Interview

An interview with Dee Davis, author and president of Romance Writers of America
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Bestselling author Dee Davis worked in association management before turning her hand to writing.  She is the author of over thirty novels and novellas, including her newest titles, Cottage in the Mist and Fade to Gray.  When not frantically trying to meet a deadline, Dee spends her time in her Connecticut farmhouse with her husband and Cardigan Welsh Corgis. Visit Dee at http://www.deedavis.com or catch up with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/deedavisbooks or follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/deesdavis

Interview by BWG member Diane Sismour


Writing conferences offer an abundance of interesting networking opportunities, and every time I’ve met this lovely woman, she’s wearing a ready smile. There’s no wonder how her caring disposition and savvy business-mind propelled her to President of Romance Writers of America (RWA), embracing one of the largest groups of published and aspiring authors in the world. I’d like to introduce Dee Davis to our Roundtable readers.

Bethlehem Writers Roundtable: Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule. As you finish your term as president of Romance Writers of America in October, 2018, could you share with us what RWA is and what the group offers the writing community and its members?

Dee Davis: Romance Writers of America is a trade association representing romance writers both published and unpublished. RWA offers information, advice, support and education to its members, which in turn helps them to stay relevant and advance in their individual careers. RWA also advocates for the industry as a whole, and in so doing moves us as writers toward a stronger, more representative and diverse industry from top to bottom.


BWR: Denver, Colorado, seemed a terrific place to host the RWA National Conference in July of 2018. Each Nationals I attended had a different theme. New York brought the city that never sleeps, Anaheim’s enveloped movie magic, while Orlando provided Disney. What twist did Denver bring to make Nationals their own? 

Dee: The theme of this year’s conference was Rethink, Revitalize, Renew. With the dramatic changes within our industry, many authors are finding themselves faced with reinventing themselves as they move from a strictly traditional route to publishing to examining other options including small presses and independent publishing. As the arena for publishing adjusts to these changes, many authors are finding themselves orphaned or faced with different paths even within the traditional publishing model. So while it’s an exciting time to be a writer, it can also be a frustrating one. Part of RWA’s mission is to help its members make these kinds of adjustments as painlessly as possible.


BWR: Has heading such a large group of creative people changed the way you perceive the writing industry, and why?

Dee: I have always believed that knowledge is power. I think spending six years on the RWA board has given me knowledge of the industry, of the people who work within it, and of the needs and goals of RWA’s membership. While I’ve had a long and successful career as a romance writer, and much of my success has been predicated on keeping up with the industry, I think anytime you step away from your own interests and see something from a broader more global view, you see it differently, that changes your perspective forever. In most ways, I think that’s a good thing.


BWR: Where would you like to see more growth in RWA; and what changes do you foresee for the group in 5 years?

Dee: If only we all had crystal balls, right? I truly believe that RWA will be stronger in five years. But to do that, it will need to maintain a course that both recognizes and accepts the need for our industry to represent all of the many wonderful voices in romance—voices that come from different places, and reflect different lifestyles. Our world is a wonderfully complex and colorful place. I believe romance is the perfect setting for acceptance and enlightenment. I also believe that in order for RWA to succeed, it has to continue to fight for romance. To make certain that all authors receive legitimate compensation for their work, whether that comes from vendors, publishing houses, or small presses. And finally, I think that in order for RWA to thrive in the future it needs to continue to embrace young writers and the ideas that they bring with them. The world is always changing and the best chance for survival is to adapt.


BWR: For future officers, what are the toughest issues you’ve had to tackle, how did you handle them?

Dee: I think the most difficult disconnect between members and leadership is the idea that as RWA leadership, our fiduciary duty is to the organization not to the individual members. Many of our members are concerned most with their own lives and careers and what RWA can do for them. I think that’s completely understandable. Unfortunately, what is best for RWA as a whole is not always something that will please every member. It is difficult knowing that in doing what you believe is right for the organization, there will be good people who are inevitably disappointed in decisions that are made. I guess the hope is that in time, they’ll see the bigger picture and be pleased with the ultimate result. In the meantime, I think transparency on the part of leadership and taking the time to try to explain the reasoning behind those decisions can help members find their way to understanding.


BWR: How has leading RWA changed you as a person or as a writer?

Dee: As I face the end of my six years on the RWA Board, I find that I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve. First, because I love the organization, and second, because I care about its members. The one thing I never fully considered was the great honor of serving with such amazing people. Every single year brought innovative ideas, intense commitment, and a vast pool of intelligence and compassion that changed not only my view of RWA but my view of myself and the world around me. I was pushed outside my comfort zone and forced to examine the realities that surrounded me. Because my fellow board members were similarly affected, I truly believe we were able to come together to see RWA in a new light, and to work together to make the organization stronger.


BWR: Who is your Bucket list person you’d most like to meet and why; or place to visit?

Dee: I have been blessed to have been able to travel a great deal in my life and see many wonderful places. The last important place still on my bucket list is Greece. Not just any Greece, mind you, but Mary Stewart’s Greece. Mary Stewart is my all-time favorite writer. Her ability to bring a place to life using only words is part of what made me want to be a writer. Since My Brother Michael and The Moon-Spinners are two of my favorite books of hers, I’ve always wanted the chance to visit Greece, more particularly Delphi and Crete. Hopefully, one of these days I’ll make it there!


BWR: For future storytellers, what words of advice can you give to better their chances for success?

Dee: Perseverance. This isn’t a career for the faint of heart. You have to want it. You have to be willing to hang in there through the inevitable ups and downs. Writing is an art. Story-telling a talent. But having a career as a writer takes work and commitment. One has to stay abreast of what’s happening within the industry, remain true to oneself as a writer, and tell stories that come straight from the heart.


BWR: Are you working on a current project or publishing a book soon that we can share?

Dee: I’ve been on sabbatical from writing for the year I’ve served as President. It’s honestly been a full-time job. Come November, I’ll be back at my desk, putting words on paper to build a story. Next up is a novella connected to my Time After Time Series. Winter’s Kiss will be out this, you guessed it, winter. After that, I will be working on the second novel in my newest romantic suspense series.


BWR: Thank you again, Dee, for taking the time to answer our questions. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

Dee: Thank you so much for asking me to be here with you today.