In exactly one month, Cheshire Moon, my latest absurdist comedy, will be unleashed upon the world.
It's been a long time coming.
I consider Cheshire Moon to be my first novel. I wrote and finished a novel in high school and even printed copies and sold it to my classmates, but I don't count that because I had no idea what I was doing and it was terrible. Then my second novel was about 25% complete when the file got corrupted and I didn't have a back-up so it was lost to the world. So, technically, Cheshire Moon is my third novel, but it's the first one that was any good so I consider it to be my first novel.
Like most of my early novels, Cheshire Moon was a combination of several short story ideas that I mashed together. I took an idea about someone who was allergic to laughing, someone who became nocturnal to escape their problems, and someone who worked for a rigged professional football league and combined all the ideas into one novel. The mixing of comedy and tragedy was heavily influenced by my literary Jedi master, Kurt Vonnegut, and I was reading a lot of Chuck Palahniuk at the time so it bled into my writing style, too.
Thus was born the story of Doctor Ian Klein, a man with an allergy to the sun who works as a writer for the North American Football League (a professional sport as rigged as pro wrestling) and who suffers from Humor Suppression Syndrome, a psychological disorder that prevents him from laughing.
The first completed draft was finished in 2008. It was okay. I knew it could be better. I moved on to the next novel but kept working on it periodically when I went for my Masters in Creative Writing at Wilkes University. I used Cheshire Moon as my capstone project. The story evolved with some professional editing and by the end of my time at Wilkes, I had a publishable manuscript. I shopped the manuscript to agents and publishers and even got a few bites, but, ultimately, I was told the story was "too weird" and "not marketable" so I shelved it and moved on.
Cheshire Moon was always missing something, but I couldn't figure out what it was. There was a ton of random crazy bullshit in the novel, but there was nothing at the nucleus of the story holding it all together. The problem was the event that would explain the events of the novel hadn't happened yet.
The pandemic was the thing that would tie all the loose ends of my novel together. It was my secret Corona-flavored ingredient. I knew I had gotten it right when my wife read my revision and asked, "How did you even write this before the pandemic?"
The message of the novel was tailor-made for 2020. Life is full of tragedy, betrayal, and loneliness and sometimes our only defense against the cruelty of the world is our laughter. If we can keep laughing, despite the never-ending parade of misery, we'll be okay.
If that isn't the catchphrase for 2020, then I don't know what is.
Ready to laugh or die trying? Pre-order the e-version of the book here.