Monday, June 27, 2011

Welcome Calvin Davis & the Mysterious Phantom Lady!

Welcome Calvin Davis and his mysterious Phantom Lady! So nice to have you as my second blog guest and my first male romance writer guest! It's a pleasure and yes, Calvin, I will be gentle!

Thank you for having me on your blog, Alison. This is a first for me—being a guest and stepping into the dynamic blogging world of romance writers. Even though I live with a romance writer, this is a new milieu for me. You will be gentle, won’t you?

We all know story ideas come from countless sources: a dream, a newspaper article, a snippet of an overheard conversation, thoughts on the human condition and so on. For me, the idea for The Phantom Lady of Paris stemmed from a theft.

I was living in Paris at the time. I’d gone there in 1968 on sabbatical to write and study French culture. What better place to do that than Left Bank cafés? I rented a studio apartment at 21 rue Galande in the 5th arrondissement (Paris is divided into neighborhoods or wards called arrondissements). I was living in the heart of the Latin Quarter, so named because centuries ago students at the Sorbonne spoke only Latin as they conversed and argued philosophies on the streets of this neighborhood.

Soon I settled into a daily routine. I’d shower, dress, snatch a few notebooks and pencils from the desk, bolt down the three flights of steps, dash up the street to the boulangerie (bakery) and buy a few croissants and then step across the street to the cremerie (dairy) for some yogurt. Purchases in hand, I’d stop in the foyer of my building to retrieve my newspaper from the mailbox. Then I’d meander the streets until I came to my favorite writing café, settle at a table, sip an espresso, read the paper and then write for several hours.

I must interject a description, at this point, of mailboxes in French buildings during this era. Mailboxes were one large, open wooden box attached to a wall in the entry foyer. There the postal person would dump the mail for all the residents of the building. Each tenant would sift through the contents, hunting for mail addressed to him or her. Outside of a weekly letter from my mother, my copy of the English Herald Tribune was my only daily mail—and I looked forward to it. My subscription was my lifeline to the English speaking world while I sat immersed in French culture. One morning, it was gone. The address band that encircled it was there, but not my paper. I was livid. Who would steal a man’s newspaper?

Once my temper cooled and my writer’s imagination heated up, I thought “hey, there might be a story in this…a teacher on sabbatical, much like me, has his newspaper stolen…and the thief has the audacity to leave a note on the bulletin board above the mailbox…yeah, a note…and the teacher leaves a reply…and then the thief leaves another note…and…” Well, all you lovely ladies know how one’s imagination takes flight on the breeze of “what-if’s.” So, thanks to a theft, the Phantom Lady was born.

Here’s an excerpt from The Phantom Lady of Paris where Paul, my hero, finds the first note from the phantom lady.

On this particular morning with a liter of milk, a croissant, and a cup of yogurt in hand, I hurried into the foyer of Twenty-One rue Galande. I glanced into the mailbox, and, to my dismay, my Herald Tribune was missing. Had the mail carrier made his rounds? He always did, religiously and on time, regardless of the weather. Besides, mail for other tenants was in the box. So why wasn’t mine?
I rummaged through the huge mound of letters, finally fishing from it an address band with the Herald’s logo on it, beneath which was my name, address, and that day’s date. I didn’t need to be a forensic scientist to realize that some midget-minded SOB had stolen my newspaper, and, to add insult to injury, brazenly left the address band in the mailbox. Of all the rotten, dirty…
With the discarded mailing band in hand, I glanced at the bulletin board that was just above the mailbox. On it was a note addressed to me, scrawled on a piece of torn notebook paper. A hastily scribbled peace sign adorned the top.
Dear Mr. Paul Lasser,
I borrowed your newspaper. I would say, Thank you, but as nice as I know you are, I don’t have to thank you. Do I? Of course not, darling. So, why bother?
And oh yes, do have a good day! I’m sure I’ll have one. Reading the morning paper always makes my day—as I’m sure it makes yours. For your information: the weatherman predicts mild temperatures, sunny, cloudless skies. Should be a gasser. So, enjoy. Peace and love.
Signed, your neighbor and fellow-newspaper-lover,
The Phantom Lady of Paris.

A suspense-filled love story, The Phantom Lady of Paris tells of American Paul Lasser and his sojourn to the City of Light, where he meets the mysterious Phantom Lady, Bonnie Silver, a woman who is more question marks than periods.

Why is she in Paris and why do the French police investigate her and her “persons of interest” friends? One friend, a flower child, overdoses on drugs. Another morphs into a terrorist, bombing cafés. Is a Communist agitator an associate of Bonnie’s?

Slowly Paul unearths answers, and even as they quench his desire to understand, they will forever haunt him.

Thanks you again for having me. You’ve been a most gracious host, Alison.

You may buy my novel from the publisher, Second Wind,

Or from

Thanks, Calvin...this sounds like a truly intriguing 'what if?'
Next week my guest is Sue Fineman.


Amy said...

Great post and love the excerpt. Here's another one to add to my TBR pile!

Calvin Davis said...

Alison, again, thanks for having me here today. We males can often be awkward in a new situation. Thanks for holding my hand as I muddled through. I wouldn't call myself a romance writer. I write love stories and there is often a bittersweet difference.

Calvin Davis said...

Amy, thanks for stopping by. Vonnie found a rough draft for "The Phantom Lady of Paris" stashed in a closet--literally. She thumbed through it and said, "You have to do something with this." We were newlyweds at the time, and I was busy working on another project. She kept reminding me that the phantom lady needed a chance. She was right, of course. Once I started on it again, it became the book of my heart.

Sandra Koehler said...

Hi Calvin, thanks for pointing out the difference between love and romance stories...great post...Sandy/Alison

Calvin Davis said...

Yes, there is a difference. "Romeo and Juliet" is a love story. The movie "Love Story" is one of my favorites. I play the blues on my guitar, those old songs of broken hearts and unrequited love. While I like the love story theme in art, which of course includes literature and music, in my life I prefer romance with its HEA ending. The first time I met Vonnie in person, I brought her a dozen red roses and kissed her hand. We'd been communicating online for months via match dot com. Romance at any age turns the sunshine on in one's soul, don't you think?

Sandra Koehler said...

Couldn't agree with you more...Calvin...Sandy/Alison

Emma Lai said...

Welcome to the world of romance writing, Calvin! Thanks for sharing the inspiration for your story. Definitely intrigued!

Melinda said...


Your book sounds very interesting. You have a jewel in Vonnie. I am putting your book on my must read list.

Walk in harmony,

Lilly Gayle said...

What an interesting life you've led, Calvin. And what an intriquing story. My brother and I had the love story vs. romance debate this weekend. I like your answer. Mine? I told my brother taht a romance demands a happily ever after ending, where a love story demands a sacrifice in some form. What do you think?

Calvin Davis said...

Thank you, Emma. You're most kind. Everyone of us has a story for we're all unique. I love listening to others share the passions and pitfalls of their lives.

Calvin Davis said...

Melinda, yes Vonnie is a jewel. I call her "My Angel." By the way, I really enjoyed the Apache newspaper you sent us. Both of my grandmothers were Native American. One was Monican and the other Tutelo.

Calvin Davis said...

Lilly, I think you've captured the essence of the difference quite well. My favorite love stories are about those couples who are united through all adversities. Sadly, in life, hard times often drive couples apart. If we are truly soul mates, then that connection continues after death...we are soul mates for eternity. Gee, I'm really enjoying this. How many men get to have conversations with so many beautiful and talented women in one day? As one of our grandsons would say, "This blogging is the bomb."

Sandra Koehler said...

Vonnie is so lucky to have met you, Calvin! Sandy/Alison

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Calvin,
Lovely to find a male romance writer. Great blog, I think you have done this before.Love the sounds of your mysterious phantom lady.



Calisa Rhose said...

Hi Calvin. I love the idea of your book and that you took the real life experience and turned it into a novel! I'm very intrigued. And Vonnie is very lucky!

Vonnie Davis said...

Gee, I forgot to leave a post myself. Hi Honey!! **waves madly** Calvin knows I was busy yesterday doing my final edit for a short story submission. I'm writing fulltime now thanks to his support. He is my cheerleader...sans the short skirt, of course. His book will take you to Paris on a magic carpet ride of words.

Calvin Davis said...

Margaret, I do blog on CalsCosmos, but this is my first guest blog. Come to think of it, I've never guest blogged on Vonnie's blog either. Shouldn't she have asked me by now?

Calvin Davis said...

Calisa, much of Paul's experiences in "The Phantom Lady of Paris" were mine...not meeting Bonnie, though. She was a mental creation. I had no clue at the time that I'd meet and fall in love with a Vonnie. Which reminds me, shouldn't she have me on her blog??? I'm feeling a tad unappreciated here...