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Book Notes: Trueman’s ‘Neutral’ makes stage debut

Spokane writer Terry Trueman’s young adult novel “Stuck in Neutral” has been adapted into a play that debuted this weekend in Los Angeles.

“Stuck in Neutral” tells the story of Shawn McDaniel, a 14-year-old boy with cerebral palsy. Told from Shawn’s point of view, the book delves into issues of euthanasia, tolerance and quality of life. The 2001 novel was named an honor book for the Michael L. Printz Award.

The stage adaptation, by Allison Cameron Gray, an actress with cerebral palsy, and Matt Chorpenning opened Friday at the Secret Rose Theater in Hollywood. Trueman gave the two permission to adapt his novel and has read the script. It’s the first of his books to be adapted for stage or screen.

“They sent me early drafts of it, and I was really impressed with it,” Trueman said by phone last week, acknowledging there have been rewrites since then. “It’ll be different and exciting to see what they’ve done.”

He’ll travel to see the play on June 8 and will sign copies of the book after the show.

“Stuck in Neutral” was inspired by Trueman’s own son, Sheehan, who has cerebral palsy. It’s a story that is personal to him, and he admits to being a little worried about seeing that story out of his hands and up on a stage.

“The thing about that, when I decided to put it out there, the people that I cared most about were Sheehnan and his mom, Leslie, and our families. Sheehan couldn’t give his OK, but Leslie gave her OK and everyone else seemed to feel, ‘It’s your story, you have a right to tell it,’ ” Trueman said. “The good that has come out of stepping up and telling the emotional truth about that part of my life, there’s no way it’s not worth it to me.”

He has a new book about teen pregnancy being considered by Harper Collins. He’s also bringing out a line of self-published eBooks, the first of which, “M.C. Idol,” is available on He opted to go this route, he said, “Because my name is not Stephen King and I don’t have that kind of following and readership. I’m 65 years old. I don’t have time for the two years it takes from when you start writing a novel to when it finally is in print. I don’t know how much longer I’ll be sharp enough to write the kinds of books I want to write, much less books marketed for teens and young adults.”

He also aims to go back to his first love, poetry, “which guarantees you won’t make a dime for the rest of your life.”

EWU starts liberal arts speakers series

Eastern Washington University is launching a new speakers series, supported by the Daniel and Margaret Carper Foundation, with an expert on early Christianity and the New Testament.

Bart Ehrman, author of “Misquoting Jesus: Discrepancies in Christian Scripture,” will speak at 6:30 p.m. May 23 at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. The His talk is free, and he’ll sign copies of his books in the lobby after the talk.

Ehrman has written more than 20 books, including the New York Times best sellers, “Misquoting Jesus,” “God’s Problem,” “Jesus Interrupted” and “Forged.” His work has been featured everywhere from the New Yorker and Time to CNN and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The new Daniel and Margaret Carper Foundation Lecture Series will bring renowned national and international scholars to lecture at EWU as well as to the general public.