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Greyhound Paperback – April 20, 2010
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Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Steffan Piper
Question: What is Greyhound about?
Steffan Piper: Greyhound is the story of an 11-year-old boy named Sebastien Ranes who is abandoned by his mother. As the book opens, we find her dropping him off in the Stockton, California Greyhound bus station to travel across the country, unaccompanied, to live with his grandmother in Altoona, Pennsylvania--over 2,500 miles away.
Most of the experiences that are in the book are events that actually have taken place in my life. I’ve been working on Greyhound, both in my head and on paper, for about 25 years. I have boxes of journals in my garage detailing many of the stories that are in the book, thoughts I had back then when I was travelling back and forth by bus, and other small details.
Writing about my experiences within the confines of 300 pages wasn’t so easy, but I felt compelled to write about those days. Those years were a very difficult time for me, and pulling a lot of those feelings forward again brought out a lot of emotions that I had buried.
Question: Is the Marcus Franklin character based on a real person?
Steffan Piper: Marcus was a real person that I met on the bus. I’ve thought quite a bit about my encounter with him and the conversations that we had into the middle of the night. When you’re young, it’s the simplest and kindest of gestures that have the most effect and create the most lasting memories. A bag of pretzels can be the equivalent of much more over the passage of time. Not having good role models growing up, I often found myself reaching outward for a guide. Those are often the most dangerous because they have a limit as to what they can give back to you. Those limits are not always visible, especially when you’re young.
Question: Why did you set the book in 1981?
Steffan Piper: I set the book in 1981 because it was a period where life was very different than it is today, and is different in more ways than can be imagined in books or through culture. Some people may not remember it that well, or may not have lived through it, but many have. The most important facet of that time was that it was the beginning of the modern world as we now know it.
The eighties was an era of "analog communication" versus what we have today, which is digital. From telephones to records, everything was analog. People were forced to make more direct links with each other; to reach out, touch and feel the world around them. There was a need to verify the space in front of them. Today’s world seems to ask us repeatedly to do the opposite and not verify our world at all.
Steffan Piper: I grew up in England and I’m the product of the British educational system, so that will always have an influence on everything that I write.
When I was ten, Sherlock Holmes was my all-time hero. Maybe it was the ease in how he held himself that I found appealing. I think it was the same for Dickens's Twist as well. These were themes I very quickly recognized and latched onto at that age. Shortly after that, when I was 12, reading Carlos Castaneda's books definitely changed my life. The idea of releasing and letting go of your self-image, during a period of my life where I was supposed to be finding that out, was alluring. I gripped onto Castaneda for dear life for about four or five years. I read those books so many times, I probably scared a few counselors at school.
I think when we start thinking as adults that we need to limit material to what we believe young people are capable of, or is normal to them, we immediately have done them a disservice, because most of them would probably shame us in regards to what we know, or think we know.
From Publishers Weekly
More About the Author
Once a resident of Alaska, the Mayor of Nome asked him to 'leave and never return,' due to a minor misunderstanding.
Steffan Piper currently lives on the outskirts of Los Angeles with his family. Most of his writing occurs in the dead of night unlike the bulk of his contemporaries.
Top Customer Reviews
Sebastian Ranes is a vulnerable waif of eleven when his heartless mother puts him on a Greyhound bus in Stockton, California. Like Huck Finn, he lacks true parents in every sense of the word. His father has three other children with the woman he has married and has no time for Sebastian. The boyfriend Sebastian's mom is about to marry gives every indication of being an abusive stepfather. Sebastian's mom is sending him to live with his father's parents. He's been there before.
But never before has he been expected to make the journey alone. In theory, his aunt and his mother's parents are meeting him at stops along the way. In reality, he's completely dependent on the kindnesses of strangers. Sympathetic waitresses feed him. A Greyhound station manager gives him a warm coat. But it is Marcus Franklin, a black ex-con, who becomes his friend, protector and guide to the sad, mad, adult world that Sebastian encounters.
It sounds like bad news, doesn't it? But Marcus hides his secret sorrow and finds healing in introducing Sebastian to the poetry of Langston Hughes and the music of Hall and Oates. Sebastian turns twelve on his long bus ride and takes his first steps into manhood.Read more ›
The year is 1981, and Sebastien is lonely. He's being sent to live with people he doesn't know all that well, and while he's a bit apprehensive about traveling by bus across the US alone with very little money, he's also going to use this as an opportunity to forget about his crappy home life and his worthless mother. When he boards his first bus in Stockton, he aims right to the back of the bus, where he will soon meet Marcus. Marcus, the African American ex-con, will soon become one of the few people in his life he can trust and rely on, and together they make a heck of a pair as they traverse the country by bus. Along the way, Sebastien will learn about loving life, making friends, how to appreciate music, and even how to appreciate literature. There is a happy splattering of literary and musical references, ranging from Catcher in the Rye to Cat Stevens. We're steeped deep into 1981, but we're also steeped into something completely modern and timeless.
Grayhound was a moving book, and it carries a lot more to it than what the description and the cover might suggest.Read more ›
The couple needs some 'alone time.' So, his Mother's packing him up on a Greyhound bus at 3:00 AM to ride from Stockton, CA to Altoona, PA where he will visit his grandparents. His mom gives him $35 and tells him to stay out of trouble. By the time he's boarded, there's not even anyone to wave goodbye to in the bus terminal. Thus, begins a cross-country odyssey for young Sebastien that will keep you turning pages through the night as the highway flies by beneath the bus's tires.
I first read Steffan Piper's extraordinary "Greyhound" when it was submitted for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards (ABNA) contest in 2008. Every time I've seen a Greyhound bus passing on the highway, I've thought of Sebastien Rane or perhaps a kid like him riding alone...Yes, the story's that extraordinary.
Rebecca Kyle, April 2010
I have no idea of where the author got his plot (nor do I care) but my feelings are that he did a super job of telling this story. Hopefully, most readers will overlook any simple problems with the writing? He deserves to have LOADS of people buy this book to see what he did with it. Yes, there are funny parts; yes, there is anguish for the young Sebastien - and some pretty scary moments, too. But all in all, Steffan Piper wrote a down-and-out wonderful piece of work! Loved it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Such a gracious friend we have, that looks over us in times of need, &keeps us safe from harm,God Bless All These Children of the world, that we have out here,so sad,like... Read morePublished 23 days ago by Debbie VanFleet
Greyhound will be a coming-of-age story that I remember for a long time. I absolutely fell in love with Sebastian and sympathized with his feelings for his mother. Read morePublished 25 days ago by W. Sparrow
I found myself immersed in this book immediately mesmerized by the strong characters and fascinating plot. A great coming of age story for everyone.Published 26 days ago by wyldaz
Sweet and gentle. Sour and ugly. Hard to do both in the same line of a story, but the writing is strong enough to pull it off. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kindle Customer
Great story. This book was a good read I really enjoyed every word. I was clearly able to envision each and every character and all events described by the author.Published 1 month ago by Deborah Bates
I absolutely loved this book. I rarely give 5 stars, in my opinion this is solid 4. I usually read the 2-3 star reviews first as i feel they are less "emotional" reviews... Read morePublished 1 month ago by squishy
I could not put this book down, finished it in a few days. I love the authors style of writing, easy to follow and so descriptive in all the right ways. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Daniel Duardo
I didn't know what to expect when I purchased this book but after I started reading it I am glad I did. This kid could have been me, even though i am a girl. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Kindle Customer