Author Spotlight: Chad and Dad (Charles) Richardson
Dec. 10, 2021
We are excited to feature Chad and Dad Richardson and their debut picture book, FAMILY REUNION illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin (Barefoot Books, June 2021). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Dad: We both grew up reluctant readers. My aunt told my mom she had three house cats and one ally cat. My siblings are ferocious readers. My preference was to play outside.
Chad: I guess the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. I read if I had to read. We want to write books that will not only encourage kids to read but will inspire them to write their own stories.
Congrats to both of you on your debut picture book, Family Reunion! What inspired you?
Dad: One of the main reasons was to show a Black-American boy in a book. Even though diverse characters in picture books are growing, protagonists of color still are underrepresented. Chad: We then thought about how the family has been the backbone of who we are for centuries. It was a natural setting to show the importance of the family in the Black-American community.
Dad: A quick story, this past August we met an old high school classmate of mine who works with homeless shelters to donate some books. As we walked in, a little girl and boy asked us if we wanted to buy a flower. I gave the girl one dollar, told her to keep the flower plus we gave her a copy of Family Reunion. After our meeting, as we walked to our car, we could see the girl off in the distance clutching the book against her chest with both arms.
Chad: When we gave her the book, her eyes grew wide and lit-up. This is what inspires us.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Both: We were kind of lucky. Our editor, Kate DePalma at Barefoot Books, asked to see our manuscript as part of a DVPit Pitch event. We were new to the publishing process but, Kate was patient with us answering all our questions and made invaluable suggestions on how to improve our manuscript. Additionally, we were lucky to work with the talented Ashleigh Corrin, the Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Award winner for 2020. From the time we pitched Kate until publication was about two years.
What are some favorite classic pbs? Any recent ones?
Dad: A recent picture book I love is Soul Food Sunday by Winsome Bingham and illustrated by C.G. Esperanza. It brings to life an important tradition in the Black-American family. This book is full of black joy.
Chad: Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger and illustrated by Michael Hayes. I can remember it being read on Reading Rainbow. This is a great example of how kids can fall in love with reading.
What are you working on now?
Dad: We have a few manuscripts in different stages. One I’m passionate about is a chapter book series about Black-American heroes.
Chad: Funny that you should ask. It’s definitely more than a few. Probably closer to a zillion. If an idea pops in my dad’s head, he’s approaching me with the idea or a rough draft. I joke with my dad, “Can we finish one manuscript before starting another?”
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same as you'd give to aspiring authors?
Dad: Yes it’s the same. 1. Read, read, and read some more in the genre you want to write. 2. Put your backside in the seat. You get better by practicing the craft of writing. 3. Get a support system around of critique partners and mentors who will provide you feedback and hold you accountable. 4. Persevere. The path to publication will be filled with smooth patches and potholes the size of a small town. Keep moving forward no matter what. Don’t give up.
Chad: Often the first step is the hardest. But I encourage you to take that step even if it is a baby step. A small step may not seem like much now, but even small steps add up to a mile eventually.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Dad: I’m a survivor of one of the most destructive tornados in U.S. history. In 1974, my hometown of Xenia, Ohio was destroyed by a tornado.
Chad: On a lighter note, I can recite almost every line from my favorite movie Remember the Titans.
Where can people find you online?
Chad is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati and owns the content marketing business, Writing Titan.
Dad, otherwise known as Charles, is an Associate Professor of Management and Marketing at Sinclair Community College. Both live in Liberty Township, Ohio. Family Reunion is their debut picture book.
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