Nelle Davy's debut novel, The Legacy of Eden (Mira, January 24, 2012), is about three generations of an Iowa farm family ruled by a scheming matriarch. Davy was raised in London in an Anglo-Caribbean family. She attended the University of Warwick, where she studied English Literature with Creative Writing, and then got her master's in Creative Writing at Trinity College, Dublin. She has worked in publishing since then, and is married and still lives in London.
On your nightstand now:
So many books--Jeffrey Eugenides's The Marriage Plot, Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Could be Normal, F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night; Josephine Hart's Damage and Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, to name a few.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Matilda by Roald Dahl. I felt she was me and I waited my whole life to find a Miss Honey, which I did of sorts in my high school English teacher.
Your top five authors:
So, so hard--it feels like choosing children. Daphne Du Maurier, Charlotte Bronte, Tolstoy, Jeffrey Eugenides, Emile Zola.
Book you've faked reading:
Anything by Martin Amis after The Rachel Papers, though I adore Kingsley Amis.
Book you're an evangelist for:
The Secret History. It upsets me to hear any criticism of it. The writing is everything I wish I could exhibit and I am still trying.
Book you've bought for the cover:
The Shadow of the Wind. It was the gold foil, it just reached out at me.
Book that changed your life:
Matilda. It didn't change my life, but it reminded me that words can be powerful, and the world inside books can help us understand the world outside.
Favorite line from a book:
It isn't from a book but a play: "Put a paper lantern over the light." It's from A Streetcar Named Desire. It sums up for me the pain and hope of life, the cruelty as well as the mercy. In life, sometimes it feels like all we can do to is try to shield ourselves, and some people's lanterns are stronger than others'.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Rebecca, Jane Eyre or I Capture the Castle. I wanted to cry when I finished them because I would never be able to read them with the same sense of wonder again.