High school student publishes book, aims to write strong, complex Black characters

Teen Author
Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-28 20:31:39-04

LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A high school student has just reached his dream of being a self-published author. He says achieving that at 18 means honoring who helped him get there.

You might have heard that Stephen King was 26 when his first full novel was published. Maya Angelou was 41 when she had her first published. A mother and son believe there's not a wrong age to write a book, but having support helps.

Johnette Whitaker is a proud mom.

"Absolutely! That's an understatement," laughed Johnette.

Son Chris Steadman is a senior at LaVergne High, and the 18-year-old self-published author of Time To Scrap. The book is now available on Amazon.

"Probably a lot of kids want to do things like this, but they just don't have the support or guidance," he said.

Part of Chris's inspiration came from a book by a favorite author, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

"It tackles racial issues, tackles issues in Black communities," said Chris. "It spoke about issues people like me deal with."

Chris decided to set his story in Memphis, and against this backdrop, he tells the story of a young man who enters a fighting tournament. That young man faces gang violence and issues of poverty and class.

"You would not cut him a break, and I felt you were doing this to him," Johnette laughed, sitting next to Chris. "But you said, 'mama, you just gotta have faith. You gotta keep readin it!' I'm supposed to be the mom, you the child, but you're inspiring me."

With the release of Time To Scrap has come a very special gift from a favorite author.

"My mom opens Twitter, and it's Angie Thomas talking about my book!" said Chris. "She said congratulations. 'Congratulations, Christopher!' She bought [the book], and I kinda froze. I didn't know what to do. I was just stuck smiling."

"Just the fact she knows there's a Christopher Steadman in the world, that was the world to me," said Johnette.

Chris said achieving a dream came from even more than inspiration of a favorite author.

"My mom, she's been a day one supporter," said Chris.

"A supportive parent, that's everything for children," said Johnette.

Chris is hard at work with both a comic series and a horror novel. His hope is to bring strong, well-rounded Black characters to both. Chris gives updates on his work at Steadman_Entertainment on Instagram.