Everyone welcome Heather Davis, author of The Clearing, a YA time travel novel that brings sixteen-year-old Amy, recovering from an abusive relationship, back to 1944 where she meets eighteen-year-old Henry, who is stuck in an endless summer.
1- Hello Heather. Welcome and thank you for taking the time to stop by Damsels in Regress to talk with us. What inspired this novel? Did you always envision it as a time travel story?
Thanks for having me! So, I used to live in a small mountain town near a river, just like Amy. I lived next door to a big open field where my neighbor grazed his cows and horses. Often a mist would cover the field so completely, the big red barn at the end of the field would disappear. I started wondering what was really behind that mist, and Henry Briggs came walking out – a boy stuck in the endless summer of 1944. It began with Henry, so the story really begged to be a time travel novel.
2- I love the 1940s and 1950s, and one of the big reasons is the attitude of men towards women. They were gentlemen in the truest sense of the word. You did a great job of portraying that in Henry, through his actions, dialogue and thoughts. What type of research did you do to help write Henry?
I love old movies — one helpful film was The Best Years of Our Lives – a 1946 film about men returning home from WWII. As far as how people lived through the depression years up through the war, the older people in my life were a great resource. I did research online, tapped an expert for help with dates and military stuff, and read an amazing book on the nurses of WWII. I really enjoyed doing all this research. While I wrote the book (especially Henry’s scenes) I listened to 1940s swing and 1930s standards. It wasn’t hard to get into the mood.
3- I’m curious, how did you come up with the ending? Did you always have one in mind or was it something you struggled with?
The ending was pretty close to what I had thought was going to happen. It had to be organic – honoring both Amy and Henry and the choices they had to make. I usually write my stories with the ending in mind.
4- You change from 3rd to 1st POV depending on what year we are in and whose head we’re in. What motivated the decision to use two different POVs?
I wanted Amy to feel close so that today’s readers would identify with her right away. I wanted them to hear her voice. With Henry, who actually came first in my imagination, I felt that the 3rd person would help him feel more distant, more true to the period, maybe. When I put the chapters together, it felt right.
5- Do you have a particular favorite time travel novel?
I have a favorite time travel musical, Brigadoon, and a favorite time travel movie, Somewhere in Time. I would say my story has more in common with that story than with a work like The Time Traveler’s Wife, which was a great book. I read it after I had written The Clearing and was really moved. The book was a million times better than the movie, by the way.
6- And lastly, I’m always curious to know what other authors are reading. What books are on your to read list?
I’m reading Boneshaker by Cherie Priest and several non-fiction books for research for my next novel, Wherever You Go, which is about a teen caring for her Alzheimer’s-stricken grandfather and the ghost haunting them both.
Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and chat with the Damsels!