The author of this article is the founder of @PeopleOfCLT on Instagram.
People of CLT, meet author and Charlotte Mecklenburg police officer, Chad Webster. We first met Chad when he published his first book in his Mystery Muffin & Soda Pop Slooth series for 4th and 5th graders. Chad combines his creativity, love for writing and police work to create stories that engage young readers’ minds. Now, let’s get to know the guy behind the pen and badge!
PEOPLE OF CLT: We love how you incorporate your police work into your writing. What is the plot of the first book in the series, Mystery Muffin & Soda Pop Slooth: The Legend of My Creepy?
CHAD: A new neighbor moves into town and the rumor is he is a werewolf. Mystery Muffin and Soda Pop Slooth, her best friend who lives across the street, investigate the legend until they find the truth. Not only is the entire town counting on them, but so are the police! They deal with fact versus fiction, rumors, bullies, and facing fears during the course of the investigation. They have to let the evidence lead them down the path to the truth and not be swayed by what they think the truth should be: Things aren’t always what they seem.
PEOPLE OF CLT: You have been busy writing again and have now published your second book.
CHAD: Yes! Mystery Muffin & Soda Pop Slooth: The Ghost of Crippler’s Creek came out November 16. I was very happy when my first book came out—since it was my first—and I’m very happy about the way the second book turned out as well. I grew as a writer and admittedly, I am very proud of this story. In this story, a jack-o’-lantern is stolen which supposedly keeps the town safe from the ghost. Bad things start to happen. Mystery and Soda investigate to find out who took the jack-o’-lantern, so they can return it. Then, they find out if it’s really a ghost that is wreaking havoc on the town. Mr. Creepy, from the first book, just might play a part in this one.
PEOPLE OF CLT: Your first book took about six years to write. Was the writing time for the second book less because you are now familiar with the process?
CHAD: Absolutely. For the first book, I had to create everything—the characters, the town, the story—all with possible future storylines and all while having to fit in working a career in law enforcement, taking care of my family and being a good husband and father. Knowing the process and learning about writing styles and rules from the first book was a huge help. My editor was a huge help, too.
PEOPLE OF CLT: How have your fellow officers reacted? How has your community reacted?
CHAD: My fellow officers have been very supportive and wonder how I found the time to write. They also joke with me about not being smart enough to write a book! People ask if I would engage with their children in the neighborhood or at their schools. Most people are surprised that a cop would write a book for children.
PEOPLE OF CLT: How has writing impacted your police work?
CHAD: It has definitely made me more aware of people’s motivations, behaviors and how important it is to treat everyone with respect—even when they make it extremely difficult. Fortunately, my position has given me the ability to get in front of students to show them how important it is to have a good relationship with the police. I also have the opportunity to emphasize why reading and writing is vital to success. I repeat the words “Read to Succeed” to students a lot.
PEOPLE OF CLT: You recently wrote an “emotionally draining” chapter. What was that like?
CHAD: This chapter was from my adult fiction book about a police officer who investigates his own murder. This story has (I hope) a lot of laughs, but there’s a serious overtone as well. The scene that wiped me out was of a funeral, and I wasn’t prepared for all that came with it.
Without giving too much away, I had to put myself in this awful situation and draw from how I felt at a friend’s funeral. One of my best friends (a Sheriff’s Deputy in upstate New York) was hit and killed by a car while assisting a stranded motorist in 2003. That was about a year after I had been a cop out on my own here in Charlotte. I cried like a small child at his funeral while in uniform. It was awful. I can’t say whose funeral it was in the story, but hopefully, my third book in the series will be published soon so you can find out.
PEOPLE OF CLT: Writing requires dedication and motivation. Where does that come from for you?
CHAD: I have enjoyed writing ever since elementary school, despite having trouble with reading and comprehension at that time. Creative writing assignments presented a fun challenge throughout school and have stayed with me into adulthood. I wanted to write something for kids in 4th or 5th grade that would motivate them to put down electronic devices and take them into the fictional world I created. In a technologically advanced climate, I feel this is a pivotal age for encouraging and keeping kids reading. I don’t want kids to forget that all the TV shows, movies, and apps wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for reading and writing. I want to motivate them to read and write.
PEOPLE OF CLT: A lot more than writing goes into a book. What does it take to get your book out into the hands of young readers?
CHAD: It takes a lot of promotion and self-promotion which I’m not very comfortable with. It takes social media savvy, school visits, book signings, emails, personal appearances, sacrificing free time and more. (It took me over a year to get my own kids to read my book!) It’s difficult in this age of screens. But we can’t let reading and writing fade away. That would be the demise of life and art.
“Children need to know they are capable of great things.”
Still hungry? Take a few more bites.
- Get a second (or third) helping of Mai-Lis’ Charlotte profiles at @PeopleOfCLT and PeopleOfCLT.com
- Main Photo Credit: Chad Webster
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