From the beaches of Miami to the streets of NY, Shaida Escoffery has been making major moves in the writing world. At 22, Escoffery has already written and self-published two books—Idle, Wild, Love and Light Brights & Darkies: Idle, Wild, Love, reaching #2 on Amazon’s list of African-American literature. Escoffery, a recent UM grad, and now a student in New York University’s graduate program, showed us some insight into her life as a writer and where she gets her inspiration.
Distraction: When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?
Shaida Escoffery: I realized I wanted to be a writer probably when I was 14 or 15., but I never really considered it as a career option. My mind was pretty focused on being a doctor. In the second semester of my freshman year, I realized being a writer was the only thing that truly made sense for me; the only way I could express myself and relate to the world.
Distraction: Where did you get the inspiration for Idle, Wild Love?
SE: Hmmm… I think Idle, Wild, Love was inspired by my own hesitancy to love again. I was in a phase in my life where love seemed like a waste of time and I wanted to have a belief in it again. I wanted to figure out what love really “looked like”. I pretty much wrote myself into a better place. Now I love LOVE, and I don’t have to be in love to love it….does that make sense?
Distraction: It makes perfect sense! So, where do you typically get your inspiration?
SE: This may seem odd, but movie scores and instrumental music inspire me. I can’t write until I’m fully relaxed so stories usually come to me in the shower or as I lie down to sleep….which leads to insomnia…no bueno.
Distraction: How long does it take you to write a book?
SE: I’m a binge writer, so it doesn’t usually take me long to write cause I’ll stay up for hours writing. It usually takes me four to six months to perfect the writing, then another two to three months of editing.
Distraction: What direction do you feel like your career is going in now [since graduation], and how’s grad school helping you in your writing endeavors?
SE: Right now, grad school has me focusing on academia because I’m doing a Masters in Africana Studies, but, writing is still the true passion. To answer the next question of how grad school is helping me in my writing, I would say that majority of my novels focus on black characters. Not that I feel like I can’t write about other racial or ethnic groups, they’re in my books and stories too. But, I love writing for a group that has long been misrepresented and underrepresented. So, grad school has been educating me and giving me topics to write about. I can’t wait to write about some stuff I’ve been learning!
Distraction: Did your experiences at UM ever inspire you when it came to your writing endeavors?
SE: Absolutely! UM is the place I feel like I became a woman! UBS and Africana Studies taught me like what it means to love being a black woman. I really think my experiences at UM, being in Africana Studies, Creative Writing and UBS really helped form who I am today.
Distraction: Could you ever see yourself with a pseudonym?
SE: No, I don’t think I could have a pseudonym. I want people to know that yes, Shaida Escoffery is the one saying these debatable things in these novels. I don’t want to really hide who I am. But, I do understand the necessity of a pseudonym for some writers.
Distraction: Where did you get the idea for Light Brights & Darkies?
SE: My idea for Light Brights & Darkies was my own struggle to reconcile how beauty and my own dark skin mixed. I grew up thinking life would be a whole lot better if I was lighter. I thought I would’ve had all the boys if I was light (delusions, yes, I know). But, as I started to be more educated about my race, my history, and closer to God, my views changed about myself. What really ended up the event that drove me to write on it was watching the “Tyra Show” and seeing black women (light and dark) argue about who had life harder. I sat there thinking, “this can’t be real.” Then I joined social media and realized oh yeah it’s real and said I have to write on this.
Distraction: When will we see signs of your next book?
SE: Follow me on social media. I always let my followers know the progress on my books. You’ll know it’s really happening when you see the countdowns and other notifications on my pages.
Distraction: What are your goals as a writer for the future?
SE: I really want to expand my audience, which is what I’m working on now. I want to inspire people, challenge people to think, even through romance novels.
Shaida’s books can be found on amazon.com and on her website www.shaidaescoffery.com
words_ kayla lott. photo_courtesy of shaida escoffery.