When people read Priceless, a novel about two Russian girl trafficked by an illegal prostitution ring, they say they actually feel trafficked. Priceless comes on the heels of Tom Davis’ earlier novel, Scared, about a young orphan girl stuck in the crumbling African nation of a Swaziland, the most AIDS-ridden place in the world.
Tom Davis has authored six books. He got his start writing non-fiction, but for the last several years, he has been focusing on his fiction. Tom’s novels, like those of Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini, explore tender social justice issues in far-off places in the world. I had the pleasure of talking to Tom earlier this week. Below are a few questions from our conversation.
Your fiction is about issues of social justice. Can a novel bring someone to take action in justice issues?
Without a doubt fiction is more powerful to get people involved than non-fiction. People don’t approach non-fiction with their hearts. They approach it with their mind. In fiction you have to approach it with your heart.
It’s one thing people for people to hear about the millions of orphans in the world, and its something different for them to live that reality in a novel. In our culture, there’s a mentality that we believe what we read in fiction. Stephenie Meyer writes about vampires in Washington and 10,000 people go to Forks to look for Bella’s house.
In Priceless, people get so enmeshed in the character they feel like they’ve been trafficked. I’ve had so many people tell me, “I’ve got to do something.”
You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction. Which do you prefer?
I sell so much more non-fiction than I do fiction. Probably because you get invited to speak off a non-fiction book more than you do off a fiction book.
And honestly, fiction books are hard to write. It’s way easier to write non-fiction. Writing a novel is more like giving birth. Non-fiction, you can write a chapter and you’re done. Fiction writers can’t do that. You have to immerse yourself.
But I like the process of fiction better because you’re creating your own world. They take on a life of their own.
What do you hate about writing?
Writing is like fasting. You don’t necessarily look forward to fasting. But after, you’re so glad you did it because you’re changed. There’s a lot of sacrifice and it really hurts and nothing is coming and you’re just madder than a hornet because you feel like you’re dumb.
Then you read about how all the great writers had those experiences. So then you look at that as part of the process.
Tomorrow we’ll get into Part II, Tom’s advice for writers looking for advice (in other words, me, and maybe you!). And you might want to pick up a copy of Priceless ($6 in paperback or $9.58 on your Kindle).
Did you know Atlanta, Georgia, is the third worst city for illegal human trafficking in the world?
Write about a girl being trafficked. What does she look like? How old is she? What country does she come from? How does she feel?
BUT to make it more interesting, you CAN’T use the word IS. You have to describe her in action. Like so: “She cried, the tears streaming into her long black hair.”
Write for fifteen minutes, and post that practice in the comments. Yahooooo!