All Heart with Paul Cardall

Best-Selling Author Richard Paul Evans

Episode Summary

Paul Cardall and No. 1 NY Times Best-selling Author Richard Paul Evans share unique marketing principles that helped Richard sell more than 35 million books, of which inspired a handful of films and The Christmas Box House, which helps abused children improve the quality of their lives. Richard discovered a young Paul Cardall playing piano in their Utah community. He contracted the pianist to compose a musical adaptation of Evans’ The Christmas Box, which began a lifelong friendship and mentorship. Listeners will learn business principles on how to produce inspirational products that change lives for the better.

Episode Notes

Multi-No. 1 NY Times best-selling author Richard Paul Evans has sold more than 35 million books. The former political strategist and advertiser discovered a young Paul Cardall playing piano in their Utah community. Richard contracted the pianist to compose a musical adaptation of Evans’ The Christmas Box, which began a lifelong friendship and mentorship. Cardall and Evans discuss how to develop life changing products that make the world a better place. In addition, Evans shares unique marketing principles that helped him sell more than 35 million books, of which inspired a handful of films and a charity that’s helped abused children improve the quality of their lives. Listeners will learn business principles on how to produce inspirational products that change lives for the better. Also discussed is Evans latest book, The Noel Letters. Order his books on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, or wherever you get your novels. Find Richard Paul Evans on Instagram @richardpaulevansauthor and on Facebook at RPE FANS. To keep up with Paul, find him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTubeAll Heart with Paul Cardall is proudly a part of the American Songwriter Podcast Network.

 

Episode Transcription

- [Narrator] Hey everybody. Welcome to the American Songwriter Podcast Network. This is "All Heart" with Paul Cardall. Forbes magazine calls him one of the most listened to recording artists of our time with more than 3 billion streams and 11 number one albums on top billboard charts. With his podcast, Paul wants to shed light on unique celebrities and influencers who use their gifts to make the world a better place. Like you, his guests are all heart.

 

- For those that are listening. Richard Paul Evans really was my mentor in learning how to create a product that is of value, that means something, that changes lives, and then how to actually market that, and PR, and get that out into the hands of people. So that is why this interview is very special to me. And I'm excited to share Richard you with my audience and with everybody with American Songwriter, because I think you have so much wisdom and insight into just being successful in terms of helping people and changing their lives. So thank you for being here.

 

- I hope so, you bet. Yeah, we, I, I smile because like I remember, I remember you sitting in my living room, and I remember a woman and neighbor said "You got to meet this guy who plays the piano." And when I was little, I had a pretty difficult childhood, but one of the things I had that gave me, gave me solace was my brother played the piano, and he was incredibly talented. He could, he never, he didn't take lessons. He could listen to a song on the radio and sit down and play it. So he just gets it that way, and at night he would sit there and just play the piano. And just improvise and combine songs. And I remember just sitting there and feeling at peace. So when you came to my living room, and started playing our piano, it was, it was that kind of experience. So it was a very personal thing. And at the time my book was so big. I mean I was hearing from Garth Brook's people. Garth was thinking of doing something based on my book. I was getting, I was getting calls from The White House. I mean it was an insane time. And you're, you're just a kid playing for tips at ZCMI Center, and you know, I just, there was a connection there.

 

- Well that, the entire "Christmas Box" era and experience, I mean that really was my breakthrough. People say, "Well what was your breakthrough?" I said, "You know, it was being at the right place at the right time, playing from the heart." And somebody heard it and gave you one of my CDs. And then she had, but I have to, let me back up. I was playing this song called "Dave's Farewell", and I'd written it for a friend that passed away. So the woman who saw this was crying, she was by the makeup counter, and I thought, oh my gosh, her credit card is maxed out, she can't get what she wants. But Debbie, Debbie Castleton comes walking towards me and says that, "What is that song?" And I, she goes, it reminds me of my husband. And he had passed away four years earlier. And he was the one that kind of created that whole, well, the Castleton store that became the Nordstrom's in Utah. Nordstrom's came in and bought them out, but she came in and bought like every album I had up there on customer service and gave them to everybody. And she goes, "I got to give it to this neighbor of mine who visits me all the time and takes good care of me." And that was you. And that's that's in essence what happened. So it was, you know, people always say, do you have to go and like, play your music in front of a producer to get discovered? I say you just got to be at the right place at the right time and always play from the heart. So that was the beginning of our journey with "The Christmas Box". Tell us, tell us, you know, I think the vast majority of people know what "The Christmas Box" is, but for those who have been living on another planet, "The Christmas Box" is the first novel that you wrote. Tell me and tell us the whole Kinko's story and why you decided to do it briefly, so we can talk about some of this other amazing things you've got going on.

 

- Well, I was, at the time I was, I was 29 years old. I was working at in an advertising agency working with political candidates. So I just, I had run for the state legislature myself as a young man, and I was running a US Senate race, and I had just lost my election by a hundred votes. Best thing that ever happened. All of a sudden I had all this time on my hands, the election was over, and it was like, what am I gonna do? And really wasn't the time to start up anything. It was just before Christmas. I thought I'm going to write a book. And that's what it started. I started, I didn't have any lofty ideas of being an author. I just, I wanted to write a book just to write a book. And that was "The Christmas Box". It was, I was thinking, what do I write about? And I heard somewhere that you write from what you're most passionate about. And at the time, what I'm most passionate about was my two little girls that I had become a father, and it had changed everything. It's like, I adored these little girls. I'd come home and you'd get the window looking out waiting and they get so excited. You'd think it was Christmas morning, "Dad's home." You know it's like best thing in the world. They'd be so excited. So I write this story and it just starts coming to me with incredible power. It's like, why am I getting such inspiration for this little book that doesn't matter? And I finished the book, give it to my wife Keri, and ask her to read it. And she's terrified, because she just assumed this is a, she has to be, either I have to be a good writer, or she has to be good liar. And neither were likely. But she reads the book and from end-to-end, and she's just crying. And she goes, "Where did you get this book?" And I said, "It was just inspired." It'd wake me up in the middle of the night. I'd pull off the freeway and start writing the chapter, you know, I'd start writing. And so I printed up 27 copies at Kinko's, and started to hand them out to neighbors. And that was it. You know, that's all, I was done. And apparently the book had other plans, because all of a sudden, I started to get phone calls from people. And I remember one day, this was in January, and this woman said, you know this, "I want to tell you what your book means to me." I said, "How'd you get my book? Who are you?" She said, "Well, so-and-so gave it to me." I didn't know who that was either. Realized the book had been passed on from person to person. And so I started to track those copies down. And as near as I could tell, the book had been read more than 200 times. So for an average book to get read 10 times and passed on, there's something special there. And then I received a phone call from a bookstore, and the clerk had gone down the Salt Lake City White Pages, calling all the R. Evans, and when he got to me, he said, "Did you write a Christmas story?" And I said, "yes". And he said, "Great, where do you order it?" I said, "You can't order it. There are no copies. It's not been published." She said, "We've had 10 orders this week for it."

 

- Wow.

 

- So at that point, I thought I better publish it. So I sent it to publishers and they all rejected it. No one was interested in this book. Everyone who rejected, lost at least $20 million. I got, totally got the last laugh. I've heard from a few of them. It's like "worst decision I ever made". But I decided to self publish it. And I knew nothing about the industry at the time, but I knew how to market political candidates. And so I treated my book like a politician, and start going out there and pushing. The first year we sold 17,000 copies, which is, most books don't ever reach that. But that was just locally.

 

- Yeah let me stop you.

 

- In that- Yeah let me stop you right there, because by treating it like a political cause, that's what I observed right when I came in, because most people will just advertise, here's what it is, here's what it does. You, you, you basically created this movement to help mothers that were never able to bury their child. And as a father that, you know, my, my, my, we had two twins, we were never able to, to bury, you created this experience that is so deep. That's so profound. I like, when you say, Keri asked you, "Where did this come from Rick?" Instead of you know, that's amazing that you wrote this, you're so amazing. It was like, "Where did you get this Rick?"

 

- "Where'd you get this?" Yeah.

 

- But I love that because what it teaches people is that when you have something that you're passionate about, you need to share it in that way, as a cause, a political cause. Not just something to put some more money in your pocket. It has purpose. So that's one of the first things I picked up.

 

- The book, the book was magical, and that's, that's the important thing. When you find magic, and then we don't often in life, but when the time comes and you do find magic, you make the most of it.

 

- Yeah.

 

- And so that's what, that's what I did. And so it just kept growing. People kept asking for it. And so I self published it in 1994, and, you know, it's just fools rush in, right? I went out and printed up 400,000 copies. I had no idea. I mean I was taking every dime I had and putting it back in to printing. And I got one of my candidates to fund, to actually guarantee the printing, and printed it up 400,000 copies, not knowing that, not realizing that there's, that chances of that happening are like being struck by lightning.

 

- But 400,000. Sorry to interrupt you, but 400,000 copies. That's insane.

 

- That's it, yeah that's insane.

 

- Like.

 

- Like yeah out of 2 million books written every year, there's probably six of them that do that.

 

- Yeah that's why I'm sitting here going, oh yeah. I just printed up 400,000 copies. You knew there was a demand, but it's like, I'm gonna go, you mortgaged your home.

 

- No, not for the book, but we used every dime we had.

 

- Oh wow. Wow.

 

- Every dime. So what I did, 'cause the campaign we had just done, that I just won, we were able to get, you know, do okay financially with it. But I did, I did the math. I mean, I remember seeing this really fancy restaurant in New York and Jack Romanos at the time was the head of Simon & Schuster globally. He works with Paramount. It was huge right? And you've been in meetings like that. And he turns to me and he goes, "How did you do that? How did you know the book was going to sell?" And I said, "Well, it was a matter of math. I saw what, what, how many, if I put this many books in the area, how many would sell? How many were, were, it went viral. And this is before social media. If social media was out today, we probably would have sold 50 million copies, right. Because this was all, this was all one at a time.

 

- This was new yeah.

 

- Yeah so-

 

- Your money balling this.

 

- Yeah it was just, yeah, I just did the math on it. And I said, "Frankly, I was disappointed, because the sales were half of what I thought." He just shook his head. He goes "You paid off a $4 million advance in two months." He goes, "No one's ever done that before." "The Christmas Box", for those who don't know, during the phenomenon, it had the highest one week sell of any book in history until Harry Potter.

 

- Hmm.

 

- Harry Potter actually got up to that level. But up to that point, it was like 10 times what John Grisham had done.

 

- Yet and you were self-published in the, I mean you were self-published.

 

- I was self-published.

 

- And these other people had the backing of all these, you know, mega PR people, and the marketing, and the distribution. I recall that you, you dug in deep with some of the local distributors in Utah, which had almost all access. But like you were really strategic in how to get that into the stores, because you don't just-

 

- It was tough. It was tough. In fact one time I was frustrated, because what actually, when the book actually hit really big, and there was no Amazon.com, that would have changed everything. There was no Amazon.

 

- Hmm.

 

- So I couldn't just put it up there and everyone could run to it.

 

- Right.

 

- So all of a sudden we're getting all this press and it wasn't in the city. So one time I was frustrated, because I was hearing from people, "I couldn't find your book." And so what I did, I had this little distributor who made millions off of it. And I, I said, okay, if you can't find my book, here's their phone number. Okay I did it during a small city radio interview. I get a call 3:00 the afternoon from the distributor. He goes, "You didn't accidentally give our number out, did you?" And I go, "Yeah, I did actually."

 

- Accidentally.

 

- And he said, "You shut us down." He said, "Every line has been full for the last six hours trying to get the book." He goes, "We can't ship books, when you do that. It's like, you're hurting yourself." It's like, that's how it, it was, it was tough. So when the book I'm sitting with Harry Evans, who just passed away, he was a titan in the publishing industry, British, he was, Sir Harold Evans, everyone knew who he was. He was literally knighted by the Queen, right? He said, "You know we did research on your book." and he's trying to get the book from me. He wants to publish it. And he said, "You were only in, in 5% of the bookstores in America, when you hit number two on the New York Times." No one does that.

 

- Mind blown.

 

- He goes "This is going to break records."

 

- That's amazing.

 

- He goes, "How much do you want?" And my agent said, "No, we're going into an auction." And he said, "Then I guess we will be playing table tennis, won't we." I'll never forget that. And he also said something really profound. He said, "Look around this room." And in this big office, there were manuscripts stacked about three feet high across all the walls.

 

- Hmm.

 

- And it was pretty interesting to look at it. And he said, "That's just what the agents bring me. We know there's gold in the hills, but sometimes you have to move a mountain to find them." And so for those, I mean, for those that are listening to this podcast, because they're artists, there's a time that you have to realize it does come down to the art. That there is something that's so magical, when people hear it, they connect to it immediately, and say, wait, there's something here. It does come down to the PR. I haven't been able to replicate what happened with "The Christmas Box". It was the right time, with the right place, the right need. And as USA today said, it was like, "It's number one book in America, and it's like, it's answering this need for family, and it distracts your time."

 

- Yeah, yeah. The book it knocked off at number one, one of all things, was Howard stern, "Private Parts". Interestedly, a greater dichotomy. This book that was really obscene actually, and then this beautiful, this beautiful family story of God. There were head to head. So when it knocked him off, I'm sure he threw a tantrum. I get a call from USA today. And they said, "Well, thank God." That's what they said literally. They said, "Thank God that something with decency actually knocked him off."

 

- Well you never, and you never got an invitation from Howard Stern to be on the show.

 

- Oh geez, I got Danny Bonaduce.

 

- Oh, that's right. You did do Danny.

 

- I walked into that not knowing what that was. And it-

 

- You softened him up though.

 

- Yeah. Yeah, that was the end. He basically told me he beat up Donny Osmond, broke his nose. He asked his, the girl that was with him, if she thought he was cute and wanted to go back to my hotel, just like, it was like oh-

 

- Oh man. Oh man.

 

- And the last thing I said is "Look, Danny, I mean I know you're flippant." and I said, "But this book is healing for people who've lost children."

 

- Yeah.

 

- And that just stopped him cold. And then he, then he goes into probably the only time in his career that he actually got soft on air. He got teary-eyed and he said, he goes, "I'm a screw up." You said this on air. I mean there's tens of thousands of people listening to him, He goes "I'm a screw up, and the stories about me," he goes, "but somewhere there's one thing good," and he goes "my little girl, my daughter. And I go in at night. I don't know why God would give me something like this for who I am. If something ever happened to her," he goes, "God bless you, man. Everyone go out in Chicago, go out and buy his book." It's just like, it was, I could see the people, up in the like little glass watching him, the producers going, "What are you doing? What are you doing? This isn't you, right?" And it was so powerful.

 

- Let me ask you to what your point, what you're saying, but away from "The Christmas Box", there seems to be this thing that exists in the media or in commercial, the commercial market, that when you start to talk about family values, and you start to talk about God in books, they get scared and they run, or it's taboo or mean, you know what I'm talking about? Like he's got this platform where he's got to be, you know, crude and a jokester and you know, the rebel from the Partridge family. But then you have all these people that are creating these amazing products that are for good. And it seems like whenever we take something that's special, like the relationship of children or somebody that has had cancer or some, you know, things that are really relevant to life, why is it that they publishing world, the music world are afraid of a lot of that stuff?

 

- Well, the biggest reason, I mean I've discovered that like the publishing world is, it's not that like they're immoral, some are, but it's not that they're immoral, it's that they're amoral. They follow the buck.

 

- Okay.

 

- And one thing that I'll caution anyone in this industry, if you set yourself up as, Hey, I'm Mr. Moral guy, and I'm doing this, so you should buy my book. That's immoral. I mean, if you're doing it, it's like buy, don't buy a book because it's going to give good value 'cause it's like people buy things because they're art. I never set out to write a book that was like moral or ethical.

 

- Virtuous yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

- I wrote a book that was about my life experience.

 

- Okay.

 

- I mean the love that I had for my little girls, it's just like, it's like I adore them. I just adored them and it's like, I didn't want to be a father. So this, I was very passionate, because I was like a convert. I told my wife I didn't want to have children. She said, "What do you mean? You don't want children? You came from a family of 10." And I go, "exactly."

 

- Yeah right.

 

- Why would you want to do that again? It was abusive. It was tough, and it's like, and so when these little girls came, I mean they're just everything. And now they're, I'm so proud of them. They're women. They have, I have grandchildren. I'm so proud of who they are. And when I wrote this, it was just very real. And what happened is those feelings, it's about authenticity. It's about vulnerability. That book was completely honest.

 

- Yeah.

 

- So when a businessman and this all happened, when a businessman in Japan or a father in Iraq, the book was smuggled into Iraq or Iran. And it's like, they read this, and all of a sudden they think, I need to work less. I need to spend more time with my children.

 

- Right.

 

- All of a sudden they have it, all of a sudden that was real. And so I don't write things to be virtuous. I write things because you love virtue. Okay that's the reality. "The Christmas Box", or the things I write about, they're real. And that means like there's darkness in everything, there's darkness in us. We're all broken people.

 

- Right.

 

- But that's the beauty of it. We can be broken and stupid and, but we can still see good when we see it. And so to like try to put a cloak over that is, is a horrible thing to do, and it is bad for culture. On the other hand to try to claim that you're the virtuous one, look at me virtue city. I hate even mentioning it. Look how good I am. Look what I did. You know, it's like, just be. Just be authentic and be real. And you know, I just, you know those early days, I still hear from people. Only you'll see them post online and said, you know, "I'm at an event, and Richard stopped, I was in pain. He stopped and said, "Can I help you?" And he stopped his signing to do something for me. And it's like that wasn't trying to get attention. That was like, that could have been my sister or my friend, or you know what I mean?

 

- Yeah.

 

- It's like, it's being real.

 

- Well that's something I also picked up from you, because one of the things you had me do was, you had this big long line of people out the door for hours to get "Timepiece", which was your second novel. And I had come in working on "The Christmas Box" album and we put a piano there because you felt bad that people had to wait in the line. You wanted them to get up to you, and have that one-on-one experience. And I'd sit and I'd play for everybody. And it was nice, but I observed the line would not move as fast. And I was like, what is going on? And I look over. You are like hugging, almost every person that comes in and like you know these people and they know you. And I'm like he's giving them what I call, a woman at the well experience. You're making them right there in that moment, feel like the most amazing person. And I watched that and I said, I'm always after every concert, if I'm allowed to go out, I don't care if I'm immuno-suppressed, I'm gonna shake everyone's hand and really get to know them. And I picked that up from you. And it's the most rewarding thing in the world, because I could have these meet and greets that are like, you know, a hundred dollars a person here. I just, I said no, because I want that one on one like you've had, and you keep having with your customers. So that's another thing I, I picked up on.

 

- Well I'm really, you know I'm just really grateful for 'em. In fact I had this experience and I think it sums up how I feel about the relationship when my daughter, Allyson was a teenager and she's, by the way she is a nurse. She's getting her doctorate right now, and she's amazing.

 

- She is an amazing person, yeah. All your kids are amazing.

 

- But she was a teenager. One day she comes home and she goes, she goes, "Oh dad I met one of your fans today." I go, "That's good". "She's such a weirdo." I go "My fans are weirdos?" "Oh she's a weirdo, she found out who I was, she's like "Oh, you're silly." And she thought I was making fun of her, and I said, "What does she look like?" She goes "Well what do you mean?" Well, "What color hair did she have?" She goes, "Um, brown? "What color were eyes?" It's like, "I don't know, maybe brown." I go "What's height, how tall was she?" It's like, "I don't know." I go, "How tall?" She's goes, "Maybe like mom's size." "And like how old?" "I don't know, old, like you." "It's like, actually why?" And I go, "I know who that woman is." She goes, "You do?" And I said, "She's the woman who bought the clothes your wearing." And she just stopped. I said, "She's the woman who paid our heating bill this month."

 

- Hmm.

 

- And Allyson just looked at me, and I said "She's the one who paid for our last vacation."

 

- That's amazing.

 

- She goes, "I get it." And I go, "Allyson don't ever make fun of one of my readers again."

 

- Yeah.

 

- I said, "When one of my readers tells you who they are, You say thank you."

 

- Yeah, wow. Then say "You've given us a great life. You have allowed my dad to produce art for a living. You've paid for our schooling. And I just really am grateful for you."

 

- That's so beautiful.

 

- She goes okay. And Ally is really grateful, but I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I made a rule years ago. It's like I will never have, if someone comes to a signing and sometimes people run up and think, you know how it is, weird things happen when you're working with crowds. But I actually chased someone out from the signing out to the parking lot, because I didn't have eye contact with them. They kind of got their book after waiting an hour, they got their book, and left and they didn't have any experience. I go, I just told my staff, "Stop, that woman did not even get to see me. I didn't say hi to her. That is not okay." I go, "I'll be right back." And the line just sat there, and I ran out. She said, "Thank you."

 

- That's the hardest. That is the hardest I, that is a painful feeling, when you're watching your fans come to you, and you're gonna sign something and then they, it's like you watch them get, and then they leave, and yeah, you got to go after that person, because they need to know that you care about them and that you love them, and that they are doing all that stuff. That's yeah.

 

- Yeah, and there's a great karma to it. One time I was at a bookstore in Alabama, and I'm walking in the store and I see a little boy holding my "Michael Vey" book, walking out, and with his mother. And I go, I looked at him and I stopped. I had the entourage with me, stopped tonight, and I go, "You're going the wrong way." And she looked at me, she goes, "Well here, Mr. Evans." And the little boy says, "They kicked us out of the store." I go "They kicked you out?" He goes, "Yeah they said we can't come in, because we bought the book somewhere else." I said, "Did they?" I said, "Well guess what, we're going to have a private signing." I go "What's your name?" "Jack." I go "Okay Jack, I'm gonna have a private signing right here with you." Okay, and you know what, you could see the tears in the mothers eye. I mean it's just like, I am a dad, I get it.

 

- Yeah.

 

- And then what happens? Then she posted online. It goes viral. And it's like, well I didn't do it for that. I did it for Jack.

 

- That's right.

 

- I actually really did it for the mother. because as a parent, nothing hurts us more than seeing our children disappointed. And so it's that, after 25 years of doing that, it's like you have people who will take a bullet for you.

 

- Yeah.

 

- Which makes me even more grateful and love them more. So I see it as a real family, as a community.

 

- Yeah.

 

- Of my readers, and I can't, I'll never be able to repay them for what they've done for me.

 

- You are coming up I think on a 25 years as an author, or you're a little past twenty-five. I want to add, do you know how many books you have? There are so many books. What's the? How many do you have?

 

- Yeah new book, "The Noel letters". It's my 41st novel.

 

- 41st.

 

- Forty one.

 

- And that's part of your Noel series.

 

- Yeah it's not really, and that, my publisher hates that I did that. It's a collection, 'cause the books have nothing to do with each other. So people come on, it's like, do I have to read the other three books? They have nothing to do with each other. I just, I'm just grabbing the name, "Noel". Before there was "Mistletoe". They said, "Please don't do that again."

 

- So then no, but what's this one about? Because I mean you've had so many, one of my favorite books that I think tends to get looked over is "The Looking Glass", obviously 'cause I scored music. We did an album for it, but that was one of my favorite, favorite stories, 'cause I'm a "Man from Snowy River" guy. I'm a "Somewhere in Time" person, And you created this like 19th century.

 

- That was fun yeah.

 

- That was such a great, great story.

 

- An Irish heroine named Quaye.

 

- Yeah, that's the one, and I want that as a film.

 

- It's still, yeah, it still sold a million copies. I mean it was still really big.

 

- Oh well I'm sorry.

 

- It wasn't really low.

 

- Oh geez you know, but that's the one I was like, man, that would be an amazing movie.

 

- Well, which is interesting, because right now I'm in this new realm, which is really interesting. I had like "The Christmas Box" was produced by CBS. It was the number one movie. It had 20, 30 million viewers.

 

- 40, 40 million.

 

- 40 million, okay. Well and then they did "Timepiece" with James Earl Jones. It had amazing, Naomi Watts, who now is like a mega star. She was new at the time. And then "The Locket" and then, didn't have anything produced for a while. And then "A Perfect Day" was made with Rob Lowe and Christopher Lloyd, which was totally cool. And then nothing and went just to nothing for years. I thought I would probably never have anything produced again, And then all of a sudden, this producer shows up and he read, his wife had read a story about me in USA today, and she said, you need to meet this guy. Well he flies to Utah with his wife and says, "I produced about 75 movies, and I would like, I've your books, I love them. I'd like to start producing them." Well he does. And they start getting made. And so I'm now up to eight movies, but right now almost everything is being made. So right now in the Noel series, "Noel Diary" is being produced as a feature film. My first feature with Netflix, starring Justin Hartley.

 

- Wow congrats.

 

- And Director Charles Shyre, who's big. If you look, just-

 

- Yeah, yeah, congratulations, wow man.

 

- All these major movies, so it's a feature film. Then "Noel Stranger" is being pitched to Hallmark right now. "Noel Letter" or "Noelle Diary", or "Noel", excuse me, "Noel Street, there's four Noel Books. "Noelle Street, I get a call from this producer. He goes, "Hey there's a lot of buzz about you in Hollywood right now." And this guy, he said the name. He goes, "Have you ever heard of the movie "Pretty Woman". Everyone's heard of "Pretty Woman", Julia Roberts. She goes, "He fell in love with your "Noel Street" book, and he wanted permission to write the screenplay for it and sell it." Like, "heck yes." So that's happening. And then "Noel Letters" I've already heard from a producer. So and then I have two producers who have come about wanting to work on doing a new TV series. So, so much is happening right now. It's just, it's crazy. I don't know why, why now? "Noel letters", it's it's a stand-alone book. It's the one that just came out. It's my wife's favorite of my 41 books.

 

- We've heard a lot of good things about that. There's been so many anxious comments of people that want to read that, so yeah. I mean, I'm excited. I'm excited. I'm excited to read that one. So many of our, so many of our listeners are trying to do music, are trying to write books. You've been very successful at surrounding yourself with a team of people. What do you look for when you're trying to gather your team to help propel these things? And then how do you maintain motivating them?

 

- Oh it's like my assistant Diane has been with me for 12 years. My first assistant Celeste, who I wrote my book, of "Finding Noel" about, she is now taken over at The Christmas Box House as executive director. And I just, I was talking to her this morning about some really cool things that are happening. And I thought she has, I go, "You are so smart. You have really grown." And she said, "Well, you taught me when I was so, I was young. I was 21 when you brought me in." And so what I look for, is I look for, so in first of all, they have to care. They have to have passion. If they're not passionate, then there's no point. They don't believe in what you're doing, and then you don't want to be there, because it, you have to believe more than the success 'cause you have to keep giving, and giving, giving, and you're gonna be exhausted sometimes. And so my assistant literally said to me last week, she goes, "You know I don't really need to sleep." "What?" I go, "Yes, you do." She goes, "No, I just wanna do this, and as long as I have a couple hours a day to exercise." It's like, oh my goodness. I am so blessed with hard work. And that's the other part, the other thing, passion and work ethic. And so my assistant was a country girl. You know, I was doing construction work as a kid. I was doing construction work since I was nine. And so one time Carolyn Reidy, the President of Simon & Schuster said in the cover of Wall Street Journal that "Richard Paul Evans is our hardest working author". And that actually to me, it was a compliment. Not our best writer, she said our "hard worker". I go to me, that was more of a choice. You know, writing was a gift from God. That's not something that just came to me. And, but working hard is a choice every day. It's like what, how, what more can I do to share my art?

 

- You've been fortunate 'cause I know the people that you, that you've surrounded yourself with, and they're all very intelligent, strong women. And I love the fact that you hire women, 'cause they get the job done. Celeste, you know, now she's the executive of The Christmas Box House, and I wanna talk about The Christmas Box House, because this is a shelter. Early on that Richard and everybody with The Christmas Box Foundation, which is a foundation you set up so that you can help children who have been abused. And slow the process, so that it's less frightening for the child who has to be removed from a domestic violence situation. And you can correct me if I'm wrong.

 

- That's actually right, critical.

 

- But it's remarkable. I've been down there. I played the piano during the holidays down there. And where did that idea come from? And in essence, how's it going now? That's amazing.

 

- I smile because I'm having so much fun with this right now. I feel like I just took the Ferrari out of the garage, and cleaned it up and it's running great. Well 'cause seriously, it was kind of, we've helped more than a 125,000 abused children. And that's a lot of kids. That's like stadiums, and stadiums. When we started, it took, it just about killed me. The first four years of The Christmas Box House was no fun at all. Okay, it just about bankrupted me, and we had very spiritual experiences that kept it going, but it was constantly just on the ground. I was funding everything and things were, we're talking about millions of dollars. And so it just about bankrupted me. And it was one of those experiences that it's like, why did I do this? And it's like, no you did it for the right reason. Just hold the course. In fact, at one time, the Board, I walked into a board meeting and they said, my dad was on the board. Said, "I'd like to make a motion before we start." I said, "Yes." He said, "I'd like to make a motion to shut everything down." And "What?"

 

- He goes, this wasn't you came in for, it's bankrupting you. And I say we just shut everything down." And he's like "Do we have a second?" I go, "Wait, wait, wait, are you all in on this?" And they're, most of them are there, I go, "Just a minute." And I go into, I'm in my office. I go out of the boardroom, I go into a utility closet and I kneel down next to a water heater. And frankly, I wanted to shut it down. Everything my dad said was true. There was no, we had this motto, no good deed goes unpunished. And I knelt down. I said, can I be done? Can we, it didn't work. Can I be done? And a very strong impression came to me like a voice that said, if you fail, no one will succeed. I took a deep breath, it's like okay, all right. And then I walked back into the board meeting. I said, "I'm not shutting it down. If you'd like to resign, you can resign." And then the head of Primary Children's Residential, so the number one guy in the state said, "You don't know what you don't know, Rick, you've already failed. The ship is going down." And at that moment, I said "Okay, then I guess I go down with them."

 

- Wow.

 

- I said, "You're all free to leave. Anybody who wants to stay." And they sat there. And my dad said, "Okay, I take that motion off." And it's like, let's get to work. And it was a nightmare. You know it didn't, everything needed just fixed, but it's like, but we thought we didn't get what we wanted, but we got what we needed. And it started to gain momentum and took about four years before all of a sudden the, the government forces started to work with us. And the people started to notice it. And we started to get donations that were more than $5, and it started to come. And then once we got, an inspiration came the whole way. And so, I mean, now I've run into kids. I'm at a book signing. This woman said, leans forward, she has three little kids with her, and she's just, you know, as suburban mother and sweet as can be, and she goes, "I was one of your Christmas Box House kids."

 

- Oh wow.

 

- I go, "Really?" She goes, "Yeah, my parents were drug addicts and abusive, and I was taken out." She goes, "I lived in your house. And thank goodness. I was able to get my life on track. And now I'm a mom." And what a beautiful reward. I see that more and more as I have adults coming to me and they say what a beautiful thing to see and be a part of.

 

- Yeah.

 

- And so I love The Christmas Box House. And if you go, if you guys want to know more about it, just go to thechristmasbox.org. Because now after all these years, I was so burned out after five years, it about bankrupted me. It took all my money. It was miserable and it kind of broke me. I kind of had PTSD and I just said, "I need to focus on my books." You run it. And what happened eventually over time, they just kind of got kind of lazy, right? They just kind of expected things. We had created such momentum by that point. And we just recently stepped back in. It's like, we can do more. And so, and I'm having a ball. And so we let the executive director go and brought Celeste in and she's totally on fire.

 

- Yeah that was a smart move, smart move.

 

- Well, the thing is she, she was a foster kid herself. She was sexually abused as a child, and she's open about these things. And, and then she helped me found it. She saw how it used to be, how gratitude was the basis of everything we did. And then when she left, she went into the corporate world with major multi-million dollar corporations, running a huge budget. And she became a very powerful marketer. And she was voted Utah Marketing Woman of the Year. It's like, I'm so proud of her. Yeah, she called me, come to my award and now she's back taking everything she knew. And it's almost like she went away to school, and now she gets back to the family business.

 

- That's right.

 

- So we are being flooded with donations right now. There's a lot of buzz on trafficking. Well people who are majoring in trafficking are coming to me to ask me to bring things to get others for them, including celebrities are coming and saying, because we have a track record, because we've, because we are very careful. People who work for us, don't get rich. They go here because they're passionate, and they wanna help kids.

 

- Yeah, that's incredible. It's such a remarkable journey you're having, because you don't just see things as well I need to, I need to go to work, and I need to pay the bills. It's this you're changing lives. You're changing the world. One of the last questions I like to ask my guests is, as we close up here is a, when 200 years from now, we're all gone, What is, what is, what is, what do you want people to remember about Richard Paul Evans? What is your legacy? What would you hope to leave behind?

 

- I guess the reality is in some ways I don't really care, because by that point I'll have moved on to the next adventure.

 

- Wow.

 

- And whatever God has in store. There are things, I think one thing that might be weird is the angel statue became real. The angel statue in "The Christmas Box" is real. There's now 150 monuments around the world. And people are gonna to find this, their gonna find these angel statutes. It's like, what is this, they're all around the world. Someday they're gonna say, where did this come from? So I mean, I think about that as a curiosity, but the truth is-

 

- That's brilliant.

 

- My, I haven't, I'm not stacking everything up on this life. The best stuff is yet to come. I believe that, I believe the next place you go, there's going to be even more. That even better music and better writing. And it would be cool to sit down some day with Shakespeare and have a talk about writing a Christmas story, You know I, you know I know there's a next world, like and that experience, and so it's like, it's, it's, it's exciting. And the legacy I hope that leaves when I die, just right after I die was you made the world a better place. That's all I hope. Okay that we miss him. So as Dickens said that even the undertaker mourns. I've recently seen some people who have passed away, and people were glad. People celebrated their death and it's like the best endorsement I have about me Paul, as you know, is my kids liked me. They liked me. I flew to Texas the other day 'cause my daughter was homesick. She needed her daddy. It's like my kids like me, my wife likes me. And that's the hardest thing to do, because that takes, that takes full time.

 

- That's, it also takes, completely removing the ego which is what drives so many people who are so disassociated. And I'm thinking about this, this, those statues, because those statues that are everywhere, you know, and I I've gone and been there thinking about my, my twins that I lost. And I remember way back when, before I'd even heard about you, I started, this was '90, '93, '94. I started having these dreams about angels. And that's when I would go to the piano, and try to mimic the angels. And that ended up being "Jenna's Dance" on "The Christmas Box". Jenna is the name of your daughter. She's also Jenna Welch. She's also a writer. Check out some of her work. Really, really good.

 

- Major writer.

 

- Yeah she's a major writer. She's with Simon & Schuster. But Rick thank you so much for joining us. People can find you at richardpaulevans.com, and your books are pretty much everywhere. Is there anything else specific we want to share with people before-

 

- Yeah we didn't really, we didn't say that much about "The Noel Letters". It's a story about forgiveness. And if I were to put a Bible verse, I'd say John 8, the truth will set us free. It's about a girl coming back to see, a young woman coming back to see her father 'cause he's dying, and he dies before she gets there, but there are strains. She hasn't talked to him in 10 years, and she starts to unravel what actually happened, and finding the truth. And I think it was part of people. You know, what really, what, what is the truth? So I think you'll, I hope you enjoy it.

 

- I love that. Thanks for being here.

 

- My pleasure.