For two decades Tyler Gibbons has been keeping a secret from his family. At the tender age of sixteen, Tyler embarks on a student exchange program. Sent to the Andean city of Ambato, Ecuador, he finds daily adventure as he tries to fit in at school, connect with his host family, and navigate through a world of beaches, volcanoes, and jungles. But tucked deep inside this year are events so profound, so unexpected, they forever shape the man he will become. Now, 25 years later, his mother pulls these soaring tales from her son, exposing, for the first time, the source of a deep unhappiness. While these memories contain the wounds of an unresolved past, they also possess the power to heal his painful present. Thoughtfully crafted and boldly told, Tyler’s journey takes the reader on a wild South American adventure, while illuminating a mother’s unyielding power to heal her child.
A Collaborative Playwright Transitions To a Novelist
by Randy Anderson
I started my writing life as a playwright. Playwriting by it’s very nature is a collaborate endeavor. But the way I wrote plays went well beyond the usual readings, workshops, and developmental processes. I was a collaborate playwright. I craved the contributions of actors, directors, and other writers. I’d solicit ideas, jokes, even scenes from anyone in the company who was moved by the gravitational force of the central idea. I would then curate, shape, and ultimately finesse the final product, which was then performed for live audiences. And since everyone on stage and behind the curtains had contributed, there was a tremendous sense of ownership that permeated throughout the theater.
Gradually, I began writing plays without the active participation of other people, but never without the looming deadline of a paid performance. After all, plays are meant to be seen/heard/experienced, not read. I have never written an unperformed play. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the act of writing and producing these plays and thousands of people have thoroughly enjoyed, or totally hated my efforts. But I’d venture to say, very few have been indifferent, which I consider success.
So, sometime in 2009, I decided I wanted to try my hand at novel writing. What started out as a whim, quickly became a bit of an obsession–until I actually tried writing. It was a little shocking to discover just how difficult writing a novel can be. I felt comfortable with creating a storyline, developing characters and building a plot. But I quickly learned that my facility with dialogue was useless when attempting to write prose. This was a muscle I’d never used and it became very clear to me that I needed to step back and work on this new skill.
Now, I’m not the kind of person who would be content to take a few courses, write in my journal, and develop in private. I trained in the theater. My natural instinct is to perform. The reason I’ve never written an unperformed play is because I produce them. Sometimes that means booking the theater first and writing the play with that impending deadline. Thankfully, the world of self-publishing was becoming easier by the day, so this model translated quite nicely into the literary world.
I decided to write and publish three books. Instead of rehearsals, I’d have focus groups read drafts. Instead of hiring a director, I’d hire a developmental editor. Instead of designers to make it all look good, I’d have copyeditors ensure a consistent and correct reading experience. The only thing I needed now was content.
My first book would be a memoir. A first hand account of a specific period of my life would contain my imagination and force me to focus on the actual writing. By this I mean the construction of sentences in meaningful ways. Remember, I’d only ever written dialogue, so describing things proved to be a little difficult. It took me eighteen months, countless rewrites working with several editors before I completed ON MAKING OFF: Misadventures Off-Off Broadway, but in May of 2011, I published my first work. Sales were decent and the reviews were good or terrible and I was on my way.
Now, three years later, I’ve released my second book. CAREFUL is a novel drawn from personal experience. Using the faded memories of my student exchange experience twenty years ago, I’ve crafted a fictitious narrative about a boy who experiences marvelous and tragic events. None of these events actually happened to me, but by setting the story someplace where I have distinct memories provides a layer of honesty that I’m eager to master. It’s an element of my writing I hope to hone in future books.
I’m already fast at work on my third book. A time traveler story, INEKE will test my ever-improving skills in the world of genre fiction. And once again, I’ll make the book available for readers everywhere. Just as I’ve never written a play that hasn’t been produced, I don’t intend on writing a book that isn’t published. I’m writing to be read, just as an actor acts to be seen. And I have a feeling I won’t stop at three. I wrote a dozen plays before switching to novels. I may just have a few dozen of those in me as well.
Meet the Author:
Randy Anderson is a novelist and playwright. His first book was published in 2011. On Making Off recounted his adventures running The Beggars Group, a downtown theater company that produced over two dozen productions at the turn of the millennium. He is also the author of several plays including; Kill the President, The Dwelling, and Yippie! Randy currently lives in Brooklyn where he writes, reasons, and reacts. You can contact him at http://www.onmakingoff.com, or on twitter @onmakingoff. Find the author on: Facebook / Twitter / Literary Addicts / Goodreads / Website