I hope you enjoy this interview with author James L. Rubart. Be sure to write down the clue and continue to the next stop on the hunt. If you’ve missed a stop or if you are ready to enter the full phrase (clue), head on over HERE. Otherwise enjoy the interview.
I'm excited to introduce you to a friend of mine, James L. Rubart. I first met James at a writer's conference, and in the two years since, he's become one of my mentors. (You didn't know that Jim, did you?)
James' novel, Soul’s Gate, won both an INSPY award and a Christy Award, as well as being nominated for the Clive Staples award. It's highly anticipated sequel, Memory’s Door, released in August and it hit the CBA bestseller list in October.
It’s an epic tale of four warriors who have fulfilled a powerful prophecy by learning how to send their spirits into other people’s souls to fight for healing and freedom. But it’s also an extremely intimate story that explores the devastating consequences of holding onto our regrets—and how we can get free of them.
Don't worry, we'll get into more specifics about Memory's Door in a bit, but first, let's get to know James a bit better:
One thing that I think is a defining trademark of your work is your ability to captivate a reader so quickly. Is that your intention when you write or something that happens organically?
You know the author who says, "I feel more like a scribe than an author."? That's me. For the most part I'm simply transcribing the movie that's playing in my brain. (Good thing I have amazing editors that can help me shape that mess.)
You have the most dedicated readers. Why do you think that is?
I think because both my readers and I are after the same thing: More freedom. More life. We want to be healed, step into our destiny with boldness, and see the epic things of this life not only on the page, but in our lives. So my readers and I are on this journey together.
Are you a romantic at heart? When you answer this, remember I know the story about renewing your vows on a secluded island beach. In fact, can you give us a glimpse of that special moment?
Fine, Heather. Call me out. Make me confess. Yes, I most definitely am a romantic. I'm one of those schizophrenic guys who loves Braveheart and Gladiator, but can also get caught up in a chick flick very easily.
That day (renewing my vows with Darci, and our sons) was magical. The day started with my sons and I going on a stunning scuba dive together (their very first time) and ended with this amazing ceremony on a secluded beach in Fiji. We of course spoke our vows to each other, Micah officiated the ceremony and did the "Maaaaahhhwage" bit from The Princess Bride (hilarious), and Taylor sang Darci's and my song. The most favorite day of my life yet.
I’m frequently asked how much of me is in my novels. How much of my personality, own experiences, etc. I’m sure you get the question as well, James. How do you answer?
The short answer: Everything. The longer answer: An author friend told me a few years ago, “My novels are simply my personal journals in published form. The issues I’m going through, the journey I’m on, the freedom and healing I’m searching for …”
Exactly. That’s me too. If I can’t imagine it, I can’t write it. And to imagine it means I have to have gone through struggles and victories similar to what my characters have faced, or have at least wrestled with the issues in my mind and heart. So I draw deeply from my own life when I write my stories. If you’ve read my books, you know me.
You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
Only four? Wow. Tough. First on the list without question would be C.S. Lewis (did you say they had to be alive?) Lewis has been my biggest influence as a writer. Here’s a guy who wrote fiction, non-fiction, and excelled at all of those forms. Not to mention he’s one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century.
I’d probably send an invite to Ted Dekker. Reading his early books gave me hope my kind of stories could find an audience, and in one of those fun perks of being an author, Ted and I have become friends. His brain works somewhat similar to mine so the rapid fire ideas we’d develop would be tremendous fun to brainstorm on.
Next would be Stephen Lawhead. When I first discovered Lawhead in the mid 80s I was blown away. Page turning novels with deep spiritual significance even though his stories weren’t overtly Christian. My deep, deep, dream (so deep I never told anyone but my wife) was to someday do what he was doing. Stephen has become a friend as well, and because he’s so different that me, I know he’d make the retreat an extremely memorable experience.
For the fourth member of my retreat I’m going to bend the rules slightly and invite Allen Arnold, the former Sr. Vice President and Publisher at Thomas Nelson Fiction who signed me there. He’s become one of my closest friends and helped me brainstorm Soul’s Gate, Memory’s Door, and Spirit Bridge (the third book in the Well Spring series out this coming May). He loves story and is brilliant at shaping novels from both a macro and micro level. So I’m going to call him an honorary author.
Wow, that would be a weekend to remember. Hang on, be right back, I need to make a few phone calls.
What creepy crawly or critter do you most fear?
Oysters when they’re raw. Can’t do it. Can’t even think about ea ...
How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write?
Two ways. First, I want them to be wildly entertained. When I get notes from readers telling me they couldn’t put a novel down, I’m thrilled. I love getting immersed in a great story, and when readers tell me I’ve done that for them it makes me smile. Second, I want them to be changed. To be set free, to see God in ways they’ve never seen him before. I want them to find healing and restoration. I want to make people think. When readers say they’re still pondering my book a month or two months after reading it, I feel like I'm being who God has led me to be.
How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
My beliefs have been stretched. Significantly. As you know, I write about the supernatural things in the Bible, and bring them into modern society. Things that clearly happened in scripture, but aren’t so common these days. For example, in my current Well Spring series, characters teleport.
Since Soul’s Gate and Memory’s Door released, I’ve had multiple people I know—not strangers—tell me about modern day teleporting. They’ve also spoken about a kind of soul travel similar to what happens in my books. They’ve showed me jewels they say fell from heaven. Gems I’ve held in my own hands that have been tested by jewelers that say the gems are not made of anything on this earth.
So here I am writing about things I think are fiction, which intelligent, well-spoken, mature Christians are telling me are real. What do I do with that?
Let’s examine the teleporting idea a moment longer. It’s crystal clear in scripture that this happened again and again. So why can’t it happen today? I can show you in the Word why it could happen today, can you show me where it couldn’t? Consequently, I have to open my mind to the possibility that God is way bigger than I ever thought He was. Which is a very good thing.
If you could bring one character to life from your own books, who would it be and why?
Tough question! It’s like asking which of my sons is my favorite! But I think I’ll have to go with Reece Roth from the Soul’s Gate, Memory's Door, and Spirit Bridge. He’s tough, yet extremely tender deep down. He’s wise, strong, powerful, yet vulnerable and sometimes makes poor choices—like all of us. He’s genuine and I know I could learn a great deal from him.
Please tell us three random things we might not know about you:
Describe your novels in 5 adjectives (don't be modest, please)
Is it true you've voiced all of the audio version of your novels yourself?
Tiz true. It's been so fun to voice the different characters, and narrate my books the way I heard them in my head.
Tell us a little more about Memory's Door
Memory’s Door is the second novel in my Well Spring series and as well-received as Soul’s Gate was I think people will like Memory’s Door even more.
The stakes are higher, the lows are lower and the battles are bigger. There were a number of scenes that brought dust to my eyes as I wrote them, and that’s always a good sign that I’ve captured a few elements that will go to the deep parts of people’s hearts.
Here’s the back cover copy:
The prophecy brought them together. But the Wolf has risen, and now their greatest battle begins.
The four members of Warriors Riding have learned to wage war in the supernatural, to send their spirits inside people’s souls, to battle demonic forces, and to bring deep healing to those around them.
But their leader Reece is struggling with the loss of his sight. Brandon is being stalked at his concerts by a man in the shadows. Dana’s career is threatening to bury her. And Marcus questions his sanity as he seems to be slipping in and out of alternate realities.
And now the second part of the prophecy has come true. The Wolf is hunting them and has set his trap. He circles, feeding on his supernatural hate of all they stand for. And he won’t stop until he brings utter destruction to their bodies . . . and their souls
Although you can tell from the above, the novel will have some epic moments, the heart of this story is regret. What do we do with our regrets? How do we get free of them? At the time I wrote the story I was going through a period of having to face my own deepest regrets, so those trials were interwoven into the story to a great degree.
What are you working on now?
I’m doing the final galley check on Spirit Bridge (May 2014) which is the third and final book in the Well Spring series. I'm about halfway through the first draft of my next novel after that (a standalone) which has what I believe is a mind-blowing concept. Plus I have a major project I’m working on that I can’t say much about. Yet. (If folks are interested, they can go to my website and sign up for my newsletter and they’ll find out more as soon as I can tell them.)
Do you have any parting words?
Step into your dream, whatever it is. Large, small, whatever you’ve longed to try, jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. I’ve learned God’s definition of success and ours is very different. Ours is getting that book contract, or opening a restaurant that becomes a hit, or selling that painting for a lot of money, but God’s definition is simply to try. Risk it. Try it. In the scope of eternity the trying is what counts, not the outcome. (Parable of the talents anyone?) Consequently we can’t fail if we make the attempt. So jump. I’ll see you in the air.
Thanks, Jim! Stop by anytime.
A few of the places you can pick up the books (available in all formats) in the Well Spring Series:
Where you can connect with James:
I hope you’ve enjoyed the interview and will take a
moment to check out James’ great books. Before you go though, you’ll want to
write down this part of the clue: "do what we do.” Now head on over to James’
website for stop #29 HERE.