I met Justin Blackburn over a decade ago, at a poetry event in Columbia, SC, around the end of 2004. We quickly became friends. I’ve always known him to be a talented writer, and over the years his talents have expanded into the realms of comedy and music. He has done many a stand-up comedy performance and poetry reading, and has also been busy in the studio producing songs.
Justin is currently working on a book called The Bisexual Christian Suburban Failure Enlightening Bipolar Blues, which is still looking for a publishing home. He has also produced an album with his band True Christians called Born From Above, and is working on a cartoon called Failure with Katey Hughes.
Brian Barr: Thank you for taking the time to do this review with me, Justin. Now, currently you’re working on your novel The Bisexual Christian Suburban Failure Enlightening Bipolar Blues, and the first part is available for free online. Can you tell everyone what the book is about and what inspired you to write this novel?
Justin Blackburn: On the surface, it is about a guy who is kicked out of his family for being gay and different. Below the surface, it is about a human being’s transformation from intense fear of the world and self hatred to incredible empowerment and a deep understanding that he is creating his own reality.
BB: Now, this book isn’t your first project you’ve worked on publishing. Can you tell us about other books you’ve written, and where they’re available?
I have six books published. Five books of poetry and a novel. Each book is a different expression of myself. From confronting the “dark” parts to sharing the joy of my soul. All that information is at my website www.justinblackburnwrites.com/publishedworks
BB: A lot of your writing that I’ve read challenges a great deal of societal norms and is very direct with its subject matter. What are the major themes you focus on in your work?
My focus is to empower the human being. I feel we are all these incredibly, beautiful individuals that spend too much of our time focusing on the negative parts of ourselves. So I enjoy tuning to the beauty of the human. Even in the crazy, fucked up, confrontational shit I write there is always an opening for the love to flow in because that is what I believe in my soul. I write from my soul.
BB: On top of being a writer, you are also a comedian, and you sing in a band called True Christians. Out of these three artistic pursuits, which is your favorite?
Great question. To be honest I think making the True Christians record with Scotty Leitch and Abby Trufino was my favorite thing I’ve ever done because it was filled with constant joy and fun. Also making a great cohesive record is something I’ve dreamed about since I was six and heard The Beatles.
BB: I’m impressed by how diverse the album is, from doo-wop elements to alternative country and rock. How did the production of this album go and what are your main goals now that you’ve released the album on Bandcamp?
It went amazing which I can hear in the album. My goal is for people to hear it, to love it, to connect to it, and have it inspire them.
BB: You’re also working on a cartoon called The Failure at the moment, with a talented artist named Katie Hughes. You’ve also told me that Mat Cothran, the singer and musician of Elvis Depressedly, is a voice actor in the show. What are your plans for this cartoon and what’s like making a cartoon?
My plan is to get on TV. It is so much fun. Katie Hughes is amazing. She is animating the reel we are sending out to networks and others. It is so much fun to write these episodes with Katie. It is really just making fun of the stuff in society we find ridiculous like the pressure people put on each other and themselves when it comes to success and failure which is the basis for the show.
BB: I know you’ve written a few novels and poetry collections. Do you ever have plans on working in short stories? Since you’re venturing into the cartoon world, would you also ever write for a comic book?
I love writing short stories. I’d love to write a comic book. Want to write one together?
BB: Maybe! Who are your favorite books and authors? Your favorite musicians?
Wow. I’ve had so many over the years, so many incredible people have inspired me so much. Right now I’ve been reading a book called “Creating Money” by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer. It is teaching me a lot about the vibration of money and the vibration I’d like to be on to receive more of it. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of Kanye West’s new album “The Life Of Pablo,” the new Elvis Depressedly “California Dreamin”, Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” that I found for five bucks at Walmart in that crazy bin, and lots of Prince.
BB: Outside of the current novel you’re working on, do you have any other writing projects in progress?
I’d love to write a Nicholas Sparks type love story.
BB: Since you have been published before, what have you learned from your previous book experiences that are helping you now?
Believe in yourself. Don’t sell yourself short. Trust your passion. Love people. Be kind. Be direct. Real dreams come true.
BB: Once again, Justin, thank you for the interview! Any final words for readers before we close out? Maybe words of encouragement, or advice.
You are beautiful. You know it. You deserve the best life for yourself. You deserve all your dreams to come true. Thank you.