HAVERHILL — Follow your nose and do what comes naturally to you — that was the way the late George Moonoogian taught his students at Haverhill High.
One of them, 1987 graduate Matthew Madigan took that advice to heart.
Madigan recently penned the detective novel “Her Name is Violence” and dedicated it to the memory of his late teacher.
“George was like no other teacher. He was unorthodox, brilliant and totally off the wall. Not everybody got him. He was on a different level,” the newly-minted author said via an email interview.
“The two of us became friends after I graduated from college and remained tight right up to his passing. I miss him everyday,” Madigan said about his mentor.
Madigan had his book published by Past Midnight Publishing in Worcester — owned and operated by Matthew Sanborn, another 1987 Haverhill High graduate.
Moonoogian taught English for 34 years. He graduated from Haverhill High in 1958, then attended Bay State Academy. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s degree in American literature from Salem State University. Born in Haverhill, Moonoogian passed away at 71 in December 2012.
Moonoogian emphasized that successful literature came from a desire to tell a good story.
“George taught me not to write with money in mind. I just let my mind go free and write. When you are not concerned about money or big sales, it really sets you free,” Madigan said.
Madigan’s book, a crime-noir novel, focuses on a 1930s private investigator living in a large city.
“I wrote this type of book because it is the type of story I enjoy,” Madigan said. “George Moonoogian taught me to write what I feel and what I know and in my own style. None of this book would be possible without him. He made me want to be a writer. I cannot thank him enough for turning me onto this path.”
Sanborn said that Madigan wanted to address the violence in every-day life, and Madigan’s protagonist — detective Reid Hollow — is “one step away from the law.”
“Hollow is a World War I veteran, who suffers from Post Traumatic Syndrome — they called it shell shock then,” Sanborn said. “The whole book shows how frustrated by violence we are.”
The book sells for $12 from the publisher and Amazon.com. Kindle will eventually carry the book for about half the publisher’s price, Sanborn said.