A suspense-filled love story, The Phantom Lady of Paris, tells of American Paul Lasser and his sojourn to the City of
, where he meets the mysterious Phantom Lady, Bonnie Silver, a woman who is more question marks than periods. Why is she in Light and why do French police investigate her and her “persons-of-interest” friends? One friend, a flower child, overdoses on drugs. Another morphs into a terrorist, bombing cafés. Is a communist agitator an associate of Bonnie’s? Slowly, Paul unearths answers, and while they quench Paul’s need to know, they will forever haunt him. Paris
It's my pleasure to welcome Calvin Davis today. Thanks for taking time to be here today. I'm excited to find out more about you and your book!
I have to tell you how honored I am to be here today. I don’t do a lot of guest blogging, so I’ve been looking forward to this. Before we get started, I’d like to say I’m offering a copy of The Phantom Lady of Paris to TWO commenters. Leave a comment and enter using the Rafflecopter entry form, and you’re in the running. Your choice: paperback or eBook versions.
That's a fantastic giveaway opportunity for two lucky winners. Thanks!! So, let's get started...What does your significant other think of your writing career?
My wife is also a published author, Vonnie Davis (http://www.vonniedavis.com). You see I had to get that plug in so I get to eat a good supper tonight.
When I spend hours in my den, writing, Vonnie understands. When a particular passage wakens me and tells me it needs rewritten, she comprehends why I’m crawling out of bed at four in the morning. If I walk around the house talking to myself, she knows I’m having a conversation with my character or talking my way through the rewrite of a scene or a snippet of conversation. My wife is also my best cheerleader. I couldn’t do without her.
How long have you two been married?
Next month will be 9 years. We met online through match dot com. She was my destiny, my angel in waiting (If I keep this up, I might get dessert, too). It was our shared desire to write that brought us together, gave us a common bond. That, and our love of laughter. Our house is filled with laughter.
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
My mind journeys to
every day. I was born in Paris Lynchburg, Virginia, but my soul came to life in . Paris
What do you mean?
I grew up in the South under Jim Crow, graduated from an all-black high school and then majored in English at
, only back then it was Hampton Institute. Diploma in hand and with the draft hanging over my head, I joined the Army. Hampton University
During my tour of duty in
Germany, I went to in 1956 for a long weekend. You see, I’d heard of black musicians and intellectuals who visited Paris and never left. What was it about the city that entranced them? How had the City of Paris seduced their souls? I had to find out. Light
Walking the streets of
was a feast for the senses. For the first time in my life, I could look a white person in the eye without fear of repercussions. If I wanted a hamburger, I could step into any café through the front door, sit anywhere I liked and order. I could drink a cup of espresso next to a white man. I was truly their equal. One can’t describe the feeling—to be considered a man, a member of the human race. So, at the age of 23, my soul sprang to life. I made a promise to myself that one day I’d return. Paris
Now, having said all that, please don’t think I’m bitter over Jim Crow. We were all trapped by that oppressive system—whites as well as blacks. Don’t you think struggling white restaurant owners would have loved our business? But their hands were tied by the laws and attitudes of the time. They had to refuse our patronage. It’s a period in history I hope we never forget lest we make the same mistakes again. The next time, the laws might aim at people with freckles or those who write left-handed. Prejudice is a pitiful thing.
Ah, but I digress. After the Army, I earned my Masters at
Howard University and taught in high schools. As soon as I was eligible for sabbatical, I moved to Baltimore for a year. I lived on the Paris Left Bank, wrote at sidewalk cafés every day and absorbed French culture. Heaven.
Does travel play in the writing of your book?
My time in
plays heavily into my book. In fact, the city becomes one of the main characters. The time period I was there was 1968-69, a time of political and social unrest. Paris
|21 rue Galande|
I rented a two-room apartment on rue Galande, not far from Notre Dame Cathedral, and soon settled into a routine. Every morning I’d shower, dress and run down the three flights of steps and up the street to the neighborhood bakery for fresh croissants and then across the street to the dairy for a container of milk and yogurt. I’d step back into the foyer of my apartment building to get my paper out of the mailbox.
I should explain that the mailbox was a communal apparatus mounted onto the wall of the foyer. A wooden box into which the postman dumped everyone’s mail twice a day. You had to sift through the various newspapers, magazines, ads and letters to find things addressed to you. I subscribed to an English newspaper. My one link to the English-speaking world since everyone around me spoke French.
One day my paper wasn’t in the mailbox. The address band was there, but not my paper. Someone had stolen it. I was incensed. Who would steal a person’s newspaper?
I took my food and writing things around the corner to my favorite writing café. I went there every morning to eat my breakfast, drink espressos and read my newspaper before I began hours of writing. Only this morning I was without my link to the outside world. I was highly irritated.
Soon my anger cooled down and my creativity heated up. Hey, there out to be a story in all this. What if an American came to Paris…a teacher on sabbatical, like me. I wouldn’t need to research it; I’m living it. Someone could steal his newspaper and have the audacity to leave a note on the bulletin board above the mailbox...and signs it “the phantom lady.” Then the teacher could leave a responding note in anger. Soon the two are involved in a goofy, light-hearted correspondence via this bulletin board. Yeah, that’ll work…and so The Phantom Lady of Paris was born, thanks to a newspaper thief. Odd how life works, isn’t it?
Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?
I love music, all styles. Depending on my mood, I’ll listen to the Beatles, Whitney Houston, Ray Charles, Willie Nelson, Miles Davis or Kenny Chesney. I also enjoy Bach and Beethoven. Oh, and who can resist Lady Gaga? I love her style and her philosophy. She tells young people to believe in themselves. As a teacher of 40 years, I commend her for her message.
Forty years? What did you like most about teaching?
I taught beyond normal retirement age simply because I loved it. Hated the faculty meetings, but loved working with the kids. So many teens have lost hope. They simply don’t believe there’s a place for them in society. I once gave an assignment to write what they hoped to be doing in five years. Some wrote they expected to be dead by then. I wanted to cry.
I worked hard to see my son obtain a better life; to encourage him that learning and reading gave him power. I read to him every night when he was small. He went to MIT and carried a double major in Math and Physics. He has a PhD. in High Energy Theoretical Particle Physics from
Rutgers. I don’t care how trite it sounds: He is my pride and joy.
We need to teach our kids they can be anything they want with hard work and perseverance. Education is the key for us all. It was the mantra I heard in my Black community growing up. “Get your education so you can do better in the world.”
That is so true! I agree and I am concerned that our educational system is floundering in so many ways. But I guess that's a topic for another day! Thanks so much for sharing with us and giving us a glimpse of life through your eyes. I wish you and Vonnie the best in all your endeavors.
a Rafflecopter giveaway