Thursday, September 12, 2013

Writing like a Tuba Player: The Release of BROTHERHOOD

Sometimes I’ve felt like my son, the tuba player. He does a lot of waiting, counting measures until it’s his turn to play. 

The difference is that I’ve been counting months, not measures. No, make that years! More than two years have passed since Viking bought my manuscript.

BROTHERHOOD is finally out in bookstores! Hooray!

At times the wait has been excruciating, and now the sound is oh, so rich.

“…an impressive debut…” Publishers Weekly

“…an excellent job of re-creating post-Civil War Richmond…” School Library Journal

“Great historical fiction always feels like a gift…” VOYA Magazine

“…this coming-of-age story will spark fruitful discussions about race, identity, social pressure and loyalty.” Kirkus

Anderson’s Bookshop even included Brotherhood as a candidate for their Mock Newbery Award!

I’ve rehearsed for years, months and days for the release of my first novel, and now I’m glowing. (But the truth is that I’m also feeling overwhelmed.)

After ten years playingand lovingthe violin (the kid begged for a violin when he was three, so we got him Suzuki lessons), he switched to tuba because he didn't like being a front-of-the-orchestra musician. No limelight, please. He wanted to power the orchestra from the rear. Now he’s in college, studying tuba performance, computers and the physics of sound, and I get that he’s an introvert. With the release of Brotherhood, I even get the front-of-the-orchestra pressure he talked about.

If I’ve written Brotherhood well, readers won’t notice me, the author, the same way orchestra patrons overlook the tubists. And that's okay with me. It's good! If they feel my presence at all, I hope it’s like a tuba line, powering the piece beneath the surface. I hope the story resonates with them, and the sound lingers long after they turn the last page.

A. B. Westrick is the author of Brotherhood, the story of a boy who swears allegiance to the Klan before he quite realizes what he's getting into. You can read more about Brotherhood at, follow the author on Twitter, and click here to "like" her Facebook page. Check out the book trailer for Brotherhood on YouTube. It's only 53 seconds.


  1. Congratulations! Your wait is so exciting and inspiring...and love the musical analogies :) I grew up playing Suzuki piano. I never though about comparing the writing process to the preparation for recitals and performance, but it actually is amazingly similar for me. Thanks for the fun post!

  2. Suzuki is such a wonderful way to learn music. And I have to tell you that this post came to me while I was taking a long walk one day last week... thinking of long journeys... thinking of the ways one thing leads to another, like my son's violin years leading him to tuba. He wouldn't be the tubist he is now if it weren't for all those years on violin. And my book wouldn't be what it is if it weren't for years of drafts and revisions. It's all a process... all good...

  3. I love the analogy too. Expand this into a "Draft" series blog for the NYT! And great trailer.

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth! Nice idea to expand this. And as for the book trailer... I chose the music, but thank goodness my tuba-playing boy was home from college the week I was working on it. He fixed the soundtrack and synched it with the stills. Glad you liked it!

  4. That's a great analogy - and I'm so glad your son stuck with music, even if it meant switching to the tuba. Best of luck with your book!

  5. Thank you, Sherry! And I wish I'd seen your comment way back when you posted it. My son has ended up majoring in computer science (and loving it), and doing music on the side rather than professionally. I think he does something musically almost every day. He'll pick up an instrument -- often a guitar or bass these days because they're so easy to pick up -- and he'll just play for a while. It's his down-time, his creative release. But the allure of computers...? Too strong to resist. And computer work pays the bills! But me? I keep writing fiction, even though it pays very few bills. Fiction pays in satisfaction points. In sanity. I cannot not-write, and so there is fiction... And I am happy.