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About Zelda Lockhart
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Soon to be a Major Motion Picture
In the ebullient spirit of Ocean’s 8, The Heist, and Thelma & Louise, a sensational and entertaining memoir of the world’s most notorious jewel thief—a woman who defied society’s prejudices and norms to carve her own path, stealing from elite jewelers to live her dreams.
Growing up during the Depression in the segregated coal town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, Doris Payne was told her dreams were unattainable for poor black girls like her. Surrounded by people who sought to limit her potential, Doris vowed to turn the tables after the owner of a jewelry store threw her out when a white customer arrived. Neither racism nor poverty would hold her back; she would get what she wanted and help her mother escape an abusive relationship.
Using her southern charm, quick wit, and fascination with magic as her tools, Payne began shoplifting small pieces of jewelry from local stores. Over the course of six decades, her talents grew with each heist. Becoming an expert world-class jewel thief, she daringly pulled off numerous diamond robberies and her Jewish boyfriend fenced the stolen gems to Hollywood celebrities.
Doris’s criminal exploits went unsolved well into the 1970s—partly because the stores did not want to admit that they were duped by a black woman. Eventually realizing Doris was using him, her boyfriend turned her in. She was arrested after stealing a diamond ring in Monte Carlo that was valued at more than half a million dollars. But even prison couldn’t contain this larger-than-life personality who cleverly used nuns as well as various ruses to help her break out. With her arrest in 2013 in San Diego, Doris’s fame skyrocketed when media coverage of her astonishing escapades exploded.
Today, at eighty-seven, Doris, as bold and vibrant as ever, lives in Atlanta, and is celebrated for her glamorous legacy. She sums up her adventurous career best: “It beat being a teacher or a maid.” A rip-roaringly fun and exciting story as captivating and audacious as Catch Me if You Can and Can You Ever Forgive Me?—Diamond Doris is the portrait of a captivating anti-hero who refused to be defined by the prejudices and mores of a hypocritical society.
During one of the most tumultuous times for the North American continent (pre and post Civil War) three generations of women both Native American and African American, struggle to be free.
Raven, the main character of the first two chapters of the novel, is the daughter of Choctaw Native Americans who have escaped the relocation from Mississippi to Oklahoma Territory in hopes of negotiating their rights in the political maze of their changing landscape. In the event of faltered plans, her mother and father, ishki and inki have charged Raven with the responsibility of her two younger siblings. The three children are the sole survivors of the resulting tragedy.
Though eventually Raven marries a half French, half Choctaw man of prominence, and becomes the proud Misses of LeFlore plantation, she bares the initial, seemingly indelible wounds of the novel, and extends those to her daughter, Lilly, a half Black half Choctaw infant who Raven raises as the full-blood heir to LeFlore.
As the upshot of a second political miscalculation of American conquest, Lilly is captured and sold into the last three years of slavery. Though her actual bondage is short, her escape from her own enslavement spans to mid-life. She is always waiting for something to change. One day she abandons her two daughters and commits a dreadful act against her husband. Though horrifying, her lashing out is the very catalyst for her freedom. In an ending that peaks to a crescendo of redemption, Lilly’s salvation brings with it freedom for three generations of male and female ancestors of both Choctaw and African heritage.
Cold Running Creek is enlightening in its untold historical truths, and relevant to all time with its soul-stirring revelations. With a chorus of swamps, voodoo, floods, creeks and rivers, Cold Running Creek is rich, passionate, and leaves the reader breathless.
“This book should come with a warning label: ‘Be ready, you are going to have to go deeper than you ever imagined.’” Dorothy Allison Author of Bastard Out of Carolina
Utilize your emotional, psychological, and spiritual self to produce the first draft of a full-length manuscript. This book helps you take the stuff that has been making a mess of your life and use it instead to make art, harmonized with craft. It acts as creative companion for individuals (those with or without writing experience) as they journey through the sharing of an impactful event in life, do exercises that help them transform internal obstacles into external gifts, and then write resolution and outcome. Lockhart’s own rough drafts and excerpts from published fiction, memoir, and poetry of writers like Toi Derricotte, Helena María Viramontes, and Ta‑Nehisi Coates, along with films by writers and directors like Sherman Alexie offer kinship on the journey of unearthing and sharing a personal plot.
At times, you will feel that the book is designed to produce a new emotional, psychological, and spiritual you and that your resulting manuscript is merely the byproduct. Both are true of the design, because the purpose of art is to make yourself vulnerable about your experiences here in life—to have the courage to be vulnerable about those experiences so that you can connect with others who came here solo like you and will leave solo just like you.
And that process of sharing is transformative.
As Odessa grows, so do her troubles. She ultimately separates herself from her parents and siblings into a new reality that prompts memory and revelation. Her choices for survival provoke an outcome that will forever alter the carefully maintained lies of her childhood.
Zelda Lockhart's Fifth Born is lyrically written, poignant and powerful in its exploration of how secrets can tear families apart and unravel people's lives. Set in rural Mississippi and St. Louis, Missouri, Fifth Born is a story of loss and redemption, as Odessa walks away from those who she believes to be her kin to discover the meaning of family.
When Odessa Blackburn is first left in Mississippi to negotiate a new life with her ostracized mother Ella Mae, the strains of family propaganda, puberty, and life away from her siblings make for compounded heartache. Odessa and Ella Mae must negotiate toward patience and a new way of loving without violence.
Soon mother and daughter build a bridge out of their broken lives over which Odessa’s oldest brother Lamont crosses. The novel blossoms into the story of these young adult siblings. Though the two are estranged early in childhood by the lies and myths born of family pain, they become emotionally reliant on each other for a sense of family. Following Lamont’s death from AIDS related illnesses, Odessa is faced with her own grieving, and with fulfilling Lamont’s request for connection with their estranged siblings.
The novel’s arc takes the reader over the complicated waters of an African-American family's intergenerational internalized oppressions. Against a contrasted backdrop of pastoral bluesy tones of Mississippi and jazzy asphalt and graffiti rifts of Harlem, the difficult subjects of family incest and homophobia are traversed melodically and lyrically. The reader is offered both the triumphant depiction of an adult survivor who overcomes obstacles set against her at birth and participation in her courageous journey home.