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His new voice: David Archuleta pens memoir about musical dreams, obstacles

David Archuleta is a dreamer.

And a skeptic.

And an optimist.

And now the 19-year-old singer is also a writer.

Yep. You read that correctly. Archuleta is a published author. Of a book. A 256-page book, to be exact.

And while you might be surprised that the "American Idol" runner-up has writing skills outside of music, no one was more surprised about the prospect of a book than Archuleta himself.

There's a lot more to Archuleta's life than just "American Idol," and when the editors at Penguin publishing house learned of how the young star had overcome vocal cord paralysis and a number of insecurities before finding success as a musician, they saw what Archuleta could not.

"At first, I was like, what? What is there to write about? It's like I'm not that interesting of a person," Archuleta told the Deseret News in a phone interview from Southern California, where he was working with songwriters on new material.

"I didn't think I was all that super special," he said. "Every single person has a story to tell, but not everyone has that opportunity to. I never imagined having this kind of thing, to be able to share my experiences and things that I've learned and have people actually want to hear what I've got to say."

It took a lot of juggling and overcoming fears on Archuleta's part, but on June 1, "Chords of Strength: A Memoir of Soul, Song and the Power of Perseverance" will hit bookstores.

Getting the book to publication was not an easy process. Archuleta is not a fan of writing. In fact, he finds the process of putting words on a page somewhat terrifying. And beyond that, just remembering all the details of his short life was somewhat daunting.

Luckily, Archuleta had the help of Monica Haim, who pushed the Utahn to go past his typical, brief answers. The more he would say, "I don't know," the more Haim would challenge Archuleta to remember, and, with some work, memories flooded back.

"When you really pay attention and focus enough and try hard enough to think about something and give enough time to think it through, it will come back," Archuleta said. "Even to the point where what you felt comes back and what your surroundings were. It was a really cool exercise for me."

The two worked together from Day One. And it was a lot of work. Long conversations, detailed questions, and editing and re-editing were all done during and in-between tours and recording albums, but Archuleta is extremely proud of "Chords of Strength."

"Nothing's ever perfect, but just because something isn't perfect doesn't mean you give up on it," he said. "Looking back, look at how far we came, look at how much we got accomplished. The things that I feel really good about with the book can help so many people potentially."

Help? you ask. Can a teenager's memoir help me?

Yes, it can, said Archuleta, who questioned the good of talking about himself for an entire book. "I know I haven't lived for the longest time, but I have learned things."

"It's up to other people to be interested in what I say," Archuleta said. "But I just hope that I will be able to help people in some way with what I have to say and how I just view my life and how I've tried to live it."

Archuleta doesn't know why exactly he was supposed to write "Chords of Strength," and he doesn't know who exactly is going to read it or what people will get out of it. He does know, however, that he was supposed to write it and share all he could.

"I'm hoping that people will find things in common with me," he said. "I hope they'll say, 'Hey, this kid is normal, he's got problems, he's got fears, but he was still able to get through it.'"

Archuleta believes most important parts are near the end, where he tries to talk about why he does things and why he looks at music with a spiritual perspective.

"I feel like God's hand has been there," he said. "Even though you think, why would He let me do this? Why would He give me this chance? What is the purpose of this? That's where I really focused most of my concentration. I felt that's what made me who I am the most, and that's what's given me the most strength.

"When people read this book, they want to know why I am the way I am, and why I've decided to live my life the way I do, and why I've chosen music. That's where I wanted to explain to people, this is why I do things, because music is such a powerful thing."

As a tween, Archuleta didn't like the sound of his own voice, making him skeptical when it came to his musical dreams. A lot has changed since then, and his talent is no longer something he can ignore or question.

You always have to be prepared because you don't know how long things will last, Archuleta said. All you can do is try to do it. It won't always work, but it's surprising how often it will.

"I've wanted to sing for years, even though I'm only 19," Archuleta said. "Life is about constantly progressing. You constantly have to keep working and striving. As frustrating as that may get, that's what makes it feel so good. …

"I doubted myself so much and, for some reason, as much as I doubted myself, I went for it anyway," he said. "I always hoped for something good to come out of it. I hoped more inside than I doubted outside. And I'm so happy that I listened to that voice."

If you go

Who: David Archuleta

When: Monday, June 7, noon

Where: Downtown Deseret Book, 45 W. South Temple, Salt Lake City

Phone: 801-328-8191



When: Tuesday, June 8, 12 p.m.

Where: University Village Deseret Book, 1076 S. 750 East, Orem

Phone: 801-224-0055