Wednesday, April 21, 2010
My day job is helping authors and businesses market themselves through my company Barefoot Marketing. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my amazing wife and our two incredible teenage boys. Want to know more? Here are a few links:
Web sites: http://www.jimrubart.com/ and http://www.barefootmarketing.com/Home/
Facebook: James L. Rubart
Jim, I've read ROOMS. It's one of my favorite reads of the year. How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific 'what if' moment?
I’m so glad you liked it, Ane! When I was a teenager a little ten page pamphlet My Heart, Christ’s Home had a big impact on me. For years I thought what if you took that story and put it on steroids? I mixed in elements from some of my favorite movies and books like It’s a Wonderful Life, The Screwtape Letters, The Matrix, etc., along with some romance, and out came ROOMS.
A lot of strange things happen to Micah in the book. Did anything strange (or funny) happen while researching or writing your book?
I definitely had times where I felt under severe spiritual attack and out of those experiences came what I feel are some of the more powerful scenes in the book.
ROOMS is your first novel. Every novelist has a journey. How long did it take you to write ROOMS? How long was the road to publication?
ROOMS started as a short story in the mid 90s which sat dormant on my laptop for years. My deepest desire was to write a novel, but I was too afraid to leap off the cliff. All I did was dabble until 2003.
One day my wife said, I’m going on a fast, I don’t know why or for how long.” After three days, I had one of those exploding light bulb moments. I told her, “I know why you’re fasting. I’m supposed to finally get off my hind quarters and be a novelist.”
She laughed and said, “I’m hungry and you get the answer?”
At that point I got serious, realizing God was offering me a great gift and had invited me to step into my destiny if I wanted to. I did. A few months later as Darci and I had dinner with some friends, one of them basically said, “God has you on the track to getting published; His favor for this to happen is on you.”
With that confirmation I went on a tear and finished ROOMS in late ’05. In March of ’06 I went to my first writing conference. By July, three agents were interested in repping me—none of them offered me a contract, but it was highly encouraging.
I signed with a fourth agent that fall and he shopped the manuscript. The consensus from the pub houses was, “This guy can write, but he’s an unknown and this book is a little out there.” So I started to work on my second novel.
In the fall of ’07 I met with David Webb (at the time Executive Fiction Editor at B&H) who had loved ROOMS, but rejected it because B&H was just launching their fiction line and it was tough at that point to take a chance on an unknown author.
He smiled and said, “I’ve read 200 manuscripts since I read yours, and yours is the one I can’t get out of my head.” So David took another run at it, and I was offered a contract in June of ’08.
You create wonderful scenes I had no trouble visualizing in ROOMS. Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
I don’t know if this is typical, but often I feel more like a scribe than an author. When I write, I let my imagination go and soon I’m watching a movie play in my mind. I simply write down what I’m seeing. (No, I didn’t do drugs when I was younger.)
While reading ROOMS, I was able to suspend my disbelief completely. Yet often, novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole with an implausible plot. How did you avoid that in ROOMS?
I think because I set the story in two well-known locals (Seattle and Cannon Beach, Oregon) it makes the story feel genuine.
Plus the fantastic things that happen occur not only in the home but outside it as well, giving a feeling of authenticity.
What's the most difficult part of writing for you? Characters? The plot?
It’s getting the plot right. The characters just show up in my head. I see them, hear them speak, so I simply write it down. But because I download scenes from the movie screen in my mind sometimes at random, it’s easy to wind up with plot holes that need fixing.
How did you overcome it?
For ROOMS I had a friend with an extremely analytical mind who challenged me on the twists and turns. Then my amazing editor Julee Schwarzburg refined the story arc and plot even further.
For Book of Days I hired an outside editor before [it went] to B&H to work through the synopsis and plot in detail. It was a tremendous help.
What's next for you?
Book of Days will release in January 2011. It’s the story of a man who goes in search of God’s book—described in Psalm 139—that has recorded the past, present and future of every soul on earth. Then comes The Chair in the fall of 2011, the story of an antiques dealer, who is given a chair he comes to believe was made by Jesus. For the fourth book I have two ideas I’m toying with at the moment.
And I’m working on a number of projects for novelists who want to know how to market their fiction more effectively.
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
I write in a secret room you wouldn’t find unless I told you where to look. I’m serious. Our home was built in the late 80s when the style was to have a twenty-foot ceiling in the entryway (this is outside my secret room).
For years I looked at that space and said, “What a waste. Wouldn’t it be cool to put in a floor?” It would give an instant eight foot by eight foot room; the perfect writing spot. So one day I did it. You get to the room through a tiny door in the back of my youngest son’s closet. The criteria for my family to interrupt me while I’m in the middle of writing is (lots of) blood or fire.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Never typical—which I love. Because I own a marketing company, some days are marketing for other authors or businesses, some days are marketing for myself. Some days are writing, some days are taking and picking up my youngest son from school.
Do you prefer creating or editing? Why?
Editing. I love the rush of creating, but when I’ve polished a scene to the point where it makes me get emotional—happy or sad—rereading it, I get a deep feeling of satisfaction.
What are a few of your favorite books (not written by you)?
The Chronicles of Narnia are at the top, along with almost everything else by Lewis. Loved Desire and Waking the Dead by John Eldredge. Arena by Karen Hancock blew my mind. I loved her four Guardian King books as well.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
Barf it out. Kill the editor the first time around and get that initial draft on paper. Will 40% of it be wasted bytes on your computer? Yep, but that’s okay. You can always go back and revise. But it’s really tough to polish up words that don’t exist.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Most men (and women) live quiet lives of desperation and go to their grave with their song still in them. (Henry David Thoreau.)
That’s not how God designed us.
He designed a specific destiny for each of us to step into. But he won’t force us. For years I stayed in the shadows, peeking at my destiny that danced in the sun, but I let Fear hold me back. Don’t. Step out. Live a life of risk, live a life of freedom. Whatever your calling is, live it strong.
On a rainy day in Seattle, young software tycoon Micah Taylor receives a cryptic, twenty-five-year-old letter from a great uncle he never knew. It claims a home awaits him on the Oregon coast that will turn his world inside out. Suspecting a prank, Micah arrives at Cannon Beach to discover a stunning, brand new nine-thousand square foot house. ANd after meeting Sarah Sabin at a nearby ice cream shop, he has two reasons to visit the beach every weekend.
When bizarre things start happening in the rooms of the home, Micah suspects they have some connection to his enigmatic new friend, Rick, the town mechanic. But Rick will only say the house is spiritual. This unnerves Micah because his faith slipped away lie the tide years ago, and he wants to keep it that way. But as he slowly discovers, the home isn’t just spiritual, it’s a physical manifestation of his soul, which God uses to heal Micah’s darkest wounds and lead him into an astonishing new destiny.
For a review of ROOMS, click here and scroll down.