English Professor’s Debut Novel is “Soul Shaker”

Professor Cope smiles greeting the guests at her book reading. She sang and read exerpts from her new novel "Soul Shaker" for faculty and students. Photo by Valerie Victor

By Valerie Victor

LaForrest “La La” Cope, an adjunct English professor at York College and Queens College that wrote songs and produced music for entertainers such as Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill, Christina Aguilera and more has just finished writing her first novel, “Soul Shaker.” Her novel, though fictional, is based on true events, and focuses on issues facing women in the music industry.

The Grammy Award winning composer said, “I had a recurring dream about performing and songs, and ironically the person in the dream besides myself would be the late Whitney Houston. Cope added, “When I decided to start a family, I took those dreams and went back to Queens College. It was there that I began writing short stories that eventually turned into this novel.”

At Queens College, Soul Shaker was originally a thesis that earned LaForrest Cope her MFA degree in Creative Writing and Literary Translation. The genesis of Soul Shaker later earned Cope a nomination for Best New Fiction Writer by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) in 2007, as well as a nomination to represent the Queens College Graduate Degree Program at the Graduate Center Turnstyle Readings (an event where creative writing graduate students could present their manuscripts to all participating CUNY colleges according to Cope).