So my new novel just came out. Everybody who has been a Regular Reader (notice I don't use Constant Reader because that would be stealing!!) says it is by far my best work, so I'm quite proud of it. If you haven't picked it up yet, check it out here:
My wife and her friend Jen Cafferty are always busting my balls about how dramatic I am because of an incident that happened a few years back. It was the fuel that created the new book. Here is the story, and no I wasn't being dramatic!!!! Bastards.
I am working a book signing event at a horror film festival. It's like the day before Halloween and we're supposed to get this freak snowstorm up here in Maine. I don't even have cable, so I didn't know anything about it. My old friend J-Sun Bailey (who works at Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville, where the festival was).
Everybody knows that this snowstorm is coming, so J-Sun and I are literally the only people at the theater. They sold one ticket to the festival that night. The night before was a great turnout. I moved a couple books and made a great connection with a teacher who wanted me to speak at "career day" ("don't write books kids, unless you want to be poor!!") at her school. Luckily, another friend of ours, Noel Haigh, stopped by to see me and get a signed copy of the book because she is moving away the next day. She is awesome like that! Came out in a snowstorm to say goodbye. (so I sold as many books as the whole movie theater sold tickets- HA!!)
TIME TO GO HOME:
I packed up early since obviously the snowstorm was murdering the whole evening. I get on the road about 10PM. I don't get home until almost 1AM. We're talking about a 45 minute drive here, from Waterville to Brunswick, where I live. 45 minutes turned into 3 hours. Only in Maine.
I CAN'T SEE SHIT:
So I'm creeping along 295 South, which is already poorly lit, especially between Augusta and Brunswick. My wipers can't even keep up with the snow, which is falling quite dramatically, like 3 inches an hour, I swear! Big ass trucks keep zipping by me at normal speeds, kicking up slush on to my windows, basically causing my wipers to groan and drag. At one point they almost stop completely. If those wipers stop, I'm basically a dead man. I already can't see more than 5 feet in front of my little Ford Focus. I roll down the windows because I am sweating so much. Because I'm scared for my life. (this is the part where Jen and my wife Erin start making fun of me, but they weren't there!!!!) I keep thinking about my kids, trying my best not to pass the fuck out from the terror that is filling me.
I CAN'T SEE SHIT, PART 2:
I don't even know what lane I'm in. Am I still on the road? Am I dead? My hands are shaking so much that I can't even keep the steering wheel straight. Another truck goes by and my wipers are about ready to give up. I need to get off the highway and take the back roads home. It's only another 8 miles (same distance my character Annie has to travel in the book!), but there is a back road through Bowdoinham that I can take. I think.
PARK AND RIDE:
I pull into this park and ride, and right behind me a big trailer pulls in. Sort of like an RV. I can't really tell, because have I mentioned that I can't see shit? I use this opportunity to call my wife. I even try to call a cab company, but they don't answer. They're smart not to go out in this crap.
"Erin, I'm not sure I'm coming home tonight. I've never seen anything like this."
"Oh stop it. You'll be fine. Just go slow."
"I can't even get up the hill once I get out of this park and ride. It's too slippery."
"Just wait it out a bit. Do you want me to come pick you up?"
BEAR IN MIND:
My wife and I have 3 kids by this point, two of which are basically newborns. It's almost midnight, so the idea of her loading up the kids in the minivan and driving out to pick up her scared shitless husband is the worst idea. In case you don't know Erin, she's making fun of me here. Back to the phone call.
THE CALL PART 2:
"No, and it's not funny. I thought I was going to die."
All the lights go out on the highway at this point, and I'm especially glad to be off the road now. I'd have died there, I swear. Jen and Erin don't quite understand that, because they weren't there and they enjoy busting my balls.
"Erin, something is happening."
"What do you mean."
"Something big is going down. All the lights on the highway just out. I think we're losing power. I can't see anything. There's somebody in this trailer that just pulled in. I'm gonna go talk to them."
"Oh my God, please stop this. You're being ridiculous."
"Something bad is going down Erin. Do you have power there? Put extra blankets on the kids."
"Stop it, just go slow and I'll see you in a little bit. I'll wait up for you."
"Can you tell the kids I love them?"
"I know, just tell the kids I love them. I feel like I may never see them again."
"And I love you too, even though you're making fun of me. Let them know that Daddy loves them forever."
BEAR IN MIND:
I'm so scared my voice is shaking. My wife is thoroughly amused.
I get out of my car and start rooting around in the trunk. Jumper cables. Lots of books (dammit- I only sold one book and now I'm going to die for that!!). Some old sneakers. No blanket. In case you're wondering, I'm considering sleeping out the storm in my car. The heat in the car won't last long, so I'll need a blanket.
So I go over to the camper, and this middle aged lady (gray hair, flannel shirt, very tough looking) steps out just as I'm approaching. We talk about how crazy the storm is. She says that she is from out of town, coming to visit her sister, who only lives about 2 miles away. She is going to sleep in the camper and let her sister know she won't be there until the morning. Hear that, Jen and Erin? Hear that? THAT is how crazy this storm is. She was scared to drive anywhere, not even 2 miles. Let along 8 miles, which was my distance to home. We chit chat a little and she offers to give me some blankets in case I need to sleep in my car, and then she offers to have me sleep on the pullout couch in her trailer.
THIS IS THE PART:
That everybody thinks I am making up. This happened. I swear it on my mother's soul. On my children's souls. You had to be there. It was a survival situation. Jen and Erin, stop your fucking laughing!! I know you're reading this and you're still laughing at me. STOP IT YOU FUCKIN' FUCKS!
I'm going to brave it, I tell her. I get in my car, I talk myself up.
I follow this crazy, winding, pitch black back road for several miles. I see a car that went off the road, which was abandoned, as far as I could see. And no way I'm stopping to double check, cause I can barely get my car up these snowy, hilly roads. Did I mention I was driving a Ford Focus? Probably the worst car in a snowstorm. Ever. Along the way, I stop a couple of times to catch my breath and stretch my hands, because I'm gripping the wheel so tight I feel like I'm doing nerve damage.
At one point, I get to a point in Topsham (the next town over). I can't see the stop lights. Or the signs. I can only tell that the light is red because it glows pink through the cover of snow on it. I literally can't see anything but pure white around me. It is a true WHITE OUT (hey, that's what my book is called, how bout that?). What I don't realize until several minutes later is that I drive through this intersection every single day on my way home from work. There are two car lots, one on each corner. I couldn't even tell they were car lots, that's how blinding this snow is. I actually went the wrong way at this intersection because I had no clue I was at the intersection. Even if I knew it was the intersection I drive through, I STILL wouldn't have known which way to go.
Jen and Erin, I swear to God. I swear I'm getting really pissed off.
So I got home after a 3 hour drive. It was harrowing. I'm alive though.
Jen and Erin, know this: I am still alive.