My name is Randy Richardson. I work as an attorney in Evanston and live here with my wife and son and our two cats, Smokey and Bandit. When I’m not working or coaching my son’s baseball team, I am either sitting in the left field bleachers at Wrigley Field or writing about baseball and my fictional worlds. I am the author of two novels, Lost in the Ivy and Cheeseland, both from Chicago’s Eckhartz Press.
For the past four years, I’ve been judging books for the Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year Contest. Each year, there’s always that one book I can’t get out of my head. This year, it was Megan Stielstra’s Once I Was Cool, a collection of personal essays about daily life and how it is anything but ordinary. In a voice that is all her own, Stielstra seamlessly weaves together a tapestry of stories, lifted from her own life, that speak to the strength of the human spirit. As you cry and laugh along with her, you will come away from it all feeling a bit dizzy but in a good way.
Randy Richardson is no stranger to Chicago’s literary scene. A journalist, essayist, and the president of the Chicago Writers Association, his debut novel Lost in the Ivy was named one of 2005’s notable Chicago books by Gapers Block. Now Richardson is back with his new novel Cheeseland, and the local lit world is buzzing again. Favorably compared to the work of Dennis Lehane and Nicholas Sparks, Cheeseland tells the tragicomic coming-of-age story of Lance Parker and Daniel McAllister, two Southside teens who embark on a Wisconsin road trip to mend their fractured friendship. A 2011 Evie Fiction Finalist, Cheeseland has been described by author Christine Sneed as an unforgettable page-turner that “reminds us that adolescence can be a land of thrilling self-discovery and of serious danger.” On Thursday, January 24th, you can hear Mr. Richardson read from Cheeseland when he visits EPL’s 1st Floor Community Meeting Room at 6:30 p.m. along with local authors Gail Lukasik and Jerry Jaffe. In anticipation of his visit, we recently spoke with him via email about his real-life inspirations for the book, the destructive nature of secrets, what’s new at CWA, and his favorite reads from 2012.