Book: Nelson Beats the Odds
Photos Courtesy of Ronnie Sidney II
Author: Ronnie Sidney II
Ronnie Sidney, II, MSW, Supervisee in Social Work, is a therapist, entrepreneur, speaker, author, app developer and workshop presenter. He received a Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2014.
1) Why do you believe it is so important to tell these types of stories?
It is important to tell these stories because they reflect the experiences of kids all throughout the world. Many of the children's books I grew up on were written by white authors and featured white kids and/or animals. I want my books to represent the experience of Black and Brown boys and girls in America.
2) How have you been able to get over the opinions and backlashes of people that won't agree or understand these stories?
I love controversy. Whenever you do something that highlights African people, someone is going to be in their feelings. I can't worry about them because the youth need to read stories and see images that reflect them. The only opinions that matter to me are the ones coming from the people I write about and write for.
3) What was the most challenging part of writing these stories?
Not only am I an author, but I'm also a publisher. The hardest part is coming up with the money to finance my projects. Writing the stories is fairly easy because graphic novels don't require a lot of text.
I feel like the stories I write are divine. I don't force them, life events inspire them.
4) Where did you grow up? How did your background help you write these stories?
I grew up in Tappahannock, Virginia. Chris Brown use to ride my school bus and attend my church. I and other students on the bus would get him to sing "Candy Rain" by Soul for Real and do Michael Jackson impressions.
My dad was a minister and a police officer. My mother was a nurse. I watched them both graduate from college, which left a lasting impression on me. Even though I spent seven years in special education, I always thought I was smart. It wasn't until I enrolled in community college that it was realized.
My personal experience inspired me to write "Nelson Beats the Odds." I wanted to encourage struggling students to overcome adversity. As a social worker, I work with adolescents who are dealing with trauma, learning disabilities, and mental health disorders.
"I feel like the stories I write are divine. I don't force them, life events inspire them."
5) Do you plan to always tell the same types of stories or do you think you will eventually do other genres and forms?
I will eventually branch out to other genres. I really love dystopian books/movies. I actually started writing the story around the time I was working on "Nelson Beats the Odds."
6) What is the best book you have read in 2017?
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates is a really good book. It ties in a lot of the themes of my books, Particularly "Rest In Peace RaShawn."
7) What is the best advice you have for overcoming writer's block?
Don't force it, let the story come to you. Writer's block to me is God's way of telling me that I need to keep living before I can perfect the story. It took me two years to publish Rest In Peace RaShawn. I was patient with the process and my patience paid off because I was able to attend events and get content and feedback from young people. I wanted the book to be a voice for this generation of young people.
"Don't force it, let the story come to you. Writer's block to me is God's way of telling me that I need to keep living before I can perfect the story."
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