Amber Richardson created “Mariah Gets Bullied” as a result of her witnessing one of her peers get bullied. Richardson’s debut book is now available on Amazon. (Courtesy photos)

By Nadine Matthews
Special to the AFRO

When eighth grader Amber Richardson started writing the story “Mariah Gets Bullied,” she had no idea that she was starting to write her first book. “I took a writing class and it was something that I had to do. In order to pass the class you had to write a short story, but then I guess I took it way out of proportion,” Richardson told the AFRO.

The story is about a young girl who is bullied daily. “Eventually, her mom tells her that she needs to fight back. Her mother doesn’t specifically say get physical, but she tells Mariah to stand her ground and try to make the bully stop,” Richardson said. 

Her grandmother, who is also a writer, helped Richardson out with the title, which was originally much longer. “She told me don’t use a title that gives away the whole plot of the book, so I changed it to “Mariah Gets Bullied to keep a little suspense there.”

Although Richardson, who attends Francis Scott Key Elementary and Middle School, is already a published author, writing was something the thirteen year-old had to warm up to. “I’ve been writing since sixth grade,” she stated. “Before sixth grade, it was kind of something that I had to do. They asked us to write about things like what kind of candy we like and I didn’t really enjoy it.”

However, more interesting subject matter started to be presented to her eventually, particularly in her favorite subjects: social studies and history. “Now we get to write about things like African-American history and police brutality. I’m very passionate and love talking about those things so I love writing about them too.”

It wasn’t first-hand experience, but empathy that motivated Richardson to choose the topic of bullying. “I saw someone get bullied and it wasn’t really talked about. I decided that we should shed some light on the whole topic,” she explained. 

Though Richardson hopes “Mariah Gets Bullied” will discourage others from engaging in the behavior, that wasn’t her main goal in writing the book .“It was more so to help those who are being bullied and convince them to speak up because we know that’s something that’s really hard to do.”

When people first read her story, Richardson revealed it was somewhat controversial. “I got a mix of positive and negative reactions because there were different perspectives. Some really liked the fact that I was so young writing books, and other people didn’t like the fact that I was writing about bullying and violence. But I got more support than criticism.”

In terms of how she dealt with the negative reactions, she said, “I didn’t really take it to heart because how many people my age are writing books and really enjoy writing. I still don’t take anything to heart because negative comments don’t really matter to me.”

Her family, however, has been overwhelmingly encouraging. “I think they are the ones buying most of my books’” she laughed. “My great-grandparents bought five. They have all been really supportive.”

Richardson spends her time, in addition to writing, making and editing videos. She plans to try to apply that experience to making more Youtube videos in the hopes of making it big one day. “I’d do a little bit of everything but will probably focus on lifestyle and do vlogs where people could come with me when I get my nails done and things like that.”

Richardson shared that she is looking forward to partnering with businesses and organizations who would like to purchase her book in bulk to distribute to young people or for some of their programming.

Her advice for any young person who also wants to write a book, is “go for it.” But she also cautions them to know ahead what they are getting into. ”You have to be aware that if you want to take it seriously that you have to do things like interviews to talk about the book and sometimes you might want to just be watching TV or playing video games instead.”

Richardson’s book “Mariah Gets Bullied” is available on Amazon. 

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