Jun 21, 2014

A Love Story about a Vietnamese Banyan Tree Twenty Years in the Making

A Love Story about a Vietnamese Banyan Tree Twenty Years in the Making
Mark W Sasse
It’s a love story. It’s an adventure. It’s set in Vietnam in two different time periods. And it’s releasing soon.
My third novel, The Reach of the Banyan Tree, is very much a journey of discovery, much like that which my family set out upon in August of 1994. We moved to Vietnam to teach English not knowing that we would stay there for ten years and not knowing how those experiences would be seared forever into our minds and souls. 
An extended cross-cultural trip will either eat you alive or change you from the inside out. I’ve seen it happen both ways in peoples’ lives. Luckily, it was the latter for me and that eventually propelled me into an unexpected career as an indie author.
When in Vietnam, my child went to Vietnamese school and learned songs about Ho Chi Minh. Yes, it was rather bizarre for an American family, but we learned to bridge prejudices and come to love the Vietnamese people and their wonderful culture. I learned the language and dove deeply into the fascinating history of Vietnam – especially that of the 20th century.
In my readings I stumbled across the fascinating story of the American O.S.S. team which in 1945 parachuted into what we know as northern Vietnam to help train the Viet Minh rebels in their fight against the Japanese. I thought it would be such an interesting jumping-off point for a novel.
As 2002 rolled around, I decided to write that novel. I had an idea about the opening scene and I wrote a page and half until I quit in disgust. I just couldn’t do it. I remember thinking that I would never be good enough to finish this novel or any novel. So I let it sit, and my writing career came to quick end.
In 2006, I moved to Malaysia and started teaching at an international school. The following year I ended up getting involved in the drama program and writing scripts with students which they then would produce for the stage. By 2009 I had written a drama called “Spy Blue” which started out in Vietnam. Then when I turned it into a novella the following spring, I finally decided that perhaps I could write a novel. In the summer of 2011 I completed my debut novel – Beauty Rising, and yes, it’s about Vietnam.
Finally, in the summer of 2013, I decided to pick up that abandoned novel from 2002.  It quickly developed into what I call “My Last Great Vietnam Novel” probably because it says everything I wanted to say about my love for Vietnam.
It incorporates the fascinating history of 1945 with that of young professional trying to make a difference in modern day Vietnam. At heart it is a love story that has the legs of an adventure and the depth of a piece of literary fiction. But it isn’t stuffy. It’s extremely accessible, fast paced, and unexpected.
It’s everything I ever envisioned for this novel and nothing I ever expected when I first arrived in Vietnam in 1994.
I’m very proud to announce the release of The Reach of the Banyan Tree. It is releasing in paperback and Kindle on July 1st. I’d be honored if you give it a try.