Since 2007, Calaya Michelle Stallworth has published eleven contemporary African American novels under the pen name Grace Octavia with Kensington and Harlequin publishing houses. Her witty, insightful stories present wicked humor and spunk loved by readers and critics alike. Calaya’s work in the publishing industry actually began in editorial. Upon graduating from New York University with a degree in English (creative writing minor), she interned at Henry Holt and Company and later worked as an editorial assistant at Pocketbooks, both appointments under industry juggernaut Tracy Sherrod. She also worked briefly as an associate editor at America Online’s now defunct social portal, DigitalCity, an appointment that required much writing.
Having then set her sights on becoming a writer, Calaya left publishing and New York behind to pursue graduate degrees in English, Creative Writing/Fiction at the University of Georgia (MA) and Georgia State University (PhD). During that time, she began publishing and writing screenplays to adapt her novels for the big screen. Soon, screenwriting became a creative outlet for Calaya, as she worked to strengthen her natural talent for writing revealing dialogue and comedy.
After completing her studies, Calaya began her fifth collegiate teaching appointment at Spelman College, the nation’s top historically Black college educating Black women. At Spelman, Calaya taught fiction, nonfiction, journalism, screenwriting, composition and argument. When she’s not teaching, writing or editing at rollingout.com where she’s worked as an online editor since 2003, Calaya enjoys watching sci-fi, horror, and smart comedies and dramas featuring complex woman and girl characters. She’s currently a staff writer on Netflix’s Daybreak, a subversive dark zombie teen comedy set to be released in 2019. She splits her time between her homes and in Los Angeles and Atlanta with her husband Jay and their four lively plants.