Walter Dean Myers grew up in Harlem, the son of a janitor. Today, he’s the author of nearly 100 books that are very popular with teenagers.
Growing up, there was always one person Myers struggled to impress with his writing — his father, Herbert Dean.
Here he talks about his father with his own son Christopher.
Walter and his son Christopher work on books together — as writer and illustrator.
Click here for the transcript.
Walter Dean Myers: Well, I was working at 14. I saved my money up, and I went to buy a typewriter. And at that point, Mom was having a drinking problem—and she spent it up. And so he went out and bought me a typewriter, a Royal.
But he never said anything good about my writing. And that really, that really hurt you know, I mean, that, that really bothered me a lot.
And my father told ghost stories at times, so I even would take his ghost stories and publish them. And I would show them to him and he would never comment on them. So when I did that, then I said, "He hates me," you know, he hates me.
CM: Did you ever ask him about it? Did you ever say, well —
WDM: No, no. When he was dying, I brought him a book that I 'd just finished. And uh, he picked it up and he looked at it and then he just laid it down. And then after, uh, he died, I went to his house and went through his papers. I would see X's where, you know, his signature should be. And the man couldn't read. I mean, that was why he never said anything about my writing. It just
tore me up, I mean, I could have read him a story at the hospital.
WDM: I could have read something to him. But he was ashamed of the fact that he could not read and um that was, that was a barrier between us all my life.