Wednesday, September 2, 2009

TAKE TEN: Author Justin C. Hart

When it comes to talking about author Justin Hart it is difficult to do so without mentioning the passion he has for life and his debut novel. A native of Newport News, Virginia, Hart talks with Conversations about the role of faith in his life, what led him to write the book, the response of those who know him best and why he feels though life is hard that loving can be even harder. This is our conversation.

Justin, first of all congratulations on the release of your debut novel LIQUID SUNSHINE. Before we get into the book, tell our readers a little about who you are?I am a humble and fun loving young man from Hampton Roads, Virginia who currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. I diligently serve my church and community as a leader. I promote abstinence to singles of all ages, and I’m devoted to helping others find direction, purpose, and identity. I also enjoy spending time with my family and friends, reading, and participating in athletics. In addition to all that… I’m a writer and I love it.

When you were growing up did you see yourself being a writer? When did you first realize it was something you were interested in?
Being a young kid I didn’t think twice about pursuing a career in writing, because Architecture became a love for me in the 6th grade, but I used to always write my thoughts down; I remember that. Throughout high school and college I continued my passion towards getting a degree in the field of Architecture, still I was extremely consistent with journaling, poetry, and writing rhymes. Within my lifetime of 20 something years, I have written 3 short stories, I have pages and pages of poetry, and now I have published my debut inspirational fiction novel. I guess writing to me has always been an outlet of expression that somehow evolved into a dream. The love for writing has had a piece of my heart from when I was a youth and it hasn’t left me. It’s honestly a dream come true to hold my novel in my hand and hear the pages turn. It’s an amazing feeling to hear a dream come true.

Now that your first book has been released, was it a surprised to those who grew up around you that you are now a published author?
Funny you ask, Cyrus. I recently had a campaign party for my debut novel Liquid Sunshine in my hometown of Newport News, Va. and my family and friends received me with open arms. It felt so good being on stage, speaking about my book, and looking into the eyes of the same knucklehead guys and girls I used to go to grade school with. I wouldn’t say they are surprised because I’ve been talking about this book for the last four years that it took me to finish it, but I will say that they are extremely proud of their hometown friend. Extremely proud.

Go ahead and tell our readers a little about the book Liquid Sunshine.
Liquid Sunshine is a weather-shifting story about love, life, and finding the will of God. Narrated in hindsight and filled with wisdom, this story is truly an emotional roller coaster. With all the issues that love and life can bring, it is good to know that there is a purpose and a reason for them all. Jayden Rockaway, a charming senior in college, learns this the hard way when an unwanted third party stands in between him and his unstable Hispanic girlfriend, Lydea Mireina. After falling in love with his gorgeous companion, Jayden begins to regret his relationship more than appreciate it. Balancing school, his job, and his relationship with the Lord, his rain-filled season would ultimately turn out to be the sunshine that would grow him into the mature man that God had intended.

This love story examines the souls of three young adults, and reveals the hidden desires of direction, purpose, and identity. It captures the importance of forgiveness and redemption, proving how God can cause everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose.

I want to get into some of the themes in the book, Justin. One of the most important ones seem to be the issue of faith. How has your faith guided you in the direction you are now in?
Plain and simple, without my faith I would be lost in the world, still searching for direction, purpose, and identity. The moral behind Liquid Sunshine is finding the will of God, and what God revealed to me in the story line, which he has also confirmed in his Word is that “obedience” is what he wants… This is his will. But obedience has 3 separate dynamics; spiritual, physical, and emotional. Because I am so confident on what he wants from me, I recognize when I am off course. Jesus directs my steps daily, and I thank him for it.

In Liquid Sunshine you also talk about the temptations that befall all of us. Our young people are particularly at risk. What do you hope they get from your book?
This is the question I’ve been waiting for; this question right here. I hope the youth and young adult readers will receive a renewed perspective on love, life, and finding the will of God. Life is hard; and love can be even harder. But there comes a time when you want to learn from what someone else has been through, because you are tired of making dumb mistakes and learning from your own bad decisions. A young man doesn’t have to go to jail to know that he shouldn’t steal, he can learn from his brother’s experience. A young lady doesn’t have to have sex to know that STD’s and becoming pregnant are consequences, she can learn from her best friend’s experience. I am all about passing on wisdom and sharing what I’ve learned. I may be young at heart, but there is an old man living inside of me that is filled with insight. As young adults read Liquid Sunshine, my hope is that they will take an inward look at themselves and be motivated to change for the better.

As a first-time author I'm sure you are asked all the time which of the characters best represents you or do you relate the most to. How do you answer that question?
I would say I can relate to all of the main characters. They are all fictionalized and have been wired by many emotions that I used to struggle with. Jayden Rockaway, whom I speak through in first person, is the more spiritual and well rounded character. He is the protagonist that is given a command from the Lord, yet battles with himself to fulfill it. Lydea Mireina is Jayden’s girlfriend who is attractive, intelligent, yet very unstable. Her life is filled with the most rain amongst the main characters; however she makes a few good decisions towards the end of the book that place her feet right where God had intended. Jason Steele, the antagonist, is Lydea’s male best friend. He stirs up the story with conflict and causes constant tension within the romance of Jayden and Lydea. I love these characters. Sometimes they even keep me turning the pages, and I’m the one who wrote the book!

Was there anything that surprised you about the way the story unfolded?
Due to Liquid Sunshine being based on a true story, I would have to say yes. The “painting” or the epiphany that is given at the end of the book is worth more than silver and gold. Just knowing that God knew how the relationship would end from the very beginning, blows me away. God has a plan for all of us, to give us a future and a hope. He wants us to realize that all things do work together for the good of those that love him and are called according to his purpose. But due to our free will, in real life, our stories don’t always end up for our good…It’s only when we tap into his will, that we realize God is right there painting our picture.

Now that you have a book out, are you surprised at how much work actually goes into promoting it for people to know it's out there?
Heck Yes! If it weren’t for me being unemployed and out of my career I don’t what I would do… Promoting this book is a full time job. I need more than 24 hours. I feel like I could never spend enough time pushing my book. It’s endless. I need a street team; plain and simple. Thank you for being my street team Cyrus. I mean it… I would never want to do this thing alone. Never.

Thank you for your time, Justin. How can our readers find out more about you and the book online?
Currently my main website is where you can listen to a little bit of the soundtrack for my book and read excerpts and write in my guestbook. Also I am on Facebook as Liquid Sunshine Novel, Myspace as Justin Hart, and Twitter as Justinhart82. I will be pushing my video interviews and theatrical video trailers on Youtube and Facebook in the next month, so look out. I will be traveling to promote my book as the buzz continues to stir nationwide. If there are any questions, my readers can feel free to email me at or leave a message on my Facebook Liquid Sunshine Novel fan page. If my readers reach out to me, I will certainly reach out to them.

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