AuthorsFrom the Wire

Q & A with Candice Iloh

In this captivating Q&A with Candice Iloh, the author of Every Body Looking, we delve into the intriguing world of their newly released YA novel in verse, Salt the Water. This powerful story follows the journey of Cerulean, a black nonbinary teen, and their group of queer friends as they dream of escaping society and forging their own path off the grid after graduation. However, when tragedy strikes Cerulean’s family, they are forced to question whether leaving loved ones behind is a sacrifice they can make. Drawing from their experiences as a spoken word artist and educator, Iloh skillfully weaves together themes of emotional connection, the effects of capitalism, and the yearning for freedom. This return to verse offers a complexity and depth that brings the story to life, allowing readers to explore the pressures placed upon young people and the uncertainty of the future. Through Cerulean’s pursuit of a life off the grid, Iloh challenges societal norms and invites readers to consider what true freedom means to them. With an announcement of a new project on the horizon, inspired by Iloh’s little brother, it’s clear that this talented author has many more captivating stories to share.

Q  A with Candice Iloh

This image is property of

About Candice Iloh

Candice Iloh, the author of Every Body Looking, has recently released a new YA novel in verse called Salt the Water. With this new work, Iloh continues to captivate readers with their unique storytelling style and exploration of important themes.

Plot Summary of Salt the Water

In Salt the Water, readers are introduced to Cerulean, a black nonbinary teen, and their group of queer friends. Together, they form a tight-knit community with plans to escape society and live off the grid after graduating from high school. However, tragedy strikes Cerulean’s family, forcing them to reassess their dreams and question whether they can leave their loved ones behind.

Q  A with Candice Iloh

This image is property of

Influences on Iloh’s Poetry

Candice Iloh’s background in performing spoken word has had a significant influence on their poetry. Through their time spent at open mic events, Iloh discovered the power of emotional connection and the freedom of expression that poetry offers. These elements are profoundly present in their writing, lending a raw and authentic feel to their work.

Educational Background and Writing for Young Audience

Before pursuing a career as an author, Candice Iloh worked as an educator. Specifically, they worked closely with high schoolers, gaining a deep understanding of their experiences and perspectives. This firsthand knowledge of young people’s lives has informed Iloh’s writing style and enabled them to connect with their target audience effectively.

Q  A with Candice Iloh

This image is property of

Return to Verse in Salt the Water

After writing a prose novel titled “Break This House,” Iloh returned to their roots in verse with Salt the Water. This decision to write in verse was driven by the desire to convey the complexity of the story more effectively. The poetic structure allows Iloh to delve into nuanced emotions and convey intricate details with precision.

Writing Salt the Water for Fun and Reconnection

As a full-time author, Candice Iloh faced the pressure of financial success and meeting readers’ expectations. To counterbalance this pressure, Iloh wrote Salt the Water purely for the joy of writing. The novel served as a means to reconnect with their love for storytelling and to remind themselves of the initial passion that ignited their writing career.

Exploring Capitalism and Societal Expectations

Salt the Water delves deeply into the effects of capitalism on young people. Through the experiences of Cerulean and their friends, Iloh illuminates the crushing pressure to conform to societal expectations and the resulting uncertainty about the future. These themes provide readers with a thought-provoking exploration of the challenges faced by today’s youth.

School Setting and Lack of Agency

Drawing from their personal experiences as an educator, Candice Iloh incorporates the school setting into their novel. Through Cerulean’s lack of agency, Iloh sheds light on the challenges faced by students within the education system. By addressing these issues, Iloh aims to create a safe and supportive environment for young readers, where their voices and experiences are acknowledged and valued.

Cerulean’s Desire to Live Off the Grid

Within Salt the Water, Cerulean’s desire to live off the grid may be perceived as radical by some. However, for Cerulean, this dream represents freedom and a longing to escape the confines of a society that restricts individuality and self-expression. It serves as a thematic thread that drives the narrative and provides readers with a compelling exploration of personal liberation.

Upcoming Project and Inspiration

Candice Iloh is currently working on a new project, and fans can anticipate an exciting announcement next month. This upcoming work explores a different genre, showcasing Iloh’s versatility as an author. Inspired by their little brother, Iloh’s newest project promises to captivate readers and further contribute to their growing body of impactful and thought-provoking work.