When Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II’s daughter was four years old, he discovered that she loved to read. So the Amazon Security Supervisor went to a bookstore in search of a good book. “I looked around for a while,” he said, “but didn’t see many books with African American or minority characters.”
Rather than settle for just any book, he went home and began to write what would become The Family Jones and the Eggs of Rex – a tale of the Jones family retrieving eggs that had been stolen by a pterodactyl. It was the story that Jeffrey wanted to write for his daughter, but also a story that he'd wanted to write, since he was a child.
How it began: World Wrestling Entertainment
When Jeffrey was a child, he saw a broadcast of Rick Flair, two-time WWE Hall of Famer. In the scripted world of WWE, Rick Flair was a villainous antagonist who gets in the face of the benevolent "baby-face."
"That’s when I understood that there were good people in the world, and there were bad people. And the conflict between good and bad made for gripping stories.” Jeffrey began to seek out stories beyond the world of WWE - Batman and Joker, T'Challa and Klaw, Superman and Krypton.
Jeffrey’s father kept up a steady supply of comics and the young boy devoured them. "There weren’t many opportunities for kids in my neighborhood to be exposed to art," he explained. "So as I got older, I got involved in football. I played as an offensive and defensive tackle for the Compton Community College and College of San Mateo." He never thought he would return to the world of stories.
“Having a daughter changed everything. I was so happy to see that my daughter liked books. It gave me an opportunity to go back to my childhood and recall what I’ve always really wanted to do," he said. "Now, I sit down for an hour every other day and write what I can. The important thing is to be authentic and remain true to the experiences of the day.”
Why he writes:
"Kids can often feel like that they’ve been misunderstood. Writing helps them process what’s really going on," Jeffrey explained. "They can see the words on paper and learn to distill what’s really going on in their mind. They feel better. It makes them happier."
Jeffrey’s newest book, Why is Jane So Mad?, is published through Create Space. "Working with Amazon has been amazing," he says. "They were super helpful when I called. After the fourth call, the customer service rep offered to work with me until the book was published and live." When asked, "Why is Jane so mad?", Jeffrey had a ready answer. "You'll have to read the book to find out," he said.