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Rising Stars: Meet Charles Chatmon

Today we’d like to introduce you to Charles Chatmon.

Charles, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I’m a native of Los Angeles, California. I started writing as a hobby in junior high school (now called middle school). I wrote as a way to keep myself busy from loneliness. I grew up an only child so it helped me pass the time. I started out writing plays and short stories. I worked on poems after that. As I graduated to high school, I “accidentally” started writing for my high school newspaper covering sports. The creative writing class was canceled so the school sent the students who would have taken that class down to journalism. I was a sports reporter and editor for the paper.

In junior college, after my classes were done for the day, I continued to write short stories and novellas. By this time, I loved to write, spending my days after school to stay on the campus and work on my projects. I submitted two articles for the campus newspaper, but I wasn’t involved with the journalism class. A friend of mine knew the sports editor who was kind enough for me to submit my articles. When I transferred to the university, I submitted two more pieces for the school newspaper. The university paper was looking for contributions so I added mine. I continued to work on new unpublished projects while attending the university at the same time.

In between graduating from the university to publishing my first book, I wasn’t writing as much. I think I had burned myself out. I concentrated on a teaching career with young students. It wasn’t until I submitted a poem for an AOL chat room receiving the positive reactions to it, plus an online friend’s suggestion I should write a book encouraged me to pursue that idea. One year before my first book, The Depths of My Soul, I was involved in this local book club’s poetry reading. At the end of my set, I shared with the crowd my intentions of publishing a book. Another poet in attendance suggested I contact this local publisher which I did. One year later, I held a copy of my first book in my hands. That’s a feeling which never goes away after you hold that finished work in your hands. When I was running a local book expo, I would see the same excitement from the first-time authors I met. It’s really the best feeling in the world to accomplish that goal.

Twenty years and two more books later, I feel blessed to fulfill this dream. I love it although it took hard work and dedication into making this come true. I recently published my third book, Storm Over South Central and I’m proud of it. I’m proud because it’s a book that I waited eighteen years between that book, and my second, The Voices of South Central. Now that I reached my goal of publishing another book. I don’t want to stop. I plan to write and publish a book every year if I can help it.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
This journey has had its setbacks. I mentioned before that I felt in college I burned myself out from writing for so long; junior high to college. I was scared once I stopped, I would never have the same motivation to write. There were times I had to force myself to sit down behind a table and write. Other times, it was easy to convince myself to do it. There’s always that fear once you stop, that’s it. It’s a feeling you never want to experience.

I would like to add that I am a former executive director of a local book expo. I held that position for seven years. Like writing the books, it took a lot of hard work to hold it every year. There were a lot of challenges in producing the expo each year with finding a venue, planning forums and panels with the authors, making sure each and every author who attended enjoyed their day, etc. It was a lot to do, but we took care of it the best we could.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m not only known for writing books but participating in poetry readings in the city. I read in Leimert Park, coffeehouses in the San Fernando Valley, Long Beach, you name it. Whenever there is a reading, I was sure to attend and share my words with the audience. In college, I wanted to be good at three things; writing, reading and analyzing the English language well. I wanted to master all three and I believe I have based on my experience. Friends and family who know me well like that I’m a writer. They’ve heard my poems and read my short stories. It was their positive critiques and commentary that encouraged me to go on and continue to write. The short stories that are in Storm Over South Central such as The Albatross, The Party, and the title story of the book, Storm Over South Central are three of the works I’m most proud of. I wanted to get them “right” and I feel that I have. I hope the readers agree. The poems in all of my books are what I’m most proud of too. A Message to Black Women was the poem I shared with my AOL chat room group and it became so popular, this website held an event for two – maybe three – chat rooms while I and three other users typed out the poem. I still have all of the responses after that online reading today, and I’m very happy for the reactions I’ve seen. My writing style is what I think sets me apart. My journalistic background causes me to write from an objective point of view of the subjects in my poems and short stories – and I let the audience decide which I think is the best way to gain a following.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
If I didn’t attend this book club’s poetry reading and announce to the crowd about my intentions to write a book, I feel it would have never happened. If I hadn’t answered an email from the executive director of a book expo to replace him, the event would have died. I wouldn’t say luck had anything to do with the decisions I made as it was making decisions I could live with at that moment. Every decision I made has been the result of quietly thinking over the positives and negatives of my choices.

Pricing:

  • Storm Over South Central (Kindle) $3.99
  • Storm Over South Central (print) $12.00
  • The Voices of South Central $12.00

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