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Interview with Blaine Langberg

Q.1 Tell us a little about yourself?
A. I live in Connecticut with my wife and three daughters. By day I’m an orthodontist, straightening teeth, and at night I do stand-up comedy and I love to write. I’ve written two movie scripts and Journey of a JuBu is my first novel.

Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?
A. It was a long road writing the first book, so I gave myself a break to recharge. I also needed time to concentrate on marketing the book. Recently the characters from JuBu are speaking to me again, so the answer is yes, I’m starting the sequel, JuBu, Part II.

Q.3 What inspired you to write a Journey of a JuBu?
A. I began this book as therapy for the stress of turning 40 and balancing the work/ family dynamic. JuBu was a great way for me to explore spirituality, indulge my love of pop-culture, and make mid-life anxiety relatable for people.

I was inspired by the humor of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. I wanted to inject observational humor and quirkiness into the book. On the spiritual side, I took inspiration from books like The Celestine Prophecy and Way of the Peaceful Warrior.

Q.4 What do you want readers to take away from your book?
A. First off, my goal is to have an entertaining book that will make people laugh. The other aspect, that I worked hard on, is to educate the reader about meditation and spirituality. I don’t consider my book overtly religious, but rather a way to explore deep spiritual questions. My day is made if the reader is both entertained and educated by my book. 

Q.5 Do you see writing as a career?
A. At this point, writing doesn’t pay the bills and despite how the book depicts an unhappy orthodontist, I love my day job. I worked super hard to be an orthodontist (22 years of schooling!) so I don’t see myself giving that up. However, I have a passion for story-telling and would love to keep balancing seeing patients with writing.

Q.6 How do you select the name of your characters?
A. Great question, the names have a strong connection to my personal life and my spiritual journey.  For example, the narrator’s name is Jacob and in the Bible, Jacob is married to Rachel, and my wife’s name is Rachel. In the book, Jacob is married to Leah. If you recall, in the Bible, Leah is Rachel’s sister, another fun connection.

Jacob’s character in his book is Adam Freeman. Adam is the first-person God created and Adam is Jacob’s creation. Also, Adam is struggling with his anxiety and wants to be a “free man,” released from the inhibitions that his body is imposing on him.

My favorite name is Adam’s wife, Minnie. That is short for Minerva, which is the Roman goddess of wisdom. Minnie’s so patient and tolerant of Adam; she’s the real hero of the book. Plus, Minerva is in the emblem of Union College, where I met my wife, so that is a fun Easter egg I put in the book.

Q.7 To craft your words, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
A. I love traveling, and while I gain inspiration from it, I don’t need to travel to write. My thing is listening to music when I create.  It gets me in a good mood, helps me develop the characters and story, and provides a soundtrack for the scenes unfolding in my mind. Speaking of travel, while JuBu is set in my neighborhood, the sequel will take Jacob and Adam abroad to places I’ve visited.

Q.8 When was your last memorable learning curve?
A. It was hiking Mount Kilimanjaro a few years ago. I went with a group of 7 strangers and it was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. I learned that if you set your mind to something you can do it. There were times when I was going up the mountain that I wanted to quit and I didn’t think my body would make it, but I really pushed and challenged myself to reach the summit. I learned that with extreme mental discipline you can accomplish anything. And if I can do it, then I really believe anyone can.

Q.9 How do you deal with a lingering, creeping thoughts of doubts, anxiety, and fears?
A. I don’t fear very much in life. I deal with doubt and anxiety by pushing through them. If I’m doubting myself, I focus on having a positive mindset. With anxiety, I look at it as the ego-mind trying to sabotage me. It’s really hard but I try and separate out the two selves that I believe we all have, our animal self and Godly self. I acknowledge those negative feelings, then accept and release them.

Q.10 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
A. I have to admit that I do read my book reviews, especially since this is my debut novel. I get a rush of adrenaline when I read a positive review, but I’m human, so I obviously get bummed when I read a negative one. Not everyone is a Larry David or Jerry Seinfeld fan like I am, but thankfully the book has been well received.

Q.11 Who would you most like to thank for their involvement in your writing career?
A. First off, my wife, Rachel. She’s been so patient and understanding. I’m fortunate that she doesn’t give me a hard time when I take time to create. My love for writing and story-telling started under the guidance of Hugh Jenkins, my English professor at college. He supported my Senior project entitled, “Why is Seinfeld a Pop-culture Phenomenon?” which showed me it’s fun to write about what I love. And then I have, what I call my trinity of helpers for this novel. My writing mentor, Thomas Fiffer, helped me polish the manuscript and get it to the next level. Randie Creamer and DJ Schuette educated me about what it takes to turn your story into a novel.

Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
A. I certainly believe in writer’s block. When I get writer’s block, I need to take a break to let the thoughts percolate. Whether it’s taking a hike, going for a run, or reading a book - letting my mind rest is the best medicine.

I would love to say that I write every day, but with a busy work and family life, that’s impossible. When I finally sit down and write for myself I feel most alive.

Q.13 Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
A. Both! Sometimes it is very stressful for me to come up with ideas and I feel pressure, really from myself, to come up with something unique, fun, and entertaining. It can cause me a great deal of anxiety also and put me in a bad mood if I don’t feel that my story is going anywhere. However, when I sit down and the words just come to me and I have an idea that clicks and makes the story great, it’s such a rush and it makes all of the struggles I was going through worth it.

Q.14 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?
A. I like to write about different characters from different rooms in my house. I also have a “Rockin’ Writers Mix” that I listen to each time I write. And finally, like my character Jacob, I have a wicked sweet tooth. It’s not uncommon for me to scarf down a bag of Peach Rings, Skittles, and Twizzlers during a challenging writing session.

Q.15 What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
A. That’s a tough question. I think of my life in terms of chapters. So maybe giving this answer is cheating, but I can’t pick a favorite chapter. I am proud that I’ve been able to balance being a dad, starting my own orthodontic practice from scratch and of course, writing the movie scripts and publishing this novel is up there too. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention climbing Mount. Kilimanjaro. Sorry, that’s like asking me to pick a favorite child, I can’t pick just one. It wouldn’t be fair to the rest.

Q.16 Tell us about your writing process while you’re working?
A. I’m very detailed oriented. As an orthodontist, I work in millimeters. So, I like to be organized and have an outline when I write. However, I do jot down ideas when they come to me. Sometimes I have to force myself to sit down at night and just write. I prefer writing by hand, but it’s really inefficient. I will pen 5 to 10 pages and then have to type them into the computer. Though it’s a lengthy process I find it produces the best results.

Q.17 Can having an alter-ego help reveal one’s true self?
A. I think so. It helps with self-awareness and recognizing feelings. I find writing through an alter-ego helped me be less inhibited about expressing my quirks and human tendencies. Writing through an alter-ego may help you reveal what’s really bothering you.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. Abraham Lincoln. I finished a Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and admire him tremendously. The courage he had to lead a divided country is awe-inspiring. I also was struck by the fact that he preserved through depression to become such a strong leader. I admire that he had the confidence and strategic wisdom to include his rivals as members of his administration.

Q.19 What is your favorite book and why?
A. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. I really admire the honesty of the narrator, Holden Caufield. When he called people phony, I just thought to myself, I get what he’s saying.

Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?
A. I feel that we’re in this life for a short amount of time, so I wanted to pursue my creative passion while making a living. I’m grateful to my wonderful family for being so supportive along the way. If I can show my daughters that it’s possible to live your dreams while fulfilling your responsibilities then I’ve left them a powerful legacy. As the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said “Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.”

Share your social account links -
Facebook - @journeyofajubu
Twitter - @DrLangbergOrtho

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