The Cottage Park Puzzle by Richard M. Siddoway
When two teenagers are found beaten in the quiet town of Cottage Park and another boy is standing over them holding a baseball bat, it seems like a simple task to convict the perpetrator. There’s just one problem: he’s severely autistic. This poignant tale of one town’s journey to forgiveness and love will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
Richard M. Siddoway was born in Salt Lake City and reared in Bountiful, Utah. He was a professional educator for over 45 years. In 1994, he was asked by Governor Leavitt to create the nation’s first state-wide virtual high school—the Electronic High School—which served students nation-wide. Richard served three terms in the Utah House of Representatives; the last two years he served as Speaker Pro Tempore of the House. He has served as a Bishop and Stake President in the Bountiful Utah Val Verda Stake. He and his wife, Janice, have served missions in Nauvoo, Illinois, and Taylorsville, Utah. He is the author of ten books including the New York Times best seller—The Christmas Wish which was made into a movie starring Debbie Reynolds, Neil Patrick Harris, and Naomi Watts.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?
I’d love to go back in time to several points in history to view them as they really happened, without bias. For example, I’d like to view Peter’s reaction as the Savior was being questioned by Pontius Pilate; I’d love to see what Mary Todd Lincoln was really like; I’d be excited to be with Neil Armstrong as he set foot on the moon.
People who jump to conclusions before they learn the facts.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
The Cottage Park Puzzle explores the reactions of many people in a small town to an unfortunate incident and reflects the insecurity of humanity in general.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Two projects are underway. The first is a series of fantasy books based very loosely on the Navajo creation legend; the second is a Christmas book dealing with an estranged son returning home for his father’s funeral.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I have been constantly amazed at the number of people who have told me that reading one of my books changed their lives. When “The Christmas Wish” was made into a movie, well over a hundred people sent notes thanking me for helping them learn to forgive someone.
Favorite quote from a movie?
“She turned me into a newt. I got better.”
How long do you generally let a story idea ‘marinate’ in your brain before you start the book?
I generally take about a year working on an outline to a book before I begin writing. However, on occasion an idea seems to spring full blown into my head and I just start writing.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
When I was in high school I had an excellent English teacher who encouraged everyone in her class to write. That led to writing a number of short stories, none of which I even submitted for publication. I wrote a dozen Christmas stories, which I told to my children every year. After my first wife died from cancer and I remarried, Christmas approached and when I started telling the stories she encouraged me to submit them for publication. The result was “Twelve Tales of Christmas,” which was on the shelves for 13 or 14 years.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
My wife and I took our eight children out to dinner. Of course it was months before we saw any payment from the publisher, so it was a pretty inexpensive restaurant.
What was your favorite children’s book?
“The Wizard of Oz .” My uncle for whom I’m named was in the navy and stationed in the South China Sea. Whenever they docked he looked for bookstores and sent me birthday gifts (sometimes actually arriving around my birthday). The first book he ever sent was “The Wizard of Oz,” for my third birthday. Over the years he sent me all of the Oz books that L. Frank Baum and Ruth Plumly Thompson wrote.
What do you do in your free time?
I love to do wood working and gardening. I’m also an avid genealogist.
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?
I’d pay the tuition for our autistic grandson to get the educational help he needs; then I’d help our kids who are struggling financially.