Feature on Ned Hayes and The Eagle Tree (Amazon Transformations)

Posted by on Oct 10, 2016 in All Other Posts | 0 comments

(reposted from Amazon’s Transformations blog)   He wrote a novel so far outside his comfort zone that he wondered if anyone would enjoy it. Kindle Scout readers answered with a resounding “yes.” New characters often visit novelist Ned Hayes uninvited, so it wasn’t all that strange a few years back when the voice of a fictional teenage boy kept percolating in the back of his mind. Then things got more intense: “A friend of mine took me to this amazing old-growth tree, and the first lines of the story, where the boy saw the Eagle Tree and wanted to climb it, just rose up in me. I had to write the story down. I felt kind of carried away by a rushing stream, and I didn’t know where it was really taking me.” I felt like I’d given someone a voice who didn’t have one. — novelist Ned Hayes The rushing stream carried Ned to The Eagle Tree, a novel unlike anything he’d ever written. He was a published author of historical fiction, and – even though writing novels wasn’t his full-time job, and his books had never reached massive numbers of readers – his work had earned him representation by an established literary agent. But far from being the historical fiction the agent expected, The Eagle Tree was set in modern times, and that percolating voice in Ned’s head turned out to belong to a teenage boy diagnosed with autism. In the novel, young March Wong climbs dangerously high into Washington’s forests to chase his passion for learning all about trees. “When I first gave the manuscript to my agent, she read it through and said, ‘Well, this is a really different kind of book, and I’m not sure I can sell this.’,” Ned says. Ned didn’t push. He had his own doubts. “I was concerned that maybe it was a book that I had written just for my own pleasure and that I would be the only reader that really enjoyed it.” Ned knew a way to test whether the novel would ever speak to anyone but him. As a reader, he’d been participating in Kindle Scout, where authors can submit their never-before-published books. Readers see excerpts from each book, and they can nominate their favorites to receive a publishing contract from Amazon. Ned submitted The Eagle Tree and waited to see if anyone would nominate it. He was about to be carried away by another rushing stream. “One of the earliest comments I received,” Ned starts to say, surprising himself by choking up, “was from somebody who had a family member who was on the autism spectrum. They said that this book gave them insight into...

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Words Matter: 15 Seconds of Truth

Posted by on Aug 11, 2016 in All Other Posts | 0 comments

Earlier this year, I recorded a quick little video for Amazon Publishing to post on their public websites to promote my newly bestselling book THE EAGLE TREE. This is a post about what words I chose to use, and why.        15 seconds of talking might not matter much. But what if those words are going to be seen by thousands of people – perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people? And what if your words can set a precedent for a whole class of people? What words would you choose then?       I had the opportunity to describe my new book The Eagle Tree on camera. My book is about a boy named March Wong who lives in Olympia Washington. March is a highly focused young man: he does evince characteristics of people I know and love who are autistic. He cares tremendously about trees and his great interest in trees influences his community in a powerful way.      The Eagle Tree became a bestseller in April, and I was subsequently invited to record a promotional video for the novel. Here’s the video:       I chose my words carefully. Bestselling author Blake Crouch helpfully rehearsed with me at lunch. And the crew, the staff and the director provided much assistance.       Words matter, I kept thinking, the words I use can really matter here.       First of all, you only have 15 seconds to describe your book… you have to pack the entire story arc into just that amount of time. The director of the video mentioned how to heighten the drama in my little 15 seconds – she wanted the drama of my video to be very high!       “What if we said your character is ‘trapped in silence’ or ‘trapped in autism’?” said the director.       I knew she meant well – she just wanted to communicate an extreme sense of what was at stake in the story.       “He’s not silent,” I replied. And that’s true – my character in the book is not silent at all – he is quite voluble when it comes to talking about trees. What I didn’t say is that even if March doesn’t choose to speak, he’s not necessarily “trapped” by that silence.       My character chooses not to talk to many people in the story. He doesn’t feel the need. He finds solace and meaning in silence, far beyond that found in the madding crowd of trivial expression he hears in people all around him. In fact, he occasionally feels “trapped” by people, and he leaves a City Council meeting because of the...

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An Interactive Evening with Ned Hayes and Friends

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in All Other Posts | 0 comments

OLYMPIA, WA, JUNE 4, 2016 Browsers Bookstore in Olympia is excited to host an “Interactive Evening” with Author Ned Hayes, featuring notable local actors performing scenes from his bestselling novel The Eagle Tree. The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes (Little A) was a # 1 Kindle bestseller in Young Adult when it made its eBook debut in April 2016. EVENT LOCATION: Browsers Bookstore 107 Capitol Way N. Olympia, WA 98501 [between 4th Ave + State] 360.357.7462 | andrea@browsersolympia.com The highly praised novel will be in broad release at bookstores nationwide on July 5. The novel has already received accolades from autistic advocate Temple Grandin and New York Times bestseller Steve Silberman, author of Neurotribes. Bestselling author Ned Hayes will appear at a variety of schools, bookstores and public libraries on his first nationwide book tour in summer and fall 2016. Browser’s Bookstore is excited to be the first bookstore in this tour and is proud to host this unique evening of readings and performances from the playscript of a forthcoming stage production of this novel. Actors featured in this bookstore preview performance include Amy Shephard, who has been seen on stage at Harlequin Productions, Olympia Family Theater, and the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts and Clarke Hallum, recently seen as “Wilbur” in Olympia Family Theater’s production of “Charlotte’s Web” and well known for his starring role in “A Christmas Story” at 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle. Also appearing in this “Interactive Evening” will be U.S. Fish & Wildlife biologist and expert in Northwest forest ecosystems, Emily Teachout. Hayes was inspired to write the novel from his experiences teaching autistic children. “How often do you see an autistic kid as the hero of a story?” Hayes said. “From working with these kids, I know they, and their parents, are uncelebrated heroes, and they each have a story. I wanted to tell a story about a different kind of hero.” Readers who enjoyed Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime or Jim Lynch’s The Highest Tide will enjoy this unusual and insightful coming-of-age novel, which is set in Olympia and features a number of Olympia landmarks and experiences. Olympia attendees at the “Interactive Evening” will recognize many local personalities and local references.   ACTORS AND OTHERS APPEARING AT BROWSERS BOOKSTORE FEATURED ACTOR – Amy Shephard – JANET (MARCH’S MOTHER) Amy Shephard is a longtime performer in the Pacific Northwest.  She holds a Master’s degree in Applied Theater from the University of Exeter, UK. Amy acts, choreographs, and teaches with multiple theater companies in the south sound area, including Olympia Family Theater, Harlequin Productions, Animal Fire Theater, Broadway Center and Open Road Productions. Amy’s choreography, acting and singing has been seen...

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Endorsements – The Eagle Tree

Posted by on Apr 28, 2016 in All Other Posts | 0 comments

“The Eagle Tree is a gorgeously written novel that features one of the most accurate, finely drawn and memorable autistic protagonists in literature. The hero of the book is like a 14-year-old Walt Whitman with autism, seeking communion with the ancient magnificent beings that tower over the landscape around Olympia, Washington. Ned Hayes plays with the conventions of the unreliable narrator so that you end up feeling like March is a very reliable narrator of glorious and terrifying aspects of the world that neurotypicals can’t see. Credible, authentic, powerful. A must-read.” – Steve Silberman, New York Times bestselling author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize. “Every human experience is unique, but The Eagle Tree provides insight into one distinctive and uniquely important perspective. The descriptions in climbing The Eagle Tree gets deep into the mathematical pattern based sensory world of a person with autism. The experience of navigating a tree climb is described in detail with mathematical and sensory detail that seems very authentic to me.” – Temple Grandin, New York Times bestselling author of The Autistic Brain and Emergence.    “A wonderful read! To say that the narrator’s mind is unusual would not be correct. His mind is simply and marvelously unique like yours and mine. Or rather, like yours and mine could be if we lifted the eyes of our hope to the crowns of trees and listened to the voice of our neglected spirit. The Eagle Tree will remind of the beauty and truth you may have forgotten.”   – Francisco X. Stork, award-winning author of Marcelo in the Real World       “The Eagle Tree portrays a teenager that is believable and lovable. March, the main character, is a living breathing person with significant challenges who is so realistic I feel I know him. I have not enjoyed an autistic novel as much since The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. The Eagle Tree’s beautifully written narrator is a real joy — March Wong is an unexpected leader, who remains true to himself and prevails. Hayes’s story of family and forest will leave an indelible mark on your heart.”   — Susan Senator, New York Times featured author of Making Peace with Autism and Autism Adulthood THE EAGLE TREE by Ned Hayes, is now available in print, e-book and audiobook from indie bookstores and from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.           > All about the story & history of THE EAGLE TREE > Book Club Guide and Discussion Questions for THE EAGLE TREE (PDF version) > Resources about topics in THE EAGLE TREE  > Book Trailer for THE EAGLE TREE > Endorsements for THE EAGLE TREE  > Listen to a Reading of the book at the Rainier Writing Workshop > THE...

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A Narrator with an Unusual Voice – An Interview with Author Ned Hayes

Posted by on Apr 16, 2016 in All Other Posts | 0 comments

I was very happy to see this interview with a local Olympia arts journal appear recently in print. I’ve received permission to re-print the author interview here on my site. How did the idea of THE EAGLE TREE come to you? Years ago, I taught a variety of children who were not neuro-typical. This means that they had a variety of unique and interesting perspectives on the world. One young man especially stayed in my mind for many years. I was inspired by his unusual point of view, and the very hard work he undertook to control what he saw as distracting or destructive behavior and to connect with people around him. I admired him greatly, and I hope a little of his voice is here in this book. Just two years ago, a writer friend of mine here in Olympia introduced me to the real life “Eagle Tree” back in the woods, and the idea of this solitary amazing tree came together in my mind with the young man I knew years ago. The story emerged organically from that catalyst. “The idea of this solitary amazing tree came together with the young man… the story emerged organically from that catalyst.” — Ned Hayes, author of The Eagle Tree  The real-life “Eagle Tree” exists then. How much else of the story is grounded in your real life in Olympia Washington? Well, it’s worth noting that for the sake of the story, I moved the real life Eagle Tree all the way across town from the Evergreen State College – where it is really located – to the east side of Olympia, where I live. But there are many wooded areas on this side of town as well, and I think the Eagle Tree could easily be located here. So the geography of the story is somewhat misaligned with reality, but only slightly. However, the story is very grounded in the Olympia I know and love. That’s why I’ve made sure to include Olympia institutions like “The Procession of the Species,” the United Churches (a real church here in town), and a unique school we have, the Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA). In my story, March attends ORLA. In real life, he probably would be in a mainstream classroom at a public school, but again, for the sake of the story, certain changes were made to the fabric of reality! What about the LBA Woods? You mentioned in your author’s note that the LBA Woods is a real place. Right – one critical piece that I didn’t change is the fact that the LBA Woods here in Olympia were in fact slated to be bulldozed for a housing development. I wrote...

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Eagle Tree – New Novel

Posted by on Apr 1, 2016 in All Other Posts | 0 comments

THE EAGLE TREE is now available from your local bookstore,  Amazon and Barnes & Noble.             THE EAGLE TREE was published by Little A. The book sold over 80,000 copies to become a national bestseller and was listed in 2016 as one of Top 5 Books on the Autistic experience.     UPDATE: The new novelette “Holy Trinity” was published in 2017 as a special update to March Wong’s story to celebrate The Eagle Tree‘s bestselling status. All your favorite characters return in “Holy Trinity” >>   “The Eagle Tree is a gorgeously written novel that features one of the most accurate, finely drawn and memorable autistic protagonists in literature. Credible, authentic, powerful. A must-read.”–– Steve Silberman, New York Times bestselling author of NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism “Every human experience is unique, but The Eagle Tree provides insight into one distinctive and uniquely important perspective. The Eagle Tree… seems very authentic to me.””— Temple Grandin, New York Times bestselling author of Emergence: Labeled Autistic.   Fourteen-year-old March Wong knows everything there is to know about trees. They are his passion and his obsession, even after his recent fall—and despite social services’ threat to take him away from his mother if she doesn’t keep him out of their branches.   But the young autistic boy just cannot resist the captivating pull of the Pacific Northwest’s lush forests just outside his backdoor.   One day, March is devastated to learn that the Eagle Tree—a monolithic Ponderosa pine near his home in Olympia—is slated to be cut down by developers. Now, he will do anything in his power to save this beloved tree, including enlisting unlikely support from relatives, classmates, and even his bitter neighbor. In taking a stand, March will come face-to-face with some frightening possibilities: Even if he manages to save the Eagle Tree, is he risking himself and his mother to do it?   Intertwining themes of humanity and ecology, The Eagle Tree eloquently explores what it means to be a part of a family, a society, and the natural world that surrounds and connects us.   THE EAGLE TREE will appeal to readers who enjoyed the award-winning CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME or Jim Lynch’s THE HIGHEST TIDE, which is also set in March’s—and the author’s—hometown of Olympia, Washington.               > All about the story & history of THE EAGLE TREE > Book Club Guide and Discussion Questions for THE EAGLE TREE > Resources about topics in THE EAGLE TREE  > Book Trailer for THE EAGLE TREE > Endorsements for THE EAGLE TREE  > Listen to a Reading of the book at the Rainier Writing Workshop   > THE EAGLE TREE is now available for purchase – print, e-book...

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