Skinny Dip with Nicola Davies

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.

Nicola Davies

Nico­la Davies

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?

Not enough.

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.

buttered toastWhat’s your food weakness?

But­tered toast.

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?

Wow… too hard, but I guess Hock­ney or Matisse.

Garden 3 by David Hockney, on exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gar­den #3 by David Hock­ney, on exhib­it at The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art

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?

Maya Angelou and Jane Goodall

Maya Angelou and Jane Goodall

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.)

Charles Dar­win and Alexan­der von Humboldt

Charles Darwin and Alexander von Humboldt

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.

Lots, The Pond, The Day War Came

One Response to Skinny Dip with Nicola Davies

  1. David LaRochelle September 28, 2018 at 10:01 pm #

    I just read THE DAY WAR CAME a cou­ple of weeks ago and found it one of the most mov­ing pic­ture books I’ve ever read. An impor­tant book for any age.

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