I wrote this book to save my life. When I started what became Shadow Over the Outlet Mall in 2014, I was as scared as I have ever been. I had been unemployed for over a year, and I was living in my sister’s basement, and she made it clear she wanted me gone. My entire sense of self was shattered. I had never been out of work more than a month in my life. I didn’t know who I was anymore. I didn’t know if I was anyone anymore. I didn’t know if I had ever been anyone. I was plagued by obsessive thoughts of suicide. They occupied my every waking moment. The only thing that made them stop was smoking weed. I wrote a suicide note. I picked a place to blow my brains out. It was a quiet spot by a lake where I used to take my dog Sandy when she was a pup. I picked that location because it was the last place I remembered being happy. I was ready to go.
Then, one night, I picked up an old Lovecraft collection and read “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.” I’d read it before and hated it. I hated it again. I went to bed, and the next morning I opened up my laptop and fired up Word. Instead of editing my suicide note again, I started writing the book you now hold in your hands. I didn’t think. I just wrote. The appraiser was there. Kitty 2 was there. I don’t know where they came from, but I knew they were my friends. Maybe they had always been in my head, waiting for the right time to emerge. Maybe my desperation created them from whole cloth. I wrote the first 10,000 words in one sitting. The next day, I got up and wrote some more. And the next day, and the next. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I knew I couldn’t abandon my friends who had come to me in my hour of need. Their story deserved to be told to the end. Suddenly, suicide didn’t seem all that compelling.
Fortunately, my life got better before I finished the book, but I knew I couldn’t give up on it. I owed it to myself and to these characters who were there for me in my darkest hour, to finish their story. They deserved a happy ending, and I was going to give it to them.
It’s no secret that comedy and depression are linked. The suicidal comedian is a cliché. I was staring into the abyss before I gave myself the permission to write this silly book. I hope you never find yourself in that situation, but if you do, just let loose. Once you find yourself standing nose to nose with the grim reaper, you will know what freedom is. I mean, fuck it. It’s not like anything matters anyway. That’s the revelation that scared the shit out of Lovecraft, isn’t it? He never got over the fact that he wasn’t the center of the universe. So, here’s a little advice. When you’re at your lowest point, find something, anything you’ve always wanted to do and fucking do the hell out of it. What’s the worst that can happen? You fail? What’s failure to someone with nothing left to lose? Nothing. That’s what. Keep at it until you get it right because it always gets worse until it gets better.
You want to hear the funniest joke in the world? Here it is:
A man shoots himself in the head and lives.
Do you want to be a joke? I don’t. I’ll stick with telling them.
I hope you think at least some of the ones in this book are funny, but if you don’t, I don’t care. The sun’s gonna come up tomorrow, and I’m gonna get out of bed because I’ve got another book to finish. Don’t worry about me. I’m fine.