Today I got the absolute pleasure of interviewing Billy Franks, songwriter, singer and author. With plans of getting his first book published we thought it was time to catch up with this exceptional man who has already set the online world on fire. Read on to see what he had to say!
Hi Billy! It’s great to be speaking with you! Let’s get straight into the questioning, shall we?
When did you first decide that you wanted to become an author?
I have been a songwriter for three decades but by the time I had got through my first, I knew two things; I wanted to write a book and I definitely had a story to tell. But being an author is a completely different discipline to song-writing and, having had no formal education at all, I had never written anything you couldn’t fit on one side of an A4. So years rolled by and it remained just a promise I had made to myself.
Then about 5 years ago, I decided to have a Chinese symbol tattooed on my arm that meant “to write”. Then, whenever I looked at myself in the mirror, I would be reminded that I hadn’t kept that promise. This year it finally got the better of me.
What, or who, was your inspiration to make this decision?
My first book was always going to be autobiographical. But I was never sure from what standpoint I would tell the story. I needed a context. In 2005, myself and three friends from Philadelphia spent 8 months travelling the U.S and Europe on a quest. Our mission was to ask ten world-famous stars if they would appear on a tribute album to an unknown songwriter, (myself), if all the proceeds went to a children’s music charity. We were legally advised not to do it and to make a formal approach through managers and publicists, etc. But a documentary feature film about conference calls would be beyond even the world greatest director’s skills. So we hit the road, guerrilla style.
Now I had a context. I would have ten chapters; one about the journey to each of the ten artists we had chosen. But each chapter would also have a relevant story from my past. So the book had forward motion but was also a memoir.
Being involved with music too, which world has been harder to break into?
Well, I have spent three decades in music and, even though I had a couple of years of moderate success; touring with the likes of U2, REM and Pete Townshend, I still remain to the wider world relatively unknown. Whereas my first book has a major publisher interested only months after I finished it. So I guess the question answers itself!
What can we expect from your first book?
Every story is The Wizard of Oz. You set out to find something but what you learn on your way turns out to be more valuable that what you went looking for. Well, my book is very much like that. I had three friends who just wanted to make something come good for me. Here’s a quote from my friends that appears in the book and explains it better than I can right now.
“We have reached the end of our journey but, regardless of the outcome. we have achieved the ultimate success. By attempting this quest together, we have fortified a friendship and affirmed the love and respect for the music of someone we love.”
What helped you make the decision that this would be the story for your first book?
That one incredible summer I spent travelling with three great friends that left me with so many memories I will from now on find hard to match.
Growing up, did you ever think you would be where you are now?
I grew up in extreme poverty and never attended school. I have never once sat an exam. So you think the answer would be no. But I always had an inkling that I had somewhere to go.
What would you say have been the largest contributing factors that have you got you to this place?
The easy answer is determination. But the truth is I not only love what I do, I am in love with what I do. There is never even a question of doing anything else.
Has there ever been a moment that has made you re-think your decisions?
As an aspiring author myself, I’m really interested to know: What advice would you give to someone wanting to take the same path as you?
Write. Don’t talk about it, don’t think about it, don’t dream about it, (don’t even get a tattoo about it!). Write.
So, What’s next for Billy Franks?
I am writing a dark and murderous musical.
It has been lovely chatting with you Billy, and I wish you every ounce of success, is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes; “They know not cricket those whom only cricket know”
You may not get it right away. But there will be a time in your life when that quote will hit you right where it should. It’s been great talking with you, too. Thank you.
You are most welcome, Billy. And thank you too, for being an incredibly inspiring human being.
So there we have it guys, a true fairy-tale, I’d say. If you would like to find out more about Billy, you can find him on all of your favourite social networks: Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube & WordPress, or of course you can head over to the home of Billy Franks at www.billyfranks.com
Also, you can get Billy Franks’ Free 12 Song Compilation Album-simply email [email protected] and you will be sent the link.