Tim Shoemaker, author of a recently released three-book series for Zonderkidz, is my guest. First, my review and then Tim answers some questions.
I just finished reading Back Before Dark, the second book in the Code of Silence series. It is a book targeted for middle readers, especially boys, but this adult found it very intriguing and difficult to put down.
It is a book about four junior high school friends, three boys and a girl. In an incidence at a local park, one of the boys is abducted. The story plays out over the next few days as the trio and the police search for their friend, Gordy. The action will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Three of the friends are believers. Tim did a good job of keeping the belief aspect subtle enough so religion is not an overblown issue, but a way of life.
At the end of the book, he included a section of advice to the young reader. He discusses friendship, how to avoid being in a situation where you may be abducted and what to do if you are.
I chose to read a book for youth because Tim is teaching the fiction track at the Write-to-Publish Conference, June 4-7, where I met him a few years ago. After reading the book, I’m anxious to hear him teach the fiction track class.
Tell us a little about the Code of Silence novels, including your target audience, as I know they deal with serious issues.
Middle grade is the prime target for the contemporary suspense Code of Silence series. The books work well for younger kids, of course, and even adults. They are designed to pull in reluctant readers. The three-book series is about a small group of ordinary friends—and the extraordinary things that happen to them during their last year in junior high.
Code of Silence- Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro witness a violent robbery and fearing for their lives, make a pact to hide what they know. Trapped in a code of silence, they must face the consequences of choosing right or wrong—when both options have a price.
Back Before Dark- When Gordy is abducted, Cooper struggles with guilt and takes increasing risks to find him. With no ransom call and no leads, everyone fears the worst. Cooper can’t live with that—and makes a decision that just might get him killed.
Below the Surface- Cooper and friends just want to enjoy their summer vacation with no mysteries and no trouble. And no way is that going to happen. Old fears and new dangers are just below the surface—and have a way of finding them.
We definitely deal with some serious issues. Honesty. Friendship. Fear. But I’m very careful how I handle them. It is my hope that in some small way I can help show kids how to grow into men and women of honor.
Back Before Dark was set in your hometown of Rolling Meadows. Has this brought interest to the youth in your area because I know you teach writing classes in local schools?
Both Code of Silence and Back Before Dark are set in Rolling Meadows. It has definitely given the series some added local interest. When people can identify the places in the story it becomes just that much more real to them. And the schools and libraries really embrace the series. One local junior high bought ninety copies of Code of Silence so they could make it a classroom read.
I like the fact that readers can go to the places described in the books. When I was writing Back Before Dark I actually had to work out the kidnapper’s escape route. That was kind of creepy. But the great thing was that I could do that. I could time it out and make sure everything I wrote was more real.
The third book is set in the area of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. This is a familiar place for people in the Chicago area. There are some places in the book where the kids go—and I think the story pops off the page just a little more because I’ve been to all those spots.
Give a brief description of what you will be teaching in the Fiction Track at the Write-to-Publish Conference, June 4-7.
This will be a really fun and informative class. Those attending will learn some things they’ve never heard before—or not in the way I’ll present it. And their fiction will improve and get stronger immediately. Guaranteed. We’ll talk about characterization, point of view, showing instead of telling, dialogue, creating a powerful scene, and so much more. But we’ll sink in and give the conferees some real meat. I won’t just tell them how to make their fiction gain strength… I’ll show them!
Tim speaks at churches, conferences, youth worker conventions and other events. He is the author of eight books, including the Code of Silence novels. He can be found on the web at