Interview with

Viridian Books Owner and Author Kimberly Richardson

By Molly Anderson | Posted 9/3/08 | Updated 8/21/23

Kimberly RichardsonMeet Kimberly Richardson, the owner and Resident Muse of Viridian Books, "The Bookstore for the Strange and unusual Reader."

Richardson is also a poet and author in her own right. The Rusty Typewriter, a book of poetry, was recently published by FootHills Press and The Bookstore Bus, a children's book, is currently placed with an agent! More exciting news — Kimberly's book of short stories, Tales of a Goth Librarian, was just picked up by Kerlak. Congratulations, Kimberly!

She also writes book reviews for The Lamplighter, a newspaper published in her hometown, Memphis, Tennessee. She's here today to dish the dirt about faeries, freaks, and the fine points of poetry.

Q: What inspired you to open Viridian Books?

A: Wow. Anybody who knows me knows that I am a true bibliophile — I am all about books… it just seemed like the natural thing to do. I enjoyed other bookstores, but I never found one that spoke to the real me. It all happened during the summer of last year — my roommate at the time was a bookstore owner. Earlier, I had toyed with the idea of creating an online bookstore that would carry titles for the freak reader, but never put it into action. One night, while we were eating Chinese food, I told him of my plan. He listened, and said he liked the idea. He helped me with website design, and gave me bookselling pointers. I took off from there.

My goals are to be a full time writer, bookseller and all-around bibliophile. I believe that Memphis has the potential to become a literary city, and although my roommate gave up and moved away, I refuse to do so.

Q: How did you choose this unusual name? What does it mean?

A: Viridian is a bluish green color occurring after oxidation. I don't know if you've ever seen it; it's beautiful. It is a bookstore for the strange and unusual reader. I wanted to give a little bit of myself to the book world. I wanted to cater to the Goth people, the gamers, the strange folk, the person who asks for a random book on Irish faeries.

BookQ: Tell us a little more about the path that led you to this career?

A: I was born in Columbus, Georgia, and moved to Memphis with my mother when I was one year old. The only time I have ever left the South was for prep school, at Phillips Academy Andover, and for university. I studied at American University in Washington D.C.

My goal, at one point, was to become an attorney, but my true passion was books and poetry. After spending some time as a paralegal, I realized that it was NOT the life I wanted. Something was missing, and I finally figured out what it was: writing and reading. Although I currently work for a major securities firm in Memphis, I spend more time writing poems and short stories now more than ever.

Q: Would you talk about some of the ways you deal with the challenges of balancing your day job and your dream job?

A: For years I had to worry about balancing. I didn't want to get too corporate and lose my creative side… but I need a day job to pay my bills. I have a rigorous schedule. What I do is get up at 5:00 a.m. and for an hour I either write or work on the bookstore, or something else in that (creative) realm. I also write before bed. That balances out the time I spend at my day job. I had to do a lot of inner searching — I needed a day job, but I need my creative time, too.

Q: Who do you spend time with when you're not on the clock?

A: I am currently involved with a wonderful man named James Clayton St. John. We've been together now for three and a half months and he is, literally, my other half. We share a love for all things sci-fi and a strange sense of humor, and we're both coming out of our emotional shells and finally being who we were meant to be.

Q: Tell us about your experiences at Mid South Con, the sci-fi convention you attended in March?

A: I love reading books of all subjects, even paranormal romances, which I just started reading! As much as I love reading books, I love selling them as well. When I was a guest author/bookseller for Mid South Con, it felt like home for me; talking to people about books, which ones they would love and which ones I loved myself, spending time with other authors and publishers, and just being in the moment.

It feels good to have people come up to you asking for your work. I now know what it truly means to be a writer. I made new friends, and met networking associates and possible new buyers of my poetry book. I also have a chance to get some of my stories published by a local company that had a booth next to mine. I came away from that weekend feeling like a new woman, ready to continue down my true path.

Q: What are some of the things that stand in the way of living your creative dream, and walking your true path? If you would, tell us how you move through those obstacle.

A: I love being creative, although for the longest time, I held back all of my creativity and originality. I held back because I was afraid of what people would think of me, placing their own opinions of me higher than my own. I have been steadily moving away from that train of thought because it is detrimental and destructive to a creative person; a creative person is creative because THEY ARE.

I used to get picked on because I was not a "typical" black girl/woman: I love all forms of music — even opera and country! My boyfriend is white, I refuse to speak improper English, and I own elf ears!!! I never wanted to be just like everyone else; how can one ever learn and grow? How can a person come into their own, if their voice is squashed by others?

Q: Since you are far from typical, I assume your friends are an interesting bunch! What traits do you see shared in the people you like to spend time with?

A: I find comfort with unique people, those who are not afraid to be themselves. My boyfriend is like that as well; that is one of the pros about him that I am forever grateful for.

Q: Tell us about the importance of poetry in your life.

A: Poetry is a unique way of expressing one's innermost thoughts. When I cannot express myself through speaking, I write poetry instead and let the reader decide for themselves just what I am trying to convey. I do not like it, however, when people ask me "So, what does it mean?" That is not the point of poetry, I think.

Q: Congratulations are in order — you've just been named the new book reviewer for the Memphis newspaper, The Lamplighter. How did you score this fantastic job?

A: The Lamplighter is a newspaper from one of the neighborhoods in Memphis' arts district and is widely read. I was a regular reader, so I decided to ask the editors if they would ever consider adding a book review column to their paper, using myself as a possible choice. They asked for a review to sample my work, and I gave them a review of The Catcher in the Rye. They loved it, and the rest is history. She liked it, and said you write really well, this is what we've been looking for… go with it! I wasn't sure if I could write reviews — I can talk about a book with a friend but writing it down… I didn't know if I could do that, but I wanted to try.

Q: What does the future hold? What are some of the different projects you're working on, and your dreams for the future?

A: I'm taking pictures of all the different branches of the Memphis library in the city, and I'll post those on my blog and website. I also created a poem and personal essay for each one. It's my way of responding to recent library closures due to lack of funding. I'm doing this for me, and I'm doing this for the city.

I'm also entering a short story competition by a local publishing house; the subject matter is dragons. If chosen, it will be in an anthology — if not, I like the character so much I'll keep it for myself.

Q: You could always publish it elsewhere. Maybe an anthology of your own short stories?

A: Yes.

Q: What are your goals for the future?

A: My ultimate goal is to be a full-time writer. When I tell people that's what I want to do, they say, "You're gonna make so much money, maybe get a movie deal!" Right — I'm in it for the big money. We both laugh. I try to write at least once a day. As soon as my fingers hit the keyboard, I just go… then I look up and realize I was supposed to be at work an hour ago. My overall goal is to make my life 100% about the written word. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm on the path, and that right there is enough. I keep going, and I won't let anything deter me.

Q: If you could travel backwards in time — without destroying the fabric of the universe — to give your thirteen-year-old-self some words of advice about the future, what would you say?

A: It's interesting you would ask that, because thirteen was the age I started writing poetry… I would say, "You have no idea… but you're there." I would be very cryptic. What's strange is… me, at thirteen, would get it.

Q: Kimberly, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. Is there anything you would like to add? Do you have a few "famous last words" for our readers to delight and inspire them as they move through the world today?

A: Graham Joyce, a British novelist, wrote a book I love called Indigo. One line a character says is translated from the Latin, "I hold the wolf by the ears." My interpretation of that is whatever fear you have, you stare that fear fright in the face, and let it know you are the stronger one, or you're the better person… fear is not a tangible thing. If you turn and face that fear and hold it by the ears, and say "I know what I'm doing, I was meant to be a writer," that fear diminishes. You realize you are strong, and that you can do anything.

Kimberly Richardson is the Owner and Resident Muse of Viridian Books, Bookstore for the Strange and Unusual Reader. Learn more about her writing and work.

©2008 by Molly Anderson. All rights reserved.