Thursday, December 8, 2016

Interview with Anita Davison

Next up on the clopping block, errr, the witness stand, sorry - the interview chair is Anita Davison.

Tell us a little about yourself? Perhaps something not many people know?

I’m far too uninteresting – which is why I write. My characters live the lives and do the things I haven’t – and all in a different time.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Growing up, I always found it easier to write how I felt than voice my thoughts to anyone. I was a different person on paper, a more thoughtful, considerate person. The letters of apology for bad behavior soon became stories, although I never aspired to be a writer, I wrote because it was a means of self-expression. It wasn’t until a friend read a few chapters of my first book that the idea was planted. Some years on, I summoned the courage to submit to an agent, and have several books to my name. Not a famous name but mine. 

How long does it take you (on average) to write a book?

About a year. I write historical fiction so the preparation time is spent mainly on social research, immersing myself in the era so I have some idea of what I am talking about before I begin the writing process. Every book I write is submitting to my critique group, who are brilliant at telling me whether or not my characters are credible or not.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

Chaotic. I try to set aside specific time in the day to write, but I have to be in the right frame of mind, and if not, complete rubbish comes through my fingers onto the keyboard which I end up deleting later. If I am in the wrong mood, I cannot get inside my main character’s head and turn into an unsympathetic listener and tell her to get a grip.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I have tried setting up a neat and tidy desk under a window with a calming view to create a productive working environment. Within half an hour I have graduated to my favourite squishy armchair, laptop open and a packet of Haribos at my side That and a cup of hot coffee and I am set for the day when time has no meaning.

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?

I start off with a very clear idea of how my characters will react to certain situations. However when the writing begins they often don’t follow that path at all. Grace, my main character began as a rather shy late bloomer due to a restrictive childhood, but when she broke free of her controlling family, she developed a mind of her own and now I cannot control her! 

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Writing is what I like to do most of all, but sometimes it’s relaxing to do something physical rather than cerebral – but not too physical – like baking! it’s therapeutic to produce something everyone enjoys without having to edit it four times.

What does your family think of your writing?

They are pretty ambivalent. About half of them have read my books, and then only one or maybe two, but I don’t get many comments. Maybe they don’t like them, as not everyone likes historical fiction, or maybe they think I’ll get big-headed if they complement me. I’ll settle for the second reason.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

The historical research fascinates me, and if I’m not careful I tend to get too enthusiastic and want to include everything. One of the things I didn’t realise about the early 20th Century, was that Edwardian women did not eat in public restaurants without a male escort. Partly because there was no such thing as public restrooms, which kept ladies at home for obvious reasons. 

In 1904, Simpsons of the Strand started to allow women into their upstairs dining room, but not the main one on the ground floor until 1984. 

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Envy the Wind will be No 12, although one remains unpublished. Which indicates it needs more work!

What is your favorite holiday and why?

Not trying to suck up or anything here, but my son was on a student foreign exchange program and spent a year at university in Ottawa, and met us in Montreal for Christmas. We all drove up to Mont Tremblant and holidayed in a cabin by the lake near St Jovite. We went horse riding in the snow on Christmas Eve, Snowmobiling on Christmas Day and Dog sledding on Boxing Day. Plus getting up every morning to watch the sun rise over the frozen lake as we drank our morning coffee. It was the best holiday – ever.

Open your most recent story to page 12 and tell us the fifth complete sentence on the page.

He had neither sought her opinion on the matter, nor had she ventured one to a man who had never been challenged either in business or in his home. 

What genres do you like to read?

Historical Fiction and Cosy Mysteries are favourites, but I do move beyond those occasionally as I review for blogs. 

What is the biggest surprise that you experienced after becoming a writer?

That just because your book is out there, you cannot sit back and expect it to sell without some sort of promotional campaign. I was also amazed to discover that Twitter actually works!

If you could have been the author of any book ever written, which book would you choose? Why?

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I loved the imagery the author conveyed with the black and white tents with a touch of red, each of which contained a degree of magic. The idea the circus existed for its own sake without apology or explanation and kept all its secrets.

What would the main character in your most recent book have to say about you?

Why does she keep putting me into situations where I need rescuing – it makes me look feeble and unintelligent. I’m not really as impulsive as she makes me look, I simply refuse to let people get away with murder and when the police won’t listen I have no choice but to show them myself.

Is there anything in your closet that your fans would be surprised by?

I was told to keep this interview PG so I ain’t saying!

If you had to write yourself as a heroine, what kind of heroine would you be? What would you be named?

I’d be a Marvel Comics superhero with exceptional powers. A telepath maybe so none of the villains could fool me and I would know everything about them in the first five minutes.

If you had to write yourself as a villain, what kind of villain would you be? What would you be named?

I don’t do villainy very well. I’m too empathetic with the victims so I dilute their suffering – I would order my henchman to issue punishment and after the first scream, say. ‘Oh, sorry, did that hurt. I didn’t mean it.’

If you could travel through time to visit a special time period or famous person, what or who would it be and why?

Edwardian London to absorb the atmosphere of all the places I describe in my books. I know what they looked like from photographs and old film reels, but to absorb the atmosphere of the city, the poor areas and the wealthy ones would bring an extra dimension to my stories. 

Well there you have it folks, the non-villain Anita Davison (which is good for us - writers can be downright diabolical so it's always best when they are on the side of good).  

Do you have any questions for our interviewee?  Leave them in the comments sections and she will get back to you.

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