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Q: How did RIVER CITY SECRETS come together?

A: Since 2009, a group of local writers who specialize in children’s books has been meeting together each month to encourage and help each other improve our writing. We call ourselves Richmond Children’s Writers. We knew of two short story collections that were centered around Richmond settings: Richmond Noir and Richmond Macabre. We loved the idea of a collection of Richmond stories, but both of these are for adult readers. What about something for kids?

The idea seemed like a win-win. First, Richmond has so many fantastic places to write about. And second, a familiar setting is a terrific way for kids to connect to text. So we got to work. We started by making a list of all the great locations in Richmond, places that kids go on field trips and on family outings. Each of us picked a location and started coming up with stories.

You may not know this, but Richmond is a great place to be a writer. The literary community here is vibrant and active, thanks to James River Writers. In addition to the writers in our group, we invited a few more children’s writers to contribute. Once we had a lovely collection of stories, Chop Suey Books stepped up to take on the role of publisher. We wanted the project to be 100% Richmond, so the interior design of the book was done by Scout Design and the book was printed by Carter Printing Company.

A portion of the proceeds of this book will go to James River Writers. The remaining proceeds will be used to fund school visits to Richmond-area schools. We hope these stories inspire others to write about their favorite places in Richmond!

Q: How did you decide which places to write about and who would write about each place?

A: We started with a list of places that we thought would be great to include in the book.We wanted to include places where kids went on family outings and field trips, as well as landmarks and geographic features kids would be familiar with. There certainly were a lot to choose from! The initial list was very long; we knew not all of them would make it into the book. But hey, we figured maybe we could save some of them for a second book!

One by one, writers started choosing places to write about. Lana kept track of who was writing about where. A couple of people changed their minds about what they were going to write about, but luckily, no arguments broke out! (Writers are, for the most part, very nice people.) Everything came together smoothly with a good mix of stories.