Taneytown author to release novel written during incarceration

As Corey Stultz is talking, the conversation makes the hairs on his arms raise, despite the muggy July heat and the bland music in the background of the coffee shop.

The topic of conversation is his novel “Teachings of a Shaman: A Story of Deliverance & Redemption,” which will be released July 13. He is describing the first time he got feedback from a reviewer.

“This happens all the time when I talk about my book. I get chills all over my body,” he said.

The Taneytown author’s first book, which he self-published, follows a thoughtful young man with one “fatal flaw” — a heroin addiction that developed after the death of his father. On the way to court-ordered rehab center, an accident leaves him stranded in the desert without his memories until he is found by a Navajo shaman.

It’s not autobiographical, but Stultz has an eventful story of his own. After spending what he describes as 25 years as a high-functioning alcoholic, he was sentenced to serve time in the Carroll County Detention Center in 2013 after being found guilty of driving while impaired by alcohol.

It was there that he wrote the first draft of “Teachings” as well as several other works. Before that, he had never really considered writing.

“I don’t like playing cards. I’m not a huge TV person … so I found something else,” he said.

On the fourth day, I started writing and I didn’t stop the whole way through.”

His pace was frenzied.

“It’s not really like I was coming up with the words. I was writing down what I was hearing the characters say, as crazy as that sounds. I can tell you to this day how that woman was sitting on the couch when that couple was arguing,” he said.

He describes the works that came before “Teachings” as filled with murder and mayhem. One day, he recalls speaking with Chaplain Bob Kimmel, with whom he had become close.

Stultz recalls that when Kimmel asked what he’d been writing about, “I realized that I was kind of tripping over my own words when I was trying to explain to him what they were all about because it was the exact opposite of what I was being taught in his classes,” Stultz said.

Kimmel, who has been volunteering at the Detention Center for around 30 years, said he remembers Stultz as an inmate who was receptive to the message of Good News Jail & Prison Ministry of Carroll County.

Their volunteers are at CCDC seven days a week to provide church services, Bible studies and other programs for the incarcerated. He said it is important for hope and faith to be a part of other services too like health care and resources for reintegrating into the community.

“We work on the heart. We work on the soul,” he said.

“[Stultz] shared some of his stories with me,” Kimmel said. “He’s just very creative and gifted.”

The novel is not all cheerful. There are instances of drug use that were uncomfortable for some early readers.

“A person has to start from someplace pretty deplorable and then end up in someplace wonderful for it to be a story of redemption,” he said.

Restrictions at the Detention Center meant he wrote the work longhand on pads of paper and 4-inch pens purchased from commissary. He would mail batches of completed pages home every so often.

“I had to order just packs and packs of paper,” he said.

To write about the Navajo spirituality that is a part of the plot, he said he requested books from the library in the Detention Center and worked to make sure it was all factually correct.

Stultz does not try to keep the circumstances of the book’s creation a secret, and he hopes some of the people he knew while incarcerated will have a chance to hear about his recovery and his work.

He also finds great irony in the fact that the Detention Center, where he served his sentence, is the same one his father, John Stultz, ran for many years as warden until 2004.

“When I finally was released, I think I took a month to get a job, and get acclimated and just fix my own food and wear jeans,” he said. Then the task of getting the book to readers began.

In the early morning and evening hours around his work schedule, he typed the manuscript.

“I thought it would just be a read-through one time and I could [catch] problems and edit it, and be done. I went and read it two-dozen times. And every single time, I’d catch less.”

He then tried to go through a literary agent, but after about 300 pitches being rejected, he decided to self-publish.

“This has been a massive learning experience because I had to start from scratch,” he said.

The first time he felt he had reached another person was when he received his first review, which came along with a five-star award from the website Reader’s Favorite.

“Then I knew I had something,” he said. “When I won that first award, it was like I could breathe a sigh of relief that it wasn’t all for naught.”

“I mean, I’m just so blessed, so thankful.”

Stultz will also be hosting a giveaway of signed galley copies through Goodreads.com. The book can be purchased on Amazon.

catalina.righter@carrollcountytimes.com

410-857-3315

twitter.com/Cat_Righter

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
68°