October's Hot Writer: M Shelly Connor
My genre: Literary Fiction; playwriting
My literary influences: Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Edward P. Jones, Zadie Smith, Sharon Bridgforth, E. Patrick Johnson, Lorraine Hansberry
My favorite literary quote: "I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands." --Zora Neale Hurston
My favorite book of all time: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison and I really want to add Pym by Matt Johnson because it was just so refreshing to read as a Black academic/creative writer.
I’m currently reading: Re-reading Her by Cherry Muhanji for the Intro to Gender, Sexuality and Literature course I'm teaching (which also means I'm re-reading Middlesex, Rubyfruit Jungle and a whole hosts of essays). Since my critical research and reading informs and influences my fiction writing, I've been drawn to Beth Richie's Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America's Prison Nation. Perhaps it offers balance for my addiction to Orange is the New Black.
My guilty pleasure book: Sarah Waters novels... and almost anything gratuitously queer + black + female... Even okcupid works.
I can’t write without: Unlined moleskin notebooks and I probably should add bourbon (which isn't entirely true but it can come in handy with future bar patrons of the arts).
Worst line I ever wrote: The unwritten ones. The hours, days, weeks that painfully pass without touching pen to paper or fingertips to keypad. That's worse than anything that I've ever written, I think. But I'm sure I've written some pretty bad prose and have long purged it from memory (digital and mental).
M. Shelly Conner is completing her PhD in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a proud southsider and hosts Quare Square, an open mic for queer women of color and allies every second Tuesday at the Jeffery Pub. Her comedy stage sketches have appeared on the stages of The Second City Training Center and The Black Ensemble Theater, where she is currently revising her play Jump at de Sun (based on the life of Zora Neale Hurston). Shelly recently completed her dissertation novel, everyman, and is shopping it around to publishers while simultaneously querying premium bourbon distilleries to sponsor a book-signing tour once the novel is published.
A writer with an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Sarah Terez Rosenblum freelances for sites like Pop Matters and
afterellen.com Her debut novel, “Herself When She’s Missing," was called “poetic and heartrending” by ALA Booklist. Sarah is also a figure model, Spinning instructor and teacher at Chicago’s StoryStudio. Inevitably one day she will find herself lecturing naked on a spinning bike. She's kind of looking forward to it actually.
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