Virginia DeBerry & Donna Grant
Lorraine Hansberry ... Gwendolyn Brooks ... Margaret Walker ...
Nella Larsen ... Dorothy West…all acclaimed African American women
and pioneering published authors who told positive, richly woven stories
about African American life. Each of these remarkable women paved
the way and broke down barriers in a time when being an African
American woman writer was unheard of.
For best-selling authors Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant, all of
these women are inspirations, but for them, the one writer who truly
stands out is Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960).
“Zora was the most dynamic black female writer of the Harlem Renaissance,”
according to Virginia DeBerry. “We read her in school and I was
awed by the fact that she was black. Zora’s work opened my mind
to the possibility that I, too, could be a novelist.”
Donna and Virginia met 27 years ago as plus-size models in New York
City — not the easiest place to nurture a friendship. They were
the only two African American models at the same agency and, so,
they were direct competition to one another.
They could have become instant rivals, but liked each other almost
immediately and thought they were the two funniest people on the
planet. It was not long before their occasional meetings blossomed
Their first writing venture was Maxima, a fashion and lifestyle
magazine for plus-size women. Next, a minor success with a book
called, Exposures, made them realize that they could combine
their talents and write a novel together.
“Zora wrote about the everyday truth of being a black woman in America,”
explains Donna Grant. “She portrayed our emotional life, a side
not normally seen or explored. The duality of Zora’s characters
is an element we use a lot in our own stories.”
In January 2008, Donna and Virginia released their fifth novel entitled,
Gotta Keep On Tryin’ (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster).
It is the long awaited sequel to their award winning hit novel,
Tryin’ To Sleep In The Bed You Made, a coming of age novel
about the consequences of the choices young women make.
Donna and Virginia’s novels successfully capture a slice of African
American life — its hopes, dreams, triumphs and setbacks. Their
complex characters have a universal appeal that speaks to readers
from every walk of life. They are continuing the rich tradition
of creating African American literature so future generations can
read about our time and be proud.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH FUN FACTOID
WORKS BY ZORA NEALE HURSTON (1891-1960)
Color Struck (1925) in Opportunity Magazine
How It Feels to Be Colored Me (1928)
The Gilded Six-Bits (1933)
Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934)
Mules and Men (1935)
Tell My Horse (1937)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Moses, Man of the Mountain (1939)
Dust Tracks on a Road (1942)
Seraph on the Suwanee (1948)
WORKS BY VIRGINIA DEBERRY & DONNA GRANT
What Doesn’t Kill You (2009)
Gotta Keep On Tryin’ (2008)
Better Than I Know Myself (2004)
Far From the Tree (2000)
Tryin’ To Sleep in the Bed You Made (1997)
Maxima Magazine (1985-1987)