Justin C. Trout - Writing Thoughtful Stories
Justin C. Trout is a resident of Virginia, where he is a Licensed Professional Counselor. Justin is the author of the Enaya series and is a co-host of the popular podcast, Spare Time. Justin spends his time with his five children, wife, and dogs named Blue and Indiana Bones. As our Author of the Day, he tells us all about his book, Where We Are.
Please give us a short introduction to what Where We Are is about.
Where We Are is the story of Amelia, who finds out that her husband is about to leave her. Fearing that she will be a single mother raising her two kids, she decides to give God the situation. A mysterious man named Abner appears, and walks her through her trials, and helps her reveal the secret to why her husband is feeling the way he does.
Tell us more about Amelia. What makes her tick?
Amelia is the female protagonist. She’s strong and independent and believes that she can handle anything on her own. She’s strong and very personable, leaving powerful impressions on the people that she meets. However, like all humans, Amelia has her flaws. She struggles with denial and fear of abandonment. When she is put to the test, she does everything she can to correct her path.
What inspired you to write about a woman who discovers that her husband is about to have an affair?
The conversation came from a discussion with my wife, Bethany. One night when watching a movie, “The Time Machine,” with Guy Pearce, my kids asked me if I had seen it in theaters. I told them I did. The next question was, “who did you see it with?” Being a teenager and going to the movies a lot, I went by myself. You’re thinking 2002, and I’m 14. My parents had divorced, and my mom dropped me off at the movies. Bethany, having heard this story before, told me what this made her think of. She said, “I sometimes think about you sitting in the theater alone, and if I could, I’d go back in time and buy you popcorn and a drink. I wouldn’t tell you we’d get married in the future. I wouldn’t say anything. I’d buy you popcorn and a drink and maybe sit in the theater behind you just so that you would know it would be okay.” Hearing this, I felt empowered to write that as a scene. So when I wrote Where We Are, I decided to have this wife discover that her husband was going to commit suicide and what was leading up to was his history of depression that he struggled with. After writing the first draft, Bethany said, “maybe that’s too heavy for this book.” So I settled on him planning to have an affair because he can’t juggle the emotional rollercoaster of wanting to be accepted and loved and being a provider because of some of the incidents in his life.
Readers say your story includes a lot of soul-searching. Why did you create it this way?
I wanted to write a book that gives people hope. I think we are always looking for a way to cope with things that we struggle with. That can be anything. Everybody is different. In writing this book, it’s for people that feel broken. It’s to encourage people to strive to seek help when they needed it and to understand that they’re never alone. I wanted it to inspire people.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Oh my! What a good question. Let’s see. I’m a children’s therapist licensed in the state of Virginia. I’ve been in a few independent movies. I have a podcast with my coworkers, which we only have like eight episodes, and I play guitar.
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
Amelia and Abner. Amelia, for the fact that I’m a male and it was challenging writing a book from a female perspective, which I wanted to do. So, I had many discussions with a lot of women, and they all had different answers. It was challenging but rewarding at the same time. Then Abner was challenging to create. He’s a southern African American male with a strong taste for pecan pie. Abner means “Father of Light,” and in these books, he is God, coming to help the protagonist in the story. It was challenging because you know so many people might not like that God is a character in the book or might like it, but hate the fact that he loves pecan pie. So, they were both challenging to explore, but I did it, and I think people enjoyed it, and I’ve been asked to write more, so I have three more books featuring Abner after Where We Are.
Does your story have a hidden message? What do you hope people will take away from this?
I don’t think so. I think the message is clear, hope and faith and trust and persistence and a positive attitude. I want people to be inspired and hopeful.
What is your favorite phrase from the book?
Oh man, this is a tough question! I don’t know if I have a phrase, but there is a conversation between Abner and Amelia that I really love that happens near the end of the book. It’s pretty impressive and memorable.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
So I use Deranged Doctor Design for my covers and formatting. They have been very great to work with. They’ve done the covers to all 7 of my books out, including my young adult fantasy series, “Enaya,” which came out before Where We Are. I wanted the cover to be simple and straightforward. They sent me this, I asked people what they thought, and I left it at that. If any author needs somebody for their covers, I recommend Deranged Doctor Design.
Some readers say they cried throughout the book - was this your intention?
It wasn’t my intention, but it was inevitable. This book has some sad themes throughout it, and I think being a therapist helped me explore those themes. I cried while I wrote it at times, and many people have told me they cried while reading it. I think this book's most emotional aspect isn’t what the characters go through, but how they’re changed that relates to people and pulls on their heartstrings.
Did you plan to make this into a series from the start? How do the other books tie in with this one?
No, this was never meant to be a series. I wrote it and had people love the character Abner and want more. I never wanted to be a contemporary fiction writer, but the idea kept coming back to me. After it hit number 1 on Amazon in its category a few times through days I did promotions, and I saw how this book was impacting people, I decided to listen to them. Each book has a different main character, but some of the characters from the other books do make an appearance. The first four books have been released, and I’m currently working on the fifth.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
So, as a husband and a daddy of five children, my time is short. I try to write 2,500 words a day. I get up early, sit in my office, or write during a break or something. I try to meet that goal, and then I edit it. I work Monday through Friday and weekends off. Evenings are spent with my family. If they are busy doing something like watching a show I don’t care about, I write. I don’t watch a lot of television anyway.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on Enaya, Heart of Magic. It’s the fourth installment in my Enaya series. I just completed “A Slice of Pie,” which is the fifth book in my Abner series and will be coming out early this year!
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
Readers can hit me up at www.justinctrout.com and join my newsletter on the homepage. I have an author Facebook page, Justin C. Trout, and I’m on Twitter @JustinCTrout99 as well as TikTok. Yes! I’m venturing into TikTok to help with promotions. My TikTok is @justinctrout. Please email me at [email protected]. All my books are available on Amazon in paperback and e-book.