Friday, December 17, 2010
David Thyssen-- All That You Can Leave Behind
Imagine being stranded on a deserted island, with the birds and the trees as your only companion. To thirteen year old Sage, the Caribbean island he just moved to might as well be deserted. At the brink of adolescence, and away from the turmoil of his old life in southern California, he is now left to deal with a history of abuse. Invisible to his young mother, who seems to be more interested in partying and smoking weed with her boyfriend than in her teenage son, and devoid of any friends, his lonely world seems without escape.
After a failed suicide attempt he starts writing about his world in a blog, embarking on a courageous quest to find a meaning of life. On his path of self-discovery he is helped by an adult couple who show him a more stable, family life, and even offer him a home when things get bad. A passionate relationship with a girl he meets finally allows him to overcome some of the emotional scars of abuse, and propel him forward towards maturity. As he learns that he carries his own key to happiness inside, he slowly gains confidence in himself and in the world around him. Just as he believes to have finally found the love of his mother, she betrays him when she unfolds her plans to move to Colombia instead of going back to California, like she promised. When her boyfriend suddenly dies, Sage is once again left with a a life-deciding choice; stay on the island with the people he now considers his family, or go back home with his own mother. Ultimately, he discovers only he can turn his hate into love and that, in order to survive, he will have to leave his past behind.
Q: What will e-readers like about your book?
This book started out as a 'reality blog' on xanga in 2005. At first I just started writing about this lonely California boy who lived on an island in the Caribbean, and about how he spent his days, but quickly I started pouring my own experiences as a child into the character, and the story became semi-autobiographical. At first only a few people read it, but from one day to the next after about a week or two, the story became a hit, and got some 2000 visitors a day all the way to the end, 7 months later.
I couldn't publish the blog in the form I wrote it. It was way too long. 7 months of daily entries turned out to be some 800 pages traditionally formatted, and most of it wasn't very interesting. I had to rewrite the story and reduce it drastically, but without losing the message of the story, which is that it's really about the innate human drive for life and love, the quest for happiness on which all of us embark.
I think the reason why his story became so popular online was the fact that he was so appealing, and in a way even universal. While not everyone has been abused or has lived through what Sage went through, people still recognized a lot of themselves through him. I got so many letters from people who told me how his story had made them think about how they live their own lives, and about their relationships with their own parents, it was really encouraging.
Q: Why did you go indie?
A little while ago I saw a story on the news about Kindle sales, and how eBooks were taking over the publishing industry. I had thought about self-publishing before, but that story made me decide that this was the moment. While I've been writing since I was a child, and writing is what I always wanted to do, I've only finished 3 novels so far, two of which are now available as eBooks.
I believe the publishing industry has missed a great opportunity, not only to make money, but to improve itself. Big publishing companies should have started sites like HULU or Smashwords themselves, and give an opportunity to people who have not been able to get a foot into the traditional door but who have stories to tell, a chance to get in through self-publishing. That way they would have been able to hand-pick talent and authors that sell and offer them a print contract, and stay in control. I'm afraid it's already too late for this to happen now. Although it does require some extra work for an author to do all the promotion, and which takes time away from actually writing, authors have found out they can make more money by ePublishing their books. While I believe print books will always be in demand, eBooks will dominate the industry.
ALL THAT YOU CAN LEAVE BEHIND is available in all eFormats at Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/davidthyssen
or at Amazon for Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/All-that-leave-behind-ebook/dp/B0045U9UYI/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_2