Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Author Interview: Bill See

I recently posted my review of 33 Days, by Bill See. I asked Bill a few questions about the writing of the book, and his answers are below. I will also have the opportunity to interview him live about him, his writing, and his views on promotion on my BlogTalkRadio show, A Cup of Coffee and a Good Book, on July 27th at 3:30PT. Be sure to tune in!

Jennifer Walker: Was it painful reliving the days of your youth as you wrote?

Bill See: Basically it was a case of it starting to hurt too much not writing the book. I think as writers we go through stages. The first is a purging, an exorcism of sorts. It's like journaling to and for yourself. Just try and be as unselfconscious as possible. Slowly you strip away the melodrama and focus in on the universal themes that make it relateable to a wider audience. In sharing some of the more painful aspects of my upbringing, what I tried to do was write without judgment or editorializing. No martyrdom. Trust the readers and let them conclude the significance as the story unfolds. And I think I made the right decision in that respect.

Jennifer Walker: Do you have any regrets about Divine Weeks, how you did things, or how things turned out?

Bill See: Generally, I believe that regrets are vain. Standing here many years later and using acquired wisdom, sure, I wish we understood how infinitesimal that window of opportunity truly is. You just assume you keep ascending and never give ground, but you have to literally commit every single ounce of energy and leave everything else behind and even then you need a lot of luck and some muscle behind you. When we returned from our first tour, we were a big deal in L.A., and it probably would have made a big difference to have high powered management right then and get in the studio right away, get another record out and back on the road immediately. We were never a cool or hip band with friends in high places. We operated on a different grid and where a lot of our peers were more guarded and took great care of their image, we were openly passionate and vulnerable. That built trust with our audience, but in a town like L.A. it made things a little harder.

Jennifer Walker: Were there any stories from that first tour that didn't make it into the book?

Bill See: The book is culled from my tour journals so it was largely just what I observed or heard. I'm sure I missed a lot that was out of my eye or ear shot.

Jennifer Walker: Have any of your old band mates read the book? What was their reaction?

Bill See: Our drummer Dave read the book and gave his blessing. Our road manager Ian gave his blessing. I turned to our guitarist Raj quite a bit putting the book together. His story is a huge part of the book. His struggle to break free from home was as profound as my own, and I wanted juxtapose his struggle with my own and share how big a part our liberation played in the music of Divine Weeks and what we overcame just to get in that van. In the end, the book is really about friendship – about sharing dreams and finding through that friendship the courage to summon the courage to go chase those dreams.

Jennifer Walker: What do you feel was Divine Weeks's greatest accomplishment?

Bill See: It's hard to quantify, but I think if you ever saw us live it would be hard to deny that we laid it on the line and played like our lives depended on it. Not everyone loved us, but we were hard to forget.

Jennifer Walker: It seems that in your band mate George's eyes, the band failed to succeed because it didn't reach the status of The Who and other legendary greats. What is your answer to that?

Bill See: Reconciling something as huge as chasing your first real passion is a very personal and fragile thing. The end of the book kind of examines that whole idea of closure and making sense of the past. We all have to find our own answers. For George, he had to stab rock and roll in the heart in order to move forward. That was the right decision for him and no one could be more proud and happy for him than myself. He's a professor at Dartmouth now and a real rock star of the classroom. For me, I couldn't stab rock and roll in the heart because that would kill me. I live to make music. Even if it only ends up in a shoe box in the back of my closet, I'll be making music until my last breath. Success is something you have to define for yourself. You can't buy into anyone else's idea of it. Only your own.

Jennifer Walker: What do you hope readers will take away from 33 Days?

Bill See: I wanted to capture a now or never moment in our lives. Take a shot at making the band work or leave it all behind and go your separate ways. And I think every one of us has that moment at our own personal crossroads where we have to decide to either live our dreams or give up and regret it for the rest of our lives. I wanted to write a book that made you sit up in the middle of your life and ask yourself, you know, 'did I fire my shot?' Hopefully the answer is yes. And if it is, be gentle on yourself and don't get hung up on whether you 'made it' but how much taking the shot is worth because so many of us have to reconcile we played it safe. Instead of reaching for the sweetest fruit that's at the top of the tallest tree, we clutched the trunk of the tree and never moved. It's like that moment when you just get out of college and you're trying to decide whether to take your buddy up on his offer to go backpacking in Europe or do you take that job at your uncle's insurance company. 33 Days, at its core, is a cautionary tale about the perils of sitting on your dreams. Now is the time, because if not now, then when -- ever?

Jennifer Walker: If you could relive one day in your life, which would it be, and why?

Bill See: I'm a pretty forward looking person notwithstanding the subject matter of the book. I guess I've always been inspired by the past to try and stay relevant and make the next thing I do the greatest thing I do. But to answer your question, I'd like a do over of the last time I saw my grandfather. I told him he'd lived his life and to let me live mine. Probably the stupidest thing I've ever said in my life.

Jennifer Walker: If you could pack up and go anywhere and do anything tomorrow, what would it be?

Bill See: I want to go to Spain with my girlfriend and let her show me the place she's tried to make me understand for so long.

33 Days website:


Amazon listing:


No comments:

Post a Comment