Incoming freshman Matthew Clark has plans to become a research oncologist, but first, he's focusing on his other passion — English. He hopes to have his very first book off to the publishers in the coming months.
His book is titled "Happily Hapless" and features Frederick Floyd, a sort of melancholic, socially awkward and anxious man who works as a biostatistician. Clark said, "He has a lot of unlucky encounters so it's more of a dark-themed comedy."
Clark only recently realized he enjoyed fiction after reading "The Martian" during his junior year of high school.
He said, "I saw how humorous that was and I realized that I could help people not only physically with medical studies but I also realized that I could help them emotionally with cathartic mechanisms such as humor."
So the writing of "Happily Hapless" began.
The main character is a complex, unintentionally humorous character who really cares for life, hence his profession. He enjoys literature but has no luck with his desire to become an actor. When feeling overly emotional, he goes off on tangents of improv and he also quotes Shakespeare from time to time.
An internal subplot is included as well. Floyd's disorders have been personified as different creatures in his mind that speak to him.
Clark said, "Any time an author begins to write a book, they instill some portion of themselves into the protagonist, especially."
He added, "I myself, sometimes feel like I'm just in unlucky scenarios and find that — not at the time but maybe the next day — I look back and think it's really funny. A philosopher once said, 'Life is full of misery. We can choose to either cry about it or laugh about it,' and I follow that principle."
The book will, of course, lead up to a main conflict, but scattered throughout the story are unfortunate, comical events. Clark describes chaos and shenanigans occurring like losing lab rats and having a snowball fight while looking for lichens.
He wrote the book to portray how important it is for scientists, and everyone, to be in touch with their humanity.
The book is written using a variety of narrative devices. Clark uses third-person omniscient, third-person limited and even includes some first-person narratives in Floyd's own writings. When choosing a main style of humor, Clark couldn't decide on one so the reader experiences a hybrid-genre and humor type.
Clark has three more chapters to write while he and his editor, Amanda Campbell, look into publishing. He prefers to go through a private publisher and will avoid online reading as it's important to him that readers have a physical book.
He will attend Newman University in the fall to major in both biology and English.
"This school (is) a perfect fit for me. I just hope that both in my literary career and my research career I can really thrive here."