Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Danny Davies - Teacher, Actor, Director, Man of Many Talents - Publishes First Novel

Courtesy of Danny Davies
A writer tells true lies.  They collect experiences to reveal a particular truth to readers.  And that has been Danny Davies’ business and some of those truths are revealed in his soon to be released novel, A Rainbow Together. 

Many of you may remember him as a teacher or drama instructor or an actor, but he is a man who has worn many hats. His wife, Bonnie, says You like to collect W-2 forms, don’t you?  

Danny says of his varied gigs that I also had quite a few employment adventures since retirement. I was a cast member at Walt Disney World. I worked as a gate agent for US Airways. I have been a flight attendant based at JFK for ComAir. I have also baked and sold gourmet cupcakes, and I became a specialty sandwich maker at a lunch restaurant owned by a former student. He has lots of energy. It’s not hard to imagine all of the stories and characters. Danny observes that I guess every one of those jobs provided opportunities to observe a variety of people in diverse situations.  And that tends to spark creative suppositions about what their life stories might be.

A Rainbow Together is a coming of age of Davey, a teenaged boy who takes a summer job at hotel, the unusual characters he meets, and comes to terms with his sexuality.  Danny says that he set the story in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky because it serves as an antagonistic force. The narrow mindedness. The unquestioned and accepted bigotry. The naïve stubbornness of a typical Midwestern city. All these deter Davey from his self actualization. Plus I could clearly visualize where these fictional events take place. Greater Cincinnati has always been my home. I clearly remember the then-specific landmarks of the city as well as the dynamic of the area. 

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Cover of Rainbow Together. Courtesy Danny Davies

The story is inspired by real events.  Well, like Davey, I did some seasonal work at the Sheraton Gibson hotel one summer when I was I high school. I quickly learned about the grit and grunt behind the scenes of an outwardly ritzy hotel. I had never really aspired to being a novelist, but a nagging inner voice kept urging me to write. I began by composing a brief memoir about a single day that summer when I bummed a ride home from a co-worker who drove a dilapidated pick-up truck. I started to describe how wonderfully fun and adventurous that experience had been.  But in the process, I realized that there was a much larger story that wasn’t exactly about me. And bit-by-bit, a novel began to take shape. I also share Davey’s experience of being raised and educated in the strong Catholic traditions.  That can be an exceptionally intimidating force for a kid who believes he should always do as told.  As well, this elementary foundation would have been laid in the buttoned-up 1950’s.

Readers will delight in all of the local references to Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati icons, the divide of the Ohio River, as well as the references to family names and the social standards and pop culture of the time period. It is simultaneously fun and at times uncomfortable to watch the story unfold in what we see every day.  Danny writes in a pleasant, easy style that reveals the dichotomy at the heart of society. The short chapters propel the story forward as Davey grows to become David.

A universal theme is how we find ourselves through our struggles.  I hope readers, regardless of their sexuality, will empathize with his struggles. This novel is not just about being gay. It’s about daring to question the roles anyone might be forced to live. With that, comes discarding assumptions and expectations about race, age, sexual identity, class, etc.  

Also there is the element of dramatic irony. The reader knows more than Davey because they have lived lives beyond the storyline. I would imagine that some readers would want to comfort him and let him know he’ll be all right. Of course, they can’t. And even though, we can today boast of gay marriage and legislated equal rights, our country still deals with all kinds of bigotry and hate. In light of recent events, it’s evident that some segment of the population still wants to design a society that oppresses “the different.” I would imagine that the nightly news isn’t generally comforting to young people who perceive themselves as such.

Novels don’t happen overnight. Danny says that I spent more than seven years on this project.  Of course, it went through countless rewrites and revisions.  Eventually I realized it was time to let go.

The book will eventually be available in hardbound, paperback, and electronic editions as well as on Amazon. I’m not sure which retail outlets will carry it…. Of course, readers can also obtain the initial releases directly from the publisher at lulu.com. And he is talking to local book sellers about book signings. But even more interesting is that he will make himself available for book clubs. I would be so flattered and honored by their interest. As you know, some authors actually compose lists of talking points related to their novels.  I would be happy to do that.  And it's always fun to hear those true lies directly from the author.

And, yes, Danny is developing a few new writing projects.


Courtesy of Danny Davies
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3 comments:

  1. Can't wait to read it!

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  2. Nearly half way through it and I am obsessed! Very well written.

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  3. I saw a lot more bigotry and fear when I lived in a rural area of a state on the East Coast than I have here in N Ky, but sad to say, that kind of thinking is everywhere. Good luck with your novel!

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