Meet M. Shelly Conner

M. Shelly recently completed a Ph.D in English at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a writer and African American Literature and Gender and Women’s Studies scholar. She is the founder and executive director of the newly formed Quare Square Collective, Inc., a non-profit organization for queer artists of color in the Midwest. Shelly is currently exploring publishing options for her debut novel everyman.


What inspires you? 

I try to find inspiration in EVERYTHING. It creates instant purpose in even the most mundane events. I’m most inspired by the success of others, especially those in academia and/or the arts, like myself. It motivates me. I make models of their actions and perseverance, especially when it comes to my second source of inspiration: failure. I am inspired and motivated by every rejection letter that I have ever received, knowing that they create opportunities for new (and improved) attempts that I would have never reached.

Whose undies would you run up a flagpole? 

Angela “What’s Love Got To Do With It/ Marie Laveau” Bassett. I would challenge her hubby Courtney B. Vance to a duel and then punk out and sacrifice myself like John Malkovich in Dangerous Liasons…or I would be their polyamorous third and play second baseman (not even sure if that analogy applies)…or
I’ll publish my book and become uber famous, write an amazing queer script and cast her…or I guess just stalk her, steal a pair and um…run them up a flagpole.
And if not her, then Sanaa Lathan. 

What expression or saying do you love? 

Everyone who knows me knows that my favorite expression/joke of all time is: That’s what she said. It will never grow old, but when I do and subsequently expire…I want it engraved on the commemorative stone that will be displayed in front of the tree that grows from my planted ashes. 

If we came over for dinner, what would you prepare for us? 

Tacos. Anyone who has ever attended one of my taco fiestas knows that the one word is enough.

What do you geek out about? 

Cosmology and quantum physics. Nearly every night I drift off to Stephen Hawkings and Benedict Cumberbatch (as the voice of Stephen Hawkings) exploring the wonders of the universe and the impossible realities of the subatomic realm, where particles can be in two places at one time. I, too, yearn for a Theory of Everything.
Oh, and food. I’m an amateur foodie with texture issues.
And bourbon. Good bourbon.

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