SHS graduate to release debut novel March 18
A former Silsbee High School graduate’s debut novel hits bookstores and Amazon on March 18.
Timothy Gene Sojka graduated SHS in 1985 and earned a degree in advertising from Texas Tech University in 1989.
Sojka’s book — “Payback Jack” — is about a East Texas farmer who kills a child molester and murder.
Sojka said in his book, 55- year-old Smith Driskell is widowed and abandon by his children when he dramatically executes child molester and murder Rodney WIlliam Markum.
Driskell is unprepared for the ensuing media circus painting him as a hero or the political divisions that surface when he chooses death over a day in court.
Sojka said he had the idea for the book after graduating college and it’s been in the making for 25 years.
“I was reading the Houston Chronicle and there was a convict who just received his third stay of execution, even though no new evidence was presented in the case,” he said. “I am not trying to make a political statement about the death penalty. Still, I thought this might cause some to jump to action. I find the death penalty interesting. Everyone thinks they have a high minded opinion until it hits close to home. f you are for the death penalty but your son was on death row you would be against it. If you were against it and someone close to you was murdered you may be for it. It's just a real lightning rod.”
Sojka said he created the character, Smith Driskill, because he wanted “kill” in his name and causes people to pick a side.
“Someone who forced people to test the limits of their beliefs,” he added. “When Smith starts killing death row inmates, people for the death penalty don't want him to receive the death penalty. People against the death penalty get stuck defending a guy who is against everything they believe in.”
Sojka said his book was rejected 54 times by publishing companies.
Some of the reviews from other authors about Sojka’s look include:
“Payback Jack is a full-throttle thriller, bristling with political, social, and ethical intrigue. As soon as you think you know what will come next, Sojka hits you with a literary suckerpunch,” wrote Luke Swanson, author of “The Ten and The Other Hamlet Brother.”
“Once I started, I had trouble putting it down. Payback Jack is a thrill ride you don’t want to miss; full of twists and turns, great characters and an intensity that will keep you awake at nights,” according to A.J. McCarthy, award-winning suspense author.
While attending SHS, Sojka played baseball his freshman year, but needed a job.
“I worked at Walmart in the garden and hardware section. They were great to me,” he added. “I participated in the Drama Club and Silsbee Little Theatre, but honestly mostly had to work to save for college. I had great educators like Mr. Atmar, Mr. Meldrum. Mr Leigh and Ms. Voitman among others.”
Sojka said one of his first parttime jobs was a cartoonist for The Silsbee Bee.
“Mr. Read paid for my pens in exchange for cartoons I submitted and which he published,” he said. “May have been tough for him. I was pro-Reagan but I don’t think he was.”
“So many people helped me get by from Walmart managers to teachers to the principal. I was called in front of Herbert Muckleroy more than once. He had to, let's say, council me on my misdeeds, said Sojka. The Bryan White family, who owned White Knight Pest Control, were also truly great to me.”
He paid his way through college and was the beneficiary of the Ella C. McFadden Scholarship and a scholarship from Walmart.
“This really helped me. I felt very blessed. She was an incredible woman and helped a lot of kids from our area,” Sojka noted.
Sojka, 54, worked in sales and management at Pepsi Cola and Nestles after graduating from college to 2005. In 2005, he and his wife, Lori, found a company called See Tim Sell Property Group, which has sold more than 2,000 homes since 2005.
According to Sojka, the company sold 210 homes in 2020 and did sells of more than $70 million. He currently operates as CEO and is a part-time listing agent.
He is an accredited Luxury Home Specialist and holds a brokers license, the highest real estate certification available.
Sojka is a also real estate investor, featured speaker, and radio guest. He said his chief role is maintaining a learning based environment for team members and overseeing the high standards that have made his company one of the most recognized names in U.S. real estate.
His recent awards include Texas Monthly Top Agent, Real Trends Texas Top Teams, Houston Chronicle Top Agents, Keller Williams Premier Top Producing Agent.
Sojka, who resides in Katy, stated he writes for enjoyment, paddle-boards for stress relief, and runs so he can eat Tex-Mex food.
He has a passion for plot twists and pushing the “philosophically pure” to the point of hypocrisy.
Sojka added he enjoys time with his wife, hanging out with his daughter Abigail and playing 42 Dominoes with his mother and grandmother.
He added that his follow-up novel, “Politikill” is near completion.
He added he will be signing copies of his debut novel at the Spring in the Big Thicket on Saturday, May 15, at the Silsbee Public Library.