious she must have been to have hung onto it so long. My grandfather lived through the depression and the Second World War. And as a result he was very frugal. He saved rubber bands. Every doorknob in his house was covered with them. And he reused foil and bought day-old bread. I don't do any of that. But I do save wrapping paper. And I know how to conserve. It's in my bones.
“When I finished my first novel, I gave myself five years to get published and then I had to get a day job-fortunately, I made the deadline.
“Something about spring time always makes me want bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches. When I was a kid, my mom would pile the platter high will bacon and fresh veggies and we'd pig out. My father was a gardener, and there is nothing like a fresh tomato. I miss having a garden in New York. But my new apartment has a terrace. So with a little luck this summer I'll have fresh tomatoes.
“There are more chances of running into someone interesting in New York. Everyone here has an interesting story to tell.
“I'm a theatre kid. Started theater when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade, and acted all the way through high school. I have one adult show to my credit; a local production of the ‘Seven Year Itch.’
“I am a split brain person: both creative and analytical, and those two people are always at war inside me. When I decided to write, it was the first time since high school that I allowed the creative side of me to be in charge. It's good to honor both sides of yourself. And I think finding a balance can lead to true happiness.
“There is a little bit of a sci-fi geek in me.
“Lady GaGa is a young Madonna. I am really impressed when someone knows how to work the system.
“I was eight when I got my first transistor radio (the iPod of today) and always feel asleep listening to it. My parents also always played music. So many times a song evokes a memory for me. It elicits emotion. I'm eclectic when it comes to music -- from Willie Nelson to U2 to Handel. I always wanted to be a rock star or a movie star or a Broadway star. Star being the operative word. LOL
“Daughter had her iPod in her ears and she would take them off and sing along and then put hers back on when it is over. (Again no idea what we were talking about but I think it was riding in the car and plugging in my husband or my iPod and listening on shuffle -- great invention.)
“My mother is musical as well -- pianist and vocalist.
“Life is too short to let it get to you.
“When we went on our honeymoon in Paris, my mom asked us to go to Shakespeare and Co. We asked a French woman working in the American Express office how to get there. And she draws us an intricate map and we are on the backstreets of Paris thinking we're in the know. Paris like a native. So finally after traversing through back streets and alleys we find the bookstore and it's across from Notre Dame. I figure the woman is out there somewhere still laughing about how she got one over on the Americans.
“I moved every two years all of my young life. So after living somewhere two to four years I get a little ansty, but it's okay because now I have my family and wherever we go, we go together.
“The closest you will ever be to your child is when they're growing inside of you and every step after that they are growing away from you. It's bittersweet, but it's as it should be.
“Only a few places left on my bucket list. Mary Stewart set a lot of her books in Greece. And I want to go there to see the white cliffs, the azure ocean and the flowers. And I've always wanted to go to Machu Pichu.
“People always ask me why I started with Time Travels and then switched to Romantic Suspense. But my three time travels were romantic suspense. I took a break and wrote two Chick Lit novels, mainly to stretch myself as a writer. But also because I'd never really written anything using my "true" voice and writing contemporary comedy allowed for that. Vanessa in A MATCH MADE ON MADISON is afraid of revolving doors and so am I. And it was fun writing something where no one dies.
“My job is to entertain someone, and I am making a covenant with my reader to take them on a certain kind of ride. Be it time travel, romantic suspense or chick lit.
“The most important thing about writing is doing your homework. When I had a notion I might write a book, I did a lot of research both on writing and on publishing as an industry. At the beginning of a story it's all a blank page, but every decision you make narrows the focus until you get to the end and there's only one place left to go.
“When I first decided I wanted to write a book, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to write. But to understand the market, I went to the library and took out all the books so I could see what was selling, what they were writing about, what worked for me and what didn't. It helped me as I began to focus in on what story I wanted to tell. In this business, you have to do your homework. It's the same skill set you use in college for research papers, or in business to prepare for a meeting or situation. It's all problem solving. Mine are just all in my head.
“I have always been very comfortable with stillness. I crave stillness sometimes. I'm one of those people who is ‘on’ when it's called for so am delighted with downtime. I understand my rhythms. I think that calmness can be an illusion, but it's still important to find that center and hold onto it.
“I am fascinated watching people. And listening in. I think that's part of what makes a good writer. Curiosity. But it also killed the cat.
“I was born an optimist, I will die an optimist. Can't help it. I'm wired that way.
“Writing is cathartic, sometimes you are writing about things in your life and you're not even aware that you're doing so. Using the story to deal with the things happening in your life. It may occur in a slightly different format on paper, but your characters are reflecting your experiences. You write from the collected experiences of your life. That's where your characters come from. Their thoughts, their opinions and sometimes the messes they get themselves into.”♥