How to pronounce Tess Uriza Holthe: hohlthe
Tess Uriza Holthe is the author of two books. The Los Angeles Times has this to say about her latest, The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes (May 2007) is more like a necklace of glittering beads than any other art form to which the short story might be compared."
Tess' first novel When the Elephants Dance (2002) is a National Bestseller, San Francisco Chronicle #1 Bestseller, Book Sense Top Ten, Ingram Premier pick, Barnes and Nobles Discover, and Border's Original Voices selection. It received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus and Library Journal. She is also published in the Louisville Review and Filipinas Magazine.
Born and raised in Bernal Heights, San Francisco, Tess lived a block up from the public library which she visited frequently, and from which she held many books hostage way past their due dates. Her mother, the elementary school librarian always had the latest book saved for her. Her father, the maintenance mechanic for a sweater factory was her hero. Always close behind, Tess kept him company on many of his overtime shifts and during their browned-bagged dinners, over the whir of the sweater machines, he told her mythical tales and recounted his first hand experiences as a boy of 12, captured by Japanese soldiers during WWII Philippines. She owes her love of books, story, movies, life, laughter, and practical jokes to them.
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The opening scene with the young boy being captured by soldiers stemmed
from actual events in your father's life. When did he first tell you about
what happened to him? What was that experience like?
I can't remember when my father first told me this story. All I know is that he told it over and over again at my insistence. He was out chopping trees for firewood to sell so they could buy food. He was just a boy, thirteen years old. He and some others got too close to a Japanese military encampment. Suspecting them to be guerilla fighters, the soldiers captured and tortured them. I remember my father telling me how excruciating it was, and how his legs shook from terror and exhaustion. He was released, but the other civilians who were detained never returned home.
The plot of the novel unfolds through the distinct voices of three different narrators, and the myths are told by some of the supporting characters. Why did you decide to write the book this way?
One of the exercises in my writing classes was to write about a myth I had heard. I wrote a story which became "A Cure for Happiness" in the book, about a young boy's infatuation with the beautiful neighborhood witch doctor. I wrote five more myths...
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