Today’s interview is with a writer, prophet, radio host, and all-around passionate follower of Christ. I invite you to spend a few minutes with us this morning getting to know James H. Carpenter Barnes.
Good morning, James. Can you begin by telling us a little about yourself?
I was born in the city of Chicago, raised in the state of Mississippi until I started school. Later, I returned to Chicago and grew up on the south side. I enjoy good books and movies, and my greatest joy is doing anything with my wife, Wendy. I have a Ph.D. in Theology, I enjoy the history of the ancient world, and relish in this thought: God has a plan for man.
What is your educational and spiritual background?
After high school I attended Kennedy King Jr College, DePaul University, and Logos Bible College. I then went back to school for computer programming. I was born again June 30, 1982 at the age of 27; the same age my guitar hero Jimi Hendrix died. I have been ordained as an evangelist and a prophet. For a season I was blessed to travel and minister as an evangelist. As a prophet, I have been assigned to local churches in various areas and regions usually just for a season, then the Lord leads me elsewhere.
How did you get into writing? Why are you drawn to it?
I always loved the adventure of reading. As a child, I read from a large box of books my mother was given by the wealthy Jewish family she worked for. I decided to begin writing shortly after my born-again experience. Something came alive within me, an urgency to write incessantly. I later understood God was teaching me to write by his Spirit. The ability to write and to be decent at it comes from two things… reading a lot and writing a lot. I did both from 1982 to 1991, at the juncture in time when I began to attempt my first book. The book was entitled There is an Ensnared Generation: They Must Be Set Free. This book was to have been a non-fiction work. Sadly, the time was not yet right for me to complete such a work.
How did you choose your style or genre?
I continued to make notes and outlines for teachings I would conduct on subjects revolving around spiritual development and the coming age of corruption of our society. So, in reality, although I did not finish that first book I continued to develop the subject matter for many years and taught on it on many occasions. The Lord God chooses his classroom with great wisdom and elusive humor. He taught me his principles through his word…I was taught of his way through the challenges endured and the blessings received.
Do you think God has a purpose for your work?
November 25, 1993, while attending a Thanksgiving Day church service, the Spirit of God spoke to me as plainly as any man ever has. He said, “You are my prophet.” I responded, “Lord, I don’t want to be a prophet, people think prophets are crazy.” The Lord spoke again: “You don’t have to call yourself that… but that is what you are.” I noticed there was a woman sitting in the front row watching me, eyes fixated on me. She was someone I knew to be serious about God. She’d been sitting on the front row of the auditorium, now she was alone, as was I. She stood and began moving away from her seat. As she walked toward me I thought, Oh no, now what? She stood before me, pointed one index finger at me and spoke these words: “God said, ‘You are my prophet whether you accept it or reject it.’ You are God’s prophet. Many of your friends will walk away from you, and you will walk alone.” This began my journey as God’s prophet and gave birth to the purpose of my writing: to express the heart of Father God to his creation.
How did you learn/perfect your craft?
By reading and writing a lot, and by studying books on writing by Stephen King and Sol Stein.
Do you write other things besides books?
Yes, I have a blog which I began in earnest until I was seduced away by the lure and responsibility of radio and social media promotions. Got to get back to that.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourself and/or the writing business since you decided to walk this path?
I have learned if you don’t love writing for its creative power and inherent beauty, don’t embark upon the journey. There are other ways to make money; writing should not be entertained as an avenue just to make money. The small percentage who do attain great wealth do so while maintaining their love for the craft. Just ask the gifted but impoverished artist or musician; many would do it for free.
Who/what are your biggest influences?
The Spirit of God and other writers who are gifted to create another reality right on the page using compelling narration, visual description, and passionate dialog. Be they known or relatively unheard of, it doesn’t matter. The genius of their creativity cannot be denied or ignored once the cork has been removed from the bottle, their prose flowing wine to intrigue, beguile and intoxicate the reader. Those experiences inspire me to push on, even enduring another re-write.
What are your goals when you write a book?
To be honest, my primary goal is to finish what I’ve been inspired to write. I don’t plot ahead or outline my fiction. I prefer writing in a linear fashion. The story line and the characters are allowed to breathe, develop, expand, stand up, and walk. I then follow them down the path as they create their world, recording the description, narration, and dialog of their journey as best I can.
How do you hope your readers will respond?
My hope is they will hold fast to the end while enjoying the ride and learning the lessons embedded within the story.
Do you have another job or do you write full-time?
Yes, I work as an Environmental Specialist. At one time I also worked simultaneously as a mortgage loan originator. I decided to give it up to devote more time to my writing.
Do you have other hobbies or interests?
I play guitar and co-host a weekly radio program with my wife, Wendy. The show is called JW/FUZION – Inspiring Conversations. It airs every Thursday at 6:00pm CST on the Artist First Radio Network.
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and publishing and how do you cope with it?
Getting that book into the hands of the reader. According to stats, between 600,000 and 1-million books are published each year; these same stats say 85% of the people in our society desire to write a book. I cope by doing my best efforts to market the book. I believe once you’ve done your best…there’s not much left for you to do.
Do you produce books on your own or do you have a team? How did you develop your support team?
I had a publisher for Between the Ticks of the Clock. I will probably go with them for the follow-up as well, so the team was my publisher. For my non-fiction work, I prefer to self-publish.
Do you attend a church? Can you tell us about it?
Yes, I attend Family Harvest Church. My pastor is Dr. Robb Thompson, who has published about 37 books, a man of God who walks in tremendous love, humility, wisdom and humor. The people at FHC are good God-loving people. That’s prized above all else for Wendy and I.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t stop writing…don’t stop creating…don’t stop believing in your story. There are eyes and ears waiting to read and hear the story only you can tell.
Can you tell us about your future goals?
Future goals…to grow as a writer, expand our radio audience then launch that platform into television. In short, to be the voice of God in the earth I was born to be.
How can readers contact you?
James, it was fantastic to learn more about you and your passion for writing and sharing God’s word with others. I sincerely hope your books hit their intended marks and that lives will be transformed. Readers, please visit James on his website and check out the radio show—it’s a great sharing and learning tool and he and Wendy host some wonderful men and women of God.
Blessings to all!