Author Matt Coleman on Writing Fiction and Parenting Through Tragedy | Episode 6

Author Matt Coleman on Writing Fiction and Parenting Through Tragedy | Episode 6

What could be a reason for an author to not continue with a series? How can a creative outlet be therapeutic after suffering trauma?

In this podcast, Billy and Brandy Eldridge speak with author Matt Coleman about his books, writing with authenticity, and dealing with the unexpected loss of his ex-wife.

Meet Matt Coleman

Matt ColemanMatt Coleman’s first pieces of writing were about his great-grandmother’s homemade beer and his own childhood trips into the backwoods of southern Arkansas to search for Bigfoot. Since then, both his writing and his life haven’t strayed too far from his Arkansan roots. He lives in Texarkana, Arkansas

Matt graduated from Texas A&M University-Texarkana with an M.A. in English. While finishing his degree, he worked with the East Texas Writing Project. After college, he spent five years teaching seventh grade English in a rural East Texas town. He then returned to Texarkana to teach for another four years at the high school where he graduated. His career in education has also included writing and literature instruction on a college level and work in adult learning with teachers of all levels. He continues to work in the education field as a school improvement specialist.

As a writer, Matt has long been inspired by crime writers such as Dashiell Hammett and Walter Mosley and southern writers like Flannery O’Connor. His writing has appeared in various places, including apt Literary Magazine and Shotgun Honey. He also spent three years as a writer for the comedy podcast, The City Life Supplement. His debut novel, Juggling Kittens, came out in 2016 from Pandamoon Publishing. His second novel, Graffiti Creek, was released during the summer of 2018. And in the spring of 2019, Theater 3 of Dallas will produce Raptured: A Sex Farce at the End of the World​, a play he co-wrote with Matt Lyle.

Visit Matt’s website and connect on Facebook and Twitter.

In This Podcast

Summary

  • That moment Brandy caught on camera
  • Juggling Kittens
  • The leap from Juggling Kittens to A Rocky Divorce
  • Parenting through tragedy

That moment Brandy caught on camera

Matt and Brandy started working together in 2009, in education, focused on the creative process in professional development, basically teacher training which was actually really good. They presented their training in several places including, California, Arkansas, and Texas, traveling together and really became good friends.

On one occasion, traveling from a conference in Little Rock while Brandy was pregnant, Matt felt ill and had to pull the car over. He passed out for a few minutes and Brandy had to call an ambulance. Matt woke up when the ambulance arrived and promptly threw up, denying the services of the paramedics, insisting that he was fine and that Brandy could drive home. Brandy was convinced that no one would believe the scenario so snapped a photograph which is now Matt’s Amazon profile picture.

Juggling Kittens

The book is about a first-year teacher who has a baby on the way, and he has a student who goes missing, a student that he teaches in seventh grade. He ends up being the only person who cares about that kid, and he goes looking for him. It then gets connected to another horrible case of a missing young child. All of the mystery of the book is obviously very fictional but all of the stories about the teacher, soon-to-be parent, etc. are autobiographical.

The leap from Juggling Kittens to A Rocky Divorce

Juggling Kittens was always intended to be a series, following the main character through a series of mysteries. After writing the book, there was a period of time where Matt had to get out there, promote himself, and build his brand. With the book being autobiographical, the next book in the series would have to begin to show the main characters’ marriage starting to fall apart.

If Matt were to follow this autobiography, he wanted to be true to it and tell the true story, but this became something that was very difficult for him to do. After going through a divorce, Matt didn’t know how to face it and deal with it all. A couple of years after the divorce, Chrissy, Matt’s ex-wife, took her own life. This made it practically impossible for him to delve into it and deal with it all. His daughters haven’t read his books but he has to think about how honest he really wants to be about it all as it is likely that they, one day, will read them.

Parenting through tragedy

I don’t think you can leave your kids to just find something like that. You know, I think you have to, you need to get them in to see somebody, somebody who’s a professional and can help them.

It was obviously very difficult and resulted in him having three of the most difficult conversations he has ever had to have. The third being telling his daughters that their mother had died, and the first, telling them that she had killed herself. Matt stresses how important it is to get your kids into counseling when they go through something traumatic like the death of a parent. Thanks to counseling, Matt was made aware of his youngest daughter putting up a mental block where she convinced herself that her mother had died due to an accidental overdose. This resulted in his second most difficult conversation, telling his daughter (for the second time) that her mother had taken her own life, and going into exactly how she did it.

Books by Matt Coleman

Are you ready to find the freedom to be yourself as a beta male? Do you want permission and tools to be your best beta? Are you ready to join the revolution to find strength as a beta? If you want to be comfortable in your skin and be the most authentic beta male, then our free beta revolution course is for you. Sign up for free.

Useful links:

Meet Billy Eldridge

billy-eldridge

Meet Billy, the resident beta male. For Billy, this is a place to hang out with other beta males and the people who love them. We’re redefining what beta males look like in the world. I have learned to embrace my best beta self, and I can help you to do the same. As a therapist, I understand the need to belong. You belong here. Join the REVOLUTION.

 

Meet Brandy Eldridge

brandy-eldridge

Hello, Beta friends. I am an alpha personality who is embracing the beta way of life. I feel alive when connected with people, whether that is listening to their stories or learning about their passions. Forget small talk, let’s go deep together. Come to the table and let’s have some life-changing conversations.

 

Thanks for listening!

Did you enjoy this podcast? Feel free to leave a comment below or share this podcast on social media! You can also leave a review of the Beta Male Revolution Podcast on iTunes and subscribe!

Beta Male Revolution is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Imperfect Thriving, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Podcast Transcription

[BILLY]:
Beta Male Revolution is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a family of podcasts seeking to change the world. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Imperfect Thriving, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.

Welcome to the Beta Male Revolution. This is a podcast for Beta males, the people who love them, and the Alphas that enjoy their company.

Welcome guys, hope you’re having a great day. Today with us we have Matt Coleman. He is an author and our first interview. Can’t wait to get into many topics with him about his books, his life, and things he finds interesting, and why he would be on a podcast called Beta Male Revolution. We also have Brandy with us as always, in here to ask questions of Matt and get into his content. I think she’s actually read some of his books which I can’t say, sorry Matt.

[BRANDY]:
You read Graffiti Creek.

[BILLY]:
Graffiti Creek: it holds a special place in my life. It sits on the back of the toilet in the guest bathroom, it has earned a place of respect, it’s in between CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity and Tuesdays with Morrie.

[MATT]:
That’s about right, yeah, it sort of falls in the canon of literature.

[BILLY]:
It’s a pretty amazing piece of work, and actually it’s the one I like the most because it reminds me the most…

[MATT]:
Because you read it.

[BILLY]:
Because I read it. The other one seemed cool. I would probably really like juggling kittens, but my work in Oklahoma that I do as a counselor, work with lower socioeconomic

[BRANDY]:
So, you’re saying that’s why you haven’t read it?

[BILLY]:
No, I think that it would resonate well. The same way Graffiti Creek did in ways. But anyway, we’ll get into that.

[BRANDY]:
So, I’m confused. I thought we were interviewing Matt Coleman, the basketball player for the Longhorns.

[MATT]:
He hit a game winning shot the other day. Yeah, I got to see that. I got to see “Matt Coleman nails game winner”.

[BILLY]:
Something you never got to hear in high school.

[MATT]:
Yeah, I never got to hear that, just so I like seeing those, that combination of words on the internet, I mean, everything about it was great. Like, just you know, you could have stopped the headline at any moment, and I would have been happy with it.

[BRANDY]:
All my questions are out the door now because I thought we were interviewing someone famous.

[BILLY]:
Yes. Now I want to just, Matt, thanks for sitting down at the coffee table with us here and having a conversation about life. And yeah, let’s just open it up. Brandy.

[BRANDY]:
So, we’ve known Matt, I’ve known Matt, well, we’ve both known Matt. My oldest is 10, so we’ve known each other for 10 years. We started working together in 2009. Okay. And we were stuck in a room together. For years. And so, it felt like eternity.

[MATT]:
It felt like a long time.

[BILLY]:
What did you guys do?

[BRANDY]:
So, we, we did a lot, but I think where we really bonded is probably when we turned against everybody else in those rooms.

[MATT]:
Yeah, we had common enemies a lot.

[BILLY]:
Why were you in a room together?

[BRANDY]:
So, we, we worked in education together. And Matt and I did a lot of different things. But I think the thing we did the best was a creative process in professional development.

[MATT]:
Yeah, teacher training, basically, and it was really good, though, that makes it sound really boring. And it really was, it was very good.

[BRANDY]:
It was very good, it was kind of cutting edge, I’d like to say.

[BILLY]:
Y’all presented in California together?

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, we’ve presented in several places.

[MATT]:
California…

[BRANDY]:
I don’t know where else… we’ve done a lot; it was a long time.

[MATT]:
Arkansas…

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, Texas. But we really became friends, which we would never say except for right now because we have to, because we would never compliment one another. Basically, our friendship has been a series of insults, deeper and deeper into the soul.

[MATT]:
Yeah, I feel like… I honestly do feel like that, I mean, if this is not true, you don’t have to admit it, but like, I feel like you probably compliment me when I’m not around, kind of like the, like…

[BILLY]:
She doesn’t. She talks hardly about you.

[MATT]:
Well like then maybe not like, I don’t compliment, I’m not saying that I do that for you. But I feel like you probably do that.

[BRANDY]:
That’s very awkward. So, I probably compliment you when you’re not around, but you would never compliment me when I’m not around. Or when I’m around.

[BILLY]:
Would you consider this a compliment? She says things like, “I wish I was as awesome as Matt, he’s a published author.” She’s like, ” I think I’ll never reach his place, what he’s attained in the world.”

[MATT]:
That was always like, implied.

[BRANDY]:
Obviously.

[MATT]:
When we work together, we had you know… I was still teaching when we first started working together and Brandy was hired as a teacher of record, as a science teacher of record, was your first job?

[BRANDY]:
Yes, it was.

[MATT]:
And I had students that would come down and visit us in this room that we were trapped in together all day and at some point, a couple of the students assumed, in a very, very horribly sexist way, that Brandy was my secretary. And in normal situations, as a person who is you know, somewhat of the Beta Male kind of feminist type of person, I would normally be just horribly offended by that and I’d fight it. But it was Brandy, and so I found it incredibly funny. And I really leaned into it very hard. And I told them that she was my secretary. And that lasted for a long time, to the point that even other co-workers, people that came in to work with us started to pick up on it, and thought that she was my secretary for about two years?

[BRANDY]:
Probably, I think that you leaned into everything that made you look better than me. That was pretty much how our friendship started.

[MATT]:
[Unclear].

[BRANDY]:
Oh, God. We’re gonna go there right now. So, Amazon is selling your book and I thought it was really interesting that the picture on the Amazon site, is you wiping your mouth of throw up with a gurney behind you? Do you want to explain that picture?

[BILLY]:
Let’s tell the story and we will link to that photo. Yeah, in the show notes.

[BRANDY]:
So, we, you know, worked together in education. So, we would often go to…

[BRANDY]:
You and I.

[MATT]:
Right. Brandy and I. Brandy and I worked together in education; we would go to work conferences of various types and we went to a work conference, I believe it was in Little Rock, and as we were driving back from this work conference, I was driving, and as we were driving Brandy, was talking and talking and talking, very normal, and as she was talking, I started realizing, I hate everything about what’s happening in this car right now. Every word, every sound is, it wasn’t like horribly weird, but it you know, like it wasn’t completely out of character, out of the norm, but it was a little much. I mean, in the moment, it was like I started realizing this is a little much, I have a little, a little too much hate. And I started thinking like something’s wrong. I think I might be sick, I might be sick. And so, I ended up just pulling over. We’re going down Interstate 30, coming from Little Rock to Texarkana. So, you know we’re driving 75 miles per hour and you know, so I feel like I can’t be sick, I can’t be dizzy or whatever this is and be driving this fast. So, I just pulled over to the side of the road, she has no idea what’s going on. And I say, I don’t know what I said, I said I’m not feeling good or something like that I’m not feeling well. And so I pulled over, I got out of the car, walked around the back of the car, and as Brandy tells it I walked around the back of the car, I got over into the grassy area on the side of the interstate, I turned in a circle like a dog.

[BRANDY]:
Like a dog, going to poop. Sniffing around to go poop.

[MATT]:
And then just collapsed, just passed smooth out. I was out for…

[BRANDY]:
I don’t even know, a long time, a minute?

[MATT]:
Several minutes because it was long enough for the ambulance to get there. So, like, so Brandy called, to her credit, she called, she did call an ambulance.

[BILLY]:
Did she do, did she do mouth to mouth?

[MATT]:
No, she, I actually think she tried to kick me. I think she kicked me, and she said, “Are you alright buddy?” She kicked me in the side.

[BRANDY]:
I tapped you like…

[MATT]:
With what?

[BRANDY]:
My foot.

[MATT]:
With your foot. That’s kicking. Okay, so you kick me in the side. You’re asking me “Are you okay, buddy? Are you alright buddy?” Like a dog, still and then she did call 911. And then an ambulance showed, so I was out long enough for an ambulance to show. When I woke up the ambulance was there, so I was out for several minutes, I guess.

[BRANDY]:
And all I’m thinking this whole time is, I’m pregnant.

[MATT]:
Right. She was pregnant.

[BRANDY]:
Which, I was always pregnant. I was pregnant and I thought I’m gonna have to drag his body into this car and take him home.

[MATT]:
I thought you were gonna say, [unclear].

[BILLY]:
Just leave him.

[MATT]:
Drag his body into the woods.

[BRANDY]:
Well, I had thought, honestly, at this time. This was my first thought; his wife is going to kill me. His wife is going to kill me if I don’t bring him home safely. And I did not want to be in trouble with his wife and so I was thinking I gotta get him in the car if this ambulance doesn’t come soon because he looks like he might die. And that’s when I started like kicking him a little bit trying to like keep him up. Hey, buddy. Hey bud, stay with me. And Matt and I don’t have the relationship of like, you know, mouth to mouth, and like hugging and touching and it was more…

[BILLY]:
Let’s just say when it comes to sick people, you aren’t the most compassionate person, Brandy.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, that’s true as well, that’s another episode. But yeah, so anyway, the ambulance come and, we didn’t say that, did you tell everybody that you threw up?

[MATT]:
I did. I haven’t yet, so yeah, so when I woke up as the ambulance was coming, I did throw up. So, I mean, the long story short, is that I had low blood pressure because I’m a, you know…

[BILLY]:
A Beta Male.

[MATT]:
I’m a beta male.

[BILLY]:
Your heart doesn’t beat strong.

[MATT]:
It doesn’t at all. And like it’s, and so you can’t, like the people can’t see me on the podcast. I’m a frail little man.

[BRANDY]:
He’s a frail, Asian man.

[MATT]:
I look a lot like, you know, Rachel Maddow, John Oliver-ish. Like all these things, like that type of person. I was, you know small.

[BILLY]:
You look like Rachel Maddow.

[MATT]:
A little bit, a little bit with glasses, when she puts on glasses.

[BRANDY]:
And a five o’clock shadow.

[BILLY]:
I love Rachel Maddow.

[MATT]:
I do too and she’s… if she were a little more Asian, really if John Oliver were a little more Asian looking. And I’m not Asian for the record, but I have Asian hair and it’s, you know…

[BRANDY]:
It’s okay.

[MATT]:
And wisdom, yeah. So, I’m you know, a weak person, and so I had low blood pressure and I passed out. So, when I woke up, the ambulance was there, I rolled over and threw up immediately. And then they were trying to help me, and I was basically waving off the assistance of the ambulance. I was saying, I’m fine. I don’t think I can drive; Brandy was, I was saying Brandy needs to drive, but I’m fine. Um, you know, obviously everything’s fine.

[BILLY]:
Asian features.

[BRANDY]:
And wisdom.

[BILLY]:
Everything’s fine. You’re on the side of the interstate, covered in vomit.

[MATT]:
And so, Brandy, at this moment, decides that no one’s going to believe this. I need to take a photograph. And so, she snaps a photograph of me wiping vomit from my mouth…

[BILLY]:
Isn’t there a gurney?

[MATT]:
As they’re wheeling the gurney that I’ve refused, back to the ambulance to leave, and I’m like, you can see it in the back.

[BILLY]:
That’s an Alpha move, revolting against medical advice. You can’t handle me.

[BRANDY]:
So, we go back home, you go get checked out. We go to sushi that night. Yeah.

[MATT]:
Yeah, we went out to eat.

[BRANDY]:
And a couple of your friends were in town, so we go out to eat that night. Years, fast forward years later, people did not believe us. They really thought we made this story up, until I showed ’em the picture. And now Matt has that picture as his amazon.com where you go to buy his books, where you can get Juggling Kittens, Graffiti Creek, and his new one, A Rocky Divorce, which I read in three days. I would have read it a lot quicker, but I had three kids that kept interrupting me, which I loved every book you’ve written, I love it. But let me ask, let’s get to some deep stuff. Why do your books have so many cuss words?

[BILLY]:
Well, and let’s just say, okay, we’re in the cell, we’re in the Bible Belt, so, when you answer that, also, were you afraid of the backlash?

[BRANDY]:
Good question.

[BILLY]:
Living in a religious community that might not appreciate the colorful language you have in your books.

[MATT]:
Right. Yes. And so, my first book was Juggling Kittens, and I wrote… it’s very autobiographical. And so, there’s a lot of elements from my own life in it. And then I… when I wrote that, so with all the books, I’ve had editors, I’ve had the same editor for the last couple, but I had a different editor for the first one. And the first editor, when we went through the first editing process, she said, the first note she sent back to me was, “Do you know how many times you used the word ‘dick’?” So, I had to look.

[BILLY]:
Did she give you a count?

[MATT]:
It was 17. So, I used ‘dick’ 17 times, we cut that way down. So, if you’re reading Juggling Kittens, you’re not gonna see the word ‘dick’ just a whole lot.

[BILLY]:
Were you worried about your mom and dad? Because they go to church…

[MATT]:
And they read my books. They are very good about it. Frank reads the books, Shari reads the books. They both read the books. Very, very good about it and very, very complimentary, but they’re very proud of what, you know. And they’ll make little comments about how like, they’re not crazy about some of the language…

[BRANDY]:
They’re so disappointed in your life choices, Matt.

[MATT]:
But they’re not… I’ll tell you what, I’ve been much more worried of, rather than the language, in Juggling Kittens, it’s a very autobiographical book, like I said, so the main character is very much based on myself, and that character smokes. Well, I used to smoke. I do not smoke anymore. But I used to.

[BILLY]:
Good on ya.

[MATT]:
And so, right. It was very difficult as it’s, I’m very proud of that. So, I was actually much more worried about my mom reading this character smoking and thinking that I still smoke.

[BRANDY]:
Because you hid it very well.

[MATT]:
Very well. I did. I did.

[BILLY]:
You were a closeted smoker.

[BRANDY]:
Oh, okay, let me just, let me tell you…

[BILLY]:
He’s the most beta smoker I’d ever met in my life. Not John Wayne, not the Marlboro man. Hanging out his mouth with his foot on a post.

[BRANDY]:
No, he had a spray. He had hand stuff in his car that he kept. He would roll up his sleeves, he would put the cigarette in a direction so it wouldn’t blow on him.

[MATT]:
Yeah, I’d smoke down wind. Yes, I’d be down…

[BILLY]:
You’d check the, like, finger in the wind?

[BRANDY]:
Yes, I’ve witnessed him doing this many a time.

[MATT]:
I would go, so when I went home to smoke at lunch, which is something that I would do

[BRANDY]:
Or to feed your dogs.

[MATT]:
I’d go let my dogs out. And so, I would go smoke and so I would usually go, I would take my work shirt off and tie off. I would, I had a fleece jacket thing that hung in the laundry room that I would put on. In that fleece jacket thing in one pocket, there was a hat, like a little hood, a little toboggan type hat.

[BRANDY]:
It wasn’t a baseball cap.

[MATT]:
I don’t have, I have very, very little, very little hair. I have no idea why I put the cap on because I don’t know what it was gonna do, but whatever I put the cap on, I’d zip the jacket up. In the other pocket of this jacket, there was a single glove, just one that I’d wear on my smoking hand to keep my hand from smelling like cigarettes.

[BILLY]:
You had a smoking jacket; you had a smoking glove.

[MATT]:
And then I would smoke. And I also smoked, I held the cigarette, I don’t know if you remember this, but I held the cigarette between my middle two fingers.

[BRANDY]:
Yes, your ‘nanu nanu’ sign.

[MATT]:
I have no idea why, but it looked really weird.

[BILLY]:
I remember those days. How long ago was this? I remember your smoking days. I remember going out.

[BRANDY]:
He didn’t quit until like two years ago.

[MATT]:
It was longer than that. I’ve been completely smoke free for four years, four and a half maybe five years. It’s been a while; I’ve been 100% smoke free.

[BRANDY]:
Well, the way you described that situation, and your smoking, is how descriptive you are in your books. So, my question was, well, first I have to comment…the way that you wrote Krissy in your first book, your ex-wife…

[MATT]:
Krissy’s my ex-wife, yeah.

[BRANDY]:
…was beautiful. I thought it was spot on. I thought it was wonderful when I read this book. It’s such a good reflection of her sass and her attitude, and just everything about her. I thought you wrote it beautifully. And all of your characters in all of your books, because we’re in this small town, some of them may or may not be inspired by people we know. So, part of the fun of reading this book for me is trying to figure out who the people are.

[BILLY]:
So, who’s who?

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, and it’s hilarious because I think some of your characters are based on a lot of different people.

[MATT]:
They are, you start to combine people and sometimes a person will sort of come through a little bit and it becomes more but in certain cases, like with Krissy, like it was just her. I mean, that’s who it was. There’s no, there’s no way around that because I like I said those elements of the book were autobiographical. It was, you know, she was my wife at the time. So that’s who I based the character on.

[BRANDY]:
And she was pregnant at the time, and you were a first-year teacher and I mean, it was it was very autobiographical. And you give props to your professor that you loved.

[MATT]:
Yeah, that’s… the main character’s named after a professor that was a mentor of mine. And so the book is, you know, about a first year teacher who has a baby on the way, and he has a student who goes missing, a student that he teaches in seventh grade who goes missing. And he, you know, ends up being the only person who kind of gives a shit about that kid. And he goes looking for that kid and it gets connected to another horrible case of a missing young child and so all the mystery of the book is obviously very fictional. All of the stories about the teacher and the you know, soon to be parent and all those are true. Like everything, everything. That’s 100% fact, that’s just, you know, like I said autobiographical.

[BRANDY]:
And it was really interesting. And it’s, it is out of the three, I don’t know, I can’t pick a favorite, but I wanted to talk about A Rocky Divorce, because it kind of links together and I hate to [unclear].

[MATT]:
No, that’s fine.

[BRANDY]:
So, this one is based on your current wife, Sam, and it was so much fun to read. Because again, you write her so well, and, and just capture her and, and then also it’s more than her, right? Like so it’s like this really cool side of her and all the stuff that happens.

[BILLY]:
What is it about? I haven’t read it.

[BRANDY]:
You write Texarkana very well.

[MATT]:
So yeah, so it’s a very Texarkana-based book and it’s about a recently divorced main character, Rocky Champagnolle who is, you know, kind of a day-drinking, sassy, fun-loving, you know, anti-socialite, is what I’ve called her at times. Like she’s, you know, she is very comfortable in social situations, but she kind of doesn’t like people very much and is much happier just sitting around with a book or whatever, so she gets talked into joining the local, her local chapter of the Junior League by her husband. And so, she gets pulled into this world of the Junior League, which she just loves to, you know, make fun of and, and have a lot of fun with. And yeah, as a character trait, she is and has always been very good at being very observant. So, she sort of has this kind of Sherlockian type of ability to her that she can pick up on things and it helps her you know, solve mysteries basically. And there is a string of break-ins that are happening to some wealthy Junior League sustainers, basically. People that are older, non-Junior League members, but they help sustain the league and give the league money and provide money for projects the league does. And Rocky, you know, realizes that the Junior League does some wonderful things, like I make a lot of fun at the Junior League in that book. I hope I also showed that they do some really, really great things. And they do great charity work and Rocky kind of falls in love with that part of it. She never stops making fun of them, but she does like what they do.

[BRANDY]:
Fantastic. Yeah. So, I wanted to talk to you about your life in the leap from this book to the next. It is some big stuff and going into more of a serious type conversation. In the last 10 years both of our lives have changed and as friends, all three of us sitting here at this table have been through some monumental moments together. You were with me when my husband checked into rehab; you were the only person that knew about that.

[MATT]:
Yeah.

[BRANDY]:
You were with me through pregnancies, the loss of a child. Watching my husband get sober, which was probably the hardest, hardest part of everything. And we were kind of around you with a divorce. And then Christy’s death.

[MATT]:
Right.

[BRANDY]:
And then your new marriage, which is wonderful. And your girls. And so, one of the things we wanted to talk about is from Juggling Kittens to A Rocky Divorce…

[MATT]:
Yeah, and really, like, you know, the bigger leap almost is from Juggling Kittens. So Juggling Kittens always was designed to be sort of a series, so we would follow the same character through a series of mysteries. Yeah, I write mysteries and I write comedy and a lot of them… and sometimes they combine. So, after I wrote Juggling Kittens, there was a period of time… So, like when you’re a writer, when you’re an indie writer, you do a lot of promo work, like a lot of self-promo work. And so, you really work to get out there and promote yourself and start to build your own brand. Well, as the build up to Juggling Kittens being released was coming, you know, I was doing a lot of that and having a lot of success with it, to be honest. I did, you know, was connecting with a lot of writers who have actually gone on to do some really great things. So yeah, I was talking to a writer who went on to win a National Book Award and I was talking… like the people that were really… there were a lot of coattails that I could have ridden very successfully. However, my life did take some very weird turns. And, as I said, that book was very autobiographical.

The next book in that line would begin to show this character of Ellis Mazer, the main character’s based on me and the, you know, his wife, [unclear] in the book, which is Krissy who was my first wife, it would begin to show how their marriage started to fall apart. If I were to follow, it’s autobiographical, and I wanted to, I wanted to tell the true story, I wanted to be true to it. And that became something that was very, very difficult for me to do. Because I did go through a divorce and I was having… it was something that I didn’t quite know how to face and to deal with. And then a couple of years after we got divorced, Krissy took her own life and that made it pretty impossible to really like delve into and deal with. And it really brought up, we have two children together that I you know, now raise, you know, I’ve been raising by myself. I am remarried now, so they have a stepmother, but you know, there becomes this like weirdness of how honest do I want to be about all that? Like, how much do I…? Because sooner or later you have to assume they may read these books – they say they don’t want to read any of them.

[BRANDY]:
Your girls?

[MATT]:
Right. Both of my girls say they don’t want to read any of my books cos they think it’s weird. Like they’re very happy for me and they’re very, you know, supportive of me doing it, but they don’t want to read them. Sooner or later, I have to assume they probably will. And so it does start to make me wonder like how much, because you know, if I were to be true to the story, Krissy dealt with addiction; she dealt with some mental health problems, very, very deep mental health problems. Obviously, she ended up taking her own life due to a combination of those two things. And so, it makes you wonder, like, how much of that do I really want to jump into and talk about. It’s healthy for me, because it’s cathartic, and it’s a way that I can… It’s sort of like my therapy is to deal with it on the page and to, you know, take these characters through it, and I have a character that I can kind of live vicariously through and say and do some of the things that I was never able to say and do in the moment. You know, like I can have, like I was, I am in many ways this, you know, this image of the beta male, that guy, you know, who was nice to a fault. And I, like I never fought, like we never fought. And I can have my characters fight and say some of these things that, you know, feel pretty good to say even all these years removed, to just kind of get those emotions out. And so, it’s nice. It’s nice, it’s nice therapy, it’s very therapeutic for me. However, I have to stop and ask myself, am I going too far? Am I going to a point that one day, one of my girls could pick this up and read it and become very upset? You know, they saw a lot of what was going on, but you know, kids, you know, they never see everything that’s going on.

[BILLY]:
How old were they when you got divorced?

[MATT]:
So, they were about 14 and 10. I think it was about 14, my older one was 14, I believe, and… 13 or 14, 9 or 10?

[BILLY]:
Yeah.

[MATT]:
So, it’s about four or five years ago, I think, now; something like that.

[BILLY]:
And as a dad, how’d you navigate that with your girls?

[MATT]:
Um, you know, it was really tough. It was I mean, they, therefore, you know, we were divorced for, you know, a couple of years before Krissy took her own life. So, like, during that time, you know, you get used to this whole new life of, we had joint custody and so they would spend one week with her in one week with me, and that’s a very… for anybody like listening to this who has lived that life knows exactly what I’m talking about. Because it’s just this bizarre world of parenthood that you’ve never experienced before, because you would have you know, you’d have this week that felt relatively normal. Difficult because you’re a single parent, you’re used to being dual parents. But yeah, it’s a week that you’re doing something with your kids, you’re cooking for your kids, you’re getting them up in the morning, taking them to school, and then you pass them to the other parent. And this next week, I would have days… so we traded on Sundays. And then you know, so like on a Saturday before they came back to me, I’d wake up on Saturday morning like at eight o’clock. And yeah, I’d get up and get a cup of coffee and do whatever. At some point in the morning I would stop and like look at the clock and think, I have like 14 waking hours today with nothing to do. There are no kids around. There’s no like, it’s just a bizarre feeling.

[BILLY]:
Your life, for how long, had been marriage and parenting kids? How long were y’all married?

[MATT]:
Oh, we were married… we ended up being married for sixteen years. So, so yeah, we’d been married, you know, we got married pretty young. And we were married, and, you know, our oldest, like I said, was, our oldest daughter was born in 2001. So, you know, since 2001, we had been parenting jointly, and then all of a sudden, we’re doing this back and forth thing and it becomes bizarre.

[BILLY]:
I think one thing, and I asked a serious question earlier, and I want to just get back to one more serious question. Matt, you answered how to help a dad going through a divorce navigate that with his children. It’s a big… over 51% of our population will experience that at some time. There’s a smaller percentage, a much smaller percentage that will experience the other; you lost your ex-wife to suicide and you had two daughters.

[MATT]:
Right.

[BILLY]:
And I want to be very sensitive; how did you even handle that? If you want to talk about it?

[MATT]:
Yeah. Yeah, it’s, it was very difficult, obviously. And I’ve always said like, you know, the three most difficult conversations I’ve ever had with anybody. The third most difficult conversation was actually telling my daughters that their mother had died. The first two were both telling them that she’d killed herself. And that’s… I actually remember, and Billy will remember this because I was preparing to tell them, and I actually called Billy on the phone…

[BILLY]:
Yeah, I remember that day.

[MATT]:
In just blubbering tears, just having no clue what to say and just try and, you know, Billy being you know, the counselor that he is, didn’t really tell me what to say; he just let me blubber and bumble around until I kind of came to what I needed to say. And you know, if you can ever come to what you need to say in a situation like that. And so yeah, that was horribly difficult. I will say, though, like, as far as advice goes, the one piece of advice I can give somebody is to get your kids in the counseling, just period. Get your kids into counseling, like don’t… Whatever your personal opinion about counseling is, your kids deserve to have someone to talk to that is not you. And is not anybody related to them, connected to them, that they can just… because they’re going to have some things to say that they, they’re still kids. They’re not going to feel comfortable talking about some of the thoughts that they have going through their head, to a relative or a friend or anybody, they need someone who is just an impartial third party who is trained to guide them through such a difficult process. Because I will say, and that’s something actually Brandy helped set me up with counseling for my kids that they still go to, to this day.

The second hardest conversation I’ve ever had was my youngest daughter. She had, well during counseling… I’m not always able to take them to counseling; oftentimes their grandparents or someone like this, but one of the times that I was able to take my younger daughter to counseling, the counselor came out to the lobby where I was waiting. And she said, I’m glad you’re here today. I think you’re gonna have to talk to Sadie. And she sat down, was talking to me, and explained to me that Sadie, my younger daughter had actually sort of created a defense mechanism block in her brain, about what had happened to her mother. And had in her mind, she had created it, so that it was an accident, that it was just an accidental overdose is what she created, which is, you know, we’ll get into specifics and that’s not even how she, she died at all. And yeah, the counselor said, I think we’re gonna have to, we’re gonna tell her. You know, we’re going to have to tell her exactly what happened to make sure that she can, you know, that she doesn’t go on, you know, go on processing something that is incorrect. And so that was the second hardest conversation, right, because I had to walk back there and tell her all over again for the second time that her mother had taken her own life and had to go all the way into exactly how she did it. And you know, really be pretty specific about some things that I, you know, that are not very comfortable to talk about. And you know, really make sure that she knew exactly what happened. And so that it wasn’t becoming something even worse in her head, which was kind of starting to happen too.

So, I’m saying all that to say, if I had not had a counselor sitting next to me when I had that conversation, I don’t know that I could have done it. It was very, very difficult. She didn’t even have to say anything, but just the fact that she was there. And the fact that I got to have that conversation with my daughter, and then I got to walk out of the room and let her stay with the counselor and talk about what she just learned. And you know, and then come back, you know, the following week and the following week and the following week and continue to process that with somebody else is just invaluable and that’s I mean you can’t… I do feel like you know, I talked to somebody a little bit after it too. I do feel like as an adult, I have some other, I’m not making a lot of counseling for adults at all I’m just saying I do have, I write, I do things that I do feel like are pretty healthy outlets and, you know, like I said this can be very therapeutic for me. I don’t think you can leave your kids to just find something like that. You know, I think you have to, you need to get them in to see somebody to talk to; somebody who’s a professional and can help them you know, deal with that type of thing.

[BILLY]:
I so appreciate you going there and sharing that with us and opening up and being the dad that you are. We loved Krissy, still do. Her memory sits deep with us and, you know, she taught me a lot in her life and in her loss. Thank you for sharing that part of your story with us. What a dad, to take your daughters to counseling, to sit in the waiting room, even though you couldn’t always be there; to be there that day and not shut out, not avoid it. To go into the dark, hard places that so many times people shut out, avoid, and run away from? Thank you for facing it head on and sharing that story and I hope it helps someone out there. Brandy.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah, so thank you Matt for being here. We loved having you here.

[MATT]:
Sure, loved doing it.

[BRANDY]:
Thank you for everything you’ve done for us. And just for being a friend and a good person. You’ve helped us both grow and everyone, Matt Coleman, his books will be on our web page. You can also go to Amazon.

[BILLY]:
Yeah, we’ll have an Amazon affiliate link.

[MATT]:
That’s right.

[BRANDY]:
Yeah. And remember, it’s Matt Coleman, the author, not…

[BILLY]:
Not the basketball player.

[BRANDY]:
Not Matt Coleman, the cool basketball player, but pick up his books, they’re fun, they’re intelligent, they’re good reads. Also, we wanted to say that if you know someone that is dealing with suicide, suicidal thoughts, please call the national suicide hotline. Give them the number. It’s open 24 hours a day. It’s 1-800-273-8255. Matt, thank you for being here.

[BILLY]:
Thanks so much, Matt.

[MATT]:
Enjoyed it.

[BILLY]:
You’re a dear friend. Beta Nation, thank you all for being with us. Thanks for hanging out. If you have any questions, send them to the website. We’ll talk to you soon.

Are you ready to find freedom to be yourself as a Beta male? Do you want permission and tools to be your best Beta? Are you ready to join the revolution to find your strength as a Beta? If you want to be comfortable in your own skin and be the most authentic Beta male, then our free Beta Male Revolution course is for you. Sign up for free at betamalerevolution.com/course.

This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or the guest are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, you should find one.

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