JoeyPinkney.com Exclusive Interview
5 Minutes, 5 Questions With…
Wyatt Bryson, author of Onyx and Eggshell
Five young ladies, from very different backgrounds, choose to pledge historically black sorority Gamma Beta Alpha at Freedom College. As the five strive to get closer to the sorority, they are forced to become closer to each other or not make it through.
The pledge process isn’t all that they have to endure. The young ladies have lots of secrets that slowly reveal themselves. Some are subtle, and some are a bit extreme. All must come together in the bond or risk not being a part of the sorority at all. Their journey through the process is a life changing experience for them all, as they become closer than anyone could have ever expected.
Joey Pinkney: Where did you get the idea and inspiration to write Onyx and Eggshell?
Wyatt Bryson: I neither write sequels or prequels, but the idea and inspiration came from a very small part of the first book Sankofa. In that novel, some of the characters were members of a fictitious African-American sorority. I felt that the sorority needed to be given its own book.
JP: What is the significance of the title Onyx and Eggshell in relation to what goes on in this novel?
WB: Onyx and Eggshell are the sorority’s colors. Onyx is usually thought of as black but is really many different shades. Eggshell isn’t really white but off white. The colors basically break down to black and white. Like with most people, there are many different shades in between.
JP: Many people would wonder about the authenticity of a novel written by a white man about female pledges entering into a history black sorority. How would you explain your motives and your abilities to inject realism into Onyx and Eggshell?
WB: I expect to get this question a lot. I spent a great deal of my adult life in college and around Black and White Greeks. For the bulk of that time, almost every Greek that I knew was in a black sorority. I am an alumni member of a social fraternity, a service fraternity and a business fraternity. The business fraternity is 90% black and 95% female. There are many social Greeks in the organization.
In addition to friends and acquaintances, a few of my old roommates and girlfriends were Black Greeks. The sorority in the book isn’t real, nor do I try to give away many of their secrets. It mostly deals with the relationships between the women on line.
My motives are simple. African-American literature is what I read and enjoy, so it is natural that it is what I would write. I have been around the Black Greek scene for a couple of decades and have a huge amount of respect for it.
JP: As an author, what is your writing process? How long did it take for you to start and finish Onyx and Eggshell?
WB: The process I use when writing is to try to work the characters out in my head before I make a lot of progress in front of the computer. I tend to jump around quite a bit and not write in order. Luckily when someone sits down to read the novel, it can be read in order.
The plan was to take a break after my first novel Sankofa, but the sorority that was only touched upon in the first novel screamed to be written about. The break never happened, and I jumped straight into this project. Onyx and Eggshell took just a little over a year to write. Sankofa took two years.
JP: What’s next for Wyatt Bryson?
WB: Currently, I’m trying to think of creative ways to inexpensively market myself. I am slowly trying to work out how I want to approach the third novel. I have the basic premise worked out but need to make sure I’m moving in the right direction before I spend a lot of time at the computer.
I don’t want to waste a lot of time on pages I will toss out. I have given myself a tentative completion time of sometime this fall. So look for something new from me then.