Paperboy is the first novel written by Vince Vawter and was inspired by his own difficulty with and shame of his own stuttering, which he remembers manifesting itself at the age of five. Although like the book's main character Victor Vollmer, Vawter has developed tricks and techniques that enable him to minimize the effects of his stutter, he has in fact been stuttering for over sixty years. The novel focuses on the way in which a summer paper route increases Victor Vollmer's confidence to such a degree that he is no longer willing to stay quiet and let his stutter define him, and it also shows that when he refuses to let it define him to himself it also ceases to define him in the eyes of other people.
Paperboy is set in 1959 when techniques in modern speech therapy were in their infancy. There was also far less inclination towards inclusion in schools and too often children with a severe speech impediment were thought to be less intelligent or backward in some way.
The author has said that although this is a novel for children it is actually far more of a memoir than a work of fiction. After retiring from a career in print journalism, including publishing the Evansville Courier and Press, Vawter first write about stuttering in a paper called "Notes From A Stuttering Expert" that he presented to the attendees at the Fourteenth International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference. From there, the memoir/novel about a young Memphis boy negotiating his stutter but finding out so much more about life along the way was born. This novel was widely acclaimed and was a Junior Library Guild Selection shortly after its publication.