Bryan Snyder publishes teen fantasy book titled ‘The Ghost and the Greyhound’
By Pamela Dozois
Author Bryan Snyder has recently published his first book in the Summerday Saga series, a contemporary teen fantasy book titled “The Ghost and the Greyhound.”
“The biggest secret in Earth’s history is that everything is intelligent,” Snyder explains. “The humans, the animals, the plants … even the deceased. Ancient magic kept the species from talking to one another until a dog suddenly spoke up and asked his owner to help save the world.”
The story is set in a town called Summerday, where 13-year-old Piers Davies has bullies to avoid, a mother to take care of, and a thousand other reasons to stay out of trouble. Nevertheless, the teenager soon finds himself knee-deep in fairies, ghosts and bickering animals, most of whom consider him the sole ambassador of a species previously unknown for their intelligence — the humans. He is recruited by a ghost girl to stop a ghostly abomination from devouring the souls of his city. With the aid of his talking greyhound, a handful of endearing characters, and portals into parallel words, young Piers reluctantly finds himself in a harrowing adventure about tragedy, friendship, and coming-of-age in a diverse world.
“These days, people are increasingly trapped within personal online information bubbles,” explained Snyder. “Algorithms feed them articles that reinforce their prejudices. I am writing this series to help encourage empathy for alternate perspectives… even non-human viewpoints.
“That’s why the cast of characters includes a human boy, a ghost girl, a dog, a squirrel, a dandelion avatar, and a sentient cellphone. They all have to figure out how to relate to each other in order to get along and achieve common goals… like saving the world from a genocidal monster.
“Some of my favorite parts of the book are when other characters point out how ridiculous the human is being when he’s guided solely by his own narrow perspective,” Snyder continued. “It’s both funny and tragic. We humans are a blip in planetary history, and anything that encourages us to take our species a little less seriously can be generally beneficial to our mental and social health.”
Snyder’s taste for narrative adventure was seeded abroad while studying Shakespeare in Edinburgh, Scotland.
“I was also lucky enough to study for a year in Scotland in my junior year,” he said. “Instead of devoting all my time to Scottish authors, I’d grab a few friends, hop on a train and jump off in the middle of nowhere. We’d go on adventures to find ruined castles, which we did. After returning to the United States, I knew I needed to work outdoors.”
To that end, he said he crammed ecology classes and received a bachelor’s degree in English at Haverford College, a small private liberal arts college in Haverford, Pennsylvania. Then he immediately started working in outdoor education at various locations.
“It’s easy to bounce your way around from state to state working as a naturalist; from New York to Maine, Colorado, Indiana and Hawaii,” Snyder said.
In 2003 he ended up in California teaching outdoor sciences and spent his summers traveling the country getting into scrapes with wildlife and the terrain and then he would write about his adventures in a column for a newspaper in upstate New York. Those columns eventually became a trilogy of books titled “Off the Map,” “Further off the Map,” and “Falling off the Map.”
“My ‘Off the Map’ books finally merged my love of writing with my outdoor pursuits,” Snyder said.
Following his “Off the Map” series, he also wrote a book titled “Renegade Car Camping,” about finding free campsites on public land.
“For the last few years, I have been working for the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara County and the Santa Barbara Adventure Company,” Snyder said. “Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down the outdoor schools and outdoor programs that I worked for, so I had to shift back into writing and editing projects to make a living, and this new book is one of those pursuits.
“I’ve been working on this book for four years, and the pandemic gave me a little space in which I could make the final editing push and get it out there. Coincidentally, the book deals with pandemic fears and quarantines. The similarities to the current struggles were unintentional.”
Snyder also edits and ghostwrites articles about golf, and also real estate, which he says, “is more fun than I expected, as an outdoorsman.” He is working on the second book of the Summerday Saga series titled “The Demon and the Dandelion,” which will be out around Christmas of this year.
He has also produced a variety of plays and events in Santa Barbara that satirize aspects of California culture for the same reasons: “To help us take ourselves less seriously.” The most recent event was The San Pesci Legends International Film Festival (SPLIFF) — a completely fake film festival, with fake actors and directors, a fake red carpet arrival portion, fake Q&A panels, fake movie montages and fake short films. He said It was meant to satirize the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) and celebrity culture. It took place in the fall of 2019 and January of 2020. Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lhb1T7PXqqw&t=31s
“I would also like to give a shout out to the Book Loft for how they support local authors and remained open over this troubling period,” Snyder said. “I’m looking forward to having a book signing there next year when my second book comes out.”
“The Ghost and the Greyhound” is available on Amazon, at Chaucer’s Books in Santa Barbara, and the Book Loft in Solvang.
For more information on Snyder’s books, visit offthemapbooks.com or summerdaysaga.com