Nelson Branco recently spoke with the The Young and the Restless multi-talented Eileen Davidson (Ashley) to discuss her new novel, Swinging In The Rain, the state of the soap industry and more. Branco wanted to send us this piece and share the story with On-Air On-Soaps and its readers.
SEX AND MURDER SHE WROTE
-Eileen Davidson’s latest sudsy mystery novel, Swinging In The Rain, sings a new tune-
When it rains, it pours: Not only is Young and the Restless superstar Eileen Davidson finally sizzling on the front burner as the sexy and enduring (and often times stubborn) heroine, Ashley Abbott, but one of the world’s most beautiful women has also just released a fourth installment of her guilty pleasure soap opera-inspired mystery series, Swinging In The Rain, and recently finished filming a movie!
Whew – it’s a lonely life! Her imaginary character, star of The Bare and the Brazen, Alexis Peterson, is too busy solving murder mysteries to be enjoying the Davidson’s kick-ass success. But hey, at least Alexis is diversifying her career, which is a necessity these days in these depressing economic times. Forget pimps – it’s hard out there for a soap star these days from cancellations, pay-cut disputes, plot-driven stories, and Daytime Emmy Award controversies.
“She might be dead in the next book,” laughs Davidson. “We’ll have to see! There’s always a lot to write about in the soap world. Once I finish a book, I always go, ‘I should have put this in!’ This industry is an endless well of material! You know – you hear stories!” So what sudsy happenings can we expect this time around? In story 411, “something happens to Alexis’s ex-husband,” and the soap sleuthing diva finds herself unexpectedly thrown into the sensual world of swinging. “The [arc] is a reflection of what happened to me in my own life when I heard swinging was still going on,” she explains. “I was like, ‘You got to be kidding me!’ I mean, I’ve been around the block, but I was still surprised. I did a lot of research on the book, which was kind of fun. It’s not the main storyline in the book but it all does come to a head.” Spill, Eileen: exactly what kind of research did Davidson find herself immersed in? “
I was at Scott Bailey’s birthday party. How random is that? A woman came up to me and announced she was a fan of my books,” she recalls. “After telling her I was planning my fourth book and how I was hoping to use the swinging sex culture as a backdrop, she said her friend owned one of the top swinging clubs in LA. We met and I interviewed her. All the details in the book came from what she told me. There’s a lot of things I didn’t use because this isn’t a X-rated book; it’s PG, so I had to tone it down. And just to be a cornball, I thought I’d set the book during El Nino, hence the title of the book.”
Tempted to see the inner workings of this world up-close and personal, Davidson even accepted an invitation to attend a real-life swing night, but chickened out. “I wasn’t going to participate and just watch, but I ended up not making it.”
That sound you hear is the world of tabloids sighing.
Davidson’s fourth book is a special endeavor since she self-published the book. “Large publishers don’t promote their authors unless you’re a John Grisham,” Davidson points out. “We’ll see how self-publishing works. I sort of wrapped up the series in case but we’ll see how it goes. I have to tell you it was super easy. Go to createspace.com and amazon.com and they walk you through everything. It’s not easier than having your own publisher, of course, because the publisher does everything for you but they take all your profits. We saw nothing from what we made from the previous books, so self-publishing lets you keep almost all the profits.”
In the soap world, profits are few and far between. With soaps getting canceled, Davidson worked the new industry realities into her latest tome. “There’s a lot more truthiness this time around,” she says. “Cancellations, budget cuts, no more location shoots, that kind of stuff.”
Despite its number-one status, not everyone is confident about Y&R’s future — especially with the news of All My Children and One Life To Live’s double cancellations (they will, however, live online). “It rocked our world,” Davidson reports. “People think Y&R will be the last man standing but who knows? We’re all vulnerable. Nothing lasts forever. It’s more of a question of how long we will air. But I do believe we’ll be the last soap standing.”
Having debuted as breakout young soap star during the golden era of daytime serials, does Davidson find it ironic that that no one really understood how great they had it in comparison to Hollywood back in the day– and how quickly it all disappeared? “It’s so true. I certainly knew how lucky I was back then,” she relays. “I still am. I’m very appreciative. I didn’t see the end of the genre happening this soon. But I never saw my soap career lasting forever, either. Even when I got fired a couple of years ago from Y&R, I even said, ‘I never thought I was playing Ashley until the day I die.’ You can’t take anything personally anymore because all bets are off. Everyone is scrambling. Yes, some decisions may not be right but they are definitely not personal.”
But the soap opera mystery series is not a veiled Davidson biography, which is why her heroine, Alexis, is a brunette. “I didn’t want Alexis to look like me because her story isn’t mine necessarily,” she said.
Davidson just wrapped filming a movie based on the real-life story, Hell and Mr. Fudge, during Emmy weekend in Alabama where is she significantly aged to play a character’s mother. “I got my Kristen and Susan accent back,” she chuckled. “
Which begs the question: How does one even attempt to age this eternal beauty? “Awww, shut up,” Davidson laughs, before joking, “Yes, I do look in the mirror every day and say, ‘I’m really beautiful.’ I turned 52 recently. I don’t like getting older on TV. But I appreciate the compliments.”
With scripted TV becoming an endangered species, would she ever do a reality-TV series? “I don’t,” she answers matter of fact. “But I shouldn’t say no because then I’ll probably end up doing one. I can’t imagine doing one because whenever I watch like the Real Housewives, which I like a lot, I’m constantly embarrassed for these women. I’m always mortified on so many levels for these people.”
With soap memoirs all the rage, would Davidson ever consider penning her life story? After all, her marriages over the years could provide a fascinating narrative alone! “There are too many people alive,” she deadpans. “There’s no way! Some people would have to die.”
- Nelson Branco