We’re pleased to welcome author Nicola Davies to our Skinny Dip column. She writes such fine books about our natural world. Her most recent book, The Day War Came (Candlewick Press), relates the story of a refugee child who realizes that war follows her in the closed doors and turned backs. It is through the kindness of other children that she finds hope. Share this book with your classroom and your favorite children.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
I’ve often read on the decks of various small boats while I’ve been on watch in the middle of the night—usually whilst studying sperm whales—so having to break off from reading every so often to listen to sperm whale clicks on the hydrophone, take the temperature of the water and record the wind speed and direction.
Do you keep your bookshelves in a particular order?
Fiction and poetry, by author in alphabetical order. Non fiction about biology in taxonomic order of subject, and everything else… a bit haphazard .
How many bookcases do you have in your house?
What’s the predominant color in your wardrobe?
I don’t really have a predominant colour—but I don’t have much that’s pink, red or orange. Lots of blue, acid green, black, white, grey, olive.
Which library springs to your mind when someone says that word? What do you remember most about it?
Two actually. The library of the town where I lived until I was seven, and went to most weeks with my grandpa. I remember the smell and the sound that the librarians stamp made on the books as they were checked out. The other was the library of the zoology department of Cambridge University where I spent hours and hours whilst doing my degree. I loved the ritual of tracking down scientific papers in the great bound volumes of scientific journals. All third year students were given their own space to study there.
Which book you read as a child has most influenced your life?
No one book, but the experience of reading, the sense of complete immersion in another world and another kind of living. The way you read as a child is hardly ever experienced as an adult, the intensity and the complete surrender to the world within the pages of the book. I learnt things about the power of my imagination and about the power of words to conjure and to communicate.
What’s your food weakness?
What’s your favorite form of exercise?
Swimming, and running.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
Managing to make a living by working creatively.
What’s your favorite flower?
Have you traveled outside of your state? Which state draws you back?
Um….I’m not from the US.
Which country is your favorite to visit? Why?
I’ve travelled to the US several times and to many countries across the world… so many places I adore, but Mexico is my current favourite. The people are wonderful, kind, welcoming incredibly hardworking and set great value on culture.
Who’s your favorite artist?
What’s the last performance you saw at a theater?
A fabulous one-woman show combining music and spoken word to connect personal stories of love and loss with landscape: “Wind Resistance” written and performed by Karine Polwart.
What’s your favorite word because you like the way it sounds?
What would you wear to a costume party?
I wouldn’t go. I really hate costume parties…all that trouble to dress up in something that’s uncomfortable and that you can’t dance in.
Who’s at the top of your list of Most Admired People?
When you walk into a bakery, what are you most likely to choose from the bakery cases?
A brown bread roll
What are your favorite pizza toppings?
Anchovies, mushrooms but actually I almost never eat pizza
Do you remember your dreams?
If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you choose (don’t worry about language differences.)
What foreign language would you like to learn?
Do you read the end of a book first?
That’s an outrageous question to ask a writer. Does anyone say they do this? NO absolutely NOT.
If you had a choice, would you live under the ocean or in outer space, and why?
Under the ocean. Ocean is full of life but space is dead.
If you could write any book and know that it would be published and tens of thousands of people would read it, which book would you write?
The one I will write next.
If you could be granted one wish, what would you wish for?
The ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in amounts that would stop global climate change.