Photo courtesy of AuthorHouse.

RIVERBEND - Writer Sebastian Joe has always loved “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” At age 13, he started writing a sequel to the Mark Twain classic, and he’s pleased to announce that his book is now on shelves.

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“Tom Sawyer & the Treasure of the Dark Mystery” by Sebastian Joe tells the story of an older Tom Sawyer as he and his friends look for a pirate to explain the origin of the treasure in the original “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” book. While Joe is excited to share his book with audiences, he understands the weight of writing a story based on Mark Twain’s legacy.

“I know I am taking on the mantle of a very, very important American author, and I want to make sure that I treat his characters with respect,” Joe said. “I wanted to write it in a style that I thought followed Mark Twain's template for the character and just make a fun-loving, mischievous, but good-hearted character that I think audiences will still fall in love with. He’s still Tom Sawyer, just maybe a little more grown up, and he’s about to take on a brand new adventure and learn some amazing life lessons along the way.”

Joe explained that he first read the stories of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when he was 10 years old, and he “fell in love” with both characters. But he was dissatisfied with Tom Sawyer’s end. Like a lot of kids, he had an important question about the protagonist: What happens next?

At age 13, Joe began handwriting his own version of a sequel. His sister collaborated with him at first before growing bored and moving on to other stories. But Joe was still focused on Tom Sawyer. He never lost interest in the character or the story he imagined for Tom after Twain’s book ended.

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“A lot of kids my age grew up reading more modern things like ‘Harry Potter,’ but I was attracted to the more classic novels of literature and older books,” he said. “I know the story of Tom Sawyer probably better than any other book.”

Over the next decade, Joe spent a lot of time researching everything from Missouri’s weather patterns and vegetation to technology in the 1800s. He reworked the story many times. Now, 16 years after he first picked up a pen, Joe’s story has been published through AuthorHouse.

“The story evolved a lot the more I worked on it,” he explained. “With Tom Sawyer, you have to walk a line between fiction and realism. You have to find that right balance, and I think I did that with my characters and with the story.”

There are a few original characters in Joe’s story, but most of the characters are Mark Twain favorites like Aunt Polly, Judge Thatcher and Sid. The characters are in their late teen years “on the brink of young adulthood,” Joe explained. While he will always encourage people to read the original Mark Twain book, “Tom Sawyer & the Treasure of the Dark Mystery” is written so readers can enjoy it even if they haven’t read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”

Now that his first book is published, Joe is excited to start work on some of his other projects, including a teenage spy novel. He tells other people to follow their dreams, and he is pleased with how his dream has worked out.

“I would say one of the best things you can do as an artist or a writer is try to find the right balance between practicality and your dream, ultimately, because some dreams are harder to achieve than others. When it comes to realism, there may be times when you have to invest years of your life. Just front-to-end of this project, it’s been 16 years,” he pointed out. “So find something that you like to write about and don’t be afraid to reach out for advice or wisdom for people who have more experience in one area than you may have. This project was the work of many, many people

“Tom Sawyer & the Treasure of the Dark Mystery” can be purchased online and will soon be available in stores.

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