Ash Davidson

Ashley Davidson

Photo by Carol B. Hagen


Ash Davidson spent her early years in Klamath, California, and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first novel, Damnation Spring (Scribner, 2021), won the Reading the West Book Award for debut fiction, and was named an editors’ choice and a best California book of the year by the New York Times, a Washington Post notable book, and a best book of the year by the Los Angeles Times,the San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus, Newsweek, Amazon, and others. Her writing has been supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, MacDowell, and Monson Arts. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she works for a conservation nonprofit.

I’m so grateful to the National Endowment for the Arts for this incredible vote of confidence, gas in the tank, and plenty of road snacks. I had written myself into a corner and lost faith in this wildfire novel. The same day I’d decided to finally set it aside, after several years of work, I got the call from the NEA. I thought maybe someone had listed me as a reference on a job application.

If you’ve been applying for an NEA Literature Fellowship for many years, you’re in good company. This is the fourth time I’ve applied, not counting the two times I got everything ready but chickened out at the last minute. I’d made a pact to keep applying until I either got a fellowship or died of old age, whichever came first, so I’m pretty relieved at the way this turned out.

A huge thank you to the NEA for the value you place on the arts and for giving me the fuel I need to keep going. It’s an honor to be in the company of so many writers I admire.