“Compelling and emotional, Three Shoeboxes takes readers on a heart-wrenching journey through some of life’s toughest challenges, always with the ever-present sense of the transforming power of love and hope. Three Shoeboxes is Steven Manchester at his finest.” - Carla Neggers, NYT & USA Today Bestselling Author, Harbor Island and Echo Lake “
Published: June 12th, 2018
Mac Anderson holds life in the palm of his hand. He has a beautiful wife, three loving children, a comfortable home, and a successful career. Everything is perfect—or so it seems. Tragically, Mac is destined to learn that any sense of security can quickly prove false. Because an invisible enemy called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has invaded Mac’s fragile mind and it is about to drop him to his knees. He does all he can to conceal his inner chaos, but to no avail. Left to contend with ignorance, an insensitive justice system, and the struggles of an invisible disease, he loses everything—most importantly his family.
One shoebox might store an old pair of sneakers. Two shoeboxes might contain a lifetime of photographs. But in Three Shoeboxes, a father’s undying love may be just enough to make things right again.
1. We all heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but putting aside the specialized words, what PTSD could affect a person’s life?
PTSD is the result of trauma and the body/mind’s reaction to it. I suffered for 5 solid years after returning home from the first Gulf War. Symptoms included anxiety, panic attacks and severe depression. When PTSD takes hold, the victim suffers terribly—and usually alone and in silence to conceal the illness (and protect themselves from the negative stigmas that come with mental illness). Normal living gives way to self-preservation, and the sufferer becomes detached from everything and everyone (while just trying to breathe). In turn, the family begins to suffer, as well. PTSD costs people their careers, marriages, homes—and for those who don’t get help, their lives.
2. Even if I read only the blurb of the book, I like very much the metaphor of the three shoeboxes. How did you come with the title and how deep the meaning gets?
This is a tough one to answer without giving away the ending. I usually come up with a title before the book is written. Not in this case. Three Shoeboxes came up in a very intense scene in the book, and I knew right away that it was the perfect title.
I’m know for writing “feel good tear-jerkers that celebrate the strength of the human spirit” and I went to the deep end of the pool on this book.
3. Looking at your works, I have to ask you about what it takes to transform the real, medical, sometimes cold life aspects into a good story?
For me, the trick is in the character development. I spend a lot of time creating characters that are real and relatable—folks the reader might know. Once I make that connection, the characters will do the rest. Being empathetic is how I’m able to position action and dialogue, leading the story down a path that readers are happy to take—even if it isn’t all sunshine and flowers along the way/.
4. What do you prefer to write (and why): novel or novella?
The novel—without question. I love words and putting them together to create a clever puzzle. For me, the larger the canvas, the more space I have to move readers emotionally—and spiritually. I’ve written novellas, but if the story is something I’m passionate about then I want to keep going.
5. Why did you start writing and what is the role (purpose) of a writer?
When I was young, my grandfather was an amazing storyteller. Although he never put pen to paper, I was awed by the power of words—to make people laugh or even cry. I knew then that I wanted to be a storyteller too.
I’d just returned home from Operation Desert Storm, and was working as a prison investigator in Massachusetts. Needless to say, there was great negativity in my life at that time. I decided to return to college to finish my degree in Criminal Justice. During one of the classes, the professor talked about police work but nothing else. I finally raised my hand and asked, “The criminal justice system is vast. What about the courts, probation, parole – corrections?” He smiled and told me to see him after class. I thought I’d done it! In his office, he explained, “There’s no written material out there on corrections or prisons, except from the slanted perspective of inmates.” He smiled again and dropped the bomb. “If you’re so smart,” he said, “why don’t you write it?” Nine months later, I dropped the first draft of 6-5; A Different Shade of Blue on his desk. From then on, I was hooked. I was a writer.
The vast majority of the time, the ideas for my books come from real-life. My books are normally about relationships and the challenges that we all must overcome. The underlying theme for each is that “none of us is ever alone.”
I believe that the purpose of writers is to connect people.
About the author:
Steven Manchester is the author of the #1 bestsellers Twelve Months, The Rockin’ Chair, Pressed Pennies, and Gooseberry Island, the national bestseller Ashes, and the novels Goodnight, Brian and The Changing Season. His work has appeared on NBC’s Today Show, CBS’s The Early Show, CNN’s American Morning, and BET’s Nightly News. Recently, three of Manchester’s short stories were selected “101 Best” for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.
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