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THE SEA-GOD AT SUNRISE

Fiction | October 2012
2013 Quarter-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards 2013
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Reviews
" While Ms. Tysk's writing style is similar to Melville it is more apparent that she drew great inspiration from Moby Dick and her nautical research...Ms. Tysk wrote with a comfort about the sea and nautical language that would lead you to believe she had spent her life at sea. Her book, her debut novel, is absolute perfection."

"If you enjoy maritime history, nautical fiction, historical fiction, whaling, the ocean, coming of age tales, or...just enjoy a good story, then I would recommend this book to you."

"...a very realistic tale of survival - body, mind, and soul - under the most trying conditions and she reveals it all to be quite beautiful and triumphant despite the loneliness and sadness that pervades it."


What's this book about?
Based on the story of John Manjiro, one of the first Japanese people to live and work in America, The Sea-God at Sunrise follows two castaway Japanese boys, Shima and Takao, from the wreck of their fishing boat in a freak typhoon to their rescue by an American whaling ship. It is 1841, the height of America's Golden Age of Whaling and the waning days of the rule of the Shogunate in Japan, which is closed to foreigners.

Their rescue proves a short-lived miracle. Barred from reentering Japan, the ship heads for the whaling grounds of the South Pacific. Shima becomes an unwilling passenger in a strange floating world filled with foreign faces, a new language, and a hostile chief mate. But when the reclusive captain suddenly falls ill, Shima and third mate Daniel Ellis stumble upon a secret from his past that brings together their previously isolated worlds.

Author's notes:
The Sea-God at Sunrise is the result of almost four years of research on New Bedford, whaling history, and Manjiro's life. I wanted to explore Manjiro's story from the point of view of a teenager torn from his family and his country and forced to start all over again. By 1841, Japan had been isolated for 250 years. Not only did Manjiro have to learn a new language, he was literally discovering a new world. The characters of The Sea-God at Sunrise go through everything from learning to tie their shoes to sailing a Western ship and administering Western medicine, and trying to communicate in a language they hardly understand.

Whaling is known as America's first truly multi-ethnic profession, in which men of all backgrounds had the opportunity to move up in rank based not on skin color but on skill in the whaleboats and rigging. Behind the scenes, however, most men of higher rank were still white, New-England born sailors clinging to the top of a heirarchy that included African-Americans, Native Americans, Portuguese and South Pacific islanders, immigrants from South America, and even non-New-England born white American sailors. Adding in two Japanese teenagers to the eclectic mix of ethnicities on board also raises racial and cultural questions which have an impact on all of the characters throughout the novel.

For those unfamiliar with whaling and sailing terms, I've included a handy glossary on the Extras page!


PARADISE

SEQUEL TO THE SEA-GOD AT SUNRISE
Fiction | February 11, 2015
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What's this book about?
In 1849, Honolulu town, newly named the Hawaiian kingdom's capital, is caught halfway between worlds. The former backwater is now an international port for whalers and merchants, and Honolulu is where men go to seek their fortunes - until the discovery of gold in California changes everything.

Amid these early days of the Gold Rush, whaleship captain Daniel Ellis and Takao, his boatsteerer, sail into Honolulu for a brief stopover. When things don't go as planned, they'll need to turn to someone for help. Who better than Shima, now living just outside Honolulu, working as a physician and well connected within the Hawaiian elite?

But Shima has changed, too, and he has his own secrets. In the sequel to The Sea-God at Sunrise, Ellis and Takao may find that the biggest battles they'll face are not at sea against monsters of the deep, but in the harbors and valleys of Oahu against friend and brother.



WAITING FOR CHERRY BLOSSOMS

Fiction | April 2, 2015

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Reviews
"This wonderfully subtle, all-too-brief collection of beautifully written vignettes reads as a love story to Japan's unique mix of traditional and modern cultures, but only on its surface. Woven through Tysk's mundane and mystical imagery are themes of loneliness, self-realization, and a quiet wonderment which only comes from solitude...Waiting for Cherry Blossoms is a true gem to be savored slowly, but the the reward is greater mindfulness and comfort for those currently struggling through a season of drift themselves."

What's this book about?
From 2003-2006, I lived in Japan. This short collection of fiction, essay, and poetry was inspired by my stay in a country that became my second home, from living in Tokyo and Aomori to my subsequent travels in Shikoku, Kyushu, and Okinawa. From riding the bullet train in Tokyo to the yearly ritual of the cherry blossoms, experience my Japan through these sometimes fantastical, sometimes personal short stories.

Author's notes:
Japan can seem like a land of extremes. This becomes really apparent when traveling from Tokyo, the ultimate urban destination, to the countrysides of Shikoku or Aomori, where the land is so undeveloped that it seems like dieties and spirits of ancient Japan still follow one's every move. This mashup of extreme old and extreme new, and the mixing of old folk beliefs and the modern high-paced Japanese lifestyle, really inspires me creatively. Most of these stories were written between 2003 and 2007, when I lived in Japan or had just moved back to America, but some are newer, inspired by my recent travels or just thinking back on things that happened 8 years ago.