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Ladarrion Williams Left Alabama as Struggling Writer, Returned as NYT Bestselling Author

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Ladarrion Williams signs copy of his New York Times best seller at Books-A-Million in Alabaster (Marika N. Johnson, For The Birmingham Times)

By Marika N. Johnson | For The Birmingham Times

Ladarrion Williams left Alabama several years ago as a struggling playwright, endured failure, lived without a home and returned last week as a New York Times best-selling author.

Williams celebrated the release of his book, Blood at the Root, an instant best seller on the New York Times’s Young Adult Fiction list, coincidentally at the same store where he once worked at Books A Million in Alabaster, AL.

Patrons filled the aisles for the book signing on Friday, May 30 as stacks of his books stood as a testament to Williams’s determination and talent.

“I want to write, for us and about us, but not at the expense of us,” Williams, a Helena native now based in LA, told Publishers Weekly. He shared his mission online for writing the story. “No police brutality and no racial drama.”

Family members from left: Greg Williams (father); Arian Allen (sister), Theresa Allen (mother) with author Ladarrion Williams. (Marika N. Johnson, For The Birmingham Times)

This fantasy young adult novel began as a question on social media during COVID, “What if Harry Potter went to an HBCU?” From there Williams penned Blood at the Root.

The story was originally meant to be a TV series but was met with rejection. Despite numerous setbacks, a friend suggested he turn the script into a book. Williams delved into writing the novel, exploring the themes of identity, resilience, and cultural heritage with a fictional Historically Black College and University (HBCU) as the backdrop.

The main character, Malik, resonated deeply with readers, catapulting it to bestseller status leading to three book deal through Labyrinth Road, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books. He is currently working on a sequel.

Supporters at the book signing Book Club members, Lareisha and Latanya Higginbottom, Jamara Wright and Shannon Moore, who drove from various locations around the state. All attended Alabama State University together and were there to share their support of Williams and his mission “to shine a light on HBCUs.”

Family members were also present in support including parents (Theresa Allen and Greg Williams), cousins, his sister Arian Allen and her son Ashton Bevel (to whom the book is dedicated). Arian shares that “[Ashton] gets to live vicariously through the book, giving him a picture of how we were as kids.”

Also among the attendees was Williams’ former high school theatre teacher who recalled Williams’ passion for writing. She re-printed and gifted him the first play that he wrote while attending Thompson High School. “We knew he was going to do it, he had the drive”, said Jane Ganey. “We all knew he was destined for something big, but seeing it happen is just incredible.”

To purchase a copy of the book visit

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/738959/blood-at-the-root-by-ladarrion-williams/ or https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0593711920?tag=randohouseinc7986-20

Former teacher Jane Ganey hands Williams a reprinted copy of one of his old stage plays from Thompson High School in Alabaster. (Marika N. Johnson, For The Birmingham Times)