Matt Nuth draws on life lessons and his own imagination to write his novels.
Twice retired, the 62-year-old Ramona resident said he was also inspired by his varied careers with Hewlett-Packard Co. and Father Joe’s Villages.
Shortly after retiring from Hewlett-Packard in 2017, Nuth returned to the workforce to work for Father Joe’s. The San Diego nonprofit helps homeless people get back on their feet by providing housing and services.
“I had accounting, finance, treasury, legal, real estate and information technology all falling under my organization,” said Nuth, who retired again in 2019. I joined Father Joe’s to develop a heart.
Nuth self-published his first book, “Countenance of Man,” two years ago.
The book centers on Randall Simmons, who rediscovers his father through the family memories, stories, and notes he uncovers during the last two days of his father’s life. Nuth’s story begins with Simmons’ feelings of self-guilt brought on by his acknowledgment of his indifference and ends with love, respect, and understanding.
When Nuth got serious about writing books, he said he was partly driven by ego – wanting his name on a post his loved ones could see. But now he enjoys the craft of getting people to think about how they approach their own lives and situations, he said.
“I actually fell in love with it,” he said. “It’s fun to tell stories that mean something and help people think, get away from TV and read literature.”
For “Countenance of Man,” Nuth said he thought about how to merge the experiences he and his wife, Caylor, had had with a fictionalized story.
One script was based on his family’s experience living in a hotel while waiting to move into a house. In the book, a young couple lives in a hotel until they can move into a house. One day, the owner of the house shows up at their hotel, showing them a rental agreement for the house six weeks before the couple is due to move in.
“The guy has become the nicest person,” said Nuth, who has lived in Ramona for 32 years. “He tore up the rental agreement, said the family shouldn’t live in a hotel, and said they could move in tomorrow. Some parts of the story are based on real life, but the whole story and all characters are completely fictional.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1981, Nuth went to work for Hewlett-Packard, a Palo-Alto-based computer company, in 1983. He started out as an accountant and later rose through the ranks in various divisions, including technical applications, technical workstations and printing groups, and finally in a media group which dealt with the chemical aspects of the manufacture of paper, film, vinyl and polyester that people can print on.
At Hewlett-Packard, Nuth said he connected with people in a range of jobs, specialties and geographies and learned how people value the world. At Father Joe’s, he said he met people who suffered hard knocks that he had not been exposed to as a child or adult. In both areas, he was able to develop friendships and hear people’s stories, Nuth said.
“In the business world, you have no choice but to write a lot,” Nuth said. “It comes with the territory. It’s part of business and planning. Writing was one of the favorite parts of my job. In the case of writing a book, I was a hidden writer and had a number of books that were dying fast.
In his upcoming book “Nails,” published by Missouri-based Crimson Cloak Publishing, Nuth tells a darker story that explores society’s willingness to sacrifice freedom through the eyes and actions of three flawed characters: Tau, Simon and Gedeon. “Nails” is a political book based on the idea that these characters, who thought they were powerful in government, were not.
“These three people all thought they were a hammer and could make the decisions, but eventually they find out they’re not the hammers, just the nails,” Nuth said. “People really in power don’t need them.”
Nuth and a colleague, Wes Brustad, critique each other’s manuscripts. Brustad, an author living in Ramona, said he would recommend “Nails” to someone looking to read a hard-hitting novel.
“The characters are really tough,” Brustad said. “They’re not the kind of people you want to meet on the street. Matt draws his characters as very believable.
Brustad wrote the “Lions of Babylon Trilogy”, a historical fiction set under the Babylonian empire; a book about the Ramona area titled “Revenge!”; and a recent book called “American Pilgrimage”.
Nuth is working on two additional books. One is a sequel to “Nails” and will likely be titled “Bent Nail,” about a character who has a drastic life change. The other, tentatively titled “The Day Before Tomorrow”, will focus on the final six weeks of World War I, culminating in the signing of an armistice as soldiers die in the trenches.
Nuth also enjoys playing the cello, performing locally with the Poway Symphony Orchestra and at the First Congregational Church of Ramona. He performed classical and contemporary music at the 10th anniversary of the Ramona Community Library on February 12.
Nuth has been playing the cello since the age of 10 – a requirement of his parents. He said he wanted to play baseball, and when his parents gave him piano lessons, he found an excuse to get by. They didn’t let Nuth drop out of music lessons entirely and gave him the option of choosing another instrument to play instead.
“I said they would never buy me a cello, so I picked that one,” Nuth said. “They bought me the instrument and now I thank them every time I can go out and play it.”
“Countenance of Man” is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble bookstores.