“An epic, vivid and heart-wrenching novel…Lockhart breathes life into the landscape and gives us Black history through characters you will never forget. Beautiful.” — Imani Perry, author of the New York Times bestseller South to America

Dr. ZELDA LOCKHART holds a PhD in Expressive Art Therapies, an MA in Literature, and a certificate in writing, directing and editing from the New York Film Academy. Her work as an author and as an expressive arts consultant and educator centers on the power of story to connect us across barriers and to heal our generations. Her latest books include HarperCollins 2023 release Trinity (a novel) translated and released by HarperCollins France 2024 as Entends ma voix. She is the writer of HarperCollins 2021 release Mama Bear: One Black Mother’s Fight for Her Child’s Life and Her Own by Shirley Smith with Zelda Lockhart, and Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief by Doris Payne with Zelda Lockhart. Her writing book, The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript takes readers on the emotional, psychological and spiritual journey of utilizing personal stories to transform their lives while completing a work of fiction, memoir or poetry. Lockhart is author of novels Fifth Born, a Barnes & Noble Discovery selection and a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award finalist, Cold Running Creek a Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Fiction award winner, and Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle, 2011 Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her fiction, poetry, and essays appear in several anthologies as well as in periodicals like Chautauqua, Obsidian II, and USAToday.com.

Lockhart is Director at Her Story Garden Studios: Inspiring Black Women to Self-Define, Heal, and Liberate Through Our Stories & Nature. Her work as a speaker and expressive arts consultant and educator takes her to stages, classrooms, conference rooms and community spaces across the globe to work with individuals, universities, law enforcement, corporations, and communities experiencing hardship. In these spaces she uses story and nature to inspire individuals to heal from traumatic experiences, ​​gain better command over their ability to maintain healthy relationships, lead effectively, and work productively and gracefully in community.

Zelda's Featured Titles


Amistad |
Women’s Historical Fiction

The Hurston-Wright Award Finalist makes her return with this electrifying saga—as moving and indelible as The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, The Turner House, and The Love Songs of W. E. B. DuBois—that explores three generations of a family trying to overcome trials and trauma and free themselves from the darkness of the past.

Lottie Rebecca Lee is spoken into the world in Fayetteville, North Carolina by a Black nurse who declares, “Lord Jesus, if that ain’t the blackest little baby born this side of heaven.” Later, Lottie will prove that she is the ancestors’ promise to unearth the Mississippi and Ghanaian atrocities that have tormented Benjamin Lee, her grandfather who was born during the Great Depression in Mississippi’s red clay tobacco fields, and Benjamin Junior, his son and Lottie Rebecca’s father, born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where the post Korean War GI Bill promises prosperity. These two generations of men are haunted by the Mother-Spirit who did not survive enslavement’s post-traumatic stress violence. Trinity is the riveting story of the daughter-spirit born to stitch love back into the scattered wombs of her Black mothers and call love back into the fishing blues songs of her Black male kin. Lottie Rebecca Lee is the Divine spirited daughter born to set everything back up right again, in this daringly original novel.

Cold Running Creek

LaVenson Press |
Literary Fiction

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 two 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.

Fifth Born

Atria Books |
Literary Fiction

When Odessa Blackburn is three years old, she sees her grandmother for the last time, and so begins her story as the fifth born of eight children in a troubled family. Molested by her father, Odessa is also the sole witness to a murder he commits. Her mother guards both secrets and joins her husband in ostracizing their fifth born from the rest of her siblings.

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.


WeLit Reading & Lecture from the novel Trinity, and Calling on My Ancestors & My Wisdom: A Journaling Workshop

Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute

WeLit Series Reading & Lecture – Dr. Lockhart offered a reading and discussion from her novel Trinity on October 11, 2023 as part of the WeLit series in conversation with Yona Deshommes for an audience of CCCADI community and the New York public.

Sankofa Young Women’s Leadership Program – On January 24, 2024, Dr. Lockhart designed and facilitated a two hour workshop for young women of color as part of the Sankofa Young Women’s Leadership Program. Participants wrote journal entries to open the lines of communication with an ancestor(s), someone or someones who they have already identified as a warrior woman or someone who they lost, loved, who loved them. Participants also engaged in journal prompts to manifest a warrior connection with someone (someones) in the next generation who they hope to impact with their new warrior ways.


Keynote: Stories Heal & Build Community

Title: Stories Heal & Build Community a Keynote and series of visits to classes, the Women’s Center, and the Intercultural Center at Wake Forest University. Dr. Lockhart’s Keynote and mini workshops focussed on the power of our stories to heal familial and social wounds and aid in our journey to becoming more compassionate community members and more effective leaders. (Sam Gladding Visiting Writer. Jan. 29 – 30th 2024)



Keynote: Mutual Vulnerability and Community Building

Part I: Keynote
“Mutual Vulnerability and Community Building: Enhancing the Way You Practice by Accessing Your Personal Stories Keynote & Workshop,” was given as part of the Healing touch Professional Association Conference. Many of us in the helping professions work on improving our skills by working on becoming more adept and understanding what the client needs that we can provide. We often approach this deeper understanding by asking the client to tell us their symptoms and the stories they are carrying that may be impacting their wellbeing. In other words, we find ways to help our clients be more vulnerable and transparent so that we can comfort, heal and fortify them.

Developing ways to better serve our clients is of course an important area of professional development, but few professional development seminars or workshops inspire the practitioner to consider the inner workings of themselves, their deepest wounds, losses, wants, and internal gifts. What are our individual stories? Knowing these are an important tool for better serving our clients. Our personal plots are present in our client interactions reciprocating responses through our bodies and through what we do and do not say. The disadvantage of not being in touch with these personal plots is that we find ourselves surprised by an interpersonal skill or gift without further exploring the source of and deeper potential for that gift. We also find ourselves surprised by reactions or ways that we were triggered because we did not know where our own trip wires were set.

This interactive keynote, will begin the process of stirring memories about instances when such moments occurred in your practice. Dr. Lockhart will read from her book The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript: Turning Life’s Wounds into the Gift of Literary Fiction, Memoir, or Poetry. She will offer scenarios from her own practice that will exemplify the current problem and the solutions she sought through writing. Through this interactive keynote, the audience will be introduced to the overall learning objective of Dr. Lockhart’s presentations and workshops at the conference, which are for participants to gain a better understanding of their ability to engage in transformative work in the lives of others by engaging in transformative work in their own lives utilizing personal plot as the tool. This objective will be fulfilled in more depth through two writing workshops during the conference:

Part II: Workshops
Hopes & Fears: A Writing Exercise to Help You Capitalize on Your Gifts in the Client/Practitioner Relationship (A 60 Minute Workshop) – This particular writing exercise fulfills the objective of helping participants engage in knowing the events connected to their current hopes and fears as practitioners, and how this awareness reveals both the obstacles in their current client relationships and opportunities for success.
The Relationship Museum: An Exercise in Building Community Through the Mutual Vulnerability of Shared Stories (A 30 Minute Workshop) – This writing exercise will fulfill the objective of demonstrating to participants how knowing and perhaps sharing the stories that make up their identities can be done verbally, or through objects, and that this sharing creates deeper connection with others.


Trinity Syllabus Link

Zelda’s Workshop History and Background Link

Zelda’s Workshops and Events Link

Trinity: a Novel by Zelda Lockhart Google Play 15 min Audio Book Sample

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Lambda Literary Foundation 2024 Jim Duggins Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize Winner
Ragan-Rubin Award for Literary Achievement
Distinguished Alumni Award, Old Dominion University
Piedmont Laureate of North Carolina
Lambda Literary Award Finalist (Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle, LaVenson Press)
African-American & Native American Historical Fiction Winner (Cold Running Creek: a Novel)
Honor Fiction Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association Award (Cold Running Creek: a Novel)
Barnes & Noble Discovery Selection (Fifth Born: a Novel)

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

We’ve received your Message!

An AU Representative will connect with you as soon as possible.