Bestselling Same Kind of Different As Me author Ron Hall ’71 (MBA ’73) returned to campus to promote his follow-up book.
by Kathryn Hopper
More from Winter 2009
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Topics: TCU Books
by Kathryn Hopper
When Ron Hall ’71 (MBA ’73) and Denver Moore pitched the uplifting tale of their unlikely friendship and the woman who had brought them together — Ron’s late wife Deborah Short Hall ‘67 — the publishing world didn’t exactly come running.
“We got turned down so many times, from agents, major publishers, minor publishers, they all turned us down,” Hall said.
All except Thomas Nelson, a Nashville-based publisher specializing in inspirational works. Since then, their book, Same Kind of Different As Me has spent more than 85 weeks on The New York Times bestsellers list and raised more than $35 million for homeless shelters nationwide.
This fall the follow-up book What Difference Do It Make: Stories of Hope and Healing (Thomas Nelson) hit bookstores including the TCU Barnes & Noble, where Hall and Moore recently held a book signing this week. The TCU Magazine managed to snag Hall for a few minutes for a quick interview.
What inspired the new book?
Our agent and publisher wanted a follow up to Same Kind of Different as Me. I didn’t know what I was going to write. We started talking. We had so many people who had read Same Kind of Different As Me and sent us letters telling how the story had inspired them to go out help people. That became the premise of the book Stories of Hope and Healing. And it was mostly going to be those stories.
We had over 500 stories, but there didn’t seem to be a common theme. I couldn’t get a common thread to make it work. I had written some stories, Lynn Vincent had worked with Denver to write his stories. It just wasn’t coming together.
I was disappointed. We were past deadline and the publishers were getting anxious, we didn’t even have a name. This was back in May. I had lost my father in January and started writing about that for another book. All of the sudden I realized I had all this compassion for homeless people all over America, but I’d never really loved my father. I started writing about my father and how sometimes how charity should begin at home.
I tell the story of how in his last three years of his life, my father became an invalid and I had to start taking care of him. And tied that into the homeless story. All of the sudden, it started to come together and the writing came alive. We had the stories and I put the narrative in there about my father and it came together.
We still had to come up with a title, I was on the phone to the publishers trying to come up with something and Denver walked in, and I told him they wouldn’t let me off the line until we had a title and he said, “What difference do it make?” We laughed and knew we finally had a title.
What’s been the reaction to the new book?
Last week in Dallas we had one of the best selling hardbacks and one of the best selling paperbacks (Same Kind of Different As Me). We’ve had great reviews. It’s taken off. I’m surprised.
Why do you think your book struck such a nerve?
It’s a story of hope, that sometimes a random act of kindness can really impact a city, a nation, the world. Denver tells me over and over again, he says, ‘You never know whose eyes God is watching you through.’ When we look at homeless people, we should not be asking, ‘What’s going to happen if I stop by and help.’ We should ask, ‘What happens if we don’t?’
We all want to do better. We all want to do more and sometimes we need someone to remind us. We (Denver and myself) had a great TCU graduate, Deborah Hall, who pushed us. She had a vision that’s impacted our city, nation, and other countries. Now we have a feature film in the works, Samuel L. Jackson is making a movie.
On the Web:
For more on the book, upcoming film, book signings and speaking engagements, go to http://www.samekindofdifferentasme.com/
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An art dealer’s story of friendship takes on a life of its own as a movie, Same Kind of Different As Me, now in theaters.