CHRIS READ INTERVIEW
November 27, 2017
by Amber Nicol, USFSP Student of English
How long have you lived in St. Pete?
A little over 2 and half years.
What is your role in the St. Pete community?
What do you love about St. Pete?
The weather. The art scene seems to be driving and growing. I love the diversity. The culture.
Do you have any local stories or history you would like to share?
I’m still learning. I work at a restaurant that is a St. Petersburg mainstay! It’s family owned and operated, Harold Seltzer’s. I’m a valued member of that family.
How long have you worked at Harold’s?
Three years in April.
Where are you from? What got you into writing?
Dayton, Ohio… until age 11 and then we moved to Chicago. I grew up in Troy, Ohio. Nice little rural town.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up under strict Christian parents. We had a pretty rich neighborhood as far as relationships go. I’m still friends with my childhood buddy growing up and a lot of other kids from the neighborhood. A lot of outdoors. We were not well off, but we didn’t know it. My parents made sure we had enough activity to keep us occupied, so it wasn’t something we really thought about. My Dad was working up the corporate ladder, we moved to the Chicago area. A lot of sports.
What got you into writing?
I was… I wrote my first book as a kid in grade school. In High School, I was an avid writer, but then in college I thought I was going to be an actor. After college, I had a good imagination and I had a lot of stories rattling around in my head. Sometime after college, I lost my job and I had a lot of free time and I thought it would be a good time to write a book. The time laid off was good— it took me about three years to get a full first draft written. I finished that book and perfected that for the most part. I wrote the trilogy. I’ve always had a passion for writing. I never thought about it as a career move. It’s just always something I enjoyed doing.
How is your writing career going?
I’ve written a children’s book called, “I’m Not Fat, I’m Just Fluffy” which is— I’m waiting for illustrations. I’m looking to self-publish that one. I have been published in a book called Caleuche Chronicles which is an anthology, published in— I think earlier 2016. The character I came up with for the Caleuche chronicles story is being written into the final… the second installment 2018… I wrote a story for that one and I’m actually working on another one that may or may not go into the second installment. I’ve written other books too.
The most recently finished, I’m working on getting this one published now— it’s called “Nails.” It’s a story about the nails of the crucifixion.
The Trilogy— A young archeological research student is working with his professor and mentor and they find a map that potentially leads to a couple of the nails from the original crucifixion. As the professor is presenting his findings, the place at which he is presenting is bombed. It turns out the antagonist has already found some of the nails, and he’s on the verge of taking over the world if he gets another nail… and if he can get his hands on the map, there’s nobody that can stop him. The trilogy is about this kid finding the nails and keeping the map out of this guy’s hands. It’s not turning out real well for him.
What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you?
Alright—- I kind of b.s.ed my way into a well-paying job as a nude life drawing model for an art school in Illinois. And I kind of… told them I’d done it before to get the job, but I had totally never done it before. I got done with my first session and I asked the teacher, “What you think? How’d I do?” He was like — you did fine, but a lot of models, before they come up to the stage, sometimes they put on a robe…I just walked through the class totally naked!
I had just walked through the whole class totally naked!
What do you envision for the future of our St. Pete community?
As far as I’m concerned, I’d like to put a spotlight on local, young St. Pete writers and musical talent. I write lyrics as well as books. I would like to get as involved with other local writers as possible. I’d like to see us do a compilation show where we bring together local authors, writers, musicians— St. Pete has a good art scene— it would be cool to have like a week of local art displays and shows in downtown St. Pete.
Yeah, I mean totally on a smaller scale to start with. But as it grows… we could get publicity for it, it could definitely do great things!
What are your thoughts on the community infrastructure? What are your thoughts on the underserved areas of St. Pete, Midtown & South St. Pete?
To be 100% honest with you, I’m not enough involved in the community to have a good feel on that. As far as the underserved, it seems like there’s a lot of money here. I don’t pay as much attention to the local gov’t as I did in Chicago. In Chicago there’s a lot of easily accessible news on the city— TV, radio— turn on the radio for 15 minutes. I haven’t run into that here in St. Pete, so I’m not as familiar. Underserved portions of community— I would like to have a part in helping those people as far as charity work goes. I have been working on a charity concept where you find something local to do, doesn’t matter what it is, but you log it on a website, and at the end of the day or month, you can see what you’ve done. You can see at the end of the month or year, how much has been done in your local community. As you start to see the localized effects from people volunteering— picking up garbage, helping— as more and more people log in, the idea is to bring these people together and to try to make a larger impact on the global community.
What do you do for fun?
I like to bike the Pinellas Trail. I like to run too and workout. I just joined an MMA Gym. I also really like kayaking in the mangroves. Living that salt life.
Do you wanna talk about your education?
I am a college dropout. I graduated from high school in Illinois. I went to Chicago State University, south side of Chicago on a partial wrestling scholarship and when my eligibility was up, I left. I was burnt out from school and work and wrestling. I never got my degree, but I only had 12 credit hours left. I got a pretty good education there. It was as much traveling the country for wrestling and living in south side Chicago as it was academic education. My Mom hates me for that too. She’s so ticked off. At some point, I probably will finish that. I mean it’s only twelve credits… the only reason honestly, is two semesters in a row the classes I needed to finish up, they didn’t offer those classes. I totally would have finished if they offered them when I was ready to take them. That’s so stupid. It wasn’t that I didn’t try. They screwed me over. That’s where I decided— the writing thing was right for me. I was a Communications major and I thought I was gonna be an actor. I did some acting, but I had more of a passion for the writing side. I didn’t like hanging out with actors. They’re kind of superficial. I don’t have as much the need for the social interaction. Being an introvert, writing is the perfect nitch for me.
How do you feel about the state of our country right now?
The state of the country is interesting. Crappy choices in the last election. The country was tired of the direction it was going under Obama and voted in trump out of spite in a lot of cases. I think they were short cited in their voting. A dangerous decision. You can see the ripples of that on the world stage. The fact that America does not have as strong of a leadership as it did, say twelve years ago, is starting to make major ripples. Brexit, the rise of Russia again, with the— the Spring in the Middle East. Basically, the collapse of a lot of the Middle Eastern regimes. And now, kind of the rise around the world of—- strong man leaders. Even in Saudi Arabia. I think what we really need is a strong leader that not only is strong but actually has a heart. And it will be very interesting to see how the Trump presidency turns out especially after Muller’s done with his investigation. We made a lot of strides culturally… under our last president, but I think that the current state of things kind of proves that they weren’t big leaps, they were baby steps. There’s still a long way for the country to go reclaiming unity. But you know what, I’m hopeful. Nice thing about a president in this country— they only get 4-8 year stops. It’s gone far right this time. Politics is interesting. I think it’s time to kind of tear things down and rebuild it. The establishment doesn’t want that. I think the Trump election speaks to how tired Americans are of politics. Our two choices were just crappy. Bad choice Hillary. Trump reminds me of a grade school bully. Like a fourth grade bully…… [a long political conversation ensues……..] It’s sad. They don’t care about bettering the country, they care about bettering their own positions.
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