It is my pleasure to introduce Paul Schumacher, Colorado author of the debut novel, The Tattered Box. I first met Paul a couple years ago in a writing workshop sponsored by the Northern Colorado Writers and was moved by his heartfelt and poignant writing style in another story.
During the day, he works as an electrical engineer and at night, fits his writing into an active lifestyle with his wife, three children, and two cats. I’m honored that I had an opportunity to learn more about Paul and the background to his debut novel. Below is my interview of Paul.
Tell me about your latest book, The Tattered Box.
It’s a story about a grandson who travels back in time to hang out with his grandpa. Initially, he’s doubtful of his grandpa’s never-ending stories, and frankly doesn’t even believe some of them happened. But then he’s granted this wonderful opportunity to experience them firsthand. Through his experiences, he learns to love and appreciate his grandpa for who he really is. Much of the story is told through innocent items in a raggedy old box from his grandpa.
What inspired you to write a story about the relationship between a grandfather and grandson and the memories they share? Are these characters based on people you know?
The day before my father-in-law passed away, I was taking my then 13-year-old son to school. We were reminiscing about his grandpa, and he said something that really struck me. He wondered how cool it would be to somehow go back in time and hang out with his grandpa. Not only was his grandpa a fun-loving storyteller, he also loved his sports: baseball, bowling, golf, or anything with a ball. My son figured they’d be the best of friends, if only he was somehow granted that wish. Writing this book was one way to fulfill that.
Once I heard my son’s comment and started crafting a storyline in my head, I was hooked. I simply had to share it with the world. I started writing down many of my father-in-law’s stories and eventually fashioned them into a complete novel. Thus much of the book is based on real events. It became a not-so-gentle reminder to me (and hopefully others who read it) that time is short, and I need to learn to better appreciate my fleeting moments with others. Make the most of life! We never know how much time we have left.
Is there a special item in the tattered box that evoked a personal memory for you?
Probably the muddy ball. The story of the ball, which is told in the first chapter, is based almost entirely on a true story that I heard many times from my father-in-law. Every time I read that chapter, it’s like he’s sitting next to me telling me the story. The elaborate hand motions, the strong fluctuations in his voice, the glimmer in his eye as he reveals the punchline. I can see it all.
Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?
I’ve heard so many wonderful stories from people who reminisce about their own grandparents. Most have such wonderful memories of getting to know loved ones who lived in an entirely different era. Like a complex jigsaw puzzle, attempting to decipher the life and times of someone you barely relate to. Many also had regrets: if only they’d asked more questions. If only they’d spent more time with them.
Specifically, one of my favorite feedbacks was from someone who had an elderly parent who lived far away. As she finished the book, she felt inspired to fly out and visit with her ailing father. Spending time with him while she still could. I felt honored that I played a role in that.
Are you currently working on another book? What are your projects for the near future?
My second novel is a story of secrets and redemption. The working title is I Wish I Had Known and is partly based on some of my own life experiences. It’s about a teenager who mentors some boys younger than him, and he also falls in love with a young woman along the way. But there’s a darker side. He needs to learn to forgive the drunk driver who killed his father, and others need to forgive him for his past missteps. I continued with the inter-generational aspect of The Tattered Box that I find so fascinating. I guarantee you’ll love the ending!
Are you an avid reader? Which books are your favorite ones? Which books inspire you?
I’ve always loved reading, and my list of books is always quite diverse. I read everything from classics to murder mysteries to Christian non-fiction. Lots of topics can capture my attention, and I always enjoy learning from the opinions and writings of others. As far as favorite books, the two that come to mind are A Prayer for Owen Meany and The Jesus I Never Knew. I laugh as I write this as those two books alone are very different, but they have both taught me (in their own unique way) to be a better person and writer.
What is your life like outside of writing?
My family is very important to me. We spend a lot of time doing fun stuff like golf, tennis, watching movies, playing games, or just hanging out. Of course, like all modern families, my kids are involved in their fair share of activities and sports, and I play the role of the proud spectator. My life isn’t about me, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I also fit in work when I can to pay for it all. I’m an electrical engineer by day, husband, father, and author by night.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
This might sound funny, but the first one that comes to mind was a sand wedge I received from my brother when I was a teenager. He filled a shoe box with sand, placed a ball on top, and included a ‘coupon’ for a sand wedge which I desperately wanted at the time. Maybe it was its uniqueness or its presentation, but that Christmas was one of my favorites.
What might we be surprised to know about you?
I certainly don’t look like one, but I used to be an avid runner. I actually completed a marathon a long time ago, a badge of honor I’m darn proud of. I also used to bike a lot, and finished eight MS 150 bike tours (yes, they’re 150 miles).
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
Writing. In my sunroom, on my deck, in a coffee shop. Wherever I find inspiration, that’s where I am. Writing is such a creative process and is such a dramatic shift from the analytical tasks I perform at work. A blank page with no rules on what to say next is pretty exciting to me.
CONTACT PAUL SCHUMACHER
You can contact Paul at the following sites:
You can purchase his printed book and e-book at Amazon