A Tribute to MB

If you’ve read the acknowledgements section in any of my books, chances are you’ll see the name Matt, or the initials M.B. there.

Matt Bowers and I met on Twitter 11 years ago. It was during my Twific days, when another author and I were running the Fandom Against Sexual Assault Awareness Fundraiser. He discovered us at the tail end of the month, and matched every donation for a week, allowing us to meet our goal of $100,000.

Over the years that followed, he became one of my closest friends despite the hundreds of miles of distance between our homes and a thirty year age gap. He was generous and kind, and on January 29, 2021 he lost his battle with cancer.

If you knew Matt in person, you knew he talked with a heavy southern drawl—at least, heavy to a northerner’s ear like mine, so much so that sometimes I couldn’t understand him, especially when he was telling a funny story. Oftentimes when he’d reach the punchline, he’d crack himself up with whatever he was saying, his words disappearing into his accent and his laughter. I’d laugh along with him, but then have to ask, “what?” which of course would send him into even heavier peels of laughter.

I can still hear his laugh. 

I hope I always will.

If you knew him, you knew about his obsessions with Kristen Stewart, and with rockets or pretty much anything having to do with space. You knew he said words a man in his seventies doesn’t usually say, like “sup,” and “cray cray” and “sodz.” He loved Harry Potter fanfic and delighted in calling himself a fanboy. If you were me, you also knew that while he could be silly, sometimes to the point of impossible annoyance, he often had the best advice possible to give.

Matt delighted in experiences, and despite having a rare form of cancer, traveled all over the world. You can see photos of his last two trips on his Instagram, which his son, often just called “P” in Matt’s tweets, has graciously kept online.

One of his trips was to visit me and my family in our favorite summer vacation spot in Maine. Standing on a rocky shore facing the beautifully raucous waves, he told me he understood why most of my books were set in New England. He could see what I loved about that place, and, of course, topped off the experience by having a true Maine lobster.

When it came to writing, Matt was my single biggest cheerleader. He read every one of my books, often several different versions of them, beta reading at the end and finding errors my copy editor missed. Last summer during the height of COVID in the US, he sat with wide eyes on the other end of a Facetime call and listened to my ideas for a new series. Enraptured and excited by my description of this new world and group of characters, he told me he couldn’t wait for me to get words down on paper so he could read it.

Honestly, it’s been nearly impossible to do that since. But that’s not what he would’ve wanted.

Matt called me a warrior. He always found a little bit of light to show me no matter how dark the world was. When I was scared about something medical or insecure about a book launch, he’d remind me of my strength. He’d tell me that even if I felt like life was pulling me back, it was because I was going to shoot forward and do great things.

That’s why I got a tattoo combining all those things. I had hoped it would bring me the closure I needed, and the opportunity to carry a bit of him with me in my skin forever. Last night, after sitting back and looking at this design (inked by the incredible @Cascourt), it was the first time I’ve cried happy tears in his memory.

Grief is difficult for everyone, but it feels often insurmountable for me. Despite watching Matt valiantly go to chemo and knowing he needed stem cell treatment if he was going to survive, his loss was sudden and quick. Not having had a chance to say goodbye eats at me; all the things I didn’t get to say. Which is why he’ll be a character in my next series, which I will be writing. You can look for him there. 

In the meantime, I’m still his warrior.

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