Bookshelf

by Graham Fox

Author Fiona Davis doesn’t have to look further than her home of 30 years, New York City, to find the inspiration for her novels.

Wandering the streets looking for inspiration for her second historical fiction novel, “The Address,” Davis walked by Central Park and watched the sun glint off the exterior of the famous and storied apartments of The Dakota and knew she had found the location for her next novel.

The Dakota has housed famous actors, architects, musicians and sports stars since 1884. John Lennon lived inside and died at its gates. In “The Address” Davis follows the first Lady Manager-ette of the building as she becomes entangled with the N.Y.C. justice systems and the architect who designed and created the building. Poison, insane asylum, and death follow her entanglement.

In the present, a possible relative untangles her personal life and the history of the Dakota, until the past and present collide.

I had a chance to talk with Davis and told me she that working as an author is her third career. After working as an actress, she received her masters at the Columbia School of Journalism and then worked as a freelance journalist for over 10 years writing about health, fitness and the arts. Davis stumbled onto the story of Barbizon Hotel when it was being converted to luxury condos. Several tenants tenaciously remained in the building, living in a sort of time capsule. The article never worked out, yet she couldn’t shake the story and her first novel, “The Dollhouse,” resulted.

Davis said she “likes to bring some part of the arts into each book. Each book takes a journey down an art form I’m interested in exploring. I have to have an element of mystery and a big twist in every book.”

When she chooses an N.Y.C. location, Davis uses her journalism background to find people to give her firsthand or expert accounts, digs into the history, and then branches out to write her novels. She creates and weaves together gripping tales from both the past and present, often in duel narratives. The famous buildings are paired with mystery, murder, the arts and romance.

Davis’ fourth novel, “The Chelsea Girls,” is due out July 31. She describes the new novel as “set in the Chelsea Hotel, which has been around since the 1800s, and has been a home to artists for a long time. Dylan Thomas, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin all lived there.

“I decided to set the book in the 1950s from the perspectives of a playwright and an actor, both women, who are trying to put a play on Broadway during the McCarthy era. There is a political timeline from 1950 I have to follow closely and make work with my plot. I am really eager to share this novel with the world because I think a lot of what happened in that era has really been forgotten.”

Look for Fiona Davis’ intriguing historical fiction novels at Deschutes Public Library locations or your local Redmond bookstores!

Novels by Fiona Davis

— “The Dollhouse”

— “The Address”

— “The Masterpiece” (Paperback out mid July 2019)

— “The Chelsea Girls” (July 31, 2019)

— Graham Fox is a community librarian at the Redmond Library. Contact her at grahamf@dpls.lib.or.us.

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