Friday, June 18, 2010

Interview with Braden Bell--Author of The Road Show

Not only did I have the opportunity of reading The Road Show, I had the honor of interviewing Braden for his upcoming release of his book. But just an email interview. Nothing real professional like Skype or something like that. One day, I'll get the courage.  He explains what his book is about the best.

Without further ado, here is the interview:


What is The Road Show about?

The Road Show is the story of five contemporary Latter-day Saints, each of whom is struggling with a spiritual or emotional challenge:  pornography addiction, post-partum depression, ill health, loneliness, feeling excluded, and spiritual numbness.

For various reasons, they all end up participating in their ward’s road show.  Most of them do this against their will, but the conflicts that arise from their reluctant participation propel them to ultimate healing.

It sounds a little heavy.

There are some intense moments, but it’s not all serious and depressing.  A few of the endorsements have noted that the book is hopeful and even funny, and I’m glad.  I thought it was when I wrote it.  Often, I’d be typing on my laptop in bed late at night, giggling to myself while my wife tried to sleep.   Especially when I was writing about just how bad some of the road showideas were, or the interactions between some of the members of the ward

Why did you write this book?

Mostly because I had a story I wanted to tell and characters I wanted to write about.  Essentially, I had a movie in my mind that I wanted to get on paper.

However, the book is informed by my experience as a bishop.  In that calling, I saw people with terrible burdens healed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  So, while this story is fictional, everything in the book is based on analogous experiences I have seen in real life: sick people made well, pornography addictions overcome, bitter people softened, and burned-out spirits rekindled through the Atonement.  And, I have seen this happen as regular people quietly participated in what were apparently trivial, routine programs of the Church.

The thematic foundation for the book is found in Isaiah 61: 1-3.  Verse 1 is the verse that the Savior read on the synagogue on the day he began his public ministry, and the whole thing is a beautiful explication of what the Messiah and His Atonement can do.

Was it a challenge to write about these serious and sensitive topics?

Yes, it was.  I wanted to be hopeful but I also wanted to be optimistic.  I have tried to write about the problems the characters face realistically.  At the same time, I tried to be restrained in describing the struggles with pornography and depression, especially.


 Where did you get the idea for this story?

The idea for The Road Show occurred to me on the steps that led to the stage in the Franklin TN stake center.  It was opening night (and closing night) and it was almost our ward's turn. I had been called to be the director on short notice and was standing there with some of the cast members.

While some of us were talking, a series of what I call "what ifs" flashed through my mind.  "What if...the leading man was reluctantly participating?"  What if the leading lady had postpartum depression?"  "What if the director had a secret problem of some kind?"

That being said, this book is a work of fiction.  The characters and their struggles are not attempts to recreate anyone specifically.

For example, the leading role in our road show was played by the elder's quorum president.  However, unlike the character in the book, he was one of the kindest, warmest men and most dedicated elder's quorum presidents I have ever known.

Likewise, while the leading lady was married to a law student, she was a cheerful and happy woman who certainly did not show any signs of post-partum depression.  And while she had a lovely voice, she had not been a Young Ambassador at BYU.

Scott, the young man who struggles with pornography is drawn from experiences I have had as a bishop counseling people who have struggled with this terrible problem but he is not a real person, nor is he based specifically on any one person.  However, in writing about his experiences, I did draw on what people have described to me in order to create what I hope is an accurate portrait of someone working to overcome an addiction.  I would never use something that someone confidentially told their bishop as fodder for a story.

How long did it take you to write this?

When the idea occurred to me, I was working on my doctoral dissertation, so I was only able to write very sporadically.  When I graduated, I started working on the manuscript in a much more focused way.

Tell us about the song. 

One of the characters in the book writes a song for the road show—it’s about the Savior’s love and healing power.  The talented composer, Sherrie Shepherd, (www.sherrieshepherdpiano.com) wrote the melody to the lyrics in the book and then Veronica Johnson (http://welcometomychaos-vzj.blogspot.com/)did the vocal.  They did beautiful work and I am thrilled with how it turned out.  The song is very powerful and you can hear a recording by going to my website:  bradenbell.com

You have a full-time job, a church calling, and a family—when do you write? 

Whenever I can. I don’t watch TV or have any other real hobbies except yardwork.  I try to write for an hour or so every night in bed.  Sometimes I do more, sometimes less.  Since I’m a teacher, I tend to have a little more time in the summers and over Christmas and Spring Breaks.  But I also do a lot of writing while I’m waiting for my kids to be done with sports practices, or young men/young women’s activities at church.  I’m pretty much never without either my laptop or a three-ring binder with hard copy to edit. 

What is your day job?

I teach direct plays and teach middle school choir at a small private school in Nashville.

I understand that you are available for book club group discussion.

Yes, I am.  I live in Tennessee, but I am happy to do any kind of event via conference call or Skype, or in person, if we can work the travel out. 

Now that your first book is published, what are your future plans? 

To be honest, I need to spend some time with my family again.  After that, I’m currently shopping for an agent for a young adult fantasy I wrote that is aimed at the national market.  I am also working on a draft of another novel written for Mormon audiences.  It’s still untitled, but it’s about a troubled marriage and how a couple fixes their problems and falls back in love.   

Where can people get this book?  Any bookstore can order it.  If your local bookstore doesn’t have it, Amazon does.  You can get a link at bradenbell.com.

Wow. And get this. I got to meet two of the ladies that helped with the music for this book. They are so classy. I met them at my blogger conference a while back. Cool, huh?





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1 comment:

Braden said...

Yes, Sherrie and Veronica are WAY classy!

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