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Interview With James L. Rubart

This week it's my privilege to sit down with Jim Rubart, debut author of Rooms and marketing "guru," to discuss his unique approach to story. Since the blurbs and pre-release reviews of Rooms were so intriguing, I had to get my own copy and read it for myself. And am I glad I did! Not only is Rooms an entertaining read, it is thought-provoking and a little unsettling as well. Unsettling in a good way. ☺ So I enjoyed getting the chance to get to know the author and gain a deeper appreciation for his unique approach to story.

How did you know you wanted to write fiction and Rooms in particular?

After I devoured The Chronicles of Narnia as an eleven year old, I knew I wanted to try to do for others what Clive Staples had so brilliantly done for me. But for many years I was too scared to jump off the cliff and attempt the dream.

But in 2003 my wife went on a fast not knowing why or for how long. On day three a lightbulb exploded in my head and I told her, "It's time. God's telling me I'm supposed to be a novelist. Now." I had a number of unfinished short stories languishing in my writing drawer, so prayed about which one I should turn into a novel and I felt like God said to pull out ROOMS.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Three things: First, obeying that call when God said, "Step into your destiny." Second, after receiving a rude, brutal rejection from an editor that almost made me quit, I decided, "I choose to believe I'm a writer even if no one else ever does." Third, going to my first writing conference. That opened up worlds for me.

What's your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Saying no to people when I don't want to. As my visibility has increased, requests for my time have increased. I hate saying no--and I'm not good at it--but it's a critical skill if I'm going to make the most of the gift the Lord has given me.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I've never considered that until you asked. I just write the story that won't get out of my heart and mind. ROOMS is overtly Christian. Book of Days, my next novel, is much less so. I didn't intend to make them that way--it's simply the way the stories emerged.

I groan when I read a CBA book that would be the same even if the faith element was taken out--a book where the faith aspect feels tacked on and phony. If an author loves the Lord God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, the faith part can't help but organically and believably spill onto the page.

What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career so far?
When I sat on my porch this past March with my wife and held that finished copy of ROOMS for the first time. It got very dusty as it hit me--like nothing else has on this journey--that the greatest desire of my heart had come true.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Readers say my voice is distinct and comes through clearly. People who know me say they can tell it's me on the page. The other thing readers say is a movie plays in their heads when they're reading, that my writing is cinematic.

If you were to change anything about your journey to publication, what would it be?
I'd have started way earlier. I would have taken the risk in my twenties rather than my late 30s, early 40s. I would have thrown off my fear much sooner and "jumped off the cliff and built my wings on the way down." (Annie Dillard.)

Finish this question. The best writing advice I ever received was . . . barf it out. Kill the internal editor. Write white hot and get that first draft on paper. You can always go back and rewrite.

What's next for Jim Rubart?
My next novel, Book of Days, will release in January 2011. It's the story of a man who goes on a quest to find God's Book of Days--described in Psalm 139--that has recorded the past, present, and future of every soul on earth. Also, I'm working on The Chair, which will release in the fall of 2011. And in the land of surreal, a number of film production companies are interested in both ROOMS and Book of Days, so we're starting to explore possibilities there.

Thanks for sharing with us, Jim!
Thanks so much for having me!

Jim is also a featured debut novelist in Writer's Digest's Breaking In column of the May/June 2010 issue, page 16!

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