Monday, September 3, 2012

An African Village and a Fairy-Tale World: An interview with Liz Grace Davis

Today I'm talking with Liz Grace Davis about her YA fantasy, Tangi's Teardops. She's stopping by as part of a blog tour organized by the Making Connections Goodreads group. To find other tour stops, please check out this link.

1) Please tell us about your book.

Tangi’s Teardrops is a young adult fantasy novel about a girl who dreams of becoming something larger than herself. She later finds out that she has magic tears, the key to all her dreams. If only things were that easy.

The novel is set in Africa in two very different setting; an African village and a fairy tale world.

2) Please tell us a bit about you lead character.

Tangi is twelve years old and handicapped. She has one leg shorter than the other. And she’s constantly teased for it. But it doesn’t hurt her as much because she has her father. He is the most important person to her and he makes everything better. Then he suddenly dies, leaving her an orphan. All he leaves her are three empty bottles and no explanation why they are important.

Tangi and her step sisters move to their uncle’s farm, where Tangi suffers at the hands of two housekeepers, while her sisters watch on. What Tangi doesn’t know is that the tears she has cried since the death of her father are magical and they can save her and transport her to Rosevine, where all her dreams can come true. But there’s one big problem. Rosevine is about to disappear and only she can save it.

3) What inspired this book?

My childhood. Tangi is actually my third first name. You can read about the story behind Tangi’s Teardrops here:

4) You've lived in Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, among other places. Please tell us how that cultural background influenced the setting of your book.

Yes, I was born in a refugee camp in Angola, moved to Namibia (where my parents are from) when I was eight, lived in South Africa for three years, lived in Germany for seven years and Austria for six. I met my husband in Austria.

Growing up I had the opportunity to spend a significant amount of time in both the city and the village. In fact, as a child I attended a village school, where the language of instruction was my mother tongue, Oshiwambo.

While living in the village, Tangi fetches water, cooks on an open fire, herds the animals, and sleeps in a hut. Just like I did between the ages of eight and ten. But when she moves to Rosevine, everything is different. It’s a whole new world. Instead of huts, there are castles and hill houses with modern interiors, a luxurious celebration hall, and so many other new things.

I believe the settings in Tangi’s Teardrops are a combination of places I’ve seen, books I’ve read, and my various experiences (both good and bad). Between the pages of this novel, readers will discover a little bit of Africa and a little bit of Europe (both through the descriptions and also customs).

5) Please tell us your thoughts about how your story fits (or doesn't fit) into the storytelling tradition of fairy tales.

For this I’ll use an excerpt from a review the novel received from a reader.

Tangi's Teardrops mainly stands out because of its new take on Cinderella. The cast of characters is completely different (aside from the two stepsisters). Instead of an evil stepmother, there's an evil housekeeper and a sort-of-evil housekeeper assistant. There's a dead father, but there's also a loving uncle and kind school staff. And of course, there's still the whole kingdom of Rosevine. Moreover, I liked how the second half of the plot was very different from the actual Cinderella tale. The ball wasn't a significant part of the story, and neither was the classic glass slipper. Instead, Davis focuses on Tangi's efforts to save Rosevine while trying to fall in love with a prince, making Tangi seem less reliant on others, rather than the classic damsel in distress who waits for her Prince Charming” (Review by Rachael Wohoo).

6) The reader demographic label "young adult" is a nebulous thing that covers a wide range of book. As an author, what does "young adult" mean to you?

While writing Tangi’s Teardrops I spent so much time trying to understand this demographic label. In the end I simply decided that young adult novels are books written with young adults in mind but can be enjoyed by people from any age group. In fact, most of the people who bought Tangi’s Teardrops are not considered young adults. I even have a 45-year-old male among those readers. I do, however, agree with the fact that the main characters should be young adults.

 7) Please tell us about your literary influences.

Gosh, since I was a child I read so many books from various genres. I can’t say that my writing is influenced only by a certain number of books/writers. I think the books I read, the lessons I learned, the fun I had were all scooped into a mixer and mixed to create a wonderful literary cocktail. I pour a little of this cocktail into all my story recipes.

8) Please tell us about some of your other projects.

I’m currently editing my next novel, Honeysuckle & Jasmine, a women’s fiction inspired by a true story.

The story is about two African Au-Pairs (from very different backgrounds) who meet in a fictional town in Germany and embark on a journey that leads them to the true meaning of friendship. Together they laugh, they cry, they live, they grow. And then everything changes. Suddenly their carefree days are over and the struggles that come with living in a foreign country begin. The only thing that holds them together, when everything falls apart, is their friendship.

The novel will be published at the end of this year. You can get a sneak peek at the cover (in progress) I designed for the novel here:

Oh, I’m working on a sequel to Tangi’s Teardrops.

Thank you so much for featuring Tangi’s Teardrops. You’re very kind. I hope your readers will enjoy the novel.


Thanks, Liz.

If you'd like to see more from Liz or want to purchase the book, please check out the following links:


sue said...

Your book sounds unique, mainly due to its location. I've never been to Africa but have friends who have volunteered building hospitals, schools etc. And I agree the genre game is absurd. A good book is a good book. Like Harry Potter. I expect your story has a happy ending, unlike most real life stories in Africa. Congratualations

Liz Grace Davis said...

Thank you so very much, Sue. Yes, I'm all for happy endings. Thank you so much for stopping by.

J.A., thanks for hosting Tangi's Teardrops. You're the best.

J.A. Beard said...

You're welcome.

Julia Hones said...

I was very impressed by this book. You cannot put it down.

Liz Grace Davis said...

Oh, Julia, how lovely to see you. I'll write you soon. Hugs.

Blogger said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.