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

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David LaRochelle
4 years ago

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.