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Josh Ritter turns writer with new novel 'Bright's Passage'

Jason Ritter

Jason Ritter Credit: handout

Although plenty of celebrities pen memoirs about their careers, folk singer-songwriter Josh Ritter followed in the footsteps of musicians such as Leonard Cohen and wrote a novel instead.

Similar to his songs, Ritter's well-researched debut novel uses historical events - in this case, World War I - as a backdrop for the story.

Throughout the book, "Bright's Passage," a young soldier named Henry Bright seeks a place of sanctuary while journeying with his newborn son and an angel (who may or may not be real) that tells him what to do.

amNewYork caught up with the 34-year-old musician turned author:

How do you feel about your upcoming New York reading?
I'm thrilled about it. It's going to be one of the very first readings I've ever done, so I'm practicing. I'm totally nervous. The guitar covers up your vitals; with a book, I don't know.

How do novel writing and songwriting compare?
[Novel writing] is a little lonelier than songs; when I write a song, I can share it ... and know immediately upon sharing it how I feel about it. In the end, it boils down to the fact that you're trying to, as concisely as possible, say the most, and that requires you to make sure that every single word is the right one.

Do you have any writing rituals?
I like to listen to music while I'm writing, but it can't have words in it. When I'm at home, I mostly write in the kitchen ... probably because of the coffee.

What advice would you give aspiring novelists?
That there's no such thing as perfection; you just try and say something that you feel is honest - whether it is or not - and then stand by it.

Why did you decide to write a novel rather than a memoir?
I think if I wrote an autobiography, it would be mostly lies.


If you go: Josh Ritter will be reading from his novel and performing music at Barnes & Noble Union Square on Tuesday at 7 p.m., FREE. 33 E. 17th St., 212-253-0810

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