Author-entrepreneur launches Kickstarter for sequel

Last fall, John-Michael Lander shared his story of sexual assault within the competitive diving community on the TEDx Dayton stage.

Last month, he launched a Kickstarter campaign to enable him to write the next chapter of his story by publishing the novel “Out-Cast: The Hollywood Years.”

“We don’t talk about men who are sexually abused,” John-Michael said. “Society is so against it. There’s this myth that males can’t be sexually abused, that’s it’s just hazing, some sort of initiation or right of passage. So we push it down. But it comes out later in life.”

“Out-Cast” is actually the sequel to “Surface Tension,” a book he penned two years ago. Though his main character, David, is fictional, David’s story is his own, John-Michael said.

A talented diver, the teenage John-Michael was on track to compete on the U.S. Olympic diving team.

Where “Surface Tension” exposes the underworld of men’s sexual abuse, manipulation and coercion by coaches, benefactors and medical practitioners in the competitive diving community, “Out-Cast” will address that same underworld of men’s sexual abuse in Hollywood.

The novel follows David as he heads off to college, before ultimately leaving both college and diving to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. The novel also delves into the cycles of guilt, shame, PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts that often follow victims of sexual assault and trauma as they work to move forward in their lives.

The story mirrors John-Michael’s own experiences — his entertainment career includes credits on General Hospital, All My Children, national commercials and the stage.

If the Kickstarter goal of $8,500 is reached, John-Michael will be able to work with a publisher that provides one-on-one mentoring, editing and design, without changing the author’s voice.

“With my first book, a lot of publishers turned it down because of the content,” he said. “I had to edit it. But I don’t want to take things out anymore. This route will let me keep the integrity of the book.”

He also wants to reach a wider audience with his “Out-Cast.” “Surface Tension” was read primarily by middle-aged white women, he said. This new publisher would help him market and schedule signings and speaking engagements for both books, he said.

“I think the healing process is what’s happening,” John-Michael said. “The TEDx community has been constantly embracing me and pulling me in. Some friends have stepped back, and that’s been a hard thing to try to understand. But the TEDx folks are still writing, still checking in — it’s incredible.”

John-Michael’s Kickstarter has two weeks left. Check it out here.

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