1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
Never begin a sentence with “well.” [a writer should break rules.]Well, writing, for me, was characterological. It was a consequence of a repressed and depressed childhood and adulthood. It was the spume of a discontented and directionless youth, of misspent energies and unclear goals. It was the product of an outer directed self. Aimless, un-fathered and un-mothered, I was benign neglect incarnate. There is much truth in the adage that we grow old too soon and smart too late.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
All of my books are not inspired; they are made from moving trends in my own personal reflections. When my thoughts founder upon a reef, I take the wreckage and begin to make order from disorder. A writer shapes experience. This book is a second memoir; the first was youth and young adulthood, lunacy, foolishness and recklessness; a land of mischief and misbehavior. The second memoir is more reflective, an older man’s thoughts, hopefully wiser, perhaps not; we are all fools until the day we die.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
In my memoir I carry on an imaginary conversation with Thoreau; however, he says nothing as I speak to him about the issues of my life. I keep Thoreau silent, for the questions I ask and the answers I get are solely of my own creation. The latent message of this literary conceit is awareness, or the awakening of intelligence, to cite Krishnamurti. Thoreau, as I see him, was consumed by the meaning of experience, of how to live an aware existence. In many ways he was a scold, hectoring us, berating us, pushing and shoving us into assessing what we are doing as human lives from moment to moment. I have been obsessed, if that is the word, with understanding who I am, and how to deal with existence since a young man. And so my affinity for Thoreau. This is an old man’s memoir filled with a young man’s ardor and exuberance.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I am free. [“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”—Kazantzakis] I took an arrow from my quiver and it read memoir and I tried this genre free of whatever memoirs are supposed to be.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
All the characters in my stories and essays and novel and memoirs emanate from me., at the very least are projections of myself. The essential questions I ask are ones of meaning, intention and purpose in life. In the last essay of my memoir I ask all the questions I have ever asked of myself to an imaginary Thoreau. I would hope the reader attaches his kite to mine and sets flight.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I am not interested in my readership. I have deconditioned myself from that. I have no interest in twitter and all the rest. I try to get my books reviewed or seen without going nuts over it. I write for my pleasure, to divine who I am. I write for no one else. To write for others is a kind of emptiness, or outer-directedness. Who said I had to have readers? Who said I have to be read? What is it I want is all that matters. I sell a smattering of books and engage a few people in literary discussion such as this piece, but that is all. I march to a different drummer.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Advice is generally used or secondhand; use it sparingly. It must always be questioned. With that caveat, I’ll say the following. Constantly reference yourself; look up quaquaversal which appears in my memoir. It is the source from which other things emanate. Trust yourself. Techniques can be learned and schools can teach that; but since you are the last of your kind, and no one will be like you ever again, it’s best to discover all you can about yourself through mentors, philosophers, therapists and most importantly the awakening of intelligence. Continually decondition yourself of state, religion and authorities of any kind. When you are free, your writing will be a song.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I may have written my last book. I am not sure. I hear fragments in my mind that may turn out to be stories. To wit, “It is here. Oh my…Oh my….” Strikes me ominously. I’ll see. I have no future. I have the moment, so why waste time on a future tense.
And Then I Am Gone: A Walk with Thoreau tells the Story of a New York City
man who becomes an Alabama man. Despite his radical migration to simpler
living and a late-life marriage to a saint of sorts, his persistent pet anxieties and
unanswerable questions follow him. Mathias Freese wants his retreat from the
societal “it” to be a brave safari for the self rather than cowardly avoidance, so
who better to guide him but Henry David Thoreau, the self-aware philosopher
who retreated to Walden Pond “to live deliberately” and cease “the hurry and
waste of life”? In this memoir, Freese wishes to share how and why he came to
Harvest, Alabama (both literally and figuratively), to impart his existential
impressions and concerns, and to leave his mark before he is gone.
• The i Tetralogy: Allbooks Review Editor’s Choice Award 2007
• Down to a Sunless Sea: National Indie Excellence finalist Book Awards 2007 &
• Allbooks Reviews Editor’s Choice Award 2007.
• This Mobius Strip of Ifs: National Indie (Winner) Book Awards, 2012 & Global
Ebook Award finalist, 2012.
• I Truly Lament: Working Through the Holocaust: Finalist in the 2012 Leapfrog Press
Fiction Contest out of 424 submissions, Beverly Hills Book Awards, Winner;
• Readers’ Favorites, Five Stars; Indie Excellence Book Awards, Finalist; Readers’
• Favorite, Book Award Winner – Bronze medal
• Tesserae: A Memoir of Two Summers: 2016 Los Angeles Book Festival Honorable
Mention, Great Northwest Book Festival Winner in Biography/Autobiography
• Category, Runner-up in General Non-Fiction Category in the San Francisco Book
Festival, Winner for General Non-Fiction in The Beach Book Festival & Runner-Up
in General Non-Fiction in the Paris Book Festival
MATHIAS B. FREESE
is a multi-published,
writer, teacher and