My family had the privileged of meeting Tim Shoemaker at the Cincinnati Homeschooling Convention this summer. Our oldest son, Daniel (14) first noticed The Code of Silence series because of the great cover art. After reading the book’s synopsis, Daniel was hooked; he had to own the series and couldn’t wait to get back to our hotel room to start reading them. He had all three books read within a week and then handed them to his brother. Levi (13) took longer to read them through, but he says that’s because he, “had to stop every once in a while to let his heart calm down!” I’ll also add that at this point, Levi has read them through twice! As a mother who is fairly picky about what her kids read, I can tell you the Code of Silence series comes highly recommended in our house. These books sparked great conversations between our boys and had them thinking through the sometimes high price of honestly and loyalty. We give The Code of Silence series two thumbs up and can’t wait for more from this author! I’m thrilled to introduce you to Tim Shoemaker and hope your kids enjoy this series as much as ours have!
Tim, tell us about The Code of Silence series.
The series is contemporary suspense, and centers around a small group of friends who get in over their heads in their eighth-grade year. The series works for guys or girls, but I write in such a way as to get the guys—especially reluctant readers.
In Code of Silence, they 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.
In Back Before Dark, one of the boys 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.
In Below the Surface, the friends are back and just want to enjoy their summer vacation with no mysteries and no trouble. And no way that is going to happen. Old fears and new dangers are just below the surface—and have a way of finding them.
Where did you get the idea for this series?
I grew up in Palatine, Illinois, and in 1993 there was a terrible robbery at a local fast food place. You can Google “Brown’s Chicken Massacre” and get the full story. But all seven of the people working there at the time of the robbery were marched into the cooler and executed. The tragedy rocked our community. And I know this event played a part in the Code of Silence series. I had often wondered, what if a similar thing happened, but the witness got away? What if they tried to keep it secret.
I could point to similar news stories that provided the nucleus of an idea for the other two books in the series. I think it all comes down to loving adventure and mystery stories myself, and having a passion to bring those same kind of stories to readers.
For parents who might consider this series for their children, what lessons do you hope young readers will get from this books?
I don’t plan a book with a lesson in advance. That may come across a bit agenda-driven. I think a good story, written from the author’s heart, will always teach something. The lessons will be there, and will come out in subtle ways.
In Code of Silence, honesty is the big issue. Readers will see the unexpected high price of lies, and like Cooper, will hopefully come to the point where they are done with the deception. In Back Before Dark the deeper issue is friendship. Readers will have friends who get lured away by darkness. What will these readers do to draw their friends back? In Below the Surface the readers will take an honest look at fear. Sure, some fear is good. Some fear keeps us safe. Other fear hurts us. That’s the fear I hope to help our readers conquer. I’ve visited classrooms where the books have prompted amazing talks on a number of other issues as well, but the ones listed above are the big burners.
Your current fans, like my two sons, want to know what they can expect from you next.
I just finished a new novel that I’m calling Easy Target. The story is about Hudson, an eighth-grade homeschool boy who is thrust back into the public school system. He knows he needs to make friends fast—and stay under the radar until he does. Loners are easy targets. And when Hudson sticks up for another boy getting bullied, he makes a friend for life. He makes some enemies, too, and ends up at the top of their blacklist. Things turn deadly when Hudson makes a list of his own. Your boys will love this book! I don’t have a contract on this yet, but I’m hoping that will change soon. Readers who loved the Code of Silence series are going to love Easy Target!
And I’m working on plans for a book set in the Everglades. In fact, I’m working on a trip there this October to do research. If you know someone who can take me into the glades—please, contact me. This is going to be another contemporary suspense… a real adventure.
Do you have any crazy writing habits like wearing a special hat or taking breaks to stand on your head?
Nothing I’d call crazy. I’ve got an old pickup truck, and I love hopping in it and driving somewhere to work on a story. Usually it ends up being a fast food place where they’ve got hot fries and cold sweet tea. And since I don’t plan the whole story out in detail before writing, often I don’t know how the story will work out or exactly what will happen. Which means that it can be just as hard for me to stop writing as it is for a reader to put down the book. Just like the reader, I want to keep going to find out what happens. That isn’t crazy, is it?
What question have you always wished someone would ask you about your books, but no one has?
That’s easy… “How can I order a hundred thousand copies of each?” Actually, I do a lot of speaking in schools, and every once in awhile I’ll get a question nobody has ever asked me. I love that. I think some great questions would be how the truth or the deeper lessons of the stories themselves have changed me, or what they reveal about me and my life journey. I think I’d be pleasantly shocked if someone asked me that.
What’s on your personal “waiting to read” list?
I don’t have a list … it would be discouragingly long. But I love adventure, suspense. I love coming of age stories. If it is well-written, I’d love to read it. If you have a great suggestion … tell me about it!
If you were a super hero, what would your name be? What would your costume look like? What would your super power be?
Well, on the crazy end, I’ve been a super-hero known by nieces and nephews (and my kids when they were younger) as Blue Guy. I wear an old blue one-piece snowsuit, ski goggles, and a yellow beach towel for a cape. Blue Guy is only seen in the winter around here, and I suppose he’s more of an anti-hero. He chases his nieces and nephew around, but they always defeat him in the end … much to their delight.
In reality, my idea of the ultimate super-hero is simply a man who strives to be a hero everyday. A man who does the right things, even when it’s hard. A man who strives to live out God’s plan for his life. A man who is faithful and loving and kind and encouraging. A man who has great wisdom, and the true “super power” he plugs into is the Holy Spirit. This is who I strive to be, and the great thing is, being this kind of hero is possible for all of us, isn’t it?
What fills your time when you’re not writing?
Lots of prep time for speaking events. I definitely work hard at that. But spending time with my wife and family is probably the biggest thing … and something I really enjoy. In fact I’m going out on a date with my wife tonight. I’m also active in leadership and volunteering in our local church. And I spend time in the Word everyday.
Thank you, Tim!
Tim Shoemaker is the author of eleven books and a regular contributor for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse Magazine. He is a popular speaker at conferences and schools around the country. He has worked with youth for over twenty years as a volunteer—and still loves it. This love for kids has helped him relate to his reading and listening audience in a unique way.
Code of Silence, book one of his contemporary suspense series, was included in the Booklist Online “Top Ten Crime Novels for Youth” list for 2013. School Library Journal invited him to be part of a four-person “Mystery/Thriller” panel for their Summer Teen Event.
Tim is passionate about helping kids and adults become true men and women of God. He is all about encouraging and equipping writers to do what they do—better. Tim is active in his local church leadership. Happily married for over thirty-five years, Tim has three grown sons and lives in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.