UO Studio Interviews: Shea Serrano


We chat with Shea Serrano - Houston based writer and New York Times bestselling author about his latest book "Basketball (and Other Things)."

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Check out more details on the upcoming Shea Serrano book launch event on 10/17 from 6-9pm here!

Photos by Greg Noire

Tell us about yourself and where you live! 

My name is Shea. I am 6'3" and I live in Houston. I started writing full-time in July of 2015, about three months before my first real book, The Rap Year Book, came out. I work for a website called The Ringer, which is the best website to read things that are good and interesting. 

How did you become a writer?

I was actually a teacher and loved that job a lot. My wife and I ended up in a spot where we needed some extra money, and so I started trying to freelance for publications after I went on interviews for part-time jobs at places like Target or Pappadeaux and they said they weren't going to hire me because I had a full-time job already. I freelanced for local places early on, and each time I got to a spot I just tried to work hard enough to be able to flip it into whatever the next better-paying thing was. After doing that for, like, five years I ended up getting a part-time writing contract at Grantland, and then a year later that became the full-time writing thing I mentioned earlier, and then in July of 2017 I got a job at The Ringer, and then right now I'm answering interview questions from Urban Outfitters. 

Tell us more about your new book! How did it come together?

I was awake late one night by myself. I heard this knock at the door. I was scared because it was about 2am. I went to it and when I opened the door I saw this apparition. It was just this beautiful light in the shape of a human body. I stood there staring at it. I was completely flummoxed, but at all scared or nervous. It was a big peaceful feeling, really. And then, after 10 or so minutes of it looking at it, it spoke. And all it said was: "Basketball... and other things." I knew right then what I had to do. 

What has it been like collaborating with Arturo on the illustrations?

Terrible. He's the worst in the world. But also I love him. And he's the best. 

Who's your favorite NBA player and why?

Kawhi Leonard because he is exact opposite of all of the parts of me. The only thing we have in common is we are both very tall. I think I mentioned that already. 

First basketball jersey you owned?

It was the road jersey that Reggie Miller wore during his mid-90s time with the Pacers. I'll never forget it because my parents bought me the children's version even though I very clearly asked for the biggest, baggiest one they could find because that's what everyone was wearing back then. It didn't matter, though. I wore it to school very proudly. I loved it a love. I love Reggie a lot. 

If you could pick a 2017 NBA theme song, what would it be?

You can grab any song off Kendrick's DAMN! and it's gonna turn out pretty great. 

You have a pretty serious twitter following, tell us what it's been like growing your social platform.

It's not been something I think about. Mostly, I just get on there to make jokes during games or awards shows or about my kids or whatever. All of any of the stuff that happens off it happens without plan or provocation. 

Any upcoming projects or collaborations that you are excited about?

Nothing. The best part of doing a book is the two month period after it comes out where nobody expects you to do anything. It's so much. 

Lastly, any advice for someone who is trying to make it as a writer? 

My main advice is that you just have to keep going. That's really all there is to it. I think about all the time how when I first started writing I was legit trying to talk people into letting me write articles for them for $20 apiece or whatever. Today I'm able to take care of my family just off of writing. So if that's a thing you wanna do then just keep going. Because if I figured it out then you can too. Just always keep in your head: You're either going to be the person who quit or the person who kept going. Those are the only two options available. So pick one.