Monday, July 18, 2022

Evette Davis Interview - 48 States

Photo Content from Evette Davis

Evette Davis is the author of 48 States and Woman King and Dark Horse, the first two installments of TheDark Horse Trilogy. When she’s not writing novels, Davis dispenses advice to some of the country’s largest corporations, non-profits, and institutions as a consultant and co-owner of BergDavis Public Affairs, an award-winning San Francisco-based public affairs firm. Before establishing her firm, Davis worked in Washington as a press secretary for a member of Congress and as a reporter for daily newspapers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

In 2014 Davis founded Flesh & Bone, an independent publishing imprint. In 2015 DARK HORSE garnered an honorable mention at the San Francisco Book Festival. In 2017, Friends of the San Francisco Public Library named Davis a Library Laureate. Her work has also been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and Book Country. In 2021, 48 STATES was named a runner-up in the San Francisco Writers Conference Writers Contest.

Evette splits her time between San Francisco and Sun Valley, Idaho, with her husband, daughter, and dog.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
How to learn.

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
Cliche, but I fell in love with words at a young age and have been writing since I was a child. I sort of veered off into journalism for a while which kept me from creative writing for a few years. Eventually the pull to write became overwhelming and I started to work on different projects which eventually led to me becoming a novelist.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
All time is Dracula. Such a classic. Favorite book outside my genre is Bad Blood by John Carreyrou.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Meeting readers who enjoy my books. Last night my daughter and her friends took turns reading the ARC for my new novel to each other and sent me videos. Seeing three 18-year-old girls electrified by a book is gratifying.

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
I could never answer that, there are too many.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
Life! I had a father with dementia and he required so much of my time, for a long while there was no time for writing and no connection to my creative self. He passed away from COVID last year and while I mourn his passing, I know he would be thrilled that I found my writer’s voice again. My entire life he always said, “writers write!” And he was right.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
Reading in general has changed my life because it’s always opening doors.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
It’s our way of examining history and human behavior through the safety of someone else’s story. It sends us to new places, reminds us of the value of home, and brings us closer to humanity.

Can you tell us when you started 48 STATES, how that came about?
I may be dating myself but there is a funny scene in the movie Working Girl where the young assistant has to prove she didn’t steal a business plan and is asked how she came up with the idea. In response, she pulls out a collection of seemingly random news clippings, that when strung together, validate her plan. 48 States is similar. I’d interviewed a panel of women veterans for a literary festival around the same time I was reading about the explosion of fracking in North Dakota. National Geographic had a feature about people who had left their homes and gone to North Dakota for work and one of them was a mother who left her family behind to drive a haul truck because the pay was so much better. I’d also been reading about Japanese Internment camps and had been surprised to know that the entire effort to relocate Japanese Americans had been done by Executive Order… That was the genesis of how I came to write 48 States. The book took five years and went through several major plot revisions, but I became interested in the issues of extremism, domestic refugees and of course women who transform themselves.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters?
That I actually had things in common with them. I didn’t see myself in River, the main character, at first and that made it difficult at times.

  • Outerlands, which is the name of the bar in the opening chapter, is also the name of a popular concert series in Golden Gate Park near my house and a nearby restaurant.
  • I have a vacation home in Sun Valley near Hailey, Idaho and drive past the private high school the main character (River) attends in the novel.
  • I’ve visited the lodge in Wyoming where the two main characters hide out in the middle of novel.
  • I based a scene with River at a gas station where she encounters a man who talks about all the states he visited - including the state of unconsciousness - on a similar encounter I had years ago.
  • All my novels feature men with red hair. It’s a thing.
  • There is a chapter that describes a character’s home in Michigan with its root cellar, full of baskets of apples and other produce. It’s all based on memories of my grandparent’s farm, also located in Michigan.
  • My household is bi-lingual, we all speak French to some degree so I often add it to my novels. I’m the least fluent of my family. None of us is French BTW, we just like foreign languages. My daughter is fluent in French and Arabic.
  • River’s experience of having to join the army is based on a panel discussion I did for a literary festival with four female veterans. At least one of them joined because there was no money for college. That really stuck with me, the idea that you would send yourself to war just for the chance to attend college later.
  • The president in the novel is not based solely on Hillary Clinton, it’s a collection of female politicians including someone I worked for.
  • My daughter’s best friend is named Ava, which is the name of River’s daughter in the novel.
Meet the Characters
, a widow, single mother, and veteran of the Caliphate Wars works as a waste hauling trucker in Energy Territory No. 1, formerly known as North Dakota. Living in a dingy motel room with nothing but her books and a semiautomatic pistol for company, she is weeks away from the end of her contract and returning to her young daughter, who is being looked after by her mother.

FINN, a hydrologist with the United States Geology Survey (USGS) in Montana, is suspicious of environmental changes he’s seeing in nearby waterways.

ELIZABETH, the President of the United States, orders Universal Industries (the company running the territories) to grant him access to conduct research. Elizabeth, formerly Secretary of State, became president after the former president and most of her fellow cabinet members were assassinated. One of her first duties was to oversee the formation of the energy territories, which required the immediate evacuation of residents from Wyoming and North Dakota.

Elizabeth enlists COOPER, head of security for Universal Industries for help. For weeks Cooper has been watching his boss, company CEO REDMOND “RED” PIERCE become increasingly unstable as his attempts to convince the president to convert Pennsylvania into a third energy territory fail. When she formally denies his request, he vows to overthrow her administration. He orders Cooper to kill her son.

What is the first job you have had? 
High School: busing tables at a greasy spoon diner on weekends starting at 6 am.

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? 

What is your most memorable travel experience? 
Traveling to Serbia and living in Belgrade in the dead of winter.

What's your most missed memory? 
I miss my father and how we used to celebrate certain things, like the start of baseball season or the arrival of dungeness crabs.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today? 
Visiting France for the first time and experiencing the way they treat food.

Have you ever stood up for someone you hardly knew? 
Yes, early in the pandemic, I walked the manager of my local grocery store to work to discourage a homeless person from verbally abusing her because she’s of Asian descent. Very unnerving.

Which would you choose, true love with a guarantee of a heart break or have never loved before? 
True love, of course!

When you looked in the mirror first thing this morning, what was the first thing you thought? 
Beer makes my face puffy.

What do you usually think about right before falling asleep? 
How much I like falling asleep.

If you had to go back in time and change one thing, if you HAD to, even if you had “no regrets” what would it be?
I would enjoy learning in college instead of being restless to be done and get out into the real world. I realize now what a luxury it is to be free to learn.

Most horrifying dream you have ever had? 
I’m trapped in a house with some kind of evil force and I have no voice to scream.

What is one unique thing are you afraid of? 
Losing my eyes and teeth.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen in someone else’s home? 
We once visited a family we knew through school and there was a sexy painting of the wife hanging in the husband’s man cave. It was commissioned by her mother for the husband.

What if trusting a stranger is the only way to save your life?

Widow, single mother, and Army veteran Jennifer “River” Petersen works as a truck driver in Energy Territory No. 1, formerly known as North Dakota. Forced to enlist after her father’s death, the lines of River’s life have been redrawn, much like the United States’ map has changed. Living in a motel room with nothing but her books and a Glock handgun for company, River is weeks away from returning home when an injured man standing in the middle of the highway upends her plans. From the moment he encounters River, Finn Cunningham knows he must conceal his identity as the son of the President of the United States or be left for dead. His deception draws them into a megalomaniac’s deadly conspiracy to ignite a civil war and overthrow the government. If River and Finn want to survive, they’ll have to learn to trust one another and themselves.

Perfect for readers who loved Station Eleven, California, and Gold Fame Citrus, 48 States is a one-of-a-kind dystopian thriller about the dangers of extremism and the power of love and forgiveness. When author Evette Davis is not writing novels, she co-manages San Francisco-based public affairs firm. 48 States is her third novel, and she’s currently at work finishing the Dark Horse trilogy, with the final book slated for publication in 2023. Her work has also been published in the San Francisco Chronicle.

You can purchase 48 States at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you EVETTE DAVIS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of 48 States by Evette Davis.