| Black Hills State University alumnus Matt Schofield used a college English assignment as the foundation for two books.
Matt Schofield first met Jimmy Cramer in the late ‘60s during an English class at Black Hills State University. Cramer was a South Dakota farm boy who was drafted, sent to fight in the war in Vietnam, and comes back forever scarred. Cramer is also a fictional character and the subject of Schofield’s two published books.
“I started writing a short story for an English class, and I just kept on going,” Schofield, a 1971 graduate of BHSU, said of how his first book “When Reason Fails” became a reality. The book, published in hard copy in 1983 by Vantage Press in New York, follows the fictional character Cramer as he adjusts to civilian life after the brutal combat he endured in Vietnam.
When he discovers his girlfriend is having an affair with a South Dakota highway patrolman, Cramer feels he must settle the issue the same way he settled things in Vietnam.
Cramer’s story seemed to end there, that is until a few years ago when Schofield decided to write the sequel.
“At the end of the first novel I kind of left the main character hanging thinking I would eventually write a sequel to it,” Schofield said.
However, the busyness of work and family came before finishing the story of Jimmy Cramer. “I always had that main character, Jimmy Cramer, wondering around in my mind,” he said.
It was during his time as a heavy equipment operator at the Wyoming coal mines when the story of the South Dakota veteran came to life again. Being so far from his family, Schofield used his time after work to write. “I had a lot of time, so I just sat down and started writing.”
He returned fulltime to Philip in 2008 with the sequel nearly finished.
In 2009, 26 years after publishing his first novel, Schofield published “The Protest.” “I was 19 when I first started writing ‘When Reason Fails.’ I was 55 when I wrote the sequel – I have quite a different perspective on life when you look at the two books.”
“The Protest” begins with Cramer being sent to Ft. Meade in Sturgis for a psychiatric evaluation to see if he is fit to stand trial. His psychiatrist, however, has a different plan for Cramer.
Schofield said he loved his time at BHSU, including his stint in Truth, a local rock band where he played drums. It is also where he met his wife, Carol. The two live in Philip.
Schofield says he is now semi-retired, although he still operates heavy equipment for Petoske Construction in Midland. He also says he is not done with writing, and is already thinking of his next book. Jimmy Cramer, however, has been laid to rest.
Both books are available at Smashwords.com, a distributor of ebooks. “When Reason Fails” is also available on Amazon.com.