Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author and musician Bro Betts about his life, what inspires him, and the work that went into his new book, To The Cloud.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m old enough to have been in the work force for 40+ years and most of that has been as a cook or chef. But I’ve also been a musician for about that long as well. Logistically I live near Dallas/Fort Worth in Texas. I am only recently an author with my first offering being “to the cloud.”
When did you first WANT to write a book?
I didn’t want to write until I sat down and tried it. (Again) Previous attempts were abysmal and halfhearted and weren’t even books. This time something different happened. I knew it was working because the creative gates opened in a way that gave me confidence.
I also wanted to write to be a different kind of musician, an author/musician who wrote about a musical life and included real-time music in his book
When did you take a step to start writing?
I started writing and then realized I was taking a step. It was big. Like over a threshold to an open mind of my own making.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
About a year and a half, maybe 6 months to get the bulk of the writing done. Then another year to arrange and record the music and vignettes and edit it altogether
What made you want to write To The Cloud?
I thought my stories were warm, charming and sometimes funny. I thought emphasizing the moments with links to the music would be fulfilling for the readers because I supposed that like me, you can only read so much about the beauty or cool of a motif. But to read, then hear it, would be the something I wanted to share. I liked the idea of reading along, then coming upon another QR code and having some anticipation build in that process.
What were your biggest challenges with writing To The Cloud?
I started writing about myself as a child. There were some difficulties there. I finished by writing fiction about a possible future for myself or a character like me who lived that long. Both were difficult. One to remember and one to imagine.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
My life stories are true but I’m no champion of anything and I didn’t want to try and force out a climax of emotion. So to have an arc in my storyline I start talking about a song that has been with me for many years titled “Do you remember.” Piece by piece I talk about the song parts and play them in the vignettes with analogous stories in accompaniment.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
The book’s subtitle is Essays, opinion and fiction connected by music. When I get to part 3 I do a little bitching about the travails of artists and the pitfalls of their culture. Those 2 things are the closest thing I have to an Antagonist in my reality. I know they antagonize me. Part 4 is fiction based on a possible future reality. The main characters impending mortality is the antagonist.
What is the inciting incident of your book?
Hmmmm good question. I don’t think my essays do that in parts one and two. I don’t think my music does that either. But there are two poems. One is recited in a vignette and is about a bridge as a metaphor. One is some prose ABOUT a poem and kinda fits the bill. I can say no more.
What is the main conflict of To The Cloud?
To the cloud or not to the cloud. Save or Save as. To spoil or not spoil, that is the question.
The minds internal pondering on permanence.
Did you plot To The Cloud in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
For me as an artist, to go wandering off unintentionally with an open heart and open mind is the path to reveal ones most inner desires. Once it appears though, work can begin in earnest on a plot. That is the same condition for me in both writing and music.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did To The Cloud need?
Does Grammarly count? Ha. I did my best to write the way I talk so I allowed myself to keep grammatical quirks if they didn’t impede the flow. Much as you would write dialogue.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
Two things. Write the way you talk if you are not in character. Secondly, write the way you read. GO THERE! Reading for me, like many people, is a deeply passionate endeavor, an inspiring journey or about learning and I cherish the moments. Writing has turned out to be quite the same. If you write, I certainly hope it’s the same for you.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Well I know I will continue to include music in one form or another. If not music then other mediums like visual art. There are a couple of characters in my fiction piece that beg me to carry them into the future. That’s the most likely scenario.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Pride is a tricky emotion for me and I try to avoid it because it can imply ownership of things and people that are wholly unto themselves and I deserve no credit for. Love is tangled up in pride. I’m comfortable with that. I’m feeling something more akin to that. Like when your child accomplishes something and your heart swells. For me the love overwhelms all other emotions. I actually think love is something far greater than emotion.
I loved writing this book, the time I spent with myself, the time I spent with my loved ones in my mind and in my heart. Yes it is an accomplishment. It was definitely worth the effort and I plan to do it again soon.
Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:
Find me on Facebook at Bro Betts Jr
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