Figure Skater Meryl Davis Talks Her 'Daunting' but 'So Special' New Project: A Children's Book
"With the quiet that came with the pandemic, I really realized how much I enjoy writing and what a passion it is for me," she tells PEOPLE
Moon Walk: Forever by Your Side, Davis' illustrated children's book published in April, is the first, Davis hopes, of more books to come.
"With the quiet that came with the pandemic, I really realized how much I enjoy writing and what a passion it is for me," she tells PEOPLE.
Davis, 34, has long loved language and enjoyed writing, with a penchant for what she calls "these little poems." But it wasn't until the social distancing required by the spread of COVID-19 last year that she took stock of the project and decided to pursue it.
"As I sat down to write I didn't necessarily know it was going to take this direction," she says.
"That was kind of the silver lining of being at home throughout so much of 2020," she says, "The things that I had put off … in sitting there, I said, 'Okay why not now? Why not just sort of dive in?' "
So she did: The finished book took about a year. The seed of it was very personal — as a girl, Davis took nighttime "moon walks" with her family — though she says she was also inspired by what she heard from Zoom conversations with friends who have kids while they were all sorting out their lives amid COVID.
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"I was just thinking about the importance of having an open, honest, trusting relationship with your kids," Davis says, "and telling them and teaching them that you're there for them no matter what."
"But I will say," she adds, "I think that in considering what I wanted to do and considering what matters to me and what sort of lights me up, there are parallels between what I love about skating and writing — and that is trying to find something that people can connect with."
Moon Walk, with illustrations by Evgeniya Kozhevnikova, follows a parent and child on their own late-night journey.
"Moon walks are a tradition in my family that started when I was young, when my brother and I were young my parents would take us up to northern Michigan," Davis says. "And away from the city lights, you could see the magic of the night sky."
"Standing in awe as a family, it allowed us to connect in a different way," she says.
Davis personally picked Kozhevnikova to illustrate the book: "She has a very whimsical style and there was something about the personality of the characters coming through in her pieces that I really loved."
Since her book came out in the spring, Davis has been heartened by the response so far — particularly photos she sees of parents reading it with their own kids, which are "so special and so surreal."
She's noodling over ideas for other books, likely for middle-grade and older children, and is quick to note she feels she's still "very much in a learning stage."
And while she still skates professionally (though she stepped back from Olympic competition after 2014), Davis says her writing work is a pleasure all its own.
"Now it's so clear to me," she says, adding, "You don't have to be one thing. And I think it maybe took me longer than it should have to realize that. I don't have to be just a writer or a skater. I can embrace life and challenges and try new things."
With writing, she says, "I recognized that same feeling I had as a kid skating: I would do this for the sheer joy of it, regardless sort of what comes."
Moon Walk: Forever by Your Side is out now.
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