Christine Davis is the best-selling author and illustrator of three of Amazon’s top 10 pet-loss books. Her latest release Breathing Fire charts a new course — that of offering adult survivors of childhood abuse a way of reclaiming the passionate lives they were born to live. A victim herself, Davis’ awe-inspiring story invites readers to become apprentices on an epic journey of slaying dragons, manifesting miracles and healing body, mind and spirit.
Chris, a native of New York City, lives in Portland, Oregon, with her cat, Molly.
Time to chat with Chris!
What is your latest book?
My newest book is Breathing Fire, a book it seems I was destined to write and yet never could have imagined doing so.
Do you write under a pen name?
No, Christine Davis is my real name.
Tell us about Lighthearted Press.
I started Lighthearted Press in 1997 after the loss of my forever dog, Martha. I’d been looking to leave the corporate workplace and was hoping to create a new career that would embrace both my passion for animals and my connection to that mystical, magical, just-beyond-the-veil world that had called to me since I was a child. I thought Martha would be with me during this change in my life, so her unexpected loss left me devastated and unsure how to continue on without her.
I began meditating and studying Shamanic journey work. It was while drumming that I heard I was supposed to write a book titled For Every Dog An Angel and was given a simple outline for the story. Without any knowledge of writing, illustrating or publishing I took out some money from my retirement account and Lighthearted Press was born. Soon after that For Every Dog An Angel was published. That was the beginning of my writing career.
You’ve told me that your latest book, Breathing Fire, has taken you in a direction you never imagined. Can you tell us more?
I’ve always been passionate about creating books and gifts for animal lovers. I thought I’d be writing in that genre forever until something extraordinary happened to me in the summer of 2012. I found a show on BBC America called Merlin. Like many people I was a fan of the Arthur legend and loved stories about Camelot so I thought this might be something I would enjoy. I recorded two seasons of Merlin and, to my delight, I discovered this was the perfect show for me.
I worked my way through twenty episodes and came to episode 21, which I was watching in my bedroom at about 9:00 at night. In the last few minutes of the show Prince Arthur (the future King) rides back to the castle and unleashes his uncontrollable rage upon his father, King Uther, who has deeply betrayed his son. Arthur disables his father and holds the King at sword point, intending to kill him. It is the wizard, Merlin, who rushes in and convinces Arthur to drop his sword.
At the moment Arthur burst through the doors of his father’s chambers my life changed forever. I found myself screaming on the other side of my bedroom, digging my fingernails into my palms and shaking the post of my bed so hard the top rails fell off. My rage mirrored Arthur’s rage. When I could scream no more I dropped to the floor and sat still, trying to breathe. In that instant I knew what had happened to me. Arthur’s fury had released decades of unexpressed rage I’d carried inside after years of sexual abuse I endured at the hands of my father when I was a child. In fact, my brain interpreted what I had seen as Arthur raging at MY father on my behalf. I’d never forgotten my father’s abuse—it was the rage I’d stuffed inside.
Breathing Fire is the story of all the unimaginably glorious things that happened to me after watching that episode. With my rage gone, I found myself flooded with joy and began passionately pursuing the life of my dreams. I took sword-fighting classes and commissioned a blacksmith to forge a sword that had been calling to me throughout my life. Twenty-five years of spinal pain disappeared, apparently due to the re-wiring of my brain in the instant my anger was released. I lost 30 lbs. in three months without trying to because I no longer craved dairy products and sweet foods and only ate when I was hungry.
I knew I was meant to write this book to inspire others who’ve survived trauma or have lived, as I did, under the spell of unworthiness.
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
I’m thrilled to be doing two events at one of my favorite bookstores in Portland. I’ve seen many authors I admire there, including Richard Bach, so being asked to speak and present a workshop in that store is an honor for me. The workshop is about learning to dance with our dragons so we can reclaim the passionate life we were meant to live. I’ll be bringing a pop-up wizard tent, a large stuffed dragon and my sword. I named the sword Clarity and had the words “Always Follow Your Heart” etched down the blade. For a woman whose company is named Lighthearted Press the heart is very important to me.
Is it important for you to know the ending of a book before you write it? The title?
I was writing Breathing Fire as my wild odyssey was unfolding. I didn’t know how it would end or when it would end. About four months before I completed the book I was sitting at the computer one evening working on what I thought would be the last chapter. I’d skipped over a few sections because I was drawn to write the ending, even though it was out of sequence. I typed the final words, heaved a sigh of relief, sat back and read what I had written. Was this really the ending? It didn’t feel like it was.
Suddenly my fingers went back to the keyboard and, without any intention from me, resumed typing. They were on a mission that didn’t involve me. Another author had taken over, delicately tapping the keys as words flowed onto the page.
Then the fingers stopped. I brought my hands to my lap and stared at the monitor. On the screen was a two-page epilogue. It was perfect—a breathtaking, exquisite, mystical ending for my book—and I had no idea who had written it.
It wasn’t until many months later, when I did the illustration for the epilogue, that I fully understood what those magical words meant. To this day I feel there was some higher plan at work that led to all the astonishing changes in my life. I can’t help feeling that same benevolent force played a role in allowing the epilogue to flow through me and find its place in the pages of my book. It brought Breathing Fire to its proper conclusion.
As for the title, I always wanted it to be Breathing Fire followed by a sub-title. In the end I let the sub-title go and just used Breathing Fire.
Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?
This was the first time I ever let anyone read my work in progress. In the past I would tell people I was writing another critter book and I’d be sure to send them a copy when it was done.
With Breathing Fire, one of the most important lessons of my journey was learning I was worthy of asking for help when I needed it…and I REALLY needed it! I’d never written anything like this, and because the book jumped around in time and space I wanted others to tell me if they could follow the story or if it was confusing. I had a core group of readers whose input was invaluable.
Were you “born to write” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?
Actually, I was born to sing, which is how I made my living back in New York City where I was born and raised. I let that go when I came to Oregon in the late 1970s. It wasn’t until I lost my dog, Martha, and heard a book title while drumming that I began writing. I loved writing my critter books, but they were small gift books and there weren’t many words. Breathing Fire gave me the chance to write consecutive paragraphs! I also found my voice—and it was funny. I loved that.
Do you feel your latest book is your personal favorite or one of your previous novels?
I’m not the first author to think of my books as my babies and, like any good mother, I love them all. There is a magical component to each of them, because that’s where I like to live—in the magic. It would be impossible to name a favorite. That said, I’m in awe of how my writing career took a 180 degree change in direction without any intention on my part. The Universe truly works in mysterious ways.
Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?
I’ve lived in Portland, Oregon for the last 37 years. I haven’t travelled much, but I would love to spend some time in the United Kingdom. In addition to my Camelot/King Arthur connection the author of my favorite book of all time—Watership Down—is English author Richard Adams. I’ve always fantasized about travelling through the downs and seeing if I could find my Watership Down. Many of my other favorite authors, including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, are from that part of the world.
I was raised on Broadway musicals and would love to experience the London theatre scene, too – I’ve heard it’s spectacular.
If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?
I know many people in animal rescue who give everything they have to caring for critters in need. I would spread a significant portion of the funds among those special earth angels.
If you could add a room onto your current home, what would you put in it?
An art studio, with the hope I might be able to leave my art supplies out and they’d be ready to use whenever I wanted to paint.
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
I live in a wooded area that is filled with an enchanting variety of wildlife. I find great joy in going out on my deck and feeding the birds, squirrels, chipmunks and any other creatures who wonder into my yard. There’s always food out for them, but when I sit outside in their presence and they come up to me and eat from my hand I am overwhelmed with a deep sense of peace. In those moments it feels as if all is right in the world.
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