What compels people to behave the way they do?
February 14, 2012
Robert Shoop lives in Tabernash where he wrote his first novel “Compulsion.” In the three years it took to write the novel, he wrote almost every day. “I would get up at 7 a.m. and write for a few hours then ski or bike depending on time of year,” said Shoop. He wrote 10 pages a day.
“I enjoyed the process of writing this book, although it put me out of my comfort zone. I had to learn to enjoy the discipline of writing and try to make it a process. Even If no one reads it, I wanted to enjoy the process.”
His novel begins in Tabernash where a retired Special Victims Unit detective lives. Occasionally he will handle special cases, and when a woman who was abused as a child finds him and asks him for help, he comes out of retirement to help.
The story’s settings vary from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, and Colorado. There are locations in the book that Grand County residents will recognize including a skiing scene and a character driving on Berthoud Pass. “Although the Berthoud Pass drive was from years ago before guard rails,” he said.
Readers will know what happened, but in the story, the detective is trying to figure out what is going on. The reader knows about the abuser and will hope that the detectives find him before abusing the next child. There are two parallel stories: the detective and the abuser.
“I don’t know if you’ll have sympathy for the villain,” said Shoop. “You will have an understanding when you finish the book. That is what I want people to understand: when there is news about abuse happening in the school, everyone thinks, ‘it could never happen here.'”
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Shoop wants people to understand that it can happen anywhere.
Shoops knows this subject matter. He is a professor, educational law expert and nationally-recognized forensic expert in the area of school law, with a focus on sexual harassment, abuse prevention and risk management. He has appeared as a guest on CNN, “The Today Show,” ABC’s “20/20,” ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” and Fox News with Greg Kelly. He is the president of Quality Work Environments Inc., where he serves as a consultant to school districts, universities and corporations on the standards of care and harassment and abuse prevention.
As part of the writing and editing process, there are parts Shoop had to leave out based on recommendations from editors. “I had to make decisions on the graphic nature. There is sexuality and abuse, but I had to to make it honest. If I didn’t make it honest, it wouldn’t be a good book. I want it to be a good read. I wrote it to communicate a social phenomena that is under-reported and not understood. This type of abuse is happening frequently, and I want parents to know how to protect their children.”
One reviewer in Kansas told him she had thought about the book for many days and decided that she didn’t like the ending.
“It was the best compliment from a reader – she was thinking about it, however, her value system wanted a different ending.”
Shoop has written 19 text books, this is his first novel. He is working on his second novel with the same detective but another event – a murder at a ski area.