21 May 2016

Author Interview with Valerie Davisson

Can you tell us a little about your latest book? 
I had a great time writing this one! In FOREST PARK: Logan Book 2, I take Logan McKenna to one of my favorite cities, Portland, OR. So, of course I had to go there several times, stay at a luxury hotel downtown and eat my way through all the ethnic restaurants in the city. In this, the second book in the series, I wanted to follow Logan as she continues to build a new life for herself, including deciding which relationships to nurture, and which to let go.
The story starts in the chaos of the last days of the Vietnam war as key characters flee Saigon, and reaches across the Pacific to modern-day Portland, Oregon, threatening to destroy the lives of those who managed to cheat death in 1975.
When a violent explosion takes a woman’s life just steps away from Logan McKenna’s downtown hotel, the police suspect all the wrong people, including a homeless vet and two of Logan’s new friends; but are any of them completely innocent? While unraveling the tangle of half-truths and secrets to help her friends, Logan’s personal life suffers an explosion of its own. Each character must decide not only whom to trust, but at what cost.

What inspired you to write it?
Themes that have been fermenting away, unbeknownst to me, tend to bubble to the surface as I begin to write. I have always loved Portland, and it seemed like a good place for Logan to stretch her personal and professional legs. Once I pictured here there, the story lines emerged.

How did you come up with the idea for the cover?
This cover was a tough one to design. Luckily for me, my publisher has a talented cover designer, so with only a few, short emails, he came up with one that captured the feel and action of the story.
You really need to be able to communicate with the person designing the cover if you can’t or don’t want to do it yourself. We looked at other images with the model we used for the first cover, but none of them captured the essence of this book. We wanted images from Vietnam, but didn’t want it to look like a travel brochure or a book mainly about the war. The opening chapter/Prologue is set during the fall of Saigon, but the rest of the book takes place in modern-day Portland, OR and Logan’s Southern California hometown, Jasper.

If it was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
I picture Sandra Bullock as Logan – someone down-to-earth, athletic and attractive, but doesn’t know it or trade on that aspect. As for Ben, someone Nordic, open, solid and not overly intense or troubled. 40s When I type in “Tall, Nordic, blonde actor” I get lots of good candidates, but have no idea if they can act! LOL

Is it part of a series or is it a stand-alone novel?
Definitely part of a series. My non-fiction book, SATURDAY SALON: Bringing Conversation & Community Back Into Our Lives, is a standalone, but for fiction, I really enjoy creating a character that starts out in the middle of a huge mess and then seeing what she does and where she goes from there.

Where is the novel set and why did you choose to set it there?
I decided to give Logan a home base in Jasper, CA, a fictional, Southern California town. It really represents Laguna Beach, CA, but I’ve changed so many things, I gave Jasper it’s own name, geography, and history. Logan wins a dubious lottery when she is widowed and has to sell their computer business. With the proceeds, she has just enough to buy a fixer-upper “clinging to the breast of Killer Hill” within walking distance and the sound of the Pacific Ocean.
The settings of my books are almost characters unto themselves. My strong feelings about place come through, affecting my characters as much as me in real life.

What is it about this genre that appeals to you so much?
I enjoy following a lead character, particularly strong, female characters. It’s entertaining and I read authors that teach me something new. With each new Nevada Barr book, I got to visit another National Park, for example.
Mysteries are like a jungle gym for the mind – takes you into the story and away from the mundane and petty bits we all have in our lives.
I also simply enjoy being delighted by a well-crafted sentence or fresh phrase. And it’s a bonus when an author can deal with current issues without being preachy.

What made you want to become an author?
I have always written, but I decided to get published to show my children that difficult circumstances did not need to get you down. I wanted to show them after my divorce, when I was going back to school, working several jobs, that you could do anything you set your mind to.
Other motivating factors for writing mystery novels in particular, were to challenge myself – see if I could write anything longer than 3-stanza poem, and the desire to write something as good as some of my favorite authors. We need good stories! There are never enough, in my mind.

How do you come up with character names?

I don’t use a name generator or a character generator – that seems too cold and unimaginative. Most names just come to me, but for ethnic names, I Google “Vietnamese girls’ names” and then find one that has a meaning that matches my character.
Logan’s surname was all part of her elaborate backstory. I read up on Scotch-Irish history. Not sure how much of it will make its way into future books, but I know a lot about her family tree!

Do you struggle to come up with book titles? Do they come before, during or after you've written your book?

I hadn’t thought about it, but I decided on both book titles after the manuscript was written, or near the end. I had to look at the book as a whole and try to sum it up in a word that addressed one or more of the major themes. The reader may not know, but it is satisfying for me.
SHATTERED refers to several lives and ideas that were completely destroyed:
Logan’s husband’s life.
Logan’s illusions about her husband and former life.
The young woman who is murdered. Not only is her life taken, but the man who loves her is shattered.
And, of course, it also alludes to the art of glassblowing, which features large in the first book.
FOREST PARK is a large, wilderness area set right in an urban area in Portland, OR. It is a refuge and haven for several of the characters in the book, and represents the need all of us have for a physical or psychic place like that for ourselves.

Name one of your all-time favourite books?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (It is almost impossible for me to select just one, but I am forcing myself to move on to the next question! Ha)

Who, or what, inspires you?
Nature. I’ve always found the answers to my questions if I can just sit still for a while and look at whatever’s in front of me – a rock, a bird, the bark of a tree, or a vast, cloud-filled sky.
Beyond that – reading the New York Times triggers my creative juices – I still write POSTS encouraging people to host conversation salons and talk about whatever is on their mind at my SATURDAY SALON website and Facebook page.

Where is your favourite place to write?
For inspiration and small chunks of writing, I jot bits of conversations down on blank paper I keep in my purse, but for serious writing, I park myself in front of my laptop, usually at home, clamp on the headphones and listen to a Tchaikovsky violin concerto, fill my 1,000-words a day cup up with very hot, black coffee…and get to work!

What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Hunt for Red October.

Name two of your favourite authors.
Mark Twain (Everything)
Michael Connely (Bosch)
Karin Slaughter (Triptych)
Alexander McCall Smith (The #1 Ladies Detective Agency)
C. S. Lewis

Tell us a random fact about yourself.
After a long, hard struggle for my mother, I was born feet first into this world, topping the scale at about 4 and a half pounds.

Who would play you in the movie about your life?
Hmmm…cool question! Can we morph Jodi Foster and Meg Ryan? Throw in a little Helen Mirren?

Tell us an interesting fact about where you live.
Living on the 4th floor, I get to see the tops of the palm trees waving gently in the breeze through the french doors of my apartment. I also get to hear the planes from the airport do fly bys annoying close, but I tune them out – hardly notice them most mornings.

What are your (writing) plans for the future?
Working on Logan Book 3 (no title yet)

Favourite myth / fairytale?
My mother bought me a book of French fairytales when I was little, and this is one of my favorites. Click the link for this summary from Wikipedia.

Who/What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I had no career aspirations as a child. I knew what I liked to do, but had no thought of or idea about how to turn that into a career. My mother was a homemaker, and I knew no women who had careers.
Growing up, I passionately explored the stream and woods behind my house, discovered new caves that naturally occurred in the clay hills in Virginia – and later, in high school, rode my horse up into the canyon just to listen to the silence. I picknicked, sat and drew or sketched – and ended the day by defying my mother’s firm ‘lights out’ rule by sneaking a flashlight in under my pillow so I could read for hours into the night.
I defied convention in small ways by wearing jeans in the cafeteria at Brigham Young University (girls weren’t allowed to wear pants back then), becoming a lifeguard instead of a secretary, and later, majoring in Anthropology instead of business.
I didn’t come into my own until my mid-thirties. Luckily, there was plenty of room for me to grow ☺

Buy the book:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hiya! Thanks so much for stopping by the Fiction Dreams site. If you have the time, I'd love to hear from you so please do leave a comment :D xx