THROUGH HIS WORDS – AND EXPERIENCES – Matthew Daniels writes a tale of eventually finding the light when darkness encompasses all that surrounds it.
Daniels’ first published book “Suicide Notes,” is a no-holds barred story of living on the rough side of Dickinson and how the streets can consume those who choose to follow them. The book, which can be purchased at Wal-Mart, Amazon.com, Half Price Books and more than two dozen other sites, is a tale that Daniels has lived firsthand.
“There are those who like to portray the streets as this glamourous lifestyle that they may have seen in movies and in music,” he said, “but the reality is that most stories don’t end up as they might think. There’s better than a 90 percent chance that you’ll end up in either one or two places: dead or in jail.”
Daniels went from being a promising student at Heritage Christian Academy in Galveston to being sentenced to five years in prison for robbery. The experience on the road to prison is somewhat similar to the lead character in his book, Anthony “AB” Boone, a young man who grows up in Dickinson without a father and stuck in a troubled home.
Unable to find normalcy, Boone finds the streets. Although in his heart he knows that this is not the life he desires, Boone looks to make the most of the situation in the hope that he lasts long enough to get out and make a positive life for himself.
“This isn’t what he wants, but he feels he has no choice but to play the cards he’s dealt,” said Daniels.
In prison, Daniels was able to rediscover his love of writing. He was even paid by some inmates to write letters for them. The appreciation of doing so led to encouragement for Daniels to write Suicide Notes, which took four months to produce.
“Let me tell you and anyone who thinks otherwise: prison is not glamorous,” he said. “I had to think about the lives that I hurt, the friends that I lost, but most of all, I had to realize that I had no freedom. “
A demoralizing event led Daniels to God and the pathway to changing his ways. He makes no excuses for his past behavior, owning up to the mistakes that he made along with the hard work that came from pulling himself from the brink of complete self-destruction.
“There was more to life,” he said. “God had a purpose for me, and I wanted to find it. There is magic in finding what your purpose is and being able to lose yourself in doing it.”
The Matthew Daniels of the past only exists partially in his books. He has four more books based on the life and challenges of Boone, but his joy is also found at home with his wife and three children. When he is not working at Marathon, Daniels has reembraced the inner bookworm that he once was as he owns more than 300 books (“with more to come,” he added).
“I’m finally in a really good place in life,” he said. “This is only the beginning, but I am grateful for what I have right now.”