Former resident publishes book

A California couple — she was born in Dowagiac, he grew up in Mobile, Ala. — published their first novel inspired by the last slave ship, Clotilda.

Sandra Dee (Crump)

Sandra Dee (Crump) and her husband of three years, Rick Richardson, own Rich Books Inc., a publishing company seeking to help first-time authors kick-start writing careers.

“Southern Secrets: Sins of the Past” culminates of the couple’s work on a series of fiction and non-fiction books.

“We learned a lot about the strength of our relationship” writing a book together, Dee said Monday afternoon.

Dee was born at Lee Memorial Hospital and lived in Michigan until moving to California in the late 1980s. She still has family in Dowagiac, including her dad, Jonah Crump, who have a reunion every July.

She met her husband at an event she planned in Oakland, Calif.

The story focuses on Rick himself, during his years as a boy interested in learning more about the last slave ship.

His passion became an obsession upon learning his own ancestors had been aboard that very vessel.

While the story is fictional, Southern Secrets was inspired by facts.

Almost half a decade after importation of slaves was outlawed, a mysterious group of southern gentlemen made a wager.

Clotilda, a two-masted schooner, arrived in Mobile Bay in autumn 1859 and was burned and scuttled.

“We feel compelled to introduce more history into schools across the United States,” Rick said. “We are choosing to do this by writing fiction and non-fiction stories about African-American history.”

Dee is a freelance writer and publicist. She has a bachelor’s degree in business management with an emphasis on communications and entertainment management. She has more than 15 years of experience in public relations and communications.

She is vice president of RS Rich Enterprises, an entertainment management company, and a member of the Writer’s Workshop of America and Writers International Association.

Richardson is a freelance writer and serves as president of RS Rich Enterprises. He retired from the State of California with more than 10 years experience as a systems analyst and communications manager. He has a bachelor’s degree in business and liberal arts and belongs to the Fiction Writers Guild and International Freelancers Academy.

Dee said after a signing June 9 in Sacramento they will be undertaking a book tour, which she hopes to include Benton Harbor, Kalamazoo and perhaps Dowagiac.

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