Interview by Brock Eastman
Featuring The Five Times I Met Myself
What if you met your twenty-three year old self in a dream? What would you say?
Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.
So when he discovers his vivid dreams—where he encounters his younger self—might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.
Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go of . . . and his greatest fear is it’s already too late.
"If you think fiction can't change your life and challenge you to be a better person, you need to read The Five Times I Met Myself."
-Andy Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of How Do You Kill 11 Million People, The Noticer & The Traveler's Gift
Brock: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
James: Ideas never come to me the same way twice and this story was no exception. The muse this time was my wife, Darci. She and I were talking one evening when she said, “God knows what we’re going to grow into ten years from now. Wouldn’t it be fascinating if we could talk to that person we’re going to become?”
I agreed and started writing a book where my protagonist’s future self came back and talked to him about he would become. But in the end we found it was much more fascinating (and powerful) if a present day man went back and began a relationship with his younger self. Because don’t all of us wish we’d known back then what we know now? And wish we’d done some things differently? And wonder how our lives would have turned out if we had?
Brock: Tell us about the main characters. Who are they? What makes them unique?
James: You’ll love the main character, Brock! (And not just because his name is Brock.) We get to know two versions of Brock Matthews, one that is 52 in present day, and one that is 23, who the older Brock meets in his dreams.
Then there’s his wife, Karissa (again, we get to know both the older and younger versions) who is slipping from Brock’s grasp in the present day and he doesn’t know how to get her back.
Plus Brock’s brother, Ron who Brock competes with in every area of their lives.
Toss in an enigmatic doctor of psychology who seems to know more about what’s going on with Brock than he’ll say, and Brock’s best friend Morgan (who starts him on his fascinating journey back to his younger self) and I think we have a fairly interesting cast of characters.
Brock: Give us one fact about each main character that no one else knows.
James: Brock’s desire when he was a kid was to play college basketball, but it died when he was young and he’s never told anyone why.
Karissa's dream was to be a dancer, but no one knows this.
Ron longed to be a professional golfer.
Brock: In three words what is this book about?
James: Hope. Restoration. Freedom.
Brock: Do you outline the entire book before starting, or do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
James: Most of the time I have nothing more than an overarching idea and just dive into writing the story however it comes to me. In this case, the book was a more complex than usual, so I had to build a fairly complete outline to start writing from. But it was interesting to see the multiple twists and turns the story took as I wrote it. I like that because I figure if I can surprise myself while I’m writing the story, even when I’m supposed to know where it’s going, when my readers get to the book, they’ll be surprised as well.
Brock: How do you believe this story relates to the lives of readers?
James: I believe there’s a part of all of us that wishes we could go back and tell our younger selves what they should have done different, whether we’re 20 or 40 or 60 or 80 years old. We wonder how our lives would have turned out if we’d made different choices. And we want hope and restoration and freedom in the midst of examining those choices we did or did not make.
I wanted to explore those questions and give readers the chance to search through those questions in their own lives. By the end of the novel I want to offer them hope and restoration for the choices they would or wouldn’t have made, if they had the ability to do things over.
Brock: Any certain research required for the book, or is it all from your imagination?
James: All from my imagination. That’s what makes fiction so much fun to write. I see a movie playing in my head and just write it down as it comes to me.
Brock: How long does it usually take you to write a single book?
James: Depends on the deadline. If it’s six months, it’ll take six months. If it’s due in eight weeks, then it’s eight weeks. Once I get the idea bubbling through my brain I’m able to write fairly fast. What most people don’t realize is how emotionally and physically exhausting writing can be. It’s like running a marathon. There’s massive satisfaction and triumph in finishing, but at the same time, it takes a lot out of you. So when I’m done, I spend a day or two comatose on the couch, trying not to drool too much.
Brock: What do you hope readers take away from the novel?
James: Andy Andrews describes the book as being life changing. That’s exactly my hope, that people’s lives would be changed after reading The Five Times I Met Myself. I’ve had people say my books are not fluffy reading. That they stick with people months and years afterwards. I hope that’s true. I want my stories to seep into people’s minds and more importantly their hearts, and encourage them for a long, long time.
Brock: Expound on the spiritual themes in the book.
James: It’s extremely tempting to try to get our validation from our spouse, our children, our career, our accomplishments, our friends, our accolades ... everything except Jesus. Yet the only validation that lasts is from the Lord. This is at the heart of The Five Times I Met Myself and a truth I’ve learned only recently myself.
Brock: What are some of the strongest influences on your writing?
James: My wife isn’t a big fiction reader, but she’s brilliant at nuance and relationship. So she shapes my novels to a greater degree than she realizes. I ask her if something rings true or not, and she’s always spot on with her counsel. Extremely grateful for her.
Brock: What’s your view on e-books and the new publishing revolution?
James: Love e-books, love my Kindle (even though I’d still chose a physical book over an electronic one if I had to choose). I love that it’s now easy for anyone to publish a book in electronic or physical form. Hate the fact that most people think they’re ready to publish a book before they are. I put myself in that camp. I thought I was ready when I wasn’t. Writing is hard. Writing well is even harder.
Brock: Describe your feelings when you opened the box and saw the first published copies of your very first book.
James: I suppose I’d be able to recall those feelings easier if I hadn’t been dealing all that strange moisture collecting in my eyes. Seriously, Darci and I sat on our front porch together and I struggled to believe it was real. A dream since I was 11 years old, so when it came true in my mid 40s it was a wonderful, surreal moment.
Brock: Coke or Pepsi?
James: They still sell Pepsi?
Brock: Favorite place to vacation?
James: Oregon coast.
Brock: Favorite season?
James: Give me an endless summer. Can’t wait to get to heaven and check that box.
Brock: Favorite color?
James: Green till I was ten. Blue ever since.
Brock: Favorite pasta dish?
James: Toss some pesto, a bunch of shrimp, some angel hair pasta, mushrooms, roasted pine nuts all together and I’m feeling very good.
Brock: It sounds like you and your wife have a great relationship. Other than her, tell me about two or three of the other most important relationships in your life?
James: Without question I have to mention our two sons, Taylor and Micah. I dedicated The Five Times I Met Myself to them by saying, “What dad could be prouder?” So true. I’m crazily blessed, because Taylor and Micah are not only seriously outstanding young men, they are two of my best friends.
Brock: I know it’s years away, but any thoughts about what you want on your tombstone?
James: Haven’t really considered it, but I’ll take a quick stab: “He loved Jesus, Darci, Taylor, and Micah with his whole heart and when others were around him, they felt more free.” Thanks so much for having me, Brock!
Author Website: JamesLRubart.com
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