By Marissa Wells
LOS ANGELES — As a child, Eric Jerome Dickey was an avid reader of comic books.
He started writing his own comic books in middle school, moved up to short stories in high school, and then worked on fiction writing assignments during college.
After becoming an engineer, he tapped back into his creative side and pursued writing on a different level.
At the 12th annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair Aug. 25, Dickey will serve as the fair’s distinguished lecturer. The theme of this year’s book fair is “Celebrating Our Southern Roots,” and Dickey, who was born in Memphis Tennessee, has deep southern roots.
A best-selling author of dozens of books, Dickey has established himself as one of the leading writers of fiction. “Bad Men and Wicked Women,” “Finding Gideon,” “Blackbirds,” “One Night,” “A Wanted Woman” and “Decadence” are a few of his New York Times’ bestsellers.
Dickey said the art of writing and storytelling is something that has interested him throughout his life.
“I grew up reading comics, fantasies, storytelling, so it was just sort of always there for me,” Dickey said. “I was the kid in the neighborhood who had all of the comic books when I was growing up.”
The author enjoyed being captivated by stories as a child and recognizes that being able to read allowed him that experience.
“Someone can hand you a story and maybe you get it because the author’s name is on the front of the book or whatever, but once you start reading the story all of that goes away and you fall into that world,” Dickey said. “If I had been illiterate, I would not have been able to take that journey.”
As he built his career as an author, Dickey worked hard to cultivate his artistic talents.
“When there’s something that you’re interested in, to develop it, you’ve really got to put in the 10,000 hours. And I started down that road of putting in the 10,000 hours to developing this skill set,” he said.
Dickey said he is inspired by an endless list of authors which include Stephen King, Terry McMillan and Tananarive Due, to name a few.
“For me, reading has never been about being a one-trick pony,” he said. “I like reading about different things for different reasons, from fiction to nonfiction. I can’t say that any one [author] has more influence than the other when for me it’s the amalgamation of all of them that’s part of who I am.”
Dickey has attended the Leimert Park Village Book Fair in the past as a consumer and encourages others to come out and support all of the writers.
“You might find the perfect writer for you and you may become their perfect reader,” Dickey said.
At the book fair, he will be honored for his contributions to literacy at 1 p.m., which will include a question-and- answer session.
The mission of the book fair is to promote, encourage and advocate literacy, education and the love of reading throughout the greater Los Angeles area.
“Without literacy there’s no access to knowledge,” Dickey said. “You have to be literate to acquire knowledge. That’s how you grow.”
The Leimert Park Village Book Fair is open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Aug. 25 inside the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, located at 3650 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Admission is free.
For more information, visit www.leimertparkbookfair.com.