Check out the latest release by author Fiona Davis. Pick up a copy of The Address here today.
What inspired you to write The Address, set in the Dakota in New York City?
I love the history of old buildings. I always begin with an architectural landmark when I’m figuring out a new book. Back in the Gilded Age, the Upper West Side of New York was largely undeveloped. The owner and architect for the Dakota took a huge risk in putting up a luxury apartment house that far away from the city proper. I did some research and discovered that the Dakota has a rich history – from the time it was built in the 1880s up to today – full of tragedy, intrigue, and drama. It made for a perfect setting for a work of historical fiction with two timelines.
Let’s talk about the alternating time periods of the story. How much research was necessary in order for the novel to ring true with your readers?
For the story line set in 1884, I read novels and newspapers from the period, as well as books and articles on the Dakota and New York City. I toured the building and got an inside look, from the basement to the top floors where the servants used to sleep. The second timeline, set in the 1980s, wasn’t as difficult, as that’s right around when I first came to New York and could draw on some of my memories of the city back then. I liked the idea that both were Gilded Ages, in a way: the 1880s with its glorious balls and the 1980s with the bankers and their Rolex watches.
Sara Smythe leaves England in 1884 to become the female manager at the Dakota. What sparks her decision to leave her country and venture into the unknown?
Sara’s worked her way up to the role of housekeeper at a fancy London hotel, under a terrible boss. She is doing what she can to support her mother financially. But she’s tired of being harangued and would like the opportunity to find a better job and make more money. Opportunity is what it’s all about for her. This is also true for so many people who come to America from other countries.
Interior designer Bailey Camden oversees the renovation of an apartment in the Dakota. How does this project change her life?
Bailey’s had a tough time of it, having recently lost her job with an elite interior design company. So when her “cousin” Melinda offers her a place to stay and a job, she jumps at the chance. Even if it means stripping the Dakota apartment of all its period details and putting in shag carpets and floor-to-ceiling mirrors. While renovating, she discovers a link to her past that makes her reconsider her identity and the Camden family legacy.
Finally, are you currently at work on your next project? If so, what can you share with us?
I’m hard at work on a book set in Grand Central Terminal. It is set in two different time periods with an element of mystery that connects the two. I love the idea of going back in time and reimagining a building the way it was “in the olden days.” For me, writing historical fiction is simply an excuse to step back in time, and I enjoy it tremendously.
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