Kathy: In Don't Look Down Jo Greaver has built a thriving beauty business from nothing only to be blackmailed, shot, and seen as the prime suspect in a murder. Why is watching a young ambitious character spiral downward so compelling?
HD: Even in this day and age, I think the notion of an openly ambitious woman makes people uncomfortable. There’s an assumption that women take care of others, instead of putting their needs and desires first. Jo Greaver is tough and ambitious, and from the first chapter — when she’s hoping to pay off her blackmailer, but she’s carrying a gun to their meeting — the reader is wondering exactly how far she’ll go to save herself. But the more time you spend with Jo, the more you see how she’s been dealt an awful hand all her life. She’s a complicated character, and the downward spiral strips away the image she’s worked hard to construct all her life.
Kathy: This novel is the second book in the Shadows of New York series. Why did you choose to feature a NYPD Detective in your psychological thriller series?
HD: My first three novels featured an amateur sleuth named Lily Moore. One ongoing challenge with an amateur-sleuth series is finding reasons for your main character to get involved with so many investigations! I wanted to write about a professional who has access to different resources and a very different skill set. That was how NYPD Detective Sheryn Sterling was born.
Kathy: What first drew you to thrillers?
HD: I’ve loved the genre my whole life. I call Nancy Drew the gateway drug, because I read those books as a kid, then graduated to Agatha Christie. In high school, I started reading Robert B. Parker, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, and Walter Mosley. There’s nothing so satisfying to me as a great mystery.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
HD: Before turning to my life of crime (writing), I was a journalist for years. My specialty was writing about travel, and I wrote 17 guidebooks for Frommer’s. I still write nonfiction, but crime fiction is my main focus.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
HD: The Shadows of New York series (Don’t Look Down and One Small Sacrifice) follows NYPD Detective Sheryn Sterling as she takes on complicated cases. Her own painful past gives her tremendous insight into criminals and victims, and feeds her determination to see justice done.
The Lily Moore series (The Damage Done, The Next One to Fall, and Evil in All Its Disguises) features an amateur travel-writing sleuth who is initially pulled into detective work when her troubled younger sister vanishes. These books take readers to places such as Peru and Mexico.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
HD: I feel like that might be like asking a parent to name a favorite child! On some level, I love them all. Even the terrible ones, because I know what made them so twisted.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
HD: There’s a combination of things that have happened to me, that have happened to people I know, or that I’ve read about that all come together in my work.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
HD: I’ve always worked in publishing, but I started out as an editor. After about two-and-a-half years, I had to admit that what I really wanted to do was write, not edit. I didn’t quit my job until I started freelancing on the side and realized that I could support myself as a writer. Travel writing is a happy business, and I wrote the honeymoon column for Martha Stewart Weddings, among other things. But there’s a dark side to the travel business, and I could never write about that, so I started putting it into short stories. That’s how I started writing crime fiction. When my first mystery, The Damage Done, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, that definitely encouraged me to keep going!
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
HD: Truman Capote, Dorothy Parker, Langston Hughes, and Oscar Wilde. They wrote some of my favorite stories of all time and I’d love to gather them around one table.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
HD: I have several books on the go at any given time. Right now, I’m starting Nikki Dolson’s Love and Other Criminal Behavior, I’m halfway through Tara Isabella Burton’s Social Creature, and I’m almost finished Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror. I’m also re-reading Megan Abbott’s Dare Me, because the TV series based on it is so incredible.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
HD: My parents got me into martial arts as a kid and I fell in love, mainly with karate but also with krav maga and judo. I love working out, which sounds crazy to most people, but it’s how I deal with stress. I love to draw; when I was in school, I sold some of my portraits, but it strictly been an amateur interest since then. I also love vintage clothing and accessories, enough that it probably qualifies as a hobby, too.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
HD: Parmesan, Kerrygold butter, pine nuts, and sparkling wine.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
HD: Here’s a secret most people don’t realize: my two series exist in the same universe, and characters from the Lily Moore books have appeared in the Shadows of New York books. I do have plans for more Shadows of New York books, but the novel I’m writing now is a standalone. At least, I think it is… you never know where a character will turn up….
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
HD: There’s nothing better than sharing what’s in your heart and mind with other people, and having them respond to this world you’ve created. It’s an honor to be able to do that.
Don't Look Down (Shadows of New York) by Hilary Davidson
About Don't Look Down
Psychological Thriller 2nd in Series
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (February 11, 2020)
Hardcover: 368 pages Paperback: 367 pages
From the Amazon Charts bestselling author of One Small Sacrifice, a gripping mystery about a sinister murder that everyone wants to stay buried—except one dogged NYPD detective.
Jo Greaver is a model of success. Young and ambitious, she’s built a thriving beauty business from nothing. But she has secrets she’ll do anything to keep buried. When her blackmailer offers to meet, Jo expects to pay him off—but gets a bullet instead. Bleeding and in shock, Jo flees with no one to turn to.
When NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling and her partner, Rafael Mendoza, find Andray Baxter murdered in his own home—shot through the heart—everything points to Jo as the killer. Her blood is at the scene, and so are disturbing photos of her taken as a young teen. But Sheryn has doubts. Was the kindhearted Andray really a criminal? Why did he repeatedly report finding spyware in his apartment? Was there something shady about Jo’s sister dying a year earlier?
Something’s not right, and it’s up to Sheryn to piece together the sinister puzzle, no matter the cost.
About Hilary Davidson
Hilary Davidson is the bestselling author of One Small Sacrifice and the winner of two Anthony Awards. Her novels include the Lily Moore series—The Damage Done, The Next One to Fall, and Evil in All Its Disguises—and the standalone thriller Blood Always Tells. Her widely acclaimed short stories have won numerous awards and have been featured everywhere from Ellery Queen to Thuglit, as well as in her collection The Black Widow Club. A Toronto-born travel journalist who’s lived in New York City since October 2001, Davidson is also the author of eighteen nonfiction books. Visit her online at hilarydavidson.com.
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