Temple University graduate and a Philadelphia native, Shataya’s passion for writing began at the age of seven when she wrote her first short story for a school project. Since then, her writing style has flourished and continues to mature with her life experiences. After six years of service as a Project Manager, Shataya took a leave of absence to concentrate on completing her first novel, Living Anonymous and released it as a self-published author in October 2015 with much success. Shataya has since signed with NuClass Publications located in Philadelphia and has released her second book Nyce in January 2016.
“There are no rules in art; in creation. Art is a representation of life and life is messy so I love drawing outside of the lines,” is the creed that Shataya lives by. Although she embraces urban fiction, Shataya has plans on releasing a children’s fantasy series as well as venturing over into the paranormal world.
Not only does Shataya have a passion for writing, she also dedicates herself to talking to the youth, in particular young single mothers in hopes to encourage them to continue to follow their dreams no matter what obstacles life may throw their way.
Currently, Shataya is gearing up for the April release of Still Anonymous; the second installment in the Living Anonymous series and is on a promotional tour. She continues to write and is in the middle of penning out her fourth book while making a name for herself in the literary world. Shataya resides in Pennsylvania with her fifteen year-old son.
Q. What inspired you to write Nyce?
A. Nyce actually was something that I never intended on writing but he is one of the characters out of the Living Anonymous series that I get the most questions about so my agent thought it was a great idea to write his story. I didn’t want to tell his version of the romance he shared with Aneesah. I thought that would have been a bit repetitive and boring so I choose to give his backstory, prior to meeting her. You get a sense of who he is and how he ended up in the drug game. His story basically answers all questions that you may have about him after reading Living Anonymous.
Q. Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to grasp?
A. I feel that there is a message of self-love, loving others and growth, as well as learning from your mistakes. Life is messy and can be cruel and unfair but it’s up to the individual to choose how they cope with disappointments and heartaches. In Still Anonymous, the main character Aneesah goes through a mental break so the reader gets wrapped up in her emotional roller coaster ride of darkness but also sees how she was able to get out of her depression and love herself again. By the end of Still Anonymous, I hope that I am able to help someone discard the demons that are weighing them down and move on with life in a positive way.
Q. Are James Hennessey struggles based on someone you know or events in your own life?
A. No. Mr. Hennessey is totally made up. I had to think of situations that would force a person’s hand in choosing the paths that they pave in life. His story is unique because he is someone that is doing these heinous acts but it is all out of love and not the “image” that typical drug dealers have. Throughout Nyce you see how he battles his demons of being a good person at heart but being forced to commit crimes that he doesn’t necessarily agree with. His hustle man mentality, I honestly had to think “If I were a drug dealer, how would I run my operation?” and that’s how I came up with all the codes and rules to the game. After all, rule number one is to never get caught so I had to implement a system where he is more like a shadow and not getting his hands dirty.
Q. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
A. My latest book Still Anonymous is releasing April 28th so as of right now, there isn’t anything that I would necessarily change but if you were to ask me that question two-weeks from now, my answer probably will change once I start getting feedback from the readers.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing NYCE?
A. Nyce will always be a special project for me. I always wrote first person female and Nyce is first person male. I’ve never written from a man’s point of view before so this was very different but fun at the same time. My female characters are more reserved and with Nyce I was able to just tell it how it is with no filter. I would write a scene from my point of view as a female and then go back and ask myself “Now, how would a man say it?” It was also important to me that he doesn’t sound like the typical drug-dealing thug guy. I wanted him to have balance so developing his soft-side characteristics without him sounding like a female or something that a female would say was a little trying.
Q. Your books take place in Philadelphia what attracts you to this city?
A. Because who doesn’t love Philadelphian swag? LOL. I’m from the area and this is my home. I love that our city/area is so diverse and you can see all walks of life here. From rich to poor, from Black to Chinese to White, we are so diverse and eclectic here. That’s why you are able to have a rich suburban girl meet a notorious bad boy and still have things in common. I love that our city is busy but we have the calm of the suburbs and New Jersey being so close.
Q. What’s the most difficult thing about writing urban characters?
A. Trying to find the right balance and making sure that they don’t sound like other characters and other books. I try to make sure that my storylines aren’t typical as well. I kind of feel that some of our books are repetitive and recycles the same storyline so trying to be original and not give the standard street life story can be difficult.
Nyce Kindle Edition
by Shataya Simms (Author)
In the badlands of Philadelphia where the motto is to get or get got, a young boy by the name of James Hennessey struggles for survival. Residing in a North Philly projects, James believes that basketball is his key to getting him and his family out of poverty. Dubbed “Nyce” due to his dominance on the court, he catches the eye of notorious drug lord Anthony “Tone” Middlebrooks who takes the young, impressionable boy under his wing. As their bond forms, Tone becomes like an older brother to Nyce who believes that he simply wants to look out for him. However, through Tone’s cunning ways, Nyce becomes entangled into the seductive world of drugs, money, and mayhem.
Battling with his inner demons of a repeated cycle of good vs evil, Nyce hates that Tone has tricked him into this lifestyle by threatening to harm his family. Will Nyce bow down and submit; continuing to be one of Tone’s pawns, or will he manipulate the game and come out on top?