Richard Paul Evans (born October 11, 1962, in Salt Lake City, Utah) is an American author, philanthropist, and financial advisor. Evans is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon or LDS Church. Evans graduated from Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City. He graduated with a B.A. degree from the University of Utah in 1984. While working as an advertising executive, he wrote a Christmas story for his children. Unable to find a publisher or an agent, he self-published the work in 1993 as a paperback novella entitled The Christmas Box. He distributed it to book stores in his community. The book became a local bestseller, prompting Evans to publish the book nationally (Wikipedia.org).
The next year The Christmas Box hit #2 on the New York Times bestseller list, inciting an auction for the publishing rights among the world's top publishing houses. Evans signed a publishing deal with Simon & Schuster, who paid Evans $4.2 million in an advance. Released in hardcover in 1995, The Christmas Box became the first book to simultaneously reach the number-one position on the New York Times bestseller list for both paperback and hardcover editions. That same year, the book was made into a television movie of the same title, starring Richard Thomas and Maureen O'Hara.
Evans has since written eleven best-selling books, including some books for children. All of his writing upholds solid Christian values. His 1996 book Timepiece was made into a television movie featuring James Earl Jones and Ellen Burstyn, as was 1998's The Locket, which starred Vanessa Redgrave, and 2003's A Perfect Day, which starred Rob Lowe and Christopher Lloyd. Evans has won several awards for his writings including the American Mother Book Award, two first place Storytelling World awards and Romantic Times award for Best Women's Fiction.
Evans has written much about becoming debt-free and practicing wise financial principles. He also gives seminars on financial management. A new book, The 5 Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me for Women, follows Evans' successful release of The Five Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me About Life & Wealth, published in 2004. His books have even reached an international audience, and Five Lessons was the best seller in Taiwan.
In 1994, Evans founded "The Christmas Box House International" charity to help abandoned, neglected or abused children. As of 2006, more than 13,000 children had been temporarily housed in the Christmas Box House shelters. Evans was interviewed by Deseret News regarding the initiative:
- "It's our goal, within five years, to start out every youth in the foster care system or every youth who's leaving the foster care system, to give them what we call a life starter kit. To contact every youth in the foster care system in America who've aged out of the system and eventually to have mentors for all these youth. So it's a huge, huge thing we're working on but it's a very, very exciting and worthwhile thing because we're losing these kids. More than 50 percent of these kids who age out of foster care, after all the time and money that's been put into their care, more than 50 percent of them will either be in prison, homeless or dead. These are pretty bad stats. We need to address this and we are addressing it. It's our hope to make some measurable change and help these kids so we've partnered up with the National Youth Runaway Hotline. They're working with us so we can help these kids. Right now we're helping all the kids in six states, I believe, so we have 44 more states to go (Mormon Times, June 25, 2009).
The Lifestart initiative provides a kit full of provisions for youth just leaving foster care. These young people are essentially released from the system as "adults" at age 18. Most have little life training and no support.
Parents of five children, Evans and his wife Keri divide their time between homes in Utah (with a ranch in Zion's Canyon) and Italy.