Tony Cheatham

Tony Cheatham
Father's Footsteps

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
August 22, 2002

1. Who is Tony M. Cheatham?

I would say Tony M. Cheatham is determined person with a vivid and creative imagination. I believe these are key elements to possess in this path I have chosen.

2. What inspired you to write the novel “Father’s Footsteps?”

I have always had an interest in crime related subjects. After writing on a variety of subjects, I decided to focus on the genre that I was most interested in.

3. How did you come about the title “Father’s Footsteps?”

I originally had another title. After the several rewrites that I did, the editor and I realized that the subject focused more on the relationship between a father and his two sons.

4. How did you come about Willie Senior’s character?

The focus of the story is James “Bianco” Thompson wanting to escape from the poverty that he knew as a child. I simply based Willie Senior’s character on a hardworking man who wants to take of his familial responsibilities which every father can relate to. When Willie Senior finds it becoming increasingly harder to fulfill his duties his ego breaks down and he turns to drinking as an outlet. Something that happens to a lot of men.

5. How did you come about the plot surrounding Bianco (Jimmy), Casino, Kimberly and Byron?

In the crime arena, trust is an asset more valuable that money. Conflicts occur when that trust breaks down, especially in a love triangle. I thought it make an interesting development when that trust breaks down among friends who have been close since childhood.

6. How did you come about Monroe and Byron characters?

Sibling rivalry is a timeless conflict going all the way back to the Bible. Look at Cain and Abel.

7. Why did you choose to write about crime?

I have always had an interest in crime movies such as GoodFellas, Casino, The Godfather, Sugar Hill, and crime novels such as Richard Price’s Clockers and another one of my favorite writers George P. Pelecanos who writes novels set in and around the Washington DC area. And since I work in the law enforcement field, I figured it only made sense to write in a genre that I find so interesting.

8. How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since elementary school. And even then I only wanted to write recreationally. It wasn’t until I got to high school when I took a creative writing class that I realized to do it seriously and possibly make a living from it. I majored in English in college at Morgan State University and wrote my first novel, still unpublished, to see if I had the discipline to complete one. When I finished the book, I knew I wanted to write books.

9. How long did it take you to write “Father’s Footsteps?”

Initially it took me seven months. Editing and rewrites took another year and half. It was a long process, particularly since I worked a full time job at the same time and then later on married and had a family.

10. How did you come about the plot for “Father’s Footsteps?”

It wasn’t anything really intricate or difficult to devise. I simply wanted to tell the story of a numbers runner in his life from beginning to end. I have plots swirling around in my head for a bunch of stories. It’s just a matter of creating a world where they work.

11. Are there any of your personality in any of your characters?


12. What type of atmosphere do you require to write?

I like soft music so that I can concentrate or nothing at all. Nothing fast or with an up tempo. Then I would feel like dancing!

13. What message would you like readers to receive from reading “Father’s Footsteps?”

I know that this sounds cliché but that “Crime Doesn’t Pay!” lol