Local Restaurateur becomes author
WolfenDale's owner becomes author
Josh Krueger, Staff Writer February 13, 2002
Village of Sussex - Normally, one does not think of an author and a chef/restaurant owner in a common light. Unless, of course, they are the same person.
Kurt Schuller is that person.
Schuller is the owner and chef at WolfenDale's restaurant in Sussex and has recently completed his first novel. He plans to print about 1,000 copies of the book, titled "Except for These Chains," which will be released shortly after the cover design is finished.
One might expect a book from a chef to be about cooking or restaurants or something of that nature. The reality, however, is quite the contrary.
According to Schuller, "Except for These Chains" is a biblical fiction "loosely based" on the life of the apostle Paul.
"It's about heroism and relationships. It's not heavy spirituality, the story is the main focus," he said. "It's meant to be a fun, interesting read."
Schuller has owned and operated WolfenDale's for about six years now and has little previous writing experience.
"I took a couple of college courses and I did write a script for a little 20- minute vignette at the church," Schuller said. "But I don't have any professional writing experience."
A devout Christian, the idea to write a book came to him rather suddenly while in church one Sunday.
In reading a passage that focused on Paul, a particular quotation struck Schuller as humorous. While standing shackled in front of the emperor of Rome, Paul, as the story goes, was asked why the Romans should become Christians. Paul subsequently replied that it was his wish that everyone become what he was, "except for these chains."
Hence the title of Schuller's novel.
"It just struck me as being defiant humor," Schuller said. "I went home and wrote a 12-page outline (for the book) that day. It was an inspiration, not a revelation."
The rest of the novel, however, did not come as easily as the outline did. After all, writing is not as easy as it may seem.
After getting a decent start on his new endeavor, Schuller says that his enthusiasm diminished and the book was shortly put on the shelf, so to speak.
"I worked on the first 40 pages, but writing is hard work. So I started to slack off and eventually, I gave up on it," he said. "After awhile, a nagging voice in my head drove me to start again."
After that, it was clear sailing to completing the book - sort of. Between starting his project and deciding to continue, Schuller had purchased a new computer. Naturally, what work he had done was saved on the old one.
He said he did save it all to a diskette, but the disk was mysteriously missing.
"I had gotten a new computer, and the manuscript was saved on the old one," Schuller said. "I had it on a diskette, but I couldn't find it. I thought everything had gone down the drain."
The disk did turn up, and Schuller got back to work. Still, the road to completing the book was neither short nor smooth. After making a great deal of progress, the aspiring author's ambition again began to run low.
"After about 120 pages, my fervor ran out," he said. "Then, I got a sense that I'd left something undone."
After that, it was another "inspiration" that proved to be the final word as to whether he would finish what he started.
Unsure of what should become of his book, Schuller says he prayed one night and asked for a clear signal as to what he should do. The next day, while in church, the featured reading again centered around Schuller's protagonist, Paul.
He took that as the sign he desired, and "Except for These Chains," which Schuller calls "pure fiction," was finished within four months.
In the life of an author, writing may, arguably, be the easiest step. After that, finding someone to edit and publish the work can be somewhat difficult and humbling.
Schuller managed to find a professional editor, printer and cover designer. Surprisingly, the editing process was not all that painful.
"I heard nothing but praise from the editor," he said. "She loved my content. It came back with a lot of red marks on it, but they were punctuation errors."
The final step, publishing, was slightly more trying. Schuller struggled to find a publisher and, after a lengthy search, he decided to go the self-publishing route.
"I sent queries to publishers but came to the realization that it's hard to get a book published, particularly in the genre of biblical fiction," Schuller said. "So I just figured if I was going to get it done, I'd have to do it myself."
Writing a novel is a significant undertaking in and of itself. Self-publishing that novel requires a certain confidence in one's work. Schuller has that confidence.
"I believe very strongly in the book," he said. "It is entertaining, but (while writing it) Paul became very real to me. I want people to view him as a person like themselves and at the same time, become more like Paul."
While "Except for These Chains" ends triumphantly, according to Schuller, if the book is successful, he already has a sequel in mind.
The next sequence of events in Paul's life is not as triumphant.
In fact, Schuller says that should the sequel become a reality, it will be rather dark and tragic.
"This one ("Except for These Chains") ends triumphantly, but I'd like to take the story and finish it," Schuller said. "The next one will be a lot more challenging to write.
"I'm envisioning that it will deal more with loss and tragedy to help people deal with the tragedies we run into," he added. "I want to give (the story) completion and I'm ready to move on."
Before the sequel, though, there is Schuller's first work, which will be available shortly. The 1,000 copies he plans to have printed will be available primarily at WolfenDale's for $14.95 and, if all goes according to plan, local churches as well.
In the near future, Schuller also plans to visit bookstores in hopes that some will carry the book. A Web site to help sell the book is also in the works.
©Sussex Sun 2002