Banning Lyon (Somewhere on QT) has signed with agent Meg Thompson of Thompson Literary Agency.
Dear Ms. Thompson,
When I was fifteen, I was held hostage in a psychiatric institution for 353 days. Many of the patients on the unit had been confined even longer. We were not allowed to go outside, touch one another, or talk privately. One of the patients, a girl with matted black hair who was covered in bedsores, had been strapped to her bed for so long she eventually needed rehabilitation to walk again. Most of us were told we suffered from depression and that our incarcerations were intended to help us. That was a lie. Six years after my discharge, one of the executives of the company that operated the institution pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks and bribes for patients, as well as misdiagnosing patients for profit. My story was pivotal in the largest health insurance fraud settlement in the history of the United States at the time. In 1993, I wrote about my experience in THE NEW YORK TIMES.
THE CHAIR AND THE VALLEY is my story. After being abandoned by my father and sent to live with relatives in Texas, my high school counselor told my mother I was suicidal. Two days later, I was placed in a psychiatric hospital where I was subjected to physical and emotional abuse, including being forced to sit in a chair facing a wall for up to twelve hours a day for weeks at a time. I left the institution almost a year later, broken. After my release, my friends from the hospital began to die, some by suicide, some by drug overdose. I fell in love with a former patient. She had become a heroin and prescription-drug addict after leaving the hospital. We were engaged to marry. Only after she died did I realize something was truly wrong with me. I became a recluse and computer gaming addict. I lived on the verge of suicide for years. Eventually, my search for healing led me to rediscover the compassion and love of others, and the beauty of the outdoors. I was hired in 2011 as a backpacking guide in Yosemite National Park, where, slowly, I healed.
My completed memoir is approximately 95,000 words. My book isn't just a story about surviving trauma and depression—it's a love story, a story of triumph. I hope it will resonate for people who have read Tara Westover's EDUCATED, Mikel Jollett's HOLLYWOOD PARK, and Stephanie Foo's WHAT MY BONES KNOW. And I hope it will resonate with special power for the thirteen million Americans who suffer from PTSD, the millions of survivors of divorce, abuse and isolation, and countless others who have been damaged by our country's failing health care system.
NEW YORK TIMES best-selling author Jonathan Eig, who covered my lawsuit when he was a young journalist, calls THE CHAIR AND THE VALLEY "a gripping, heartbreaking and ultimately hope-giving miracle of a book." He is currently writing an introduction to my manuscript.
Thank you for your consideration,