Today we travel to Switzerland to chat with Audrey Davis about how an oasis of calm and tidiness, Phil Collins, piles of scribbled notes, Lac Leman and the majestic Alps, the after life, figure skating, the Falkland Islands, an underwater panic attack, the Dragon Khan ride in PortAventura, Spain , and candyfloss come together as part of Audrey’s past and current life.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a Scottish-born former journalist, based in Switzerland — the French-speaking part — since 2002. I’d like to say I’ve fully mastered the language, but still provide a few laughs for the locals when I cock things up! My two grown-up sons live in the UK, one in Edinburgh where I studied in the mid-eighties. Although I’m from the west coast, I studied in Edinburgh and it’s probably one of my favourite cities in the world. I took an online Writing Fiction course in 2016, which led to my first novel — A Clean Sweep — being published. I’m indie and proud, although managing all aspects of the publishing/marketing process myself still induces a nervous twitch.
I’m and indie author and publisher, too. So now I know where the nervous twitch comes from!
In which genre do you write?
Romantic comedy. I adored Jilly Cooper’s early books when I was young, and moved on to Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews in my twenties and thirties. Mind you, I was (and still am) partial to gory, blood-soaked thrillers but can’t imagine ever writing one!
How many published books do you have?
Four, including a short prequel to my debut novel. My third standalone novel — A Wish For Jinnie — published on June 22.
Those are all beautiful covers, Audrey!
What does your ideal writing space look like?
An oasis of calm and tidiness, with scented candles burning and reference books, folders and files displayed neatly on shelves. And with a picture-perfect view to enjoy while taking a break from writing. In reality, I mainly write at the kitchen table, surrounded by piles of scribbled notes, random printed chapters and often darting back and forth to check dinner’s progress. It’s chaotic, but at least the kettle (and corkscrew) are close to hand. I do have a small office downstairs, but it currently resembles an explosion in a stationery store. When the weather’s good, I often sit outside under the awning where I can look out over Lac Leman and the majestic Alps.
What an amazing and peaceful looking view you’ve got. I’ll clear my calendar for a tea date whenever the world opens again!
If you could turn into one of your characters for a day, which would it be and why, what would you do?
It would have to be ghostly Gary from The Haunting of Hattie Hastings. I’m not convinced there is an afterlife, but I had a lot of fun imagining what it might be like. In the book he is visible to his wife, Hattie, but not to anyone else. So, I’d be able to wander around unnoticed, maybe popping into people’s houses to see what they’re up to.
What’s the last movie you watched and why?
I, Tonya about figure skater Tonya Harding and her connection to the 1994 attack on her rival, Nancy Kerrigan. We watched it after an episode of the Netflix comedy show, The Kominsky Method, which featured a guest appearance by the actress Allison Janney. A quick online search revealed she’d won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as Harding’s badass and abusive mother. Intrigued, we tuned in and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I had not heard of this movie. Will add it to my list.
List three interesting facts about yourself.
· I visited the Falkland Islands in my twenties, a few years after the conflict. My remit as a local newspaper journalist was to follow Scottish regiment the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders on their day-to-day duties in the run-up to Christmas. Highlights included drinking at the famous Upland Goose bar where journalists gathered during the war, and being dangled out the back of a Chinook helicopter. Actually, that one terrified me!
· I’m a PADI qualified scuba diver and have taken the plunge in many exotic locations, including the Great Barrier Reef, Fiji and Vanuatu. In Vanuatu, my husband and I did a deep dive in the SS President Coolidge, a US luxury ocean liner that was sunk by mines in 1942. I’d say this was my only ‘near-death’ experience, as I suffered a panic attack inside the Medical Supplies area. Luckily, our guide calmed me down by sitting me on a sand bank, until I regained my confidence. If I’d shot to the surface without decompression stops, I’d most likely have died.
· I love scary rollercoaster rides, even though my heart’s in my mouth in the seconds before they start, and I’m thinking, ‘I want to get off!’ I haven’t been on one for a while, but a favourite was the Dragon Khan ride in PortAventura, Spain which boasts eight inversions which was a world record at the time. Oh, and I also bungee-jumped in Cairns, Australia and have an ancient video kicking around somewhere showing my cheeks (facial ones) wobbling in abject fear!
Wow! No way I’d get on that roller coaster! Nor, would I bungee-jump. I would toss my cookies during each. Ha!
A penguin knocks on your door and is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he there?
Excuse me, but I heard there’s a party going down. You don’t get many tequila shots in my neck of the woods. And I’m a bit partial to guacamole too. I brought my own maracas!
What is the most interesting thing that has ever happened to you?
Many moons ago, not long after moving to Switzerland, the four of us (including my two boys) went to the ski resort of Les Diablerets. On the drive, my husband mentioned he’d read in a magazine that the singer Phil Collins had a home there. ‘Interesting,’ I said, with little enthusiasm. Left with our youngest to potter on the nursery slopes, I spotted a man wearing a flat cap and walking a Jack Russell. Moving closer, I realised it was the man himself. Deciding to be bold, I went up to him, stuck out my hand, and said, ‘Phil Collins, I presume.’ Remarkably, he didn’t tell me to get lost, but spent a good half hour chatting about the country, skiing and his recent work on the soundtrack for the Tarzan movie. My husband was mega-jealous when he heard of the encounter!
Just had to throw in a Phil Collins song, since my daughter loves this movie and the music.
What do you do when not writing or marketing your books?
I try to go to the gym three times a week, although that hasn’t been possible during lockdown. I love cooking and have shelves of cook books and a bulging folder of favourite recipes accumulated over the years. I’ll cook (and eat) pretty much anything, except oysters. Bleurgh!
What do you miss about being a kid?
First and foremost, my lovely parents. Sadly, they both died a long time ago, and never got to meet my two wonderful boys (now in their mid-twenties). Also, the feeling that time was endless, and the holidays stretched on forever, with the promise of building sandcastles on the beach, taking donkey rides and eating candyfloss. As a family we always holidayed in the UK, with my first overseas trip a long (and nauseous) bus journey to Germany as part of a school outing.
It was great having you on MTA and learning more about your background and writer’s life. Plus, now I know what candyfloss is …. We call it cotton candy. Got it! Wishing you all the best. – Camilla
Blurb – A Wish for Jinnie:
What if wishes really could come true?
When Jinnie Cooper is dumped by her fiancé, and exiled to a job in an antiques shop in a sleepy Scottish village, little does she know a battered old lamp is about to shake up her life.
Genie Dhassim grants wishes. But he also wants a few of his own to come true. Letting him explore the outside world proves nerve-wracking as Dhassim has an uncanny knack of putting his pointy-slippered foot in it.
As Jinnie grows closer to her employer Sam, Dhassim discovers his time on earth is running out.
Can both Jinnie and Dhassim find true happiness? Or are those wishes that cannot be granted?
Where to find the books:
A Clean Sweep
The Haunting of Hattie Hastings
Amazon – getbook.at/HattieHastings
Barnes & Noble/Apple Books – https://books2read.com/u/49Zv7d
Kobo – https://www.kobo.com/ebook/the-haunting-of-hattie-hastings-1
A Wish For Jinnie
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