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FIVE ON FRIDAY with Tanita S. Davis

This week our FIVE ON FRIDAY guest is Tanita S. Davis author of the novels Ala Carte and Mare’s War. Visit Tanita at her website.

When did you know that you first wanted to be a writer/illustrator?

I first knew that I wanted to be a writer when I was about five, and my mother, in a vain attempt to get some work done with the luxury of silence, told me that my nose was an imaginary button on an imaginary radio, and that my “station” was done with its broadcast for now. She said I needed to write down all of the things I wanted to tell her for next time she turned on the radio. For some bizarre reason, that was very appealing. I put tape over my mouth and wrote all kinds of fantastical stories and after about an hour, Mom turned the “radio” back on… and I was READY. Both of us had so much fun with that (…not sure, but I think my mother had the MOST fun), that we did it every day.

What book or writer/artist do you feel influenced you the most?

It seems odd; to have been influenced by a book out of the 19th century, but Anne of Green Gables was a big deal for me. For one thing, L.M. Montgomery did not stint on the language – I was introduced to such words – “epoch,” and “dryad” and a host more which were completely out of my experience. And Montgomery loved her character, and took such pains with her emotions. I wanted to write people that lived and breathed and kept me in as good of company as Anne did.

What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?

I read so voraciously that this is a tricky/dangerous question! At the moment, I’ve just finished Growing Yams in London, by British-Ghanaian author Sophie Acheampong, and Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder – both excellent. On the nightstand are Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Lips Touch, by Laini Taylor. Am in the middle of The Outstretched Shadow by James Mallory. From YA fiction to SFF and beyond — you can see, my tastes are eclectic!

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers (or illustrators), what would it be?

Writers write. It’s kind of a trite little phrase, maybe, but you can’t be a writer if you don’t write. We can argue about whether or not it has to be every day, or one kind of writing or another, but I will say that the best thing you can do for yourself, when you’re feeling like the story you’re working on is The Ultimate Crap and you’re afraid you’ll never finish anything or justify your parents paying for your college education – is to just write. And keep writing. Beginning, middle, and end. It’s a lot less simple than it sounds, but persistence is so very, very important.

Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?

I’m hesitant to talk too specifically about ongoing projects, but I will say that I’m writing about a brother and sister struggling to come to terms with major changes in their family. Their father has been separated from the family for seven months, and the siblings go down to spend the week of Spring Break to begin the reconciliation. It’s a short amount of time – and a large amount of tension.

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