Menlo Author Releases Best Selling Novel

In the fall of 1996 C.B. (Cliff) Shiepe '88 “went over the falls in his own life when a health challenge landed him in bed with little more to do than write.” What evolved during that period was Cliff Falls, a story that took several incarnations, first TV pilot, then a screenplay, and finally, a novel.

A current bestseller at Books Inc in Palo Alto, Vroman's in Pasadena and Book Soup in West Hollywood, Cliff Falls tells the story of an exploited child star on the run after a mysterious fire burns down a Hollywood Studio Backlot. Fifteen years later his past catches up with him when a fight with a determined photographer lands him in jail. Out of options, he accepts an offer from a motivational pastor to come to the fictional town of Cliff Falls. What happens when you run into everything you've been running from?

“We thought it would be an organic release,” Shiepe said, “but it seems to be taking on a life of its own. I keep hearing stories of people passing it on to friends who are ‘going over the falls' in their own lives.”

“This novel is not just entertaining, it's changing lives,” Shiepe said, “And that means the most to me.”

Charles Slocum, Writers Guild of America, West, said, “A fast, cinematic read, I recognized myself in Cliff Falls…The pressure to perform and to be someone other than who we want to be is universal. C. B. Shiepe has captured that experience and married it to our celebrity-centric culture.”

Equally engaging was Shiepe's decision to self-publish. “It was important for me to keep ownership, so I decided to do it myself but on a scale comparable to a publisher.”

His time at Menlo certainly influenced the first time novelist. The setting takes place on the Peninsula, complete with local references. “Many of the descriptions—such as the majestic Oaks and vast campus lawn—are sure to bring past and present students back to their time at Menlo.” And he still recalls the entrepreneurial spirit that characterizes so many Menlo students. Shiepe remains grateful for several of his professors, including Professor Jordan whom he had for Western Civilization. “We couldn't have been more different from a political or faith perspective and we would often grapple back and forth in class, but I always appreciated his sincerity and ability to get you to dig deeper with the issue at hand.”

Shiepe's signings have also been large draws. “We had 90 people at the first one and 65 at the last one.” He enjoys reading from Cliff Falls and discussing self-publishing and perseverance. Shiepe expects to have a signing at Books Inc. in Palo Alto at the Town and County Center in February and plans to visit Menlo College, as he is eager to talk with students and the community.

And Shiepe's advice to new writers? “Don't waste time wondering if you're talented, just stay with it.”

Whether you're an aspiring writer or just an eager reader, Cliff Falls is sure to inspire.