When I began to write the “Of Love and Madness” series, the character of Billy started out as a washed up, never-quite-made-it rocker in his mid-forties, with dark hair and dark eyes. He was also about to become an ex-husband. In early drafts, Kate and Billy’s marriage was over and she was moving on to form a new life for herself.
But you see, Billy is pretty damn charming. He had me spinning. Even when he was disappointing her, Kate couldn’t help loving him.
And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with him too, and in the process, Billy became someone else. Before I knew it, he was blonde and very tall. His musical direction changed. Originally I had him playing country—I’m not sure why. Then his style morphed from top-forty tunes to classic heavy metal and grunge.
Like casting a movie, I tried to picture these characters in my head. Some were really easy (like Michael Urie for Joey). Some were difficult. While I could see Kate in my head, it was several months of writing before I saw Katie Holmes on TV and realized that she came pretty close. Toss in an equal share of Zoey Deschanel, and she would be perfect.
Once Billy’s coloring and music changed, I began to see him much clearer. And when I came across a picture of Brad Pitt from his “Legends of the Fall” and “Interview with a Vampire” days, I knew he was my Billy. And since that time, I hadn’t seen anyone who even came close to that perfect image of Billy—until now.
I’d like you to meet Rick Snowdon of Hartlepool, England.
About six or seven weeks ago, I was reading an article online, and I saw one of those posts that pop up on the side of the page, talking about a contestant on the British version of “The Voice,” and how he was a cross between Brad Pitt and Thor. They weren’t kidding.
I did a little digging around. (Note: This is not called stalking if you are a journalist.) I found Rick on Facebook and Instagram, where I saw one of his stills from the television show. I posted a comment that had he been in the U.S., I would have been begging him to be on my cover. I started following him; he started following me, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, not exactly.
I posted a couple pictures of Rick for some of my friends and beta readers to see and they agreed—Rick is like Billy come to life. Another friend posted a link to his audition on “The Voice,” and I was blown away. He not only looked like “my Billy,” he had that throaty, whiskey voice that I envision Billy having as well.
I followed Rick’s success online, and still taken with his very real resemblance to this very real (to me) character, I asked him if he would share some pictures for me to post on my website, as well as a little of his story.
You see, Rick isn’t only a pretty face (OK, drop dead handsome face) and an enormously talented singer/songwriter and guitarist, he has a rather inspirational story.
I’ll let him tell it in his own words:
I started out on my musical journey as a very small boy. My mother, father, grandmother and grandfather all had a huge role. My mother would constantly play Michael Jackson, whilst my dad, in an adjacent room, would be drinking whisky and blasting Led Zeppelin on his record player.
My grandmother always used to prophesy that I would ‘be on the stage someday,’ which stuck with me all through my childhood. My grandmother taught herself piano, and showed me the importance of picking up music, without the prescribed boundaries of lessons and tutorial.
I grew up and struggled with my weight. I ballooned to 19 stone (266 pounds) and vowed to stay in my home for four months to shift the weight. That four months turned into four and a half years, reaching my peak weight at 26 stone (364 pounds). Locked away in my home for the entire duration, not even opening my living room curtains—in fear people would see me.
I began teaching myself to play guitar, like my grandmother had showed me when I was young. I would sit and listen to my favourite bands and pick out the songs, writing my own arrangements. I then began to record ideas. Needing a singer, I started training myself to sing.
With this passion, the weight began to shift … I was determined to get down to a healthy weight, get out of the house and bring my music to the world …
And that he did—on national television. His journey on “The Voice” came to an end a couple weeks ago, but I have no doubt this is only the beginning for Rick Snowdon.
If you want to know more about Rick, you can follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ricksnowdon.
And please support him by going to iTunes to download his single, “Bring You Home” at:https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/bring-you-home-single/id973695736
For his album, “Black Magic,” go to: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/black-magic/id1082220416
In case there’s a problem with the links, just search for “Rick Snowdon.”