HUNTSVILLE, AL — Many people all over the world have had to make significant changes in their lives during the coronavirus pandemic, and during the last several months, restrictions on travel, recreation and working conditions have forced many to use the circumstances for new projects. Huntsville musician and writer JW "Bill" Fowler used the time to finally complete and publish his first novel.
"Free and Clear" follows the character Andy McDaniel, an Alabama musician going through a difficult time in his life — divorce, a dead-end job and ensuing depression — who ends up forming an unlikely friendship with his idol, rock star Ben Landry, after a social media rift surrounding the legendary musician.
What follows is an in-depth look at how music and life so often mirror one another, and looks at some of the more complicated elements of relationships, love and ambition.
Patch caught up with Fowler to discuss how this work came to be.
How long has the novel been in the works?
I started in 2017 thanks to a conversation with Bob (Robert) Bailey, the bestselling author of the McMurtrie and Drake legal thriller series. Bob and I have been friends forever and I'm lucky enough to have been among the handful of early readers on each of his books. One night over beers, probably in some deep discussion about the merits of the 4-3 defense, I mentioned this story idea. He was impressed with the concept and encouraged me to give it a shot. So I spent the next several months just getting it all out. I was able to tell the story fairly quickly, but life events and laziness caused me to put it down. Once the COVID quarantine left me without any more excuses, I opened the file, made a ton of edits and pushed it up to Amazon. I had grand plans to publish traditionally, but with the world spinning backwards lately, I just wanted to call it complete. Amazon made that very easy.
As a musician yourself, how much of this is derived from some of my own personal experiences?
Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback to help us enhance the experience.