Authors: Billie Shoemate
The Zombie Letters
2015 by Billie Dean Shoemate III
Published by Asylum817 Productions
All rights reserved.
Cover art by Billie Dean Shoemate III and Danielle Spectre
Author maintains all rights to this book. Any attempt to re-distribute or copy this book in any other printed or electronic form will result in legal action.
Novels by Billie Dean Shoemate III
In the Willows
Vendetta: Villain II
Oblivion: Villain III
A Madman’s Jury
The American Soapbox: a Thesis of Modern Living
All of Billie’s Books are available online through Amazon
as well as through Asylum817 Productions http://www.asylum817.webs.com
by the author
Hello again. It’s nice to be back with old friends, isn’t it? You know . . . this is a novel that you, Dearest Reader, almost never got to see. With the release of my tenth novel,
A Madman’s Jury
, I had retired writing. I was done. Finished. Blammo. Billie has left the building. As I’ve said before, I love being an author, but I
writing. Sounds kind of strange, doesn’t it? I find writing to be a mental torment that is honestly quite excruciating. I dig into myself and dance with a part of me that I would give my very soul to have dead and buried. I dislike the demons I exercise in order to create what I create. In fact, I loathe them. Those demons, those closeted skeletons are the last remnants of a man full of hatred, sadness, depravity, isolation and desperation. I used them and gained reward in writing. My books have won awards, received excellent reviews and earned me a seat on the respected Indianola Book Review. I achieved everything I ever set out to do . . . but what once was a therapy and release for me became the most prominent thing hindering my healing as a human being. The sense of isolation deepened. The effects of an upended life seemed to magnify themselves within my heart. Writing, despite the incredible rewards, had simply lost its magic. Not to sound melodramatic or pretentious, but most writers will understand. Perhaps this is why so many of them end up losing their fucking minds. I always believed, write what you know. If all you know is hurt . . . if all you
is pain . . . if that’s all that puts you in that creative place, it will only be so long until the bubble bursts.
So, I hung it up. For three years. Three years of no new material, no short stories, no layouts. Nothing. I write my novels longhand and I got to the point where the only time I put a pen to paper was to sign a check. Honestly, I had never felt better. I devoted more time to my independent publishing label and helped others fulfill their aspirations. That is beyond rewarding; seeing other people’s dreams come true. I got so much joy seeing the looks on their faces when they received that first hardback in the mail and getting to see the tangible reality that once only existed in pure thought. The brick and mortar of the world they created became tangible. Something they could
. What an incredible feeling. I live for it.
About two months ago as of writing this little introduction, someone posted a review of my second novel,
. It was posted on some back-alley college website run by some dude in a dorm someplace. One of my friends mentioned it to me and suggested I read it. When I followed the link in my e-mail, my jaw dropped. It wasn’t a review. It was a thesis.
Without getting too specific, he said he went back and read all of the introductions I write for these books and felt exited that he got the chance to read a novel written by someone who hated what writing was doing to him . . . someone who may not have been entirely sane. In his sprawling thesis (which included a pretty damn good review of
), he said something I will never forget.
“Creative insanity . . . artistic madness . . . is a bi-product of the brilliant and inquisitive mind. Lunacy only exists in artists that struggle to understand the harsh world they are tossed into. Most people go along with it. They are content in the good and the bad. Artists ask why. Someone who has truly found their purpose in life will
struggle to find sense in it. And they will always fail. Why, because life itself does not make sense. Life to a normal person is just something to go through. A genius has recognized life for what it really is; a world populated by flawed, broken creatures caught in endless, randomized fate. Madness has to be embraced, because all attempts to stifle it will only intensify it. Life may never be okay. It may never be normal. However, people with minds strong enough, or cursed enough, to create something have a responsibility. Human beings are looking for a release . . . an escape. They need another world to visit for awhile. Maybe, just maybe, one man’s torment is the release of many.”
Interesting thought, my friend.
I went back and read reviews of other novels of mine, as well as the mountains of rejection slips I collected when I was still green in this line of work. I realized something profound. I imagined the people who have bought and borrowed my books reading them. They sit at their desks with their Kindles or lie on the couch with their paperbacks. They pick up a few sentences in line at the grocery store or at the doctor’s office. My friend Kia reads my novels while she is in her bathtub. Aside from the lovely mental image
little tidbit of information conjures up, I realized something. My
were being read. My feelings . . . my beliefs. My thoughts and observations. My demons and my skeletons. My fears. My failures. See, I write fiction. To anyone that even halfway knows me and has read my novels, they can tell that my books are deeply autobiographical. People read my books, soak them in and got something out of them. Even people who hate my writing. They slam the book down or delete them from their Kindles . . . maybe give it to a friend or sell it at the annual Spring garage sale. See what I’m getting at?
You can interrupt a person speaking. You can talk over them, right? You can shut them up. There are a million ways to do it. Whether you finished the book or closed it for whatever displeased reason, writing cannot be interrupted. Do me a favor and close this book right now for a second. These words will stay right here. The words still exist whether or not you choose to read them. They will remain on this page long after I am dead and gone. Writing cannot be talked over, shut up or told to sit down and be quiet. I’ve had my share of hits and misses as a novelist. That’s for damn sure, but just knowing how much people got out of them; even the ones who regard me as a bit of a hack . . . they kind of put the torment into perspective. Maybe instead of a cross I bear or a heavy chain I forged in life, the torment is a badge. A medal. A purple heart.
So, Dearest Reader, here it is . . . a return to the darkness inside. The hardest I can possibly work. The fastest my gears can turn. For the longest time, I thought I was writing for myself. How incredibly wrong I was. The books are only mine when I write them. After they are published, they become yours. Despite the emotion you felt after reading one of them, I truly believe that you are worth the hell I go through to do this.
I may never understand this fucking place. Hell, I may never even like it. I may never be
, whatever the shit those words really mean. Now I know why monsters exist inside of people and what the skeletons in our closets are for. Madness needs to be embraced. When I decided to do just that and started to write again, something strange happened.
I still felt like fucking shit. I still didn’t sleep. I still locked myself away from the world. But you know something?
I enjoyed the hell out of it. For the first time since I started writing, I enjoyed it.
Here is the novel that is my talisman of a promise that in whatever shape or form, I will always be here . . . still as pissed off, tormented and miserly as I always was, but with a renewed sense of purpose. Thanks for enjoying the ride so far. This shit isn’t stopping ever again. I sincerely hope you all enjoy this book. I appreciate, as always, your time and commitment.
Now, if you will excuse me . . . I hear a skeleton knocking at the inside of my closet door again. Gotta give the ol’ boy some air.
He’s been in there way too goddamn long.
THE ZOMBIE LETTERS
Billie Dean Shoemate III