Richard Paul Evans
Angel statue gathering and new projects for 2017.
In Richard Paul Evans’ first book, the best-seller “The Christmas Box,” he describes an angel statue a widow visits to mourn her lost child. Evans says the inspiration for that monument came from an elderly neighbor’s description of an angel statue in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.
With the popularity of “The Christmas Box,” people began traveling to the cemetery to visit the angel — only to learn it no longer existed. The cemetery’s sexton said it was likely destroyed in some flooding and removed.
With demand coming from around the world for the missing statue, The New York Times best-selling author decided to commission his own statue for the cemetery. He held a dedication ceremony and decided to have an event each year.
“I met a woman in China who said ‘I just want a place to go to feel close to my child,’” Evans says. “That’s why I decided I would rebuild the angel statute.”
Although Evans only intended to create one statue, many fans who experienced the death of a loved one wanted an angel in their own communities. Now there are 135 statues across the U.S., Canada and Japan with more added each year.
Offering Comfort During Holidays
“Every year I have people come up and say, ‘We know you haven’t lost a child so you don’t understand how important this is to us, but it makes a huge difference in helping us get through the holidays,’” Evans says.
Every year on Dec. 6, thousands gather at the statues to grieve for deceased children and loved ones. In December 2016, about 300 people attended the Salt Lake event. Some have come since the beginning, 20 years ago. One man, whose wife and two sons were killed last year, came to the angel event looking for a way to get through the Christmas season. “That’s the whole point of the angel,” Evans says. “It’s there for people who have lost children to reach out and help them cope.”
Along with managing the angel statues and other charitable efforts, Evans is involved in many new projects, including promoting “The Mistletoe Secret,” his latest book released November 2016.
The story is third in a series of Christmas love stories started four years ago. The book takes place in Midway, Utah, and details the experience of a man searching for the identity of a mysterious blogger. At its release, the book was performing well and on the best-seller list.
Projects for 2017 include the release of the final “Michael Vey” book, Evans’ seventh novel about a teenager with mysterious electric powers, along with work on a pre-pilot for a TV show of the series. While five of Evans’ books have already become films, producers are looking to possibly make movies out of eight more.
In addition to these projects, Evans will be starting a new trilogy of books, “Broken Road,” focusing on a man’s journey walking Route 66. “There’s a lot going on,” Evans says. “It’s exciting.”