Matthew Hubbard writes for one reason: to change the world.
At 26 years old, his debut novel, "Drowning," explores the often-taboo themes of depression and suicide during the early college years. The lives of the four characters—all extensions of Hubbard himself—intertwine with psychological drama during the fall term of freshman year.
Hubbard will participate in Local Artists Night to Remember this Wednesday, Oct. 23 at Barnes & Noble. Three authors will sign their books as a part of the event from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Read an excerpt from "Drowning" here.
The term "drowning" is a metaphor for depression, Hubbard said.
"It’s that feeling you get when you’re underwater and you feel stuck just under the surface," he said. "Every character is drowning."
The story evolved from a poem Hubbard wrote during his final year in college. The poem—also called "Drowning"—was so impressive to his marketing professor that Hubbard said he was pulled aside and told he was pursuing the wrong major.
Hubbard broke his poem into four parts—eventually becoming the major characters—and constructed a first-person novella, which he later scrapped to encompass larger themes.
The novella turned into a novel (97,000 words), which uses four different voices and eventually ties together in the end.
Hubbard hopes to team up with The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people from the ages of 13 to 24.
"It’s about suicide," he said. "I want to give 50 percent of the proceeds to [The Trevor Project]. The message of the book is that every life is worth living. It’s about keeping yourself from drowning with everyday tasks. When you do feel a little depressed, anything can weigh you down. I explore that in the novel."
So far, the message of "Drowning" has already changed lives since the release in July.
"I’ve received fan mail from people saying that I helped save their life," he said. "They were very suicidal before they read my book ... Every time I get an email like that, I get emotional."
Hubbard said writing comes easy to him, in part because much of his work is autobiographical. He said 90 percent of "Drowning" stems from his own life, while the final 10 percent is embellished.
"I’ll let the readers decide about the 10 percent," he said. "But each of the characters is me."
Hubbard is already at work on his next book, which deals with sexual molestation and rape.
"I don’t care about making money," he said. "I want to change lives. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my work."
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