Chris Steadman, a recent LaVergne High grad, released his second self-published book titled Under Pressure. He was inspired by several tragic events to write the follow-up to his well performing first book, Time to Scrap.
“What made me make this book was the death of three-year-old Jamayla Marlowe in Nashville, Tennessee last year,” said Steadman. “…[S]he was shot and killed due to two men shooting at each other. Her death was over nothing, out of her control and this happens all the time. She was only three and this has left her family in pain. This got to me because one, I once lived in the projects as a child in Nashville; second, I have little cousins that have lived in Nashville and still do; and three, because this happened right after the 2020 protest for George Floyd. I felt Jamayla’s story didn’t get as much attention as it should, so I made this book.”
Steadman found his second book harder than his first because of the subject matter. He described Time to Scrap as more fun and entertaining, although it has serious messages written into it, but Under Pressure he calls straight up real life with no sugarcoating.
“This book tackles…gun violence in the black community and many more tough topics that even for myself was hard to write,” said Steadman. “I almost stopped working this book because some scenes were hard to write, but I knew the message was important. Plus, with my school getting shot up and the shooting that happened at Middle Tennessee State University that took a Riverdale students life, I knew this book needed to get done and published.”
Under Pressure is about a 17-year-old named Thomas, who wants to be a writer. He lives in the projects with his family in the fictional city of Cape Town. His younger cousin Calvin, who is in and out of jail, gets Thomas into trouble with some of his rivals. This leads to Thomas and his cousin making a terrible mistake and having to deal with its aftermath. It is a story about young black teens and the pressure created by their environment. Steadman explores how the inciting event changes Thomas’ relationships, affects his mental health, and questions if he can break away from the path he is heading down.
“I want black people and all people to understand the pain that our youth goes through in these communities,” said Steadman. “I want people to understand that while yes we do have a problem in America with our police system and racism, that we also have a problem in our own communities that we have to solve. The book is for young adults and teens, but everyone can learn a lesson from it.”
Reaction to Steadman’s first book has been better than average. With sales of more than 1,000 books, he has already quadrupled the average number of books most self-published authors sell. But what has sent him over the moon is that one copy was purchased by his favorite author, Angie Thomas. She is the writer of The Hate U Give.
Time to Scrap is being picked up by a little bit of everyone. He gets reviews from lots of teachers telling him how their students picked up “Time to Scrap” and can’t put it down. How it has spread like wildfire through their schools. So, he thinks he has a unique writing style that many people “take a liking to”.
“I got one review [on my first book] from an elderly women who doesn’t even like super-hero action things,” added Steadman, “but she said she loved my book and the characters in it. Many people said that they couldn’t put it down, so I think the second book will do just as well if not better than the first. People have complimented my storytelling, and it’s an honor to have received this much praise. Under Pressure is more realistic and has no fictional elements, so I’m kind of curious to see if it will reach a whole different audience.”
One thing Steadman has learned from the writing process is that when he sets himself the goal to finish a book that he will.
“Once again, this book was not easy,” said Steadman, “and I know it’s going to make some people uncomfortable. It might even cause a little controversy, but it’s not meant to make you comfortable. It’s supposed to make the readers see a problem that has gone unsolved and unhandled for years now, and the realistic reality our youth goes through on a daily basis.”
Both Time to Scrap and Under Pressure are available through Amazon.
“Promotion is the hardest part of the process,” explained Steadman. “One minute I can sell over 300 copies in one day, and the next five days I won’t sell a single copy. I’ve learned to just stay consistent when I’m high or low. I keep praying and promoting. It’s definitely a roller coaster experience but the end goal is worth the ride.”