Again another author assumes control of the transporter. You know, all they have to do is tell me the destination and I could get us there in no time. But, Justin is a country boy and they have their own of doing things, so I suppose I’ll go along. With visions of Deliverance in my head, I’m pleasantly surprised when we wind up lounging on the back porch of a log cabin with a view of a lush meadow and a large pond that makes me want to beak out the tackle box. The sun starts to set and the colors off the clouds and reflected off the water are just beautiful. Maybe Justin will let me throw a few casts for some catfish later on. After the interview of course.
1. Who are you and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
To be honest, I would say that I am most likely not the most fascinating person in my town, but then I don’t seek to be. At the same time I will say that I am a very unique person who one would be hard pressed to find another like. I am what might best be described as a contradiction of traits. I am a cowboy who, if dropped in the middle of the woods, could find a specific tree based solely on memory, but who loves the urban core and has never felt so at home as when I worked in that area. My favorite movie is Reservoir Dogs; my friends and I all had nicknames from the movie that I still get called at times (mine was Nice Guy.) However a very close second is The Notebook, which I cry every time I see “If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.” I have discussions that are hours long on things like particle and quantum physics, but my passion is social work and therapy. I am on some levels the very epitome of a man’s man, but the truth is that I think largely from what is viewed as the female perspective on many things. I am a chef, but one of my favorite foods is gas station chili dogs. I guess what makes me fascinating is the fact that no matter what category someone tries to place me in, they are only a very small part right, because the truth is that I am also the exact opposite most times as well.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
While I am often called a relationship expert, my past could largely be seen as a guide of what not to do with respect to relationships. I often joke that I have had every kind of bad relationship, but I have never had the same bad type twice. I was the victim of domestic violence, emotional abuse, cheating, I have moved too fast, moved too slow, based love on sex; you name it, I have made the mistake, with two exceptions: I have never hit or cheated on anyone. That, though, is what in part does make me an expert and also what allows me to understand the situation in a way that many who have only had one long and happy relationship never could. As a person who has a master’s degree in social work and works as a therapist, I can see the situation from a clinical side the way someone like Dr. Phil does, but as someone who has been through it, I can understand what it is like to blame yourself for abuse, what it’s like to think you were cheated on because you weren’t good enough, or to be in a bad relationship and feel like that is all you deserve and fear leaving because you don’t think anyone else will want you. I guess while I probably would’ve been voted the least likely to be a relationship expert, I am an expert largely for the same reason the best substance abuse counselors are so effective, they battled addiction themselves.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as a NASCAR driver?
For me writing has always been an escape, but also a way to express emotions in a safe way where I was neither right or wrong, but simply was. With respect to “The Good Guy, the Bad Guy, and the Ugly Truth”, it was largely written as a way to help myself to assess all of the relationship problems that existed in my past. As I wrote the book ‘for others’, I addressed my own issues leading to an understanding of myself and my own worth. In another book I am currently working on (The Missing Brides) which is a Supernatural Crime Novel, for lack of a better genre, the magic of writing is so evident to me. I sat down an wrote an outline, but as I started writing, it was as though the story became this living, breathing thing that had its own free will. I had decided the protagonist would meet and fall in love in a certain way, but as I wrote it was like he had his own idea of with whom and how he would fall in love. That is the amazing part of writing and why I think I became a writer rather than, say, a NASCAR driver. Writing allows for you to let go and it is free to go where it wishes, and as the story is told, it goes places you could never imagine. NASCAR, while I love driving fast and as a country boy think rubbin’ is racin’, the drivers must always be in control of the situation and can never allow free thought in their work, also no matter how many laps there are in a race they always end at the exact same point where they started.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
That is a hard question since there are so many great authors. I know that I would want Mark Twain there, J.D. Salinger I would invite, but if he is anything like Holden I would guess he would blow it off and go to a night club, as would Hemingway most likely. In that case, I would take Stephen King, Homer, Dante, Jules Verne, Steinbeck, Mary Shelly, and Dr. Seuss and go meet them at the club. Maybe as I was smoking cigars with Mark Twain, we could get William Shakespeare to clear up if he wrote his plays. After that, maybe I could play a few games of chess with Sun Tzu, and follow that with a long ride with Louis L’Amour. I know it is a very diverse crowd, but like I said, I am not easily defined. Each of these authors are the ones that I have on the shelves at home and each in some way has played a part in the way I not only write, but the which I view the world.
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
If you were stuck on a desert island, I would hope you have a more useful book than mine, such as the Marine Corp survival guide, but for a long layover my current book (The Good Guy, the Bad Guy, and the Ugly Truth) could be a great help to someone. The book helps for a person to better understand who they are and to deal with the baggage that they carry with them, no pun intended related to traveling. The book I spoke of earlier (The Missing Brides) that I am working on I think would be a great book for the fact that it is a very easy read and people who have read what is completed thus far have actually been mad that I didn’t wait until it was finished before I let them read it.
6. Share your process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
I actually have a very unorthodox process for my writing. When I am actually putting pen to paper, or rather fingers to keys, I have to have a Science Fiction show on television that I have seen before, generally Stargate SG1 works really well. The reason for this is that the largest amount of my idea generation isn’t done by sitting and thinking, but much more when my mind is occupied with other things. Also, since I have already seen the show and know exactly what it is about, I can write and not worry about getting lost when I stop to think. With respect to book ideas, I think that a person should very much write about what they know.
In the fictional stories I have and am writing each of the places that I have set stories are places I have been. I do have to admit though a few times I have written about places I have never been, and this was done as I didn’t want to be confined by what I saw in those areas. As for characters, each of the protagonists I have written are a part of me, as I said earlier, however, I don’t necessarily always have control over the direction they take, but maybe that is because I am a rather unpredictable person.
My writing schedule is highly unpredictable at best due to being the executive director of a relief organization that is in the process of implementing a new program to help survivors of domestic violence. The best writing seems to come out when I am driving or late at night. I often use the talk to text option on my phone to email myself a lot of my writing, unfortunately my country accent doesn’t always work that well with my phone, so I end up rewriting a lot of it. Late at night has historically been a great time for me to write as well, it seems that often the more tired I get the more easily the writing and ideas seem to flow.
Editing or rather proofreading is something that I am not great at, but fortunately my fiancée is an expert of. She edits pretty much everything that I write and is so intent on getting it right that she often ends up memorizing what I have written. With respect to rewrites, I haven’t had to truly rewrite anything. I do often reorder items within a therapy book so that it flows easier, or with my book on Christmas facts I needed to add some new information that I had learned, but beyond format, there is generally not a large amount of rewriting that is done. I think this in part is due to the fact I often will think and rethink anything that I write a dozen times before I actually write it down.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
I have been asked this by a number of people and my answer is always the same…just start writing and find your voice. What makes an author great in my own opinion is that their writing is fueled by passion. That passion can give a person a great idea, but unless they start writing they will never find that voice and also will never find the process that works best for them.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?
Live, laugh, and love. Live life to the fullest and never take a single day for granted. Laugh, like you are a child and no one is around to judge you. Love others as though you have never known heartache, and receive love as though it is the first time you have ever known it.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?
I will never stop writing. I have actually a number of projects that are going on currently, not just with the writing of new books.
I am currently finishing the fact checking and reference citing for my book on the history of the traditions of Christmas. I am also writing a children’s book that is a story I have had in my head since I was a child, as well as planning to rework two screen plays I have written and talk with friends who are a part of IFC about producing it. In addition to these, I am also working on a book very much along the lines of “The Good Guy, the Bad Guy, and the Ugly Truth” with respect to self-help, and just yesterday, started contemplation on a new book that is designed to help people with dating. Lastly, I have my novel, which I spoke of earlier, “The Missing Brides,” and another book I began writing, which is about the difference in the way which returning soldiers were treated with respect to Vietnam, WW II, and the more recent wars, as well as what returning home was like for the soldier and what it took to adjust back to stateside life. Both of those are on a laptop that is awaiting repair, those two projects are temporarily on hold as a result. So, no, there is no worry that I will stop writing anytime soon.
Outside of writing I am working on the implementation of a therapy program that I created based off of my book in domestic violence shelters in various parts of the United States and developing a program for my own organization that also aids the survivors of abuse as well.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
My personal website is the best place to get a hold of me and stay up to date with new projects. http://www.justinnutt.com/. You can also subscribe to me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter (MSWNutt.) There are also Facebook pages for two of my books and Acts of Random Kindness (ARK).