Craven Community College (Craven CC) will host a book signing on Thursday, Dec. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Godwin Memorial Library, located on the second floor of Barker Hall on the New Bern campus.
The book, “As Far As the Eye Can See,” was written by Craven CC student Matt Bircher. At the event, Bircher will sign visitors’ copies of his book and will share his personal writing experience. Copies of the book will also be available for purchase.
In his book, Bircher takes readers on the journey of a young man who is faced with the arduous task of finding himself. The need to shed light on his convoluted past leads him on a wild ride of emotions and a desperate search for closure.
“Family was the biggest inspiration for the book, and just finding a part of your life that’s been missing and building off of that as the story goes on,” Bircher said. “And I wrote from a perspective if I didn’t have that loving environment that I’m blessed to have, so that was kind of interesting to write from that character’s perspective.”
Another source of inspiration was his family’s farm in Cove City. The setting of his book includes several similarities to Eastern North Carolina. Bircher, who was born and raised in Vanceboro, included his hometown in his book, but the town that the story is based in is fictional.
Now just 18 years old, Bircher actually wrote his book earlier this year during the last semester of his senior year in high school. Although he claims he’s always enjoyed writing, he never expected to be an author.
“It just came up out of the blue one day,” he admitted. “I never really planned on it—it was just kind of a spur-of-the-moment type thing.”
He had a free period at the beginning of his school day and decided to do something productive instead of just sitting in the library doing nothing. The idea of his story came to him unexpectedly one weekend, and he figured he might as well write a book.
“I did the outline that weekend and just kept coming up with more and more ideas, building off of that,” he explained. “That Monday morning in the school library at West Craven High School, I started writing. Monday through Friday, I’d sit at the same place at the same time and work on it. After a little over two months, I finished it.”
With the help of another local author, Bircher was able to get his book edited, formatted and published. It was released last month and became available for purchase online Nov. 2.
In addition to riding the wave of his success, Bircher is currently a freshman at Craven CC and is pursuing an associate degree in the arts. He then plans to transfer to East Carolina University, where he will seek a degree in political science.
“I want to get my real estate license this coming summer, so hopefully I can start working with that a little bit while I’m still in school,” he said. ”And then, after I graduate from the university, I plan to continue working with that.”
Bircher believes that his time as a Craven CC student has helped prepare him for his venture as an author. His ability to learn locally has played a key role in his success.
“I love this area, and it’s home to me,” he said. “Being around here and seeing all the people that I’m familiar with—especially a lot of great people that I’ve met here on campus—that really helps. And just being able to have the opportunities to write while I’m still here at school. It’s helped just because I’m right here at home. That’s the biggest part of it, for sure.”
For other students who have similar aspirations but aren’t sure where to start, Bircher’s biggest piece of advice is to find some inspiration and just go for it. He admitted that there were days when his story simply wasn’t clicking and he didn’t feel like writing, but persevering and getting through those rough patches was the most important part.
“I think it all comes from just knowing your inspiration,” he added. “Finding that is the biggest part of any story, I think. Make sure you really care about the story and make sure it has either something to do with you or what you’ve experienced. Once you have the idea, just continue to build off of it and don’t turn your back until it’s finished. Just keep pushing forward.”
Craven CC is currently enrolling new and returning students for the spring 2020 semester. For more information, contact the New Bern campus at 252-638-7200, the Havelock campus at 252-444-6005 or visit www.cravencc.edu.
This article was originally published in the New Bern Sun Journal on Wednesday, November 27, 2019.