By John Rabb
Author Hilary Davidson comes out with her third book EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES. Hilary is published by Forge books, and her first book THE DAMAGE DONE won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel and the Crimespree award for Best First Novel. Lily Moore is Hilary’s character in all three of her books. Lily is a successful travel writer and is thrust into a deadly situation when her younger sister Claudia is found dead in a bathtub on the anniversary of their mother’s suicide, in THE DAMAGE DONE. In February 2012 THE NEXT ONE TO FALL was the second book in the Lily Moore series. Hilary’s background is as a travel writer and got her start in journalism in 1995, being an intern for HARPER’S MAGAZINE. Hilary’s is no stranger to writing books, having published 18 nonfiction books (17 of them for Frommer’s Travel Guides). It is however great for thriller fans that she has moved over to write fiction. The time has come now to check out a little more within EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES:
Lily Moore joins a group of journalists for an all-expenses-paid press junket to Acapulco. Lily begins to suspect something rotten under her hotel’s opulent façade, but she is not the only one. Skye McDermott, another journalist on the trip, asks Lily for help with an article she’s working on about fraud and corruption in the hotel industry. After Sky disappears suddenly, Lily suspects that her friend is in grave danger. The hotel’s staff insists that everything is fine and refuses to contact the police. Only after Lily tries and fails to leave the Hotel Ceron, does she discover the truth: the journalists are prisoners in a gilded cage. Too late, Lily realizes that she has been maneuvered into a role of bait in a vicious, vengeful plot. Faced with unthinkable choices, Lily must summon all her strength to survive, confront the past she’s still running from, and save other lives.
Hilary was gracious enough to allow us to ask her a few questions. You can check out the interview below.
Give us a behind the scenes look inside your latest Lily Moore book EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES?
It’s the first book I’ve written with a premise that’s based on real-life events. EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES begins with Lily arriving in Acapulco for a press trip, just before one of the other journalists disappears at the hotel. That journalist was investigating a story about hotel fraud, which makes her disappearance particularly suspicious to Lily, especially when the staff of the hotel seems eager to cover it up. I used to work for Frommer’s Travel Guides, and a young female editor disappeared while on a press trip in the Caribbean in 2000. In that case, the hotel tried to act as if nothing had happened. Even though the maids who cleaned her room reported that the editor hadn’t been in her room for days, the hotel swept the issue under the rug.
I was a travel writer for more than a decade, and the last thing I’d ever want to do would be to discourage anyone from traveling. But I’m more attuned to the risks than most people are. I’ve been physically attacked on a couple of trips, and I’ve seen bad things happen to other journalists. Now, some of those things are turning up in my books.
When you created Lily Moore and the series, which one characteristic with Lily did you want to make sure would stand out?
Since Lily is an amateur sleuth, it was important to me to give her sufficient motivation to get involved in dangerous situations when she’s traveling. In the first book, THE DAMAGE DONE, her motivation is easy to understand, because she’s searching for her sister, and there are a lot of people who would go to the lengths she goes to — and beyond — to find a missing family member. In the second novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, the motivation was very different, because most people wouldn’t rush to get involved in the death of a stranger at Machu Picchu. But because of the way the woman’s death is mostly ignored by the authorities — there are signs she’s used drugs, so it’s ruled an accident — Lily’s sense of justice won’t let her step back. Part of that is also because of Lily’s background, which the reader learns a little more about with each book. She grew up in a very troubled family, and that shapes her behavior in the books. There are some traits of Lily’s that are immediately obvious — her love of old movies and vintage clothes, for example — but her desire to set things right grows with each book. She knows she’s been guilty of running away from difficult situations in the past, especially involving her family, so that is part of what drives her.
Seeing as how you are in book three in the series, what surprises have you had to overcome with the series?
The toughest challenge has been giving the reader just enough information in each book to understand what Lily has gone through, but withholding spoilers as much as possible. I want new readers to be able to pick EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES, and hopefully go back to read THE DAMAGE DONE and still be surprised. That isn’t easy. In THE NEXT ONE TO FALL, I summed it up like this: “Two of the guilty were dead. One was in a mental institution. Others who should have been behind bars were walking around free.” I didn’t name names. EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES, I had to walk a careful line, because some of the same characters appear in the first book.
What is your favorite word and your least favorite word and why?
I love words, period. Even the ugliest, homeliest words have a purpose in the right context. I’m wary of becoming too fond of any word because I’m sure I’d overuse it when writing.
What challenges do you think will face authors in the future, with publishing changing so fast?
Right now, there’s a lot of debate over issues of traditional publishing versus self publishing, and about paper books versus eBooks. From my point of view, those debates are kind of silly. I don’t mind how people read a book, as long as they’re reading. And if an author publishes a book that people enjoy, I don’t think it matters how it got into the marketplace. The essential challenge for authors hasn’t changed, and that’s how do you attract new readers and build your audience? I’ve been at panels where this question comes up, and someone will invariably say, “You have to write a great book.” That’s not necessarily true. We can all think of brilliant books that never got the audience they deserved, and we can also name some lousy books that hit big. The truth is that no one knows, so you have to make your own path and decide what works for you.
One thing that is changing is bookselling. Several of the stores I visited on my first two book tours have already disappeared. I love independent booksellers, and it’s heartbreaking to see that they might be becoming an endangered species. There are some stores, like BookPeople in Austin, Murder by the Book in Houston, the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, and Ben McNally Books in Toronto that seem to be thriving. There’s no doubt that it’s an incredibly tough market, though.
What is on your DVR right now?
I’m still watching the final season of FRINGE and I’m sorry to see it end. I think I’m on episode 8 right now. I’m also watching JUSTIFIED, which is my favorite thing on TV right now. I’m also looking forward to the third season of GAME OF THRONES. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I’m obsessed with the shows I do watch.
We would like to thank Hilary for taking the time to talk with us. To find out more about Hilary and all her novels, check her out her website.
Hilary Davidson won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel for THE DAMAGE DONE. That book also earned a Crimespree Award and was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis and Macavity awards. Her second novel, THE NEXT ONE TO FALL — a thriller set in Peru — was released in 2012. Davidson’s acclaimed short stories have been featured in Ellery Queen, Thuglit, and many anthologies. A Toronto-born travel journalist and the author of eighteen nonfiction books, she has lived in New York City since October 2001.