Wednesday, February 23, 2011

WWOC: Victoria Bond & Tanya Simon


Full name: Victoria Bond

Birth date: September 11, 1979

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Website/blog: zoraandme.com

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction

WiP or most recently published work: Zora and Me

Writing credits: Zora and Me (2010)

How frequently do you update your site?
As often as we have news, but just this minute I think I have to start
an events page, as we have quite a few appearances coming up over the
next few months.

Is your site designed for reader interaction?

Yes. We have a few interactive elements on the site inspired by
Zora’s childhood, like instructions for making a corn husk doll, which
Zora herself did as a child, and planting an herb garden. The point
of these elements is to try to have our readers recreate little pieces
of Zora’s childhood in the 21st century.

Did you originally set out to write Zora and Me as a mystery? If not,
what did it start out as?

Yes, it absolutely started as a mystery. When Tanya pitched the idea
to me, and I’m not sure who said it first, we immediately came to the
dynamic and narrative construction of the Holmes stories as a model
and a guide. Doyle, of course, uses Watson as the narrator for
Holmes’ adventures. In that way, Holmes is a character in Watson’s
stories, which is just fascinating given the status of Holmes as a
larger than life character.

It's not often that we see books written about phenomenal writers (or
really any important figure in history) solely when they are children.
Why did you decide to write only about Zora Neale Hurston's childhood?

Tanya can speak more to the origin of her idea, but on my end, after
Tanya pitched to me, I was fascinated and excited by not only writing
about Zora but the community she grew up in. In my writing life I
never doubted I would work on historical subjects. The thing I never
imagined is that I would have the opportunity to write about a place
as unique and special as Eatonville. The first incorporated all black
town in the nation Eatonville is a context where race in America could
be discussed in a way that I frankly think is new to children’s
literature.

Top 5 reads you’re looking forward to reading in 2011?

All classics. For some writing I’m trying to wrap my head around,
though not autobiographical in nature like Zora and Me, I can’t wait
to rip into all of the novels by the Bronte sisters.

100 words or less how would you describe your work?

As a portrait of a young black girl as artist couched in a passing
mystery that’s really about friendship.

100 words or less on children and reading:

I grew up with my grandparents who were both readers. My grandmother
read romance novels exclusively whereas my grandfather was a collector
of reference materials ranging from dictionaries to almanacs to sports
encyclopedias. Both of them took great joy in books, and I followed
their example. For one, I wanted to know what they were up to, to
connect with them on equal footing in a way, so I became interested in
what books captivated them. Second, I wanted to carve out my own
reading niche and have my own interests, be my own person. What I
realize now is how much books in the lives of children allow them not
only to connect to others, but to cue into themselves.


Full name: T. R. Simon

Birth date: October 31, 1966

Location: Washington, DC

Website/blog: zoraandme.com

Genre: YA/Historical Fiction

WiP or most recently published work: Zora and Me

Writing credits: Zora and Me

How frequently do you update your site?

Vicky is the web maven-- thank God! I’m terrible at figuring things
out on the computer.

Did you originally set out to write Zora and Me as a mystery? If not,
what did it start out as?

Yes, the idea always revolved around the mystery of a murder in quiet,
little Eatonville. In my mind’s eye I saw Zora sleuthing and
detecting, setting the stage for her later life as an anthropologist—a
cultural excavator.

It's not often that we see books written about phenomenal writers (or
really any important figure in history) solely when they are children.
Why did you decide to write only about Zora Neale Hurston's childhood?

I wanted there to be a book for young children in which a young black
girl was in love with the natural world. As a child I spent a great
deal of time outdoors, here in the States and in third world
countries. So the idea of nature, of pushing the boundaries of your
backyard—of having a backyard-- was very important to me. Children
need nature. They need that connection to life’s rhythms to ground and
focus them. I really worry about kids being so bound to technology
these days. There is nothing as important for 10 year olds as
building a tree house or chasing frogs. The natural world is the
greatest teacher we have. Zora, in particular, grew up in a completely
unspoiled natural world. She loved the land and growing things on it;
that love carried her through her adulthood and buoyed her in hard
times. I wanted to share that important lesson with kids today.

Top 5 reads you’re looking forward to reading in 2011?

I never plan what I’m going to read. I always wait to see what falls
in my lap, what someone recommends, what I’m given. However, I am
looking forward to M.T. Anderson’s Feed. Octavian Nothing was a
significant work for both Vicky and me.

100 words or less how would you describe your work?

How childhood friendship and love sparked a lifetime of storytelling
for one of the most important women writers in America.

100 words or less on children and reading:

Reading saved my life as child. Everything I believed possible came
from the books I read. For me, the only poverty with the power to
kill is intellectual poverty. As long as there are books; there is
sustenance, there is hope.

Just so y'know, these two ladies won the
2011 John Steptoe New Talent Award. It's a travesty that I still haven't read this book, I love that it's a mystery solved by Zora Neale Hurston! I think she would really be tickled by that fact...They both have excellent taste in books, I've read the first book in the Octavian Nothing series and it was amazing! Clearly these are two authors to watch very closely.

1 comment:

Tarie said...

I need to read Zora and Me! I love Zora Neale Hurston. I had to deliver a presentation on her for grad school. I hope Zora and Me will be available in Philippine bookstores soon. :o)