I grew up in Swaziland, a tiny, landlocked country inside South Africa, on the border of Mozambique. I attended Florence Christian Academy, a mixed race boarding school in the sticks. My memories of the place never faded. They waited for a story to breathe them back to life. When Adele and Lottie (my main characters) came to me, I wanted to create something more than an autobiographical re-telling of my school years- although many details in the story are indeed pulled from my personal and family history.
I wanted to tell a story that honoured the women and girls with whom I grew up – strong, brave, broken, vain, furious – girls who struggled to find their place in a racially segregated world where they, and I, were kept down for no good reason.
I wanted to tell a story that championed the female friendships that helped my mother, my sisters, my aunties and myself through the hardest of times and formed the heart of our community- friendships that gave light and warmth and strength.
I wanted to write a story that proved the truth of my mother’s favorite African proverb, “When the ground is hard, the women dance.”