Local author publishes sequel, 26 years after publishing first novel

Hey. He was busy.

That is why it took Matt Schofield, 60, 26 years to write the sequel to his 1983 novel When Reason Fails. Schofield thinks his second novel, The Protest might be a literary record.

Published in hard copy in 1983 by Vantage Press in New York, his fictional novel When Reason Fails is about a South Dakota farm boy who is drafted and sent to fight in Vietnam. The time is 1970 when America was in a turmoil of protests, demonstrations and university takeovers against the war. His protagonist, Jimmy Cramer, serves his tour honorably, but combat has affected him mentally, both in Vietnam and back at home in rural western South Dakota. His family and his best friend notice the changes in his behavior. When he discovers his girlfriend is having an affair with a South Dakota highway patrolman, he feels he must settle the issue the same way he settled things in Vietnam.

At the time When Reason Fails was published, Schofield was the managing editor of The Pioneer-Review, the weekly newspaper located in Philip. "I didn't do much promotion," he said. "I was too busy trying to make a living."

His first novel started out as a short story writing assignment in a composition class at Black Hills State University in Spearfish where Schofield graduated with an English degree, without honors, he said, in 1971.

As the decades went by, a sequel was always in the back of his mind. "I left Jimmy Cramer hanging at the end of When Reason Fails, Schofield said, "and he was in big trouble. I was always thinking about him. Twenty-six years is a long time to be in literary limbo."

Finally, after surviving a potentially fatal head injury while playing softball at a state tournament in 1995, a near fatal heart attack and a tornado in Wright, WY, in 2005, something told Schofield that if he was ever going to write a sequel to his first novel, he'd better do it soon. "I thought that next it would probably rain for 40 days and 40 nights," Schofield said, "and I'm no carpenter."fr

Schofield was in Wyoming running heavy equipment at the coal mines when he picked up the pen again. He had his sequel, The Protest, nearly finished when he moved back to Philip in the fall of 2008, and finished it in late 2009.

Schofield said his sequel picks up where the first left off. "It's a continuation," he said. "I loved writing it, to be able to go back and resurrect Jimmy Cramer. He's ordered by a judge to undergo a mental evaluation at the veterans' hospital at Ft. Meade in Sturgis to see if he is fit to stand trial. His psychiatrist, Dr. Goodman, may not be the best man for the job as he has issues of his own relating to the Vietnam war. I loved writing about his psychiatrist, Dr. Goodman, and the mix of other veterans there. They plan a protest of their own and it's incredible. It would make a great movie, I think."

Schofield said that readers do not have to read the first book to know what is going on in the second, but he encourages them to. "It makes for a better overall understanding of the story and the characters," Schofield said. "More detail, more insight and Jimmy Cramer has been waiting for you."

Schofield does not expect to get rich or even make much money from his two novels, both of which are available now at the Smashwords.com library for digital reading and downloading or The Protest at the Wordclay.com library for paperback (printed) copies. Both books are rated "R" by him, Schofield said, or PG-13, "depending on a reader's level of sensitivity."

"It's just something I wanted to do," said Schofield who was 34 when his first novel was published. He is now 60, back home in South Dakota and working for Petoske Construction of Midland.

"I loved Jimmy Cramer. I'll miss him," Schofield said. "He's been wandering around in my mind for the last 26 years. May he rest in peace."