Donald Stidham, who was born at Bradley Memorial Hospital (now SkyRidge Medical Center) in Cleveland, was raised in a household with four children by his mother after his father’s death to pancreatic cancer. He says he knows the pain of wishing he had more time with his father.
Now living as a father separated from his own children due to circumstances, he also knows the pain of a father missing his kids and wanting to do something extra to ease their pain as well as his own.
“I have two beautiful children who live separate from me,” Stidham said. “I focused all my energy to develop a tool that helps them understand and deal with this separation, while also inspiring them to look at the world through positive eyes.”
Upon realizing that many other fathers deal with separation from their children as well, Stidham started Operation Hero Daddy to share this positive development.
Stidham says “Pieces” is not just a book, but “an inspiration to families to create a lasting bond of friendship and adventure, because children are the most precious gifts of all.”
“Pieces” is well named as the puzzle comes together. The book is four parts — stories of young love, relationships and family — which begin separately, yet moving closer together to create the fifth puzzle part when they converge in tragedy and hope. Who knew what the finished picture would be.
Stidham says every action a person takes creates a reaction in another person’s life. And he asks, “Can something so small really shatter the world into a thousand pieces and change one’s future?”
There are four pasts and a future involved. There’s Holly, who has blossomed into womanhood in her relationship with Hayden, who is brought into reconcilation with his own father and family. Christina moves away from her past and is starting a future with her fiancee Mel. Ray, too, while longing for healing with his children, focuses his love on Edna, the pillar of his life. And fourth, Dougan is trying to get home to his dying wife to give her a parting kiss.
The last puzzle piece connects the whole. And from the tragedy and loss on the highway, a future begins to spring up, blending the remaining broken lives into a masterpiece.
Stidham says, “Generally, I don't get writer's block. I practice writing every day and have a many projects going on. If I'm not feeling creative with a novel I'm working on, then I switch gears and focus on marketing or editing an older work.”
He says the best thing about being a writer is having the freedom to create something beautiful. “An experience I will never grow weary of is having the characters surprise me with something,” Stidham says. “If you're a writer, I hope you get to experience this one day.”
Stidham gives this advice for aspiring writers: “Don't stop writing. Never give up. Tell your story with all your heart and somebody, somewhere, will be transformed by it.”
His inspiration, he confides, comes from music. “When I hear a great song for the first time I usually get an idea for a book. Listening and feeling the brokenness of those around me propels me to create pure beauty in my storylines,” he says. “If I'm working with an already written novel, then the excitement of getting back into conversation with my characters helps me start off the day on the right finger.”
The title “Pieces” comes from a song by the Christian Rock band RED on their debut album, “End of Silence,” which inspired the 365-page novel. It is available on Amazon.com.