Evans, Richard Paul
Evans, Richard Paul
Married Keri Disera; children: five. Religion: Mormon.
Writer. Claymagic Productions, president, 1986-90; Twede Evans Advertising, partner, 1990-99; The Christmas Box House International, founder and president, 1997—. Founder, Salt Lake City's Book Festival; host of annual Utah Foster Family Appreciation Dinner. Also served as associate producer for the 1996 television adaptation of his novel Timepiece.
Two silver and three bronze Addies for advertising; Utah Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Ernst & Young, 1997; American Mothers' Book Award, 1998; Utah Families Governor's Award, 1999; Washington Times Foundation American Century Award, 1999; Utah Granite Education Foundation Children's Friend Award, 2001.
The Christmas Box, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.
Timepiece, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1996.
The First Gift of Christmas, Gibbs Smith (Salt Lake City, UT), 1996.
The Letter, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1997.
The Christmas Candle, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1998.
The Locket, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1998.
The Dance, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 1999.
The Looking Glass, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
The Carousel, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2000.
The Spyglass: A Story of Faith, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2000.
The Tower: A Story of Humility, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2001.
His Gift, Arcadia Publishing (Salt Lake City, UT), 2001.
The Last Promise, Dutton (New York, NY), 2002.
The Light of Christmas, illustrated by Daniel Craig, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2002.
A Perfect Day, Dutton (New York, NY), 2003.
The Sunflower, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.
Finding Noel, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
The Christmas Box Miracle: My Spiritual Journey of Destiny, Healing, and Hope, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life and Wealth (nonfiction), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Family Circle, USA Today Weekend, and Good Housekeeping. Author of foreword, William Dean Howell, Christmas Every Day: A Story Told a Child, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1996. Author's works have been translated into seventeen languages.
The Christmas Box was adapted for television and was broadcast by Columbia Broadcast Service (CBS), 1995, winning an Emmy award; other books adapted for television include Timepiece, 1996, The Locket, 2002, and A Perfect Day, 2006.
Needled by critics, adored by popular America, Richard Paul Evans is an amazing success story. His roots in advertising, where he won several awards for his innovative concepts, gave him an advantage as a new author. The ability to market ideas to a large audience paid off with his best-selling book, The Christmas Box, which had humble beginnings as a self-published work. Excitement about the story spread quickly via word of mouth, allowing Evans to sell thousands of books on his own and find a major publisher. Since then, he has authored numerous books, all with a common message of triumph over adversity, often through the means of love and spirituality. His message strikes deep in the heart of many readers, but is lampooned by critics who find his work too sentimental.
The Christmas Box began as a personal tale Evans wrote for his children in 1992. He bound the book with laminated covers and, that Christmas, he gave copies of it as gifts to relatives who, in turn, lent the books to their friends, who lent the books to their friends, until local bookstores were inundated with requests for his book. Evans continued to print copies of the book, spearheading a marketing campaign. Eventually, a publisher came forward to do more widespread publishing, but only after Evans had sold the film rights to a local company, who sold their adaptation of the story to CBS, as the book caught on to a nationwide audience.
In an interview with Brad Crawford in Writer's Digest, Evans said: "The Christmas Box is a simple book, but there is something magical about it." It tells the tale of a hardworking man who seems to take his family for granted. Only the attention of a sickly old woman and her magic box can show the protagonist, also named Richard, the error of his ways. "The strings Evans pulls to vivify it should squeeze sobs from even the stoniest of hearts," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor.
The prequel to The Christmas Box, Timepiece, was published in 1996. In this book the old woman of the previous book, Mary-Anne, is now a young woman with her own familial difficulties, which she gets through with much suffering, love and hope. Timepiece is a "more ambitious tale" but Evans "carries it off with aplomb, though the dark events of the central story and an unabashedly sappy wedding-eve coda don't quite mesh," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel a "handkerchief heaven for many."
The Letter, published in 1997, is the concluding volume in the "Christmas Box" trilogy. Here Mary-Anne leaves her husband, David, after years of sorrow and neglect. Now David is the one who must go through the trials and tribulations to achieve a happy ending. Sheila M. Riley commented in her Library Journal review that she found the story "heartwarming" and "engaging and inspirational."
Evans continues his Christmas theme with 1998's The Christmas Candle. The tale is about a young man coming home for Christmas who scoffs at a candlemaker's love for his craft. When the young man accepts the candle offered to him to light his way home, his perception of those he deemed beneath him changes, by magic of the candle. A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented that the tale may please adult fans of this "faux-Dickensian fantasy."
In 1998 Evans started a new series with The Locket, another tale about love and loss that features Michael and Faye, star-crossed lovers with more than familial disapproval to keep them apart. Confronted with the deaths of those he becomes close to, Michael learns to have faith in his dreams. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted a "marked improvement in craftsmanship."
With The Dance Evans tries his hand at attracting a younger audience. This book, about a young girl who loves to dance and her ailing father who loves to watch her, was considered "heartwarming" and "brief, but complete" by Dance contributor Merrill Leigh. Carol Schene, writing in the School Library Journal, remarked that it is "a solemn, nostalgic story that will appeal to an adult audience."
In The Spyglass: A Story of Faith, a kingdom repairs its crumbling land by the faith and wisdom of a passing stranger. The Tower: A Story of Humility features another short-sighted young protagonist who builds a tower to maintain a sense of strength and power over those beneath him. In both stories the main characters are enlightened by a new and untainted individual whose simple remedies teach the other characters a life long lesson. Both The Looking Glass and The Carousel are adult love stories thought "inspirational" by Ray Olson in Booklist. The Looking Glass introduces a new round of characters, set against a nineteenth-century Old West scene. The protagonist is a minister who has turned his back on religion and is set to make his fortunes in the new frontier with gold. He comes across a battered Irishwoman in the wilderness and the two develop a love affair. The book was considered "heartfelt" by a Publishers Weekly contributor. Booklist's Patty Engelmann found the story "action-packed" with "the sort of dramatic intensity [Evans] … has perfected, and which his legions of fans seem to love." The Carousel returns to the star-crossed lovers from The Locket, who enjoy brief respites of happiness and contentment before more emotional suffering must be incurred. Olivia Abel, writing in People, noted: "Occasionally the author produces a moment to make even the most cynical among us cheer."
In The Last Promise, Evans sets his tale in Florence, Italy, where American Eliana is in an unhappy marriage with her Italian husband Maurizio, who is cheating on her. She feels trapped in the marriage, however, because the couple has an asthmatic son whom her husband threatens to keep in Italy if she leaves him and moves back to America. Eventually, Eliana meets the American Ross and strikes up a friendship that begins to blossom into more when Eliana asks Ross to sit for a portrait. "Events conspire to keep the kindred spirits apart, but like all good romance novels, this one has them living happily" together in the end, noted Kathleen Hughes in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author provides "a gender-bending twist on the age-old story of romance between artist and subject."
In his first picture book, The Light of Christmas, illustrated by Daniel Craig, Evans tells the story of a young boy named Alexander living long ago. When Alexander helps a stranger, he discovers he was won the opportunity to light the yearly Christmas flame. Writing in Booklist, Stephanie Zvirin referred to The Light of Christmas as "a holiday book that calls for family sharing." A Kirkus Reviews contributor noted that the author's fans "will see a parable of faith, hope, and charity."
A Perfect Day tells the story of novelist Robert Harlan, whose novel, A Perfect Day, brings him enormous success. Nevertheless, his marriage begins to fall apart due to new outside influences, including adoring women fans and Hollywood agents. Eventually, Harlan learns from a hip angel that he has forty days to live, causing Harlan to reflect on his life, his newfound fame and fortune, and what he really wanted out of life all along. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote of the book: "The inevitable twist is clever, the writing throughout assured, the sentiment unapologetic and the author confident that he knows just what his readers want." Writing in Booklist, Kristine Huntley called A Perfect Day a "moving tale of a man who finds success and then discovers that other things in his life may be more important."
In his 2005 novel The Sunflower, Evans presents ER physician Paul Cook and dental hygienist Christine Hollister. Both are suffering emotionally, Cook because of losing two patients in one night and Christine because her fiancé has broken off their engagement. The two meet during Christine's group trip vacation in Peru when Paul, who has moved to Peru to run an orphanage, catches a person trying to steal Christine's wallet. Christine leaves the group to spend time with Paul at the orphanage and, as her vacation nears its end, wonders if there is a chance for a future together.
Evans presents a tale about the influence of two strangers on each others' lives in his novel Finding Noel. When his car breaks down on a snowy night in Utah, Mark Smart finds shelter in a coffee shop where he meets Macy Wood, who drives him home. The two begin a friendship in which they tell each other about their lives and problems, such as the death of Mark's mother and Macy's longing to find her sister, who was separated from Macy when the two were adopted by different families. Eventually Mark asks Macy to marry him, but his problematic family life makes Macy unsure of the proposal. Writing again in Booklist, Huntley commented that "this heartwarming tale is perfect for every reader who loves sweet and uplifting fare."
Evans turns from fiction to advice giving in his book The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me about Life and Wealth. The book focuses on what a millionaire whom Evans met when he was teenager taught him about managing money to gain financial independence and a happy life. Brad Hooper, writing in Booklist, noted that the author presents his advice in "cogent, lively terms." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author's "friendly advice brings the secrets of wealth accumulation to common readers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Evans, Richard Paul, The Christmas Box Miracle: My Spiritual Journey of Destiny, Healing, and Hope, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2001.
Booklist, October 15, 1998, Kathleen Hughes, review of The Locket, p. 400; September, 1999, Patty Engelmann, review of The Looking Glass, p. 197; November 15, 2000, Ray Olson, review of The Carousel, p. 588; October 1, 2002, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Light of Christmas, p. 335; November 1, 2002, Kathleen Hughes, review of The Last Promise, p. 450; September 15, 2003, Kristine Huntley, review of A Perfect Day, p. 180; September 1, 2005, Kristine Huntley, review of The Sunflower, p. 5; December 15, 2005, Brad Hooper, review of The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me about Life and Wealth, p. 4; August 1, 2006, "Upcoming in Upfront Fiction," includes brief review of Finding Noel, p. 10; September 15, 2006, Kristine Huntley, review of Finding Noel, p. 5.
Dance, December, 2000, Merrill Leigh, "Gifts for the Holidays," p. 52.
Entertainment Weekly, November 29, 2002, Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, review of The Last Promise, p. 110; December 15, 2006, Melissa Rose Bernardo, review of Finding Noel, p. 92.
Horn Book Guide, fall, 1999, Carolyn Shute, review of The Christmas Candle, p. 251; spring, 2000, Martha Sibert, review of The Dance, p. 34.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 1996, review of Timepiece, p. 314; October 1, 2002, review of The Promise, p. 1414; November 1, 2002, review of The Light of Christmas, p. 1617; August 1, 2005, review of The Sunflower, p. 805.
Library Journal, October 15, 1997, Sheila M. Riley, review of The Letter, p. 91.
People, January 12, 1998, Laura Jamison, review of The Letter, p. 33; December 4, 2000, Olivia Abel, review of The Carousel, p. 57.
Publishers Weekly, October 9, 1995, review of The Christmas Box, p. 77; March 18, 1996, review of Timepiece, p. 58; September 28, 1998, review of The Christmas Candle, p. 59, and review of The Locket, p. 75; September 20, 1999, review of The Looking Glass, p. 77; October 14, 2002, review of The Last Promise, p. 65; August 25, 2003, review of A Perfect Day, p. 38; August 22, 2005, review of The Sunflower, p. 37; November 21, 2005, review of The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me about Life and Wealth, p. 43; September 4, 2006, review of Finding Noel, p. 39.
School Library Journal, January, 2000, Carol Schene, review of The Dance, p. 94; January, 2001, Steven Engelfried, review of The Spyglass: A Story of Faith, p. 99; February, 2002, Ellen Heath, review of The Tower: A Story of Humility, p. 100; October, 2002, Susan Patron, review of The Light of Christmas, p. 58.
Washington Post, November 29, 1995, Linton Weeks, "Season's Greenings," p. C1.
Writer's Digest, October, 1999, Brad Crawford, "Richard Paul Evan's Improbable Profession," pp. 10-11.
Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (March 7, 2007), information on author's film work and film adaptations of novels.
Richard Paul Evans Home Page,http://richardpaulevans.com (March 7, 2007).