Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with April Dávila . Her debut novel, 142 Ostriches, is available from Kensington Books.

 

Dávila received her undergraduate degree from Scripps College before going on to study writing at USC. She was a resident of the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in 2017 and attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in 2018. In 2019 her short story “Ultra” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A fourth-generation Californian, she lives in La Cañada Flintridge with her husband and two children. She is a practicing Buddhist, half-hearted gardener, and occasional runner. 142 Ostriches is her first novel.

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Can you tell us a little bit about your background?  “Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl / With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there / She would merengue and do the cha-cha …”

When I moved to L.A., people were selling spec screenplays at auction for millions of dollars. I planned on doing the same thing, and retire in three years (five seemed way too long.) That didn’t work out and I fell into journalism the way other people step into a puddle — or, as it turned out, dog poo.

Meaning, I worked in Hollywood, ate buckets of jelly beans while seeing a staggering number of free movies (screenings), going to parties and premieres that I’d forget before I got home, and breaking stories. Like, Botox. I knew my days were numbered the year I dreaded the prospect of another Academy Awards. Undiagnosed, I was suffering from Red Carpet Weekly Burn-Out.

Fortunately, I’d started writing my first novel and continued that project while working as a journalist.  That first novel was supposed to parachute me out of journalism the way screenwriting was supposed to buy my Italian Villa. Silly me, I thought there was money in novel writing. It was a total shock when I realized, five hundred agent rejections later, that I wasn’t the next Jacqueline Susann (or, even, Sidney Sheldon – and he evaded the I.R.S. on yachts.)