Golden Press

Zora Neale Hurston Packaged to the Youth

October 28, 2011

The Book Zora and Me by T.R. Simon and Victoria Bond

At the Howard University Bookstore in October 2011 located on Georgia Aveune in Washington, D.C. Co-authors, T.R. Simon and Victoria Bond, signing their children's book Zora and Me. Photographer: Jarondakie Patrick

Co-Authors of Zora and Me, T.R. Simon and Victoria Bond, met over eleven years ago while working at a publishing company. Their friendship blossomed. The ladies decided to write a story about a woman who has been influential in African-American history in America. A woman named Zora Neale Hurston, who would give inspiration to younger children who may have not heard or learned about her – ever.

Bond sits with her green sun dress in the Howard University’s bookstore and her puffy black hair shoulder length. She nods as her co-author answers each question letting the audience know she agrees with all that Ms. Simon has said. Her smile accentuates her face. She glows.

The entire book process took three years. Simon and Bond both say that if the Zora Neale Trust had not felt they were contributing to Hurston’s legacy they would have not continued producing the book.

Simon’s demeanor comes off too serious with her glasses slightly pressed on her face. As she speaks she begins to warm up and crack jokes. A mother of young girl herself she felt it was important to tell Zora’s story.

 “Both of us were not introduced to Zora Neale Hurston until we were college students.”   –   V.Bond

The Book Zora and Me co-authored by T.R. Simon and Victoria Bond. The book took three years to produce and is the first book to be endorsed by the Zora Neale Trust that wasn't written by Hurston herself. Photographer: Jarondakie Patrick

What was the process for creating the book Zora and Me?

VB: We are collaborators. When T.R. Simon first pitched it to me I started thinking about little tib- bits about Zora’s life that we would incorporate into the book. Before either of us begin writing, I’ll say the end of 2006 I was just reading. Probably October 2006 and through January 2007 I was just reading Zora Neale’s works.

How do you guys differ in the process?

VB: T.R. Simon is more of what the pieces of the story are and where they go. My job in addition to writing page after page is to infuse it with emotional life and color… which I find sooths what I actually like about writing.

 So, what was the next step?

TS: The second step in publishing the book is the actual publication process. After the manuscript was finish we than secured a literary agent. Our next step after that was to have our agent approach the Zora Neale Trust and get their approval. I don’t know if we would have proceeded with the book if they hadn’t just endorsed it. One of the nicest compliments we were paid was that Lucy Hurston, when she met us, she told us we got the relationship between Zora Neale Hurston and her mother right. That made us cry.

Why did you decide to write a book about Zora for a young audience?

VB: Both of us felt if we were younger reader we would have benefited from knowing about the fierce life she lived. We thought in the 21st century we should make an opportunity for 10, 11, and 12 year olds to meet Zora Neale Hurston. It was time to give Zora to a younger audience.

 Why is this story important for kids?

TS: What we hope that children would take away from this book is one that will get to know her. The second part is that they will get a sense of what is home. Zora always knew where she came from and she had no shame of her place of origin. Even though she experienced hardship as a child Zora really came from the kind of town where as a black child you can have a kingdom inside yourself.

 What do you want readers to take away from this book?

TS: We wanted readers to come away from the work feeling like they’ve been in the present of three gifted black children who had audacity and courage… and deeply rooted in the natural world. One of the things that was most important to us that we represent black children who are nature lovers and fearless in the pursuit of knowledge. We got to explore childhood friendships.

VB: Striking at the heart of our endeavor this is a murder mystery, lost of innocence tale, and an about a black girl genius.

Can we expect more books?

VB: We plan to collaborate on other books. This is a trilogy of other books.

For more on this interview check out this link:

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