Guess what? It’s day two of weekend fun and interviews! I’m excited to have Tim join us! If you missed my review, be sure to check out Back Before Dark, a great read for middle school kids. Definitely a book I would have loved at that age! You can find out more about his Code of Silence series at the end of the interview, so be sure to check it out.
Tim Shoemaker is a speaker and author of several books, including 2012’s The Code of Silence. He has three grown sons and has been happily married for more than 32 years. His popular fictional stories are often inspired by his experience with kids as a volunteer youth leader for more than sixteen years. He lives in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.
1. What are some of the things that brought you to writing about young kids and something like a kidnapping?
Junior high years are critical in kid’s lives. Of innocence, in many ways. A time of change. I like writing about kids that age because everyone can relate to it. Whether you’re in junior high, high school, or an adult, we all remember those years of our lives—which means a wide cross section of readers will likely enjoy a story about kids that age.
The junior high years are a crossroads for kids. A time when they’ll make decisions that will change the course of their lives. I like writing for this age because I believe it can make a difference. I am convinced the story—the characters—can help readers think about life and make better decisions as a result. Kidnapping is a really tough topic. So on the one hand, I didn’t like the idea of writing about it—yet it was a perfect way to look at friendship—and how far you’d go to help your friend. And by writing about something so serious, it was a chance to really go deep with our characters—and that makes for a really satisfying read. I think the deeper messages of the book needed to be conveyed—and a kidnapping was a powerful way to do it.
So, Back Before Dark is more than an exciting (and sometimes scary) contemporary adventure. It is a way of reaching, helping, and protecting kids as well.
2. Who are some young adults who have inspired you (as you work in youth ministry)?
I get inspired by the students I know and work with. Some who have made bad choices. Others struggling to do the right thing. It is my passion for these kids—and so many others like them—that spurs me on to reach them. Being the age I am, I’ve seen so much. Choices and consequences. I want to help young adults navigate this minefield of life—and come out with their limbs intact.
Those who are trying to do the right thing—I want to encourage to keep going. Those who are making bad choices, I want to help them see where the path they’re on will lead them—and help them change.
3. What’s the biggest lesson you hope young readers get from Back Before Dark?
I want them to think through this question… “How far will you go to help a friend?” To actually have a friend abducted would be an extremely rare thing for readers of Back Before Dark to experience. But most of those readers will have friends who are lured into darkness in one way or another.
We live in a messed up world, and friends are often pulled into traps or taken captive by making bad choices, compromises, or drifting from the truth. The book will cause readers to consider that—and to think about how they can help their friends. Will they sit back and do nothing—or will they try to rescue them in some way?
4. What’s next for the Code of Silence series?
The third book comes out in March, 2014. The same group of friends go on vacation this time—but trouble seems to find them. The title is Below the Surface, and the tagline is Fear can be buried… but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. I love that tagline! The deeper issue in the book is fear. How do we handle fear? If we don’t get a grip on fear—it can put us in a strangle hold. I’m working on this one right now—and I’m really excited about it. I think readers will love this book as it wraps up the three-book series.
And no interview would be complete without 4 Questions!
1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
The speaking part of my life is certainly one thing I didn’t expect. I wanted to write—but definitely didn’t see the speaking coming. Now I speak at all kinds of conferences—writing, parenting, men’s—and more. I didn’t see it coming—but I’m glad it did! Naturally, I can get pretty nervous before I speak, but I love it!
2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
It’s not that I’ve got all kinds of regrets, because I don’t. But if I could go back knowing what I know now—the life lessons—I’d make all kinds of little changes. I’d worry less, to be sure. I’d stress less about work.
I’d always known the importance of being a man of integrity. I think years ago I saw it as something I should be. There was a sense of duty about it. Obligation. But one of things I learned over the years is how being a man of integrity, of character, is so much better than living a life of compromise. If I’d have understood that earlier, I’d like to think I’d have been a better man earlier—and I would have avoided some mistakes.
And there are plenty of things I’d just like to do all over again—if I really could go back. I really, really enjoyed my family. I’d love to do those years again. Not because of messing up the first time—but because they were so wonderful.
3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Wow . . . I’ve had tons of them. Being married to Cheryl. Raising our three boys. I guess what I’m describing are more like phases of life. There’s no way I could single out one event as being the happiest moment. But I’ll tell you about one of those happy types of moments. I loved reading to my kids as they grew up. And even telling them stories. Watching them really get into it—totally transfixed. The first novel I wrote (which will never be published) is called The Sword. When I finished it, I printed it out and bound it. We were going on vacation—and every day I read to them. They loved it—and by then I was hooked on writing fiction. Now those were happy moments!
4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I want them to know how good life can be, how fulfilling, when they live it according to the plans God laid out in his book. It isn’t a restricting life—but one of great freedom. I want them to know that this is a life that leads to no regrets and true satisfaction.
Thank you so much Tim! Be sure to pick up your copy today!
“Shoemaker’s characters and plot possess a believability rare for YA mysteries.” —Booklist
Author Tim Shoemaker brings attention to the startling number of child abductions in a riveting new novel in the Code of Silence series for teens and younger readers. BACK BEFORE DARK, follows Shoemaker’s precocious teenage characters from the first book as they find themselves knee-deep in another dangerous case.
It is a normal evening for 14-year-old cousins Cooper and Gordy, and their friends Hiro and Lunk, who are out riding their bikes through the park. Then, all of a sudden, their lives are drastically changed when Gordy is kidnapped right before their eyes. With the police at a loss for leads, it’s up to Gordy’s determined friends—and Hiro’s gumshoe tactics—to find and rescue their pal. But none of them are prepared for the perils that lurk around every corner and threaten to split up the group, permanently. And Cooper’s often reckless rescue mission puts his and Gordy’s lives at risk.
Shoemaker’s penchant for suspense will keep readers clinging to each page, anxious to find out what happens as the teens venture down one dark path only to find to another. Fans will be left guessing all the way up to the book’s shocking conclusion.
At the end of the story, Shoemaker provides readers with discussion points and a question and answer guide from an actual police officer that teach kids how to take proper safety precautions in the event of an abduction.