I am very excited to introduce you today to one of my favorite fiction writers, James L. Rubart. I have to say I’m proud that he comes from my hometown. James writes deeply engaging stories that explore the spiritual realm in very intriguing and relatable ways, laced with powerful themes of freedom and healing. You can check out his latest book, The Long Journey to Jake Palmer here. Without further ado, I give you James L. Rubart:
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
In 7th grade, my English teacher chose my story out of all the others in class to act out as a class play. It made me think that maybe someone besides myself liked my stories. Then (later that same year) my mom bought The Chronicles of Narnia for my sister and me for Christmas. After reading them—and being blown away—I thought, “I’d love to try to do for others someday what Lewis did for me.”
What are you currently working on? And what are your near and future goals for your writing?
I just finished up my latest manuscript and sent it to my publisher. So I’ll be doing revisions and editing on that for the next few months as well as starting on my next novel. Plus, I’m involved in a project I’m stoked about. Susie Warren and her son David and I are working on a serialized set of short novels (25,000 to 30,000 words each) about a time traveling detective that will release in 2018. I’ll voice the audio version of each novella so it will be an extremely fun project.
In your creative journey, have you ever felt like giving up? What got you through it?
Yes. Three things got me through it. First, my amazing wife. Second, my amazing wife. Third, my amazing wife. You think I’m joking. Without her, I would not be enjoying doing this interview with you because I would not be published.
What other kinds of art or artists do you draw inspiration from? Specific examples?
Everything. Hmmm, that’s not extremely specific. John Lennon once said The Beatles were so successful because they stole from everybody. A word here, a couple of notes there, a chord from another band. It’s the same way with every art form, I believe. I think artists watch the world in a different way, so a song, a conversation, a TV show, a movie, a photo … I’m gathering inspiration all the time from every source, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. As my friend Ted says, everything is a remix. But when we do that remix through our filters and we don’t try to be anyone else, but stay true to who we are, that mix more often than not comes out feeling original.
How do you usually get past writer’s block and/or criticism?
I’m probably unusual in that I’ve never had writer’s block. Hold on a second. (I’m ducking from the tomatoes a few of your readers are throwing at me.) Okay, I’m back. With regards to criticism, with my early novels, I’d jump on every review and sometimes think I was something and sometimes think, “Why do I think I can write? Time to give up.” Then I quit reading reviews entirely. I realized if I was willing to let others give me my validation, or let others steal my worth, I would never be in a healthy spot. I certainly read emails from readers who write me, but I don’t seek out reviews elsewhere.
What does your creative process look like when approaching a story?
Typically I’ll get the high concept first. What would you find if you walked into the rooms of your soul? (Rooms). What if you could have a conversation with your 23 year old self? (The Five Times I Met Myself.) Then I do a little bit of vague outlining and start writing. About 30 – 40,000 words in I’ll start organizing and put all the scenes up on the wall of my writing room so I can put them together like puzzle pieces and fill in the gaps.
What do you wish you knew before becoming a published author?
That becoming published wouldn’t validate my life. Publishing a novel was THE biggest dream I ever had. When it came true, it was wonderful. But it didn’t validate me. I thought it would, and it did for a time; but long term, it’s a trap to believe that. The first half of 2014 was a devastating six months for me, but I needed to go through it, because in July of that year, for the first time since 2006 (when I got serious about becoming published) I realized that if I never wrote another novel in my life I would be perfectly okay. That was freeing.
What do you find most beautiful in the world?
I think my wife is gorgeous, but it’s not her looks that I find to be the most beautiful thing in the world, it’s what’s inside. I’ve never met a person more full of fire and grace and laughter and love.
If another writer asked you for advice, what would be the first thing you’d tell them?
Spend a few bucks. Get a decent pair of running shoes. Put them on and run in the other direction as fast as possible. I’m only slightly kidding. The writing journey is not an easy one. But if you can’t not write, it’s the most wonderful path in the world. The good news is, most people give up. So there is room at the top if you’re willing to keep going.
What is your favorite part of coming up with a new story?
The idea. The high concept premise. I love people saying, “Oh wow!” Or, “Uh, that’s a little too out there for me.” Either way is fine. Love me, hate me, just don’t ignore. In other words, the worst reaction is, “That story sounds okay.” People don’t want the ordinary, mundane, the usual. They want a story that is going to take them somewhere they’ve never been before.
What kind of change do you hope to bring about through your writing?
First, I’m primarily writing for myself. Not sure if that’s good or not good to admit, but I’m working out my own struggles in life, my own questions, my own pain and triumphs. But what I’ve found time and again is readers who say, “That was me in your story!” Why? Because I’m not unique. The same things I’m going through are things my readers are going through, so we’re in it together, trying to figure out this crazy, terrifying, wonderful thing called life. Second, there are two things I hope my stories do for people. I want them to be wildly entertained, and I want them to have more freedom in their life when they finish.
What would your superpower be, and why?
The ability to fly, of course. Why, is there any other someone would choose? 🙂 I’m about freedom, and as I stand on our deck and watch the birds play in the wind, I dream of being like them.
Thanks so much for having me!
About the Author:
James L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories. He’s the best-selling, Christy BOOK of the YEAR, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker and the co-host of the Novel Marketing podcast. During the day he runs his branding and marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington. More at www.jameslrubart.com