BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – Summer arrives tomorrow, Friday, June 21, so it’s time to stock up on “beach books.” How about a book inspired by a very vivid dream involving museums, the French catacombs, art treasures and spies in pre-World War II France?
Former Berkeley Heights resident Steven Knapp dreamt such a dream and the result is his first book, “The Bones of Saint Pierre.” He signed copies of his book at Linda’s Creative Gifts in New Providence recently and sat down with TAPinto Berkeley Heights for a brief interview.
The book itself is a combination of a mystery and adventure story. The story begins with Collette Moulie paying a visit to her old boyfriend, Mason Wright, in New York City. She wants him to help her and her dad acquire, relocate and hide French art treasures before the Nazis invade France. He agrees and, to quote the book notes, “immediately finds himself caught up in a world of fine art, stolen paintings, master forgeries … and the men who will stop at nothing to acquire them.” Once in France, Wright finds himself embroiled in a world inhabited by black marketers, German spies and others who are out to stop him from saving the art treasures that hold the history of France.
To hear Knapp tell it, if anyone had ever said he would be a writer, he would have scoffed at the idea. Writing was not something he enjoyed when he was younger, he said.
Knapp’s family was living in Berkeley Heights when he was born, but spent the next 10 years living in cities around the world. They moved back to Berkeley Heights and, after high school, he graduated from Seton Hall University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. To graduate, he had to write a senior thesis and that was a painful experience he said.
Instead of a life in academia or the arts, he chose another path and 22 years ago became the owner of Steven Knapp Home Improvement LLC. It was while working as a contractor that Knapp had a dream which, he said, “was so vivid I could recount it in detail seven years later.”
From the moment he woke up, Knapp said he realized the dream was so detailed it had the makings of a book – not just the broad outline, but virtually the complete story.
He eventually told his wife Lori about the dream and that he was thinking about turning it into a book and she said “’Write it,’” he said. At first he told her he wouldn’t, but she challenged him and asked what would happen if he didn’t try. Knapp had no answer for her, so he tried. This time the writing experience was much easier.
Knapp described himself as an “avid reader” with an interest in history, who took particular pleasure in unearthing obscure stories related to World War II. Those stories helped flesh out his book, a brief trip to Paris with Lori cemented the descriptions of and relationships between various locations in the book. Six years after he started writing, he had 15 chapters done.
Some research led him to a publisher last year and the book was released in February 2019.
“It’s done really well on Amazon,” said Knapp, who is already writing his second book, which will continue the Mason Wright saga. A third book will follow.
All told, it has been a very satisfying experience for Knapp and Lori who have been on the book signing, book talk circuit in New Jersey.