Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough
This is a tough thing for me to share.
It’s about a book that was tough for me to read.
Especially from the privilege of the warmth, comfort, and security of a home where I’m surrounded by books, surrounded by so many of those objects we take comfort in because they can perhaps distract us from thinking about our own mortality. Maybe those physical objects create for us some sort of perceived barrier between ourselves and that ultimate fate we will all eventually face.
These objects we pad our lives with can help us to forget there’s not that much separating us from our having, and our not having. From having warmth, security and comfort, to having nothing but the clothes on our backs.
This was also a tough book for me to publish. But I wanted to do something. I wanted to share the story of my friend Peter.
It’s not easy to read about something like this happening to someone I love.
It’s not easy to see the systems that were put into place that are failing. It’s not easy to read a story that the charities likely don’t want you to read.
The story is about a fall from that safety and comfort that can happen to any of us, at any time, that we don’t want to think about.
I met Peter C. Mitchell in the mid 1990s when we were both working at Chapters, a big box retail bookstore in Ancaster, Ontario.
He was one of the most well-read, intellectual, and witty book nerds I’ve ever had the honor of working alongside. He bonded over our mutual adoration of reading and of books.
Though he kicked my butt at chess and book trivia board games, I loved hanging out with him, because he challenged me. He made me think. He made me laugh.
Oh, how his obscure and dark humor made me laugh.
We worked together over the years and stayed in and out of touch. He was a trusted friend who babysat my only son when that now sixteen year old was a wee lad. He was also a first reader and wonderful editor for plenty of my fiction and non-fiction stories.
It has been several years since I’ve seen Peter in person.
Though he grew up and spent most of his life in Canada, he returned to London, England, where he’d been born, in 2017 to complete his research on a book entitled “A Knight in the Slums.” This was a self-confessed vanity project about his great, great grandfather, Sir John Kirk, and the man’s dedication to bettering the lives of the disabled and the working poor in Victorian-era London.
A perfect storm of calamities ironically left Peter penniless and sleeping rough, falling victim to the very same ailments John Kirk fought.
That nightmare inadvertently gave Peter an inside look at the very systems put in place over a century earlier by his great, great grandfather and those who, like him, were trying to help.
That experience frightened Peter more than the horrors of homelessness itself.
And that is the story of Rude Awakenings from Sleeping Rough.
The book, which was released on December 1, 2020, is published independently by my own Stark Publishing imprint in a stealth manner and on a shoestring budget. It’s being used to help earn Peter his way out of his situation. He’ll be receiving 80% of the net margin earned on the sale of every single eBook, paperback, and hardcover that sells.
Due to the odd nature of the way the “pieces of the distribution pie” work in the book industry combined with the costs of printing, he actually earns more on the $9.99 USD eBook than he does on the $18.99 USD paperback or the $29.99 USD hardcover.
But for anyone who is interested in ordering this book, I know that independent bookstores, just like any local businesses, could certainly use the support. Especially during these difficult pandemic times. And since the print books are available through Ingram, the world’s largest book wholesaler, almost any bookstore anywhere should be able to order it.
But it’s not just about the sales, or the money. Just as importantly, it’s about sharing Peter’s story. Because it’s not just Peter’s story, it’s the story of countless other individuals who are, similarly, stuck, trapped, feeling hopeless, but who might not have the ability to express the experience in the way that he is able to.
This is a story that needs to be heard.
This is Peter C. Mitchell’s story. But it could be your story. It could be my story.
Like I said, it’s a tough thing to share. Imagine what it might be like to live.