Friends NYC x TheBrooklynBookworm Bookclub : Q&A with author Zakiya Dalila Harris

Friends NYC x TheBrooklynBookworm Bookclub : Q&A with author Zakiya Dalila Harris

Attention, Book Lovers! Looking for your summer reads? Consider picking up a copy of The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris and joining us for our August Book Club! As usual, Alexis Patterson, aka @brooklynbookworm has chosen a book both thought-provoking and entertaining. The book is plugged as “Get Out meets The Stepford Wives in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of New York City book publishing.” Yes, please! We have books available for sale at Friends, both in store and online, and then you can join us for a discussion with Alexis and Zakiya on Instagram Live!

But first, let’s learn a little more about Zakiya Dalila Harris in the following conversation led by Alexis. 

Pronouns:

she/her

Currently located here:

Brooklyn

What was your goal in writing The Other Black Girl?

To write an entertaining, engrossing novel that also sparked thoughtful conversations about being Black in majority-white spaces.

What do you think it would take for Black employees to feel comfortable being their authentic selves at work?

So many things! But one big thing is simply more visibility. Just being in an office around an array of Black people who work in a variety of departments and levels (especially higher levels!) can relieve a bit of the pressure and loneliness one might feel when they’re the only one.

Who was your favorite character to write? And why?

This changes all the time, but I’d say Hazel. I really enjoyed getting to write a character who was so self-assured and so shady, because I am not shady at all. At least, I try to be!

What is the most important thing for you in adapting THE OTHER BLACK GIRL into a Hulu Series? (ie casting, costume, dialogue)

Casting is huge! It’s really important to me that we get Nella and Hazel right, because so much of their dynamic hinges on the authenticity of their interactions.

If your favorite artist/icon (dead or alive) asked you for a book recommendation, who and what would you recommend?

You Made a Fool of Death with your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi for SZA. Emezi’s protagonist, Feyi, is such a beautiful blend of both vulnerability and guardedness, which really matches a lot of SZA’s music in my mind. I think she would really be into it.

3 essential items you need while writing?

A pen, paper, and some music.

One piece of advice you would give to your 12-year-old self today?

Your natural hair is beautiful. Let it thrive.

One thing you are most proud of?

Quitting my publishing job to write this book.

Please recommend three must-reads to our FRIENDS community!

Secret Identity by Alex Segura, Like a Sister by Kellye Garrett, and Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby

Where can friends find you on the internet and beyond?

@zakiyadalilaharris on Instagram, and @zakiya_harris on twitter.

Do you have any new exciting new projects you would like to plug?

A new short story of mine will be published as an Amazon Original this summer! And keep your eyes peeled for the TV adaptation of The Other Black Girl on Hulu.

What did you do with your first book advance?

Paid off the rest of my undergrad loans. What a feeling!

Fashion trend you’re crushing on right now?

Sweatpants—really anything that’s comfortable.

Which sense could you NOT live without?

Hearing. I listen to music pretty much all day, every day, especially while I’m writing.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Not getting too ahead of myself. I occasionally have to remind myself that the story isn’t going to come out perfectly when I first start writing it. I need to be messy, write through the mistakes, and get it wrong in order to eventually get it right.

What are you reading right now?

The Spook Who Sat by the Door by Sam Greenlee

Thanks so much to Zakiya and Alexis! We all have some reading to do! See you in August for Friends NYC & Brooklyn Bookworm’s Book Club.


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