April 7, 2010 / 2:39 AM / 9 years ago

"Oz Idol" winner Damien Leith cements fame with writing

SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Winning “Australian Idol” or any “Idol” TV singing contest may produce overnight fame but it tends to come after years of hard work and with the challenge of being taken seriously, according to musician Damien Leith.

Leith, an Irish-Australian singer-songwriter, shot to fame after winning “Australia Idol” in 2006 but he has coupled this success with a second career — as an author.

Leith, 34, sealed a book deal in 2007 for his first novel, “One More Time,” a psychological thriller set in Nepal, although the contract was in the works before his “Idol” success.

His second novel, “Remember June”, is out this month published by HarperCollins. Set in Ireland, it focuses on a father-son relationship and has the same title as his third studio album that was released last year.

“Idol is a huge platform and great exposure but like all great exposure, it can die off very fast. It comes from a reality TV show which is, in essence, short lived,” Leith told Reuters.

“You do need other things to spark an audience’s interest.”

Leith, who lives in Australia with his wife and two sons, said for him, writing and singing do go together.

“I don’t think I could do one without the other,” said Leith, who spent his childhood writing but started singing as a teenager as he wanted to write musicals.

His career path has had its bumps along the way.

A band he formed with his two brothers and his sister broke up after a development deal they snared in New York collapsed.

“We were very young and my writing was pretty young at that stage but it was heartbreaking at the time,” said Leith who then relegated music to more of a hobby for a few years while he pursued a job and a PhD in the pharmaceutical business.

It was after marrying his Australian wife Eileen and moving to Australia that he decided to try out for “Australian Idol”.

“Entering “Idol” was an odd thing for me to do and out of character but it was a show that was at the right time for me. Before I knew it our lives changed entirely,” he said.

“In one way of another, everyone who enters that show — or at least everyone who gets into the top 12 — finds it has some kind of impact on their lives, and not always positive.

“It is hard to be taken seriously off that show but really anyone who makes it all the way through has already been in the business for years. It might be overnight exposure but the success takes a long time.”

Linking his second book with his latest album was not planned but Leith said the two project became intertwined.

“I found because I was working on the book every day for the greater part and was really involved in the characters, so when it came to sitting down and writing songs, I ended up writing about the characters of the book,” he said.

“But the album is certainly not a soundtack to the book.”

Leith has already started his third novel and plans to start on a new album later this year.

He says he has no regrets about the way things have panned out although he has learnt lessons along the way.

“You can get anxious and want to hurry things but I’ve found that more and more by hurrying up the process you can disrupt it. You have to let things take their course sometimes.”

Editing by Miral Fahmy

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