Interview with Matthew Byer

What is your novel Finding My Way Through Life's Follies about?
On a very basic level it’s about the story of Michael Falmon as he grows up, matures, and ultimately finds his place in the world and love. On another level it’s meant to be almost a modern day myth, which utilizes certain conventions and archetypes that have existed since literature has existed.

Ultimately, though, I would say it’s a story about persevering and not giving up on life.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
The original concept for the book goes back to when I was studying Economics at the University of Ottawa from 1992-1996. My first thought was to use as touchstones some of my experiences during my childhood, high school, and university years and try to build a modern myth out of them. Often, when we think of myths they involve all sorts of deities, heroes, powers, celebrities, etcetera, but I wanted to try and construct one more based in everyday life. I also felt that each chapter would focus on a particular flashpoint from the main character’s life.

However, I also discussed the book idea with a friend of mine, Les Braden, and we thought about perhaps doing a three act book wherein I would write about Michael Falmon in the first act, he would write about a female protagonist in the second act, and in the third act we would have the two characters meet and write it together. That was as far as that idea got as I over the years steadily wrote Michael’s tale and didn’t receive any indication from Les that he had done anything with his female protagonist.

Ironically enough, I actually discussed this with Les a couple of days ago and he did recall the discussion all those years ago.
Why did you choose to write the novel in the first person?
I felt that writing the book in the first person would more effectively take you into Michael’s mind and allow you to a get a very descriptive and immersive point-of-view that wouldn’t be possible if I had written it in third person. However, you’ll notice that some of the more descriptive passages will sometimes go into the third person as I found it was more effective for detailing a place, person, or a situation.
Is the novel autobiographical?
No, but there are elements taken from events that I’ve lived through; the best way to describe it is that for some of the situations I would use ones from my own life, but change how they played out. So if situation A had you turning left, I would have my characters turning right. Now this isn’t to say that everything that Michael experiences in the novel I experienced, but there are some where that happened.
Are any of the characters based on people from your own life?
Yes, but with a caveat. Some of the characters in this novel are based on more than one person that I’ve known during my life time. However, there are several characters that I made up.
What writers influenced your style of writing?
Those writers and poets who have influenced me are Horace, Catullus, Ovid, Virgil, Propertius, Seneca, and many other Greek and Latin writers. I’ve always been very much influenced by the writings of Alan Moore, the author of my favorite book of all time Flowers for Algernon’s Daniel Keyes, and my producer and editor at canoe.ca, Greg Oliver.
Why did it take so long for you to finish the novel?
That was mostly because of other things in my life. I was working full-time for the most part, since 1998 so I only had a spare moment here or there to work on the novel. Admittedly, though, the first eleven chapters in their rough form were completed back at the beginning of 2009. When my mom got diagnosed with cancer, though, all my creativity and inspiration went away for the longest time.

Only recently have I been in a better frame of mind to the point where I felt confident enough to try and finish this novel. I was pretty thankful knowing I had already written the majority of it.
What are your hopes for this novel?
Ummm that it gets me a date with actress Rachel McAdams? Seriously, though, I would hope to have as many people as possible read it, enjoy it and hopefully want to read other things that I write.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember the first in-depth short-story that I wrote, which also had as its main character Michael Falmon. However, the short story was radically different, as was the character, and I even managed to re-use it on a couple of other school assignments when I was in high school and university.
What is your writing process?
In the case of this novel I wrote about the first three chapters straight through without any planning. When I finished them I realized I should sketch out where I wanted this story to go and how I would look at ending it.
Do you have any other books that you’re planning to write?
Yes. I do have an idea for a murder mystery, though the first priority as I write this is to get this novel published.
Have you written any other books?
I have another book for sale called Mustard Marinade Poetry, which is a collection of poems I've written over the last couple of decades on a whole range of topics.
Published 2013-09-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Mustard Marinade Poetry
By
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 11,070. Language: English. Published: September 11, 2013. Category: Fiction » Poetry » Canadian Poetry
Mustard Marinade Poetry is a collection of poems covering everything from online dating, the alphabet, love, politics, to things such as a rock ode and literature.
Finding My Way Through Life's Follies
By
Price: $2.95 USD. Words: 59,510. Language: English. Published: September 10, 2013. Category: Fiction » Adventure » General
Finding My Way Through Life's Follies tells the tale of Michael Falmon from childhood to his college years where along the way he finds love, friendship, betrayal, perseverance and courage. Written as a modern day myth, set in an everyday setting, the novel immerses the reader into the story through its first person perspective.