Interview with Genie Davis, author of The Model Man ~ Romantic Suspense ~ Kensington Books
Conducted by Sassy Brit
TJN: Hello, and welcome! I really enjoyed your book The Model Man, you chose a great idea for a romantic story; fake psychic con‑artist meets seductive homicide detective ‑ instantly one knows their love for each other is not going to be without its problems, and that’s what makes this story so good. You write such strong characters, I wondered if you have a system for getting so deep inside your protagonist’s mind?
GD: First of all thanks for the compliment on strong characters. I always start with a character and think about their feelings and reactions, that and a setting come first, the plot sort of works its way out of the characters and their reactions, so I suppose I get to know the person or persons I’ve created first, and then layer story upon that. The story then kind of alters their perceptions and actions, and the story allows me – and the reader – to see how everything that’s happening to them makes them feel.
TJN: I love the instant bond you create when writing in first person, as you have in The Model Man. What are your reasons for writing in this point of view? Do you prefer it?
GD: Actually I probably prefer the third person, but I had written several books in third that didn’t sell, so I switched to first. I also think first gives you a lighter, brighter tone in general, and that seemed to be what my agent wanted to sell. I do tend to go dark when left on my own. I like noir. I had a review once that said The Model Man bordered on noir, and though that surprised me, it also pleased me quite a bit.
TJN: If you don’t mind me saying so, you are a very busy lady, Ms Davis, not only do you write novels, you are also a produced screen and television writer. How did you start in the screenwriting business?
GD: I had a successful production company, producing commercials, corporate media, stuff like that. In 1997 I decided I could not write “In this program you’ll learn how to —” or “Come to IHOP for a great breakfast!” or whatever one more time. A friend of mine needed help turning an educational idea she had into a TV show for kids – so I helped, which led to a manager, which led to my mistaken belief that it would be easy to sell screenplays. So I wrote a whole bunch of them, got hired for television writing, got a number of screenplays optioned (which is kind of like always a bridesmaid, never a bride), and one very small indie film produced, got hired a lot doing rewrites and proposal writing, things that are essentially uncredited, lurched around in reality TV. I had one screenplay get a major name actor attachment and partial funding and then it fell apart, I felt so strongly about the project that I turned it, rather painfully, into a book which was my first published novel, Dreamtown, which was published by a small press. I never tried to sell it to a major. The rights are back to me now, and I hope I can resell it, it just never made it into any stores. Then I started to write other novelizations of screenplays, wrote a mystery which almost made a big time sale, and then – wrote The Model Man. So the short answer is: I got tired of being successful as a producer/director and decided to go flounder around being creative.
TJN: Can you tell me more about your work on the independent film Losing Hope?
GD : I had co-written a couple of teen/kids movie scripts and had one of those optioned. My co-writer raised some funds and a production company was formed, and they asked for me to co-write and co-produce, given my production background. The project was a very dark comedy. The acting was super, the locations, in Pennsylvania, were great, my kids even got parts in the film. The downside was the production company was underfunded, it took forever to get edited, and then although the film has been very favorably reviewed on the festival circuit and won some prizes, it has never received distribution.
TJN: I’m a huge fan of Wes Craven Films, so, could you please tell me what sort of projects you were involved in with Wes?
GD: I worked on a project whose working title was Circus Kids. It was kind of like a teen X Men meets the HBO series Carnivale – kids with special, albeit not particularly supernatural powers who are orphans of one sort of another in a traveling carnival setting. The idea was a pet project of Mr. Craven’s, but the story ended up not going the distance into production.
TJN: Did you get to meet Wes Craven in person?
GD: Yes. He is notoriously quiet during meetings. He hardly says a word, except about very specific things. I was surprised to note that his first comment to me was as to whether or not a character shouldn’t be running instead of sneaking around.
TJN: You sound like you must have a very supportive family, what do your children think of your writing, producing and directing talents?
GD: My kids are amazing. I couldn’t possibly have better fans. They come with me to book signings. When they were little they used to come to video edits and commercial shoots. They’ve had bit parts in that kind of stuff, as well as parts in Losing Hope and have their own credits in other peoples commercials. I always read them my books and screenplays – well, except for the erotic romance just out, The Cowboy. Haven’t read them that one. Usually though, they help me review my copy edits and galleys.
TJN: As a writer I am always interested in the process of writing. When you wrote The Model Man did you have a writing schedule or a certain time of the day you felt more like writing?
GD: Unless I am distracted with “real life” (as I actually am right now) I usually write five days a week from about 10 to about 4 – interrupting myself for pick up and drop off at schools, errands, stuff like that. I often work again for an hour or so after dinner. On weekends I usually write for two or three hours early in the morning. If I’m traveling I don’t really write anymore. I used to take my lap top everywhere.
TJN: Do you have a room where you can shut the outside world out and write?
GD: I wish. I do have a den, but I share it with my husband, and it used to be a porch, so it opens up into the kitchen. I often hear things like “Fairly Odd Parents” and “Malcom in the Middle” reruns on the kitchen TV while I work. I do like getting up early in the morning on weekends when I am just the only one around just for the silence factor.
TJN: What view do you have out of your den?
GD: The windows are fairly high up, and we are a “tall and skinny” house less than a mile from the beach, so theoretically, if we weren’t hedged in by other tall and skinny’s I’d see the beach. In reality I see a corner of the sky and other peoples roofs and windows, and the top of a neighbor’s avocado tree. Which really needs trimming.
TJN: Please can you ‘Show us your DESK?’
GD: I did take two photos, this has been hanging me up on returning this interview though, so I will send them on as soon as my husband return from a trip and downloads off the digital camera. I’m a little technically challenged.
In the meantime, verbally: my desk top Dell sits on an Office Depot fake wood desk next to a large filing cabinet. Taped to the filing cabinet are drawings my kids drew for me over the years from five up, and photos of my kids. On the opposite end of my desk there is a small shelf with floppy disk space and printer cartridges and some framed photos including one of my favorites that I often look at of my kids and I in Waikiki.
TJN: Do you have a much‑loved book that you re‑read over and over again? If so, which one is it and why?
GD: Several. I often re-read Kem Nunn’s semi obscure Pomona Queen which is just a dark, great little noirish sort of thriller, set in the disappearing orange groves of So. Cal. I also re-read Sebastian Faulkes On Green Dolphin Street, which is one of the saddest, most romantic books I’ve ever read. I read it the first time on the treadmill at the gym and I cried and cried. I think everyone at the gym thought I was insane. Anyone who noticed that is.
TJN: Please suggest three story ‘prompts’.
GD: Sure, that’s perfectly okay.
What if you were living alone in a house on the beach where it’s never very warm and it rains all the time, and you heard a knock on your door?
What if the world was ending tomorrow?
What if you fell in love and let the guy or girl walk right out of your life?
See, I’m a little dark.
TJN: Do you have a favourite quote you would like to share with us?
GD: “…are you wonderin’ was the gamble worth the price?” Joni Mitchell
TJN: I hear you have a rather unusual hobby of taking road trips; do you do this for your writing, escapism, to relax, or is there another reason the open road draws you to it?
GD: I’d love to do travel writing but no one has asked me yet. Well, I do write a monthly column through http://www.wickedescapes.com as Nikki Alton, an erotic romance e-zine that has sort of sensual-theme escapes. Which cracks my kids up since many of the places I am describing are places we went with no amorous results. I’ve also written two articles that are up on http://www.synergize.com.
I just love to get in a car and drive – once I’m out of LA that is. I hate driving in Los Angeles, at least on the freeway. I will often get really crazy and refuse to drive the freeway altogether, just do surface streets for months at a time. But, once out of the urban snarl, I love to drive. I put 4500 miles on the car last year. There’s a wonderful freedom in driving, stopping along the way. Less of a time table. And sure, seeing new places gives me fresh settings/inspiration.
TJN: Where did your last road trip take you and what was it like?
GD: Well, my last big road trip was last years Montana-Wyoming-Idaho trip. There were a lot of wonderful surprises, like a road between Salmon and Arco Idaho that went from desert rock to pines and river, through rolling golden valleys. There was a little rain, a rainbow, horses by the side of the road, rising moon, huge earth quake fault on a side road that went nowhere else, just fabulous. Another favorite part was driving around Yellowstone national park and into Cody Wyoming, the Absaroka mountains (a setting I used in The Cowboy anthology) are just gorgeous.
We also went to Oahu for a second time this spring and drove around the island, including to the less-visited west side, Yokohama Bay is gorgeous, and its a trip driving thru rain clouds and into sunshine down thru the pineapple and sugar cane fields in the center of the island. My last trip was just out to Palm Springs and back, but we made a stop at Salvation Mountain (www.Salvationmountain-site.com) which is this incredible folk art created by a very talented, very devoted gentleman down near the Salton Sea in the middle of nowhere…
TJN: Are you working on any other writing projects at the moment?
GD: Oh yeah, I’m always writing. Kind of up in the air right now, my editor wants one thing, I already started working on another, and I have a whole bunch of proposals out. Two projects: more romantic suspense with Executive Impulse – female cop, male who isn’t really the heir to the corporate throne; and Chile Nights – test car driver and photographer go on a road trip – to some place I’ve never been but wouldn’t mind going sometime, the Caretta Austral in Chile. Fascinating research there – wish it could be in person. Am also working on some young adult stuff that I’d like to involve my daughter in, and of course, more erotic romance since that seems to be the big seller right now.
TJN: Where can we buy your book The Model Man?
GD: Amazon.com in the UK and US, Barnes and Noble stores and on-line, Borders stores and on line, Powells Books, and apparently on e bay!
TJN: And finally, which three items do you carry in your handbag (or should that be purse?) that you can’t possibly live without?
GD: Photo of my kids. Pepper spray. ATM card. I used to carry a writing notebook but now that’s in my car glove compartment. I’ve got to find a smaller notebook and put that back in my purse. I’m now scribbling things in my check register.
TJN: Thanks for agreeing to participate in our interview, Ms Davis. It’s been great you could share so much with us. Good luck with your future projects!
GD: Thank you! This was a fantastic and fun interview. I’ll get that desk photo to you ASAP, promise.
Genie Davis is a produced screen and television writer. Her work spans a variety of genres from supernatural thriller to romantic drama, family, teen, and comedy. She’s worked on projects with companies as diverse as Smith-Hemion Productions, Wild at Heart Films, Craven/Maddalena Films, and Craig Anderson Productions.
She’s written on staff for ABC-TV’s Port Charles; written, produced, and directed reality programming and documentaries for The Learning Channel, PBS, and HGTV, as well as numerous television commercials and corporate videos. She’s directed such notable corporate films as “Santa Goes Shopping at Frederick’s of Hollywood” and “Let’s Watch the Big Metal Machine Parts go Up and Down For Twenty Minutes While the Boring Guy Says Stuff.”
Her novel, The Model Man, January ‘06, romantic suspense, is the first in a mass market deal with Kensington/Zebra publishing. Her first novel, the noir Dreamtown, was published by a small press, The Fiction Works, in 2001.
A second romantic suspense, Five O’Clock Shadow will be released February 2007, and her novella Rodeo Man was released under the name Nikki Alton by Kensington/Aphrodisia, August, 2006. Her short story, “The Girl & the Gun” is now available through Amazon Shorts.
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