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James Rubart

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James Rubart Interview

by C.J. Darlington

"Don’t die with your music inside. For too many years I was too scared and insecure to pursue my dream. Jump off the cliff. Build your wings on the way down. (from an Annie Dillard quote.) It’s called faith." -- James Rubart


James L. Rubart is a professional marketer whose Jr2 Marketing company clientele has included ABC, AT&T/Cingular, and Clear Channel Radio. He is also a professional speaker, writes recurring columns for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and Christian Women Online, and is on the board of the Northwest Christian Writers Association. Jim and his wife and their two teenage sons live just outside Seattle, Washington.

Jim, you hold a degree in broadcast journalism and have made your career in marketing and advertising. How and when did the fiction bug bite?

Christmas ’72. My mom gave my sister and me The Chronicles of Narnia. At nine years old I was sucked into that world and never wanted to leave. Through C.S. Lewis’ brilliance the bug bit hard and never let go. Ever since I’ve wanted to try to do for others what Clive Staples did for me.

Did your years in those other fields help or hinder you in your creative writing endeavors?

Massive help. People sometimes say I had overnight success since I got an agent six months after I showed my manuscript for the first time, and a contract a year and a half after that, but I’ve been writing professionally—radio, TV, Web sites, etc—for twenty years which taught me a lot about the craft.

Where did the idea for Rooms come from?

Too many comic books as a kid. That and a little pamphlet called My Heart, Christ’s Home. It had a huge impact on me as a teenager and I always thought putting that idea on steroids would make an interesting novel.

Just curious… was this the first novel you’ve written or do you have others in a drawer someplace?

The drawer is empty. Even though I had little clue as to what I was doing, ROOMS is the first novel I attempted.

Rooms has been compared to Ted Dekker’s House, and of course The Shack. How would you say it compares to these books?

Great question, because while there are some parallels, ROOMS is pretty different from those books. House is Christian horror and everything takes place inside the house. The Shack is basically a long, fascinating conversation inside and outside the shack, and ROOMS is different from those two scenarios. It’s definitely suspenseful but not frightening, and there’s as much going on away from the home—in Seattle and Cannon Beach—as there is inside the rooms. If you mixed Field of Dreams, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Screwtape Letters, a splash of The Matrix, Disney’s The Kid, along with some romance all up in a big pot, you’d have ROOMS.

But I understand the comparison. After reading ROOMS, a friend of mine said, “Ah, now I know what genre you’re writing in, it’s the same as The Shack.” No, I’m not sure what genre that is either. Publishing 101 says you need to know your genre before getting a contract, but I've yet to figure it out.

Rooms by James RubartDid the spiritual takeaway of Rooms come about as you wrote the story or did you have it in mind right from the beginning?

Because I’d never written a novel I didn't know how it would turn out. I see a movie in my mind when I write, so I did little more than transcribe the film as it played out inside my cranium. I felt more like a scribe than a writer.

What would you say has been the hardest part about writing Rooms? Why?

I think the book will set some people free. It’s the thing I keep hearing from people who have already read it. And freedom is vehemently opposed by the enemy of this world. I definitely had to push through times that were brutal. Times I was tempted to give up where my amazing wife encouraged me to press on through the oppression coming at me.

What authors or books have had the most influence on you as a writer?

Lewis was/is a huge influence, along with George McDonald—who had a tremendous impact on Lewis (are you seeing a theme here?), and John Eldredge are just a few of the authors who have influenced me.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started writing?

When people say getting published is glacial, it’s not a metaphor. Okay, it is, but it’s a great one. I figured I’d write a book, it would be bought a few months later, and six months after that it would be on the shelves. Nay. As I mentioned above, my journey from finishing ROOMS to getting it on shelves was fairly quick, and it took four years.

Alright, confession time. If you’re game. What is your most embarrassing moment?

Oh, wow, you are brutal. I was 22 years old, working for a radio station in their news department. They sent me to cover the opening of the new Naval base in Everett, WA. The commander of the Navy was there along with other bigwigs. I got to the press conference late. The Governor had already started speaking when I arrived, but I had to get my microphone up on the stand, so I placed it up there as the ABC, NBC, and CBS, affiliates filmed away. Yep, I knocked over about three microphones when I set mine on the podium. Boom! Governor Booth Gardner stops talking, looks down at me and says, “Where are you working tomorrow?”

The laughter only lasted about 45 minutes. Well, it felt that long.

You have some fun hobbies, including photography, playing guitar, water skiing . . . and magic? Do tell. :)

I could never decide what I wanted to do growing up … so I did a little of everything. The photography, guitar, and magic all address my desire to create and entertain. The water skiing feeds my need for speed and adventure.

Do you have a photo you’ve taken thatMicah Rubart, James Rubart's son you’re most proud of? If so, describe how it came about, and if you’re up for it, we’d love to see it!

Probably a shot I took of my youngest son about three years ago. We were having breakfast before I took him to school and wandered down to a local park. I had him pose in front of the water. It’s not the most spectacular picture I’ve taken, but I love the way it captures exactly who he was at that stage of life.

You are a dad, author and marketing expert---in other words, one busy guy! Do you have any specific ways you balance it all?

I have successfully bent the laws of nature and created an extra three hours in each day. It’s wonderful. Actually it’s been a difficult transition cutting things out of my life I love, but it’s necessary in order to follow this novel calling (pun intended). I rarely golf these days, coffee with friends during the week is the exception, not the rule, I put the majority of my free time into hanging out with my wife or boys. As difficult as it is, I’ve had to put some friendships on hold or scale back the amount of time we spend together. A couple of times a year I go to eastern Washington alone for three or four days of solitude and refreshment. That’s been a huge part of staying sane.

I’m excited to hear you’ve recently signed a three book deal with B&H! Could you share with us what’s next for you?

Tip of the hat to B&H, they’ve been tremendous to work with and I’m thrilled to be one of their authors. Next? Book of Days in January 2011, 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 antique dealer who is given a chair he comes to believe was made by Jesus. The fourth book? No clue. Send any and all ideas my way!

Anything else you’d like to share with TitleTrakk.com readers?

Don’t die with your music inside. For too many years I was too scared and insecure to pursue my dream. Jump off the cliff. Build your wings on the way down. (from an Annie Dillard quote.) It’s called faith.

Who is Jim Rubart?

Follower of Jesus. Husband. Dad. Lives in the Pacific Northwest. High school class of ’80. Someone who hopes to make God famous.

What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?

When I was 1 ½ years old a table saw tipped over and crushed the fingers on my right hand. The doctors said they would never grow. Obviously God intervened and healed me. And I almost drowned; twice.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

Dirt biking and water skiing with my boys, driving my car too fast, sitting on the front porch with my wife talking, watching LOST—the greatest show in the history of TV (as long as they end it well).

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

Coffee, with almost as much Crème Brule creamer as coffee.

Three things always found in your refrigerator:

Crème Brule creamer (you saw that coming) milk jugs without much milk in them—two teenage boys, you know? Salads. Lot’s ‘o salads for my fit wife.

You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?

It’s always a debate, but Cameral Macchiato usually goes down in defeat to a White Chocolate Mocha.

What’s left unchecked in your “goals for life” list?

So many things; here are a few: Jump out of an airplane again. Be part of a church plant. Go to Italy for a month with my wife. Ride down the Oregon coast on a bicycle. Find a great couples small group. Go on a mission trip.

When was the last time you cried?

Yesterday. I was on our elliptical trainer watching the movie Invincible, the true story of Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale made the team out of nowhere in the late 70s. I’m staring at the TV and realized, just like Vince, the dream I never believed could come true has come true for me. For a few moments it gets really dusty out there in my garage.

Three words that best describe you:

Passionate. Optimistic. Adventurer.

What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?

Rebecca Saint James’- album If I Had One Chance To Tell You Something. I love her music.

Watch the trailer for ROOMS:

C.J. DarlingtonC.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.