We had the good fortune of connecting with L. M. Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi L. M., what role has risk played in your life or career?
It took me quite a few years to realize I was an inherent risktaker. For most of my life, people would tell me I was so brave for doing things I would do just as a matter of course. I like that I have this bit of fearlessness about me. At the same time, understanding I was a risktaker was an important realization, because it allowed me to be a bit more strategic about deploying my daring to achieve my creative dreams. Risk is foundational to creativity and for me risk is all about faith. Faith in myself, in my collaborators, and in my vision. When I have faith, then risks don’t seem so risky anymore. Risktaking is central to all of my creative pursuits both in terms of the ideas I explore and the stories I share. As a writer, a storyteller, I have always tried to tell the stories I don’t see every day. I have tried to take the road less traveled in terms of theme and idea. That’s a risk. Every time I share a story as a writer (and soon as a director too), I am taking a risk. Will my story resonate? Will people get it? Will people love it? There’s a fifty/fifty chance that the answers to all of those questions might be not be yes, which is scary. But to continue to grow as a creative, I have to continue to take those risks.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am the author of three novels, with a fourth coming soon, but I think of myself more fully as a storyteller. My career has traveled a pretty curvy line, but throughout every stage (as a scholar, an administrator, and a writer) I have been committed to telling stories and to helping others find their stories as well. Right now, I am most excited about a couple of projects that I will be debuting in early 2021. The first is Forgers, the third novel in my Shifters Novel series. The second is my first short film, “Fevered Dreams” which I both wrote and will be directing. I am still on my journey and working toward my creative dreams and goals. One of the most important lessons I have learned at this point is to really take note of and appreciate those who support you. That can be anyone: family and friends who encourage you when all you want to do is quit; colleagues and readers who are excited about your work; even the folks who you never know about who champion your work and you. Because this is a marathon and not a sprint, and because sometimes it can seem like you’re trying to get to the top of Mount Everest, it’s easy to lose sight of the many ways people have supported you throughout your journey. So it’s good to take a step back and assess that as often as you can. When you remember all of the people who are in your corner and cheering for you, it makes it easier to face the next challenge and overcome the next obstacle.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m kind of outdoorsy, which is perfect since we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I love a good hike, so we would probably go to Amicola Falls and depending on the season, kayaking on the Chattahoochee or a day trip to whitewater raft on the Ocoee. In non-pandemic times, a visit to the High Museum or over to SCAD Fash for the Ruth Carter exhibit would definitely be on the agenda. As for food, too many places to name, but for a bit more upscale dinner I love Nan Thai.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am fortunate to have had many people support me as a writer. Some have been with me from the beginning, some are with me just for a season, and many have joined my tribe along the way. Today, I want to shout out Pearl Cleage. While I was in college, I participated in a summer program at Emory University. One of our extracurricular activities was a conversation with Ms. Cleage, who talked to us about the creative process. She is a well-known playwright and novelist, and I had dreams of writing novels one day. On a whim (there’s that risktaker in me), I printed a short story I had been working on that summer and asked her if she could read it. Now, Ms. Cleage didn’t know me from Adam (or, maybe, Eve), and she was a very busy woman, but she took my story and my address. A few months later, I received my story in the mail with some praise, some critique, and a lot of encouragement. That meant a lot to me at a moment when I was kind of testing the viability of that particular dream. That this renowned author would take the time to give me feedback, that she saw merit in my writing even as she underscored the ways I could improve, went a long way in instilling me with the confidence that I could make something of myself as a writer. It was a wonderful act of creative generosity that I have never forgotten.
Cover Art by Jamil Ramsey.