Some of the great artists of the world are recognized and admired only after they die. That’s why Mike Wood decided to “pre-posthumously” release his early work, in an effort to reap the rewards while he is still alive.
Before the release of his short story collection, he wanted to go the extra mile for authenticity. So he decided to stage his own wake, inviting friends and family to mourn or celebrate his fictional passing. It may be a bit morbid or even bizarre, but it sums up Wood’s sense of humor, which he displays often in his writing.
Wood, who is a teacher in Milford and a local newspaper columnist, has self-published his second book, “Mourning Wood: The Pre-Posthumously Early Work of Mike Wood.”
“Tupac Shakur had three ‘number one’ albums come out after his death,” the book description reads. “John Kennedy Toole won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for a book published eleven years after he died. And Vincent Van Gogh didn’t live to see a single cent of the millions his art eventually commanded. Granted, even dead, all of the above still have more talent than Mike Wood, but that’s not stopping him from publishing his posthumous stuff now, while he’s still alive to reap the rewards.”
The wake they staged in Wood’s living room proved useful, not only for photos for the book’s cover but also because his brother brought letters Wood had written to him as a child, when his brother was in the Navy.
“I had been sending him my schoolwork and other things,” Wood said. “He just came to my wake with a big folder. I knew we had to get some of that in the book.”
The self-published book is composed of short stories, following a timeline of his life, some from when Wood first started writing creatively in college.
“The stories are kind of varied — dark sense of humor stuff nothing to highbrow,” he said.
Wood, who is a middle school teacher in Milford, published his first novel, Alchemy, in 2010. It’s coming-of-age fiction, taking place in the summer of 1984. He shopped it around to publishers who said they liked the book but didn’t know to sell it. So he decided to go the self-publishing route.
“Harder than the writing is the self-publishing, because you have to market yourself,” Wood said. “I got right in there when it was becoming acceptable and not just all the Goth kids putting out their books of poetry. Traditional authors are going that route now, because it’s cutting out the middleman.”
Wood will be signing copies of his new book at Plumb Memorial Library in Shelton on Wednesday, March 13, from 6 to 8 p.m. Wood has grown a fan base, especially in Shelton, his hometown.
“In scheduling the upcoming Plumb signing, [Plumb Memorial] Library Director Elspeth Lydon recalled the large crowd at my first signing for Alchemy as ‘quite an event, only bested by Barbara Mariconda, and she had publisher help with hers,’” Wood said.
Wood plans to keep following his writing dream.
“My goal is to continue working but to do so comfortably off the royalties from my books,” he joked.