Like many creators, Charles Wiedenmann lived several lives before finally sitting down to write. After growing up in the Lawndale neighborhood of northeast Philadelphia, he became a musician, went to LA, came back to the east coast, worked in banking, and then finally began writing. Taking a page from Writing 101, he used his own experiences to create his work. He discovered that writing about his childhood on his blog Phicklephilly was actually interesting to readers.
“I just started to write some stories from my past and they were wildly popular,” he recalls. “And my sister Jane read them and said, yes, this is your superpower, you know. Writing about the past and, you know, your childhood and growing up, that is your superpower.”
Several years and several books later, Wiedenmann completed Lawndale, an affectionate collection of anecdotes about life in a neighborhood remarkable for its unremarkableness, one of the many working-class neighborhoods in a city with a long history of nurturing creative people.
“I was always playing air guitar in front of the record player, you know. And I loved, you know, the Beatles and Steppenwolf and Aerosmith. And I just always loved the arts. I just have to create. There’s just something in me that has to be making something.”
Chaz’s personal history struck a chord with me. I grew up a mile away in the next neighborhood down Rising Sun Avenue called Lawncrest. My grandmother lived blocks from him. I was mowing her lawn while Chaz was playing his air guitar. I invite you to listen to our conversation in this episode of the Type. Tune. Tint podcast.