Updated: May 10, 2021
Let's Welcome Zakiyyah Evans, Author of The Crying Girl Who Found Her Power to From Our Bookshelf.
Here's a little bit about Zakiyyah:
Zakiyyah Evans is an African American author born and raised in New York. “The Crying Girl Who Found Her Power” is her first children’s book. This writer has five children of her own, and bases this story on their childhood. She has always loved the spirit of children; their innocence, inquisitiveness, and honesty. Zakiyyah’s career path in Psychology and Counseling has given her experience in individual, family, and marital counseling. Her therapeutic work with children has run the gamut from domestic violence survivors, family development, refugees, and currently children’s therapeutic services. Zakiyyah endeavors to pursue a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology to research and identify efficacious treatment methods in African American communities that holistically address their historical, physical, and mental health needs. She aims to shift the paradigm by exploring maladies and determine solution-focused interventions while invoking positive change through service and leadership.
Now for our interview:
What was your favorite book when you were 8 years old?
Sheesh! That was a long time ago, I think I was around 8 years old when I often read “Duncan and Delores” by Barbara Samuels, to my little sister. We loved that book! We laughed at the similarities between the main character, (Delores), constantly trying to find her hidden cat and the two of us trying to find our kittens. Once Delores found her cat (Duncan), she was kind to him and eventually won him over. We embraced the idea of the things that her cat allowed her to do to him and tried doing the same things to our cat. The memory that is emblazoned in my mind is us putting our cat in a baby carriage and pushing it down the street to our grandmothers’ house! We had baby blankets and were dressed in our bright matching outfits. I laugh now at what the neighbors must’ve thought at that sight.
What book didn’t you connect to as a kid and found the connection as an adult?
Mostly school textbooks I found boring, but as an adult, I like learning and the entire process. I also used to deliberately look for brown children on the covers of books to try to see myself inside the story.
What is your favorite genre to read (Fiction/ Realistic Fiction/ Nonfiction)?
Nonfiction, memoirs, and self-help books. I like to read real-life novels that connect to a time, place, and environment. I also like exploring different types of cultures and reading about their life events and norms. I enjoy seeing how people grow through their experiences and live through the consequences of their choices. It always amazes me how resilient, resourceful, and tenacious humans are.
Who are your favorite Children’s Authors?
J.Deen, Sandra Markle, and my dear friend, Daniela Ortiz.
Which children’s book would you like to read that you have not read yet?
“The Proudest Blue” By Ibitihaj Muhammed. This author is the first African American Muslim woman to wear a hijab while competing in the U.S Olympics fencing team. On top of being a history-making athlete, she’s a fashion entrepreneur and had a Barbie doll featured after her in Barbie's shero collection. She’s pretty inspiring!
At what age did you write your first creative writing piece?
I was about 11 years old when I began to write poetry and short stories. My oldest sister used to illustrate and write stories too when we were children. Some of the dialogue of our stories we reenacted with our Barbie dolls. The storylines and characters often crossed over to real-life people.
What is your favorite genre to write (Poetry/Short Stories/Plays, etc.)?
I enjoy writing poetry and short stories. I like the simplicity of sharing feelings, emotions, and wisdom in a concisely written work. Making the reader ponder over my lines is an intended spice that I add to my works.
What was the most challenging creative writing piece that you thought you couldn’t write?
I am currently writing a memoir and it’s been surprisingly cathartic but awfully challenging. I struggle with how much to share without creating feelings of inadequacy or causing myself embarrassment. Since it is about “ME”, my upbringing, marriages, children, career, etc. but it also delves into how all of these things meshed together to have me where I am today.
Do you keep a writing journal?
Yes, I have a gratitude journal that I try to write in daily. This tool helps me to stay focused on positive things in my life and process the negative ones. It encourages me to maintain the premise of keeping toxic people and relationships within a boundary. It thoroughly reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for.
In what genre would you like to write that you haven’t written yet?
Writing a screenplay would be challenging and yet it would be so beautiful to see my characters and stories come to life.
What inspired you to write The Crying Girl Who Found Her Power?
Some years ago, my 6-year-old daughter had difficulty self-calming. She’d go on for what felt like hours, crying, whining, and aggravating the entire family. During one of her tantrums, I encouraged her to write about what she was feeling...and she returned and announced that she wrote a book titled “ The Crying Girl Who Found Her Power”. Years later, we relocated and found her “ book” garbled in an old suitcase. We decided to publish it for all of the other crying children trying to find their power... and for the adults trying not to lose their minds while assisting these crying kids :)
One last question:
What is one thing you learned on your reading and writing journey that you use in your daily life?
I learned that my relationship with my Creator is paramount and that becoming your best self begins with self-love is the best love! You MUST believe in yourself. I share this joy with all of the children that I counsel. I want them to embrace the concept of self and strive for self-actualization and the best person that they can become.
Thank you, Zakiyyah!
Now, here is your chance to win a copy of The Crying Girl Who Found Her Power!
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Winner Announced May 17, 2021
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