Prior to starting work on my novel Prodigal Child in the summer of 2001, I had toyed with the idea of writing my biography; although I never seriously considered doing that, who would be interested?
I had left the bicycle business completely in 1993, and the following year left Southern California and moved to Eugene, Oregon.
At the time I was completely disillusioned by the bike business after spending most of my life in some way connected to bicycles, my new passion was now songwriting and music.
The only reason I even briefly considered writing my life story was because I needed to write about my relationship with my father. It was not a good relationship and I still had issues in dealing with it. My father had died in 1996.
I had tried to reconcile with him while he was living but he could never accept that he had done anything wrong. He felt the harsh upbringing and punishment he handed down were for my own good, and the fact that I had been somewhat successful in my life, in his mind made him right.
It is difficult to forgive a person who cannot accept that they were wrong, and in addition, are not even seeking forgiveness. However, forgiveness is also necessary for the sake of the victim, often more so than that of the wrong doer.
Now my father had passed on, it was time to process it all and what better way to do it than to write about it. But my writing had to have a purpose, ending in a worthwhile product that others could read; at least be entertained, or better yet, relate to the story and be inspired or helped in some way.
Then one evening I watched a TV biography of Mark David Chapman, the man who shot John Lennon. As the program described Chapman’s dysfunctional upbringing and his relationship with his bullying abusive father, I realized they were describing my childhood.
I wondered how come Chapman ended up as John Lennon’s assassin, and I turned out alright? At 20 years old I had been sent to psychiatric hospitals and given Electro Convulsive Therapy. (ECT.) This was quite common in the 1950s in treating young adults who would not conform to what was considered the “Norm.”
And so the idea for my novel was formed; it would be a “What if” story. What if my life had gone this way instead of the way it did. I had to make the main protagonist a sympathetic character; he could not be a complete lunatic like Mark David Chapman.
The story is about Eddie Conner. Eddie because my first name is Edward; Conner because it is a common Irish name. My father was born in Ireland and in writing about him I wanted to keep the story as authentic as possible.
Eddie Conner is a likeable character because deep inside he is a good person, but one who tends to make poor choices in life. Some who have read the book tell me they don’t know whether to feel sorry for Eddie, or just smack him.
Eddie was formally an artist and a sculptor, I thought a little easier for the general public to relate to than a Bicycle Framebuilder. Now Eddie is a songwriter, my song lyrics became part of the story, and the title “Prodigal Child” came from a song with that title.
I actually penned a good story. I do not say that because I wrote it, but because people who read it tell me that all the time. Just last week someone who had just finished the book was raving about it, which prompted me to write this piece.
I get comments like, “Why is this not a best seller?” Let me tell you what I have learned about the publishing business; it is a crap shoot. Some 288,000 new titles are published in the US each year; another 206,000 are published in the UK.
Unless a book gets listed in the New York Times, or the LA Times, or it gets blessed by Oprah Winfrey, it will not be a best seller. In the mean time “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown, that was a huge best seller, has been listed as “The Worst Book of the Decade.”
Actually, Prodigal Child published in 2003 has been a moderate success as book sales go. It has sold over 2,000 copies, which most publishers consider acceptable. However, the thought that I spent a year and a half writing Prodigal Child to reach only 2,000 people is not very rewarding. I reach more people here on this blog.
I am not talking about monetary gain; it is no longer the issue. In fact if anyone reading this would like a signed hardcover copy, for $6.00 to cover postage and handling, email me at davesbikeblog[AT]gmail[DOT]com with a mailing address. You can send me the $6.00 after you receive it. That applies to the US, overseas will cost more, you can email me for an estimate.
Also you can help me give this book a new lease of life. Go to Amazon.com and click on “I’d like to read this book on Kindle.” Then do the same on Barnes&Noble.com, click on “Tell the publisher you want to read this in NOOKbook format.”
That’s it, no commitment to buy, nothing to put your name to, or forms to fill in. If you would do that for me I would be most grateful; I just want this book to have a wider audience. Thank you.
Addendum June 1, 2011
Thanks to all who requested a book. There is no expiration date on this offer, you may request a book at ant time.