From the Author
Some time ago, I was on the brink of emotional collapse. I was in the midst of a breakup... breaking up and getting back together and cracking, and eroding, and finally breaking apart... having lost the first girl I ever loved through a combination of circumstance and something else, something indefinable that yet I yearned to define. I can remember breaking down in tears on the bathroom floor one October morning in Los Angeles. I had been writing a novel about a screenwriter whose girlfriend vanishes into another world, a bizarre and dangerous place shaped by the mingling of memories and imagination. I thought writing might help. The book wasn't finished. I was unstable. I didn't know what else to do besides go home. So I went. I drove across country to Ohio in 37 hours without stopping to sleep overnight. I had lost the love of my life. When I got to Cleveland, my goal was to complete the book. It was my only plan for survival.
In Cleveland, writing was therapy. I went out at night and explored a city in transition much like me. I found massive hospital campuses, pockets of rebuilt vibrancy serving Belgian beer and gourmet pizza, and so much open space, so many forgotten people, so many abandoned homes and factories connected by roads snow plows had torn apart. Every night, when I got home, I wrote about what I saw and did. These excursions filtered their way into the novel, becoming the basis for the majority of the plot. One night, I got lost in East Cleveland on my way to the movies. Another, I drove past a ramshackle house with a sign on it: "Come to Jesus today because tomorrow may be too late." I even had dinner at a restaurant near the airport with a red door in the bathroom.
In about eight months, I finished the book. At this, at least, I was successful. I sent the manuscript to a couple literary agents, both of whom thought the work was too hard of a sell... too odd, too unsettling, too personal, a mixture of genres ... and why did it have to be so contemporary? "High school kids and college students don't read unless they have to," I was told. "Adults used to period pieces and historical drama will find this world full of digital communication and relationships with strangers the hero has only met online off-putting..." I ignored everything that was said. I turned to Amazon. I knew there was a stigma attached to "self-publishing" - in the eyes of some people, it was code for "not good enough." But I didn't care. It didn't matter to me what the literary elite thought or what people would say to me at parties. I needed to live. If I didn't get the book out of my head and into the world I knew I might not make it. So I published, without barriers or restrictions.
This Book Does Not Exist is the book I wrote to survive a breakup, a strange, melancholic combination of science fiction and memoir, created for anyone who has loved and lost. Based on many of the kind messages I have received since publication, I know it has meant something to more than a few others. Maybe, if you need it, the story could mean something to you as well.
About the Author
Mike Schneider grew up in Amherst, Ohio, a small town near Oberlin College, before attending New York University, where he studied Film and Television Production with a concentration on screenwriting. After a stretch working in feature film development in Los Angeles, he shifted into writing full time. This Book Does Not Exist
is his first novel. It was written primarily in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland. Mike now lives in Los Angeles.