Today, we're talking with James E. Robinson about his nonfiction book titled Prodigal Song. He's also recently signed a contract for his first novel. We'll have him back later to discuss that book.
I’ve recently finished my first novel, and it’s being shopped around by a local agent. Actually, although I do a lot of non-fiction writing related to my ministry, my hidden dream since childhood has been to write novels; it’s my favorite kind of writing to read, and if I could write fiction for a living, I’d do it.
What would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
Well, when people ask me what I “do,” it can get a bit complicated these days! I have been a professional songwriter for years, and as a staff writer for a major publishing company I wrote mainstream country songs for a decade. These days I write the songs I want to write, record them the way I want to record them, and use them as part of the ministry my wife Teresa and I began several years ago, ProdigalSong. I combine my writing and singing with teaching about “addiction as idolatry” in our society, in an attempt to help equip the church to become a better-informed healing community for the lost and lonely…both outside AND inside the church walls.
In recent years, I returned to school and became a licensed counselor, and now spend part of my time in private practice. All this has enabled me to communicate and teach about addiction. My own family of origin was decimated by addiction and mental illness, and I eventually left home and entered into a world of addiction and darkness. The disease killed my mother, and nearly killed me. That’s the reason I wrote the memoir, and over time the ministry has evolved out of my own life experience.
Tell us about your family.
I got clean and sober in 1989, and met Teresa three years later. I know that she and our two children are nothing les than miracles. For someone who came close to dying more times than I can remember, having this family around me really continues to amaze me on a daily basis. Teresa is a trained singer, and performs with me whenever possible in churches around the country. My daughter is twelve, and my son is eight. I have the best wife and kids on the planet…or am I just biased?
Have you written other nonfiction books?
I’ve just completed a book that details the ProdigalSong Ministries approach to healing the broken spirit. It’s called Coming Home to a Place Called Hope, and we’re planning to self-publish at first simply because we are in need of the books in our ministry work. An accompanying workbook, co-authored with my dear friend and ministry volunteer Sherry Thomas, will combine with the other book and be used as tools to leave behind with churches after we perform and teach weekend events. These materials will help the church have a better understanding of the issues, and assist them in forming small recovery groups within their own congregations.
What other books have you written, and where can the readers of the blog find them?
The memoir is the only one available at this date, from Amazon, my web site, etc. However, the new book/workbook should be available soon. Anyone interested in learning more, or in finding both my writing and my music CDs, can visit our website and sign up for our e-mail newsletter. Then they’ll be the first to know when new materials become available. I also have numerous articles, many of which have been published on Christian websites such as CrossWalk and CBN, available on the site.
Do you have any other books in the works right now?
I have a second novel underway, still in the early stages. I hope to concentrate more on fiction in the coming months, though I will continue writing articles and such.
Where on the Internet can the readers find you?
Our ministry site is www.ProdigalSong.com, and my literary agents are currently putting together an “author page” as a link, one we can hopefully have up and running soon.
What kinds of hobbies and leisure activities do you enjoy?
I love reading, cooking, walking in the woods, fishing…art of all kinds, museums, concerts…none of which I have much time for! With two young children, I try to spend most of my free time with the family. They grow up too fast…so I spend a great deal of time these days on a trampoline!
God had already drawn me out of mainstream songwriting and into the ministry of sharing my gifts with others. Slowly, He began to give a shape to the ministry, which at first made little sense to me. But now I see He was grooming me my entire life for this kind of work. ProdigalSong uses music, writing, singing, teaching, and counseling to bring a message of hope and healing to those who might feel unworthy of love. As we traveled and spoke, many would come to me following a show and ask if I had my testimony available in written form. Finally, I knew it was time for the lifelong writer who had lived in my head since childhood to sit down and put words to paper. The whole experience was profoundly healing for me; I always encourage my counseling clients to write about their own lives.
What do you want the reader to take away from the book?
My story, really, is each of our stories. Each of us has, in one way or another, wandered from our Father’s house, and gone off on various prodigal journeys. What I’ve discovered is that even though my story might be more dramatic than some, and less than others, many more people both inside and outside the church have connected to my journey than I at first imagined possible. The book has often struck a nerve with many people who came from all sorts of dysfunctional family systems. Though not everyone has struggled with addiction, most of us struggle with some form of idolatry…anything we USE or DO that separates us from the love of Christ. So, God has taught me to paint the word ‘addiction’ with a broad brush stroke. I hope each reader can see a bit of themselves, or of someone they love, as they read my story.
Thank you, Jim, for spending this time with us.
Readers, check out Jim's ministry on his web site.
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