At the age of 18, Chris Stedman has found his passion. That passion is writing, and he has written and just self-published his first YA book on Amazon. Called “Time to Scrap,” it is about poverty, gangs, and police violence in an urban neighborhood, but with a twist. Protagonist, 18-year-old Joseph, decides to help his penniless family by entering a street fighter tournament with the grand prize of $5 million. To win the prize, he will have to beat some foes with super-human strength.
Stedman, a senior at LaVergne High School, loves video games like “Street Fighter,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “Killer Instinct.” These play a large part in his book. He was also heavily influenced by Angie Thomas, the author of “The Hate U Give.”
“Seeing her make a book, be very successful, tell a story about things that happen in African American neighborhoods, and be black herself showed me that I could do it, too,” said Steadman. “All those things together were, and still are, a big inspiration for me.”
He also drew from personal experiences. He says he knows both first-hand and second- hand through friends and relations, how tough life can be.
“Time to Scrap” is already selling to teens, young adults, and teachers at his school. While it takes place in a hellish place during a dark time, it offers readers an overall story of passion hope, and inspiration.
“The book encourages people to keep going and never giving up, to keep the right people around them, and to keep a positive outlook on life even when things are hard,” explains Stedman. “We all go through pain, some suffer worse than others, but it’s a part of life. Hopefully, my book can uplift someone and even inspire them to say, “you know what, life sucks right now, but what can I do to change it”.”
While Stedman says it is definitely a YA book, he feels that anyone can read it and get something out of it. His target audience are gamers; people who love comics and manga and action; and also book lovers who love an engaging story. “Time to Scrap,” he feels, has a little something for a lot of people.
Writing the 133-page book took him about two to three months, then he began the process of editing while keeping up with his school work. Then he had to get it formatted for Amazon and loaded into the system. It was finally published on January 21, 2022.
“It was tricky and confusing at times, but I think I did good for a first self-published book,” said Stedman. “The book’s not perfect, for example there are a few grammar mistakes, but other than that it came out pretty good. Me and my brother spent hours on hours getting it formatted right and getting the cover right, so it was definitely a learning experience. Next time I’ll be more familiar with it though.”
Book writing started in 2021 for Stedman, but he has been a writer since elementary school.
“One of my favorite things I liked to do then was write stories and my teachers have always said I have a gift in writing,” said Stedman. “I take college classes through dual enrollment and even my professors love my writing.”
A native of Tennessee, Stedman has lived in Nashville, Antioch and now LaVergne. He is happy to have the support system of his entire family, who have not only bought and read the book, but they are helping him start the process of showing it to the world.
“My mom, stepdad, dad, brother, sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, everyone. They’ve all supported me and bought a copy. We’re not perfect, but when it’s time to come, they show up.”
Excited that he has found the thing in life that inspires him, he wants to show his peers that they need to explore beyond what they think they can do, and then make big plans for the future once they find that thing that gets them out of bed in the morning and keeps them moving forward.
“I want to inspire youth to find their passion and true love in life like I did when I became a writer,” explained Stedman. “Many of us have no idea what we want to do and some only see music and sports as an option. I plan on starting a book publishing company that creates comics and novels. I might even expand to other things as well. I have ten other series with stories to tell and some of them I have the script already on my computer. I’m working hard every day writing, and this is only the beginning of what I have to offer the world.”