Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Women Writers of Color Series: Zetta Elliott

Full name: Zetta Elliott

Birth date: 1972—I’m a Scorpio

Location: Ajax, Ontario (just outside of Toronto)

Website/blog: Fledgling

Genre:
I write across a number of genres: children’s literature, speculative fiction, poetry, plays, memoir.

WiP or most recently published work:
I just finished a MG novel called Muñecas, and am working on Judah’s Tale, a sequel to my YA novel, A Wish After Midnight.

Writing credits:
My poetry has been published in the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. My novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers, and my essays have appeared in The Black Arts Quarterly, thirdspace, WarpLand and Rain and Thunder. I won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest, and my picture book, Bird, was published in October 2008. I’ve also self-published several books including A Wish After Midnight, Stranger in the Family, Three Plays, One-Act Plays, and Ten-Minute Plays.

How frequently do you update your site?
Usually every other day, though blogging can be a great way to procrastinate…

Is your site designed for reader interaction?
Not really, aside from the links I put in my posts, the videos on my sidebar, and the option to leave comments.

Post of note, something in particular you want readers to check out:
My open letter to the children’s publishing industry

100 words or less how would you describe your work?
I’m really interested in dramatic writing, so whether I’m writing a play or a novel or a poem, I try to make it vivid and compelling—a story told from a different point of view using an authentic, unusual voice. My work is fairly traditional when it comes to form, but I hope people find it daring nonetheless; I try to say things out loud that we otherwise might only whisper among ourselves.

100 words on less please share your thoughts on the writing life:
There’s no one way to be a writer. And there’s a difference between being a writer and being an author. As Toni Morrison pointed out, you need permission to be the latter, but not the former. I’d encourage everyone to find a way to tell your own story. Don’t wait for it to miraculously appear in someone else’s book. And writing can be its own reward; don’t do it for fame or fortune, because authentic stories often don’t sell and/or bring in a lot of money. But they’re still worth telling, and we can learn a lot about ourselves (and each other) but putting our truth down on the page (or the web!).

Thanks, Zetta. Check out Neesha Meminger's recent review of A Wish After Midnight and congratualtions to her for her Cybils nomination.

11 comments:

Amy Bowllan said...

Awesome! Zetta is also a pioneer in the Writers Against Racism series. She's a maverick who I admire greatly.

Color Online said...

Thanks for commenting, Amy. Zetta keeps great company. That's how I met you. You are trailblazer in your own right.

Kelly said...

Thank you for featuring Zetta! She's a wonderful writer-warrior. And her picture book, Bird, is so powerful. I look forward to reading A Wish After Midnight and more of her work.

Doret said...

A Wish After Midnight was such a great book. Looking forward to reading Judah's Tale

Everyone should check out the sample chapters of Munecas on Zetta's blog - The story so freakin good.

Susan, this is one of my favorite features at color online -

Authors who work so hard to write their stories even though the powers that be say they won't sell, deserve a little spotlight.

Mardel said...

Forgive my ignorance, but what is an "MG novel"?. I took a look at a couple of your books (Bird and A Wish After Midnight) and I'm puttin them on my Library Wish List. They look good.

D.M. SOLIS said...

Great! Hope your poetry will be featured too. Thanks for being the role model you are in children's literature. Peace and continued good things for you in writing and in life.

Sincerely,
Diane

zettaelliott said...

Many thanks to Susan and everyone else for their wonderful support! Mardel, MG is middle grade, though really I see Munecas as a picture book for older readers, much like Bird (ages 8-12).

Neesha Meminger said...

I love this:
"...writing can be its own reward; don’t do it for fame or fortune, because authentic stories often don’t sell and/or bring in a lot of money. But they’re still worth telling, and we can learn a lot about ourselves (and each other) but putting our truth down on the page (or the web!)."

Thanks, Zetta and Susan.

N.

Renee said...

Thank you, Zetta, for your wisdom. And thanks LaTonya for this feature.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann said...

My favorite quote was, "Don't wait for [your story] to miraculously appear in someone else's book." It may never appear, or that person may get it all wrong. Great interview, Zetta and Susan!

evelyn.n.alfred said...

Munecas? Gonna have to check that out.