Veteran writer discusses his craft at the library

There are people who love to write, and then there is Matthew Dicks.

A former West Hartford Teacher of the Year, Dicks has been published multiple times with “Something Missing,” “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend,” and “Unexpectedly Milo.”

Speaking at the Plainville library May 8, Dicks said “writing for me is a great act of faith -- we have to hope there is a story in there.”

Dicks works in elementary education in West Hartford and teaches a mainstream classroom with autistic children. He said that his most recent book, “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend,” is based largely on the imagination and experiences of his students. He hopes that people who read that work will better understand what the mind, body, and soul of a young autistic child is like.

“I hope people learn from ‘Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend’ that if a (autistic) spectrum youth chooses to be solitary, then that is fine. There is no normal and we will give them the opportunity to make more friends, but not force it,” Dicks said.

With regards to his students, he said that some of them like his work, and for others it is “over their heads.” They are “never terribly impressed” with their teacher, he quipped.

According to his, Dicks’ books have been translated into “more than 25 languages worldwide.”

Dicks said he started writing as a kid, and that he gets a lot of story ideas from his own life. He said he has written about turmoil, from being homeless to witnessing his parents’ divorce to being the victim of an armed robbery.

Dicks, married and with two children, Clara and Charlie, is using his knowledge of kids to write three children’s picture books. He admits that finding the time is a challenge.

“I don’t sleep very much, which helps,” he said. “I only sleep about four hours a night. I used to always want to be with my laptop, now I just want to be with my kids.”

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