SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I'm delighted to introduce you one of my favorite novelists, Hilary Davidson.
Hilary won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel and a Crimespree Award for THE DAMAGE DONE. That book launched the Lily Moore series that continues with THE NEXT ONE TO FALL—set in Peru—and EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES, about a missing journalist in Acapulco.
Hilary’s first standalone novel, BLOOD ALWAYS TELLS, will be published by Forge in April 2014. She’s also the author of a short story collection, THE BLACK WIDOW CLUB. Her short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen, Thuglit, Needle, and Beat to a Pulp, earning her a Spinetingler Award, a Derringer nomination, and two StorySouth special mentions.
Hilary's one of my favorite novelists for many reasons (strong female protagonist, exotic settings, unexpected plot twists), but one thing I really love about her books is that in THE DAMAGE DONE, is that she chose Caron's 1919 perfume, Tabac Blond, for character Lily Moore. The absolutely perfect detail. From that moment I knew I could read and enjoy, knowing I was in hands of a gifted writer. And I loved reading this essay, about Lily's silver bracelet.
HILARY DAVIDSON: I like to say that the main character in my series, Lily Moore, and I have a lot in common professionally — careers as travel writers — but very little in common personally. After all, Lily’s got a painful family background and a penchant for untrustworthy men, neither of which I can claim for my own. But the truth is that there are some personal traits we have in common, and one of those is a superstitious attachment to certain treasured items.
Lily has a silver bracelet that was the last Christmas gift her father gave her before he passed away. It has an engraved inscription, and just touching the Irish scrollwork on it is comforting to her. It’s Lily’s most treasured possession, and it’s something you’ll find on her wrist almost all the time. (It went missing for a while after her sister sold it for drug money, but that’s another story.) I have a couple of treasured objects that I’m positive bring me good fortune. They’re not quite like Lily’s bracelet, but they’re important in their own way.
The first one is a silver ring I stole from my mother. I know, I’m a terrible person. If I were a bird, I’dbe a magpie (they’ve been known to fly off with shiny objects). My mother made the mistake of letting me borrow the ring when I was nineteen and traveling to France on my own. Its design is simple — two intertwined bands of silver — and it fit on my ring finger, so I thought it would do a fine job doubling as a fake wedding band. (You know that common bit of advice given to women traveling solo about wearing a wedding band to avoid harassment, right?)
In any case, I wore the ring day and night while I was away, and by the time I came home, I’d pretty much decided it was mine. I gave it back to my mother, but quickly borrowed it again and again. Any time I took a trip, even a weekend away, I wore the ring. When I moved into my own apartment, it hitched a ride with me. Even after I got married and had a real wedding band, I transferred it to my right hand. I bought my mother a more expensive ring as a replacement — a silver cocktail ring with rose-quartz insets — but I still feel guilty. That doesn’t keep me from wearing the ring when I travel, of course.
I have a second talisman that I acquired more honestly. It’s a British half-crown coin from 1950 that mygreat-uncle Jim gave me. Jim was my grandfather’s youngest brother, and I didn’t meet him for the first time until September of 1999. Both of my grandparents had passed away earlier that year, and I missed them terribly. I convinced my mother that we should visit Northern Ireland, where my grandparents were born, and meet our relatives there. The highlight of that trip was meeting my great-uncle Jim and his wife, Molly. We connected so quickly and easily that it felt as if I’d known them all my life.
After I returned home, Jim and I kept in touch, writing letters to each other and occasionally talking on the phone. After I got married, I took my husband over to meet the family as well. Not long before Jim passed away, he sent me an envelopewith an old coin in it. He explained that he’d set it aside when the half-crowns were taken out of circulation, and that it had become something he carried when he felt he needed luck. He added that he couldn’t think who else to give it to but his best friend. That made me tear up then, and it still does now. As you can imagine, that coin is close by whenever I need a guardian angel in my corner.
Do you have a lucky object that you bring with you when you travel, or carry with you when you need a special kind of help?
Let me know in the comments.
I’ll be drawing a name from the comments to win a copy of my latest Lily Moore novel, Evil in All Its Disguises.
My thanks to Susan Elia MacNeal and all of the Jungle Reds for having me visit!
Visit Hilary online at www.hilarydavidson.com.
Follow her on Twitter here.
Friend her on Facebook here.