“Lonesome” Athens Musician Publishes Debut Novel

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Athens musician Bram Riddlebarger can officially add "novelist" to his resume.

In his debut novel Earplugs, released in November 2012, a man searches for a pair of earplugs while his small town undergoes big changes. The novel, Riddlebarger’s first attempt at a long work, has a surreal bent.

"I guess it’s probably part of my character. I’ve always liked writing that's like that. I like animals that talk, that sort of thing," Riddlebarger said. "I guess it’s part of the way that I look at the world. Everything can sort of have a voice."

The book underwent several drafts over a period of three or four years before it came to fruition.

"I went through many versions [of Earplugs]. It originally started as a short story," Riddlebarger said. "I basically expanded all of that."

In addition to writing, Riddlebarger is the frontman of Bram Riddlebarger and His Lonesome Band, which specializes in old-time country music. Although his songwriting and creative writing both have a regional focus, the writing processes are different.

"Songwriting for me is usually much simpler, something that comes to me," he said. "I don’t look at it as the same as my writing of poetry or intensive novels."

Riddlebarger has been keeping busy since Earplugs' release. He's currently working on another novel and recently wrapped up a collection of poetry. He advises aspiring writers to have perseverance and to examine their work.

"I think it helped me along the way, not only to hear other people’s opinions for revision, but also looking at things, taking a big step back and trying to have a third opinion that you can give yourself," he said.

Earplugs is published by Livingston Press. It is available in hardcover, paperback and as an e-book. Area residents will have an opportunity to chat with Riddlebarger during a book signing at Little Professor Book Center in Athens on Saturday, April 6 from 3-5 p.m.