Blaine Langberg is a Harvard-trained orthodontist who released his debut book, Journey of a JuBu, this year. Filled with powerful, wise, and practical lessons on finding balance and cultivating mindfulness, Journey of a JuBu is an enchanting story that delights as it teaches.
Bookish Fame had the pleasure of chatting with Blaine Langberg, where he talked about his book, his inspiration behind writing, and more. Read the author interview here.
- Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m Blaine Langberg. I live in Connecticut with my wife and three daughters. By day I’m an orthodontist, straightening teeth, and at night I do stand-up comedy and I love to write. I’ve written two movie scripts and Journey of a JuBu is my first novel.
- When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
In college I was a Mathematics major and an English minor. Although that’s an odd combination, I enjoyed the challenge of solving math problems and indulging my passion for reading and analyzing great books.
I began writing creatively after I finished my orthodontic residency in 2002. During the day I’m busy at my orthodontic practice. At night, after spending time with my family, I immerse myself in writing and watching a good television show or movie.
- What inspires you to write books? What are the things which catch your attention?
I’m inspired by everyday events. I like to see the humor in stressful and awkward situations. It’s pretty obvious I draw from the comedy and observational humor of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. I take inspiration from books like The Celestine Prophecy and Way of the Peaceful Warrior.
A great story with complex characters always catches my attention. I love to get swept away in a multilayer plot from a book, television show, or movie. I’m impressed when a writer takes a villain and turns them into a protagonist or turns a protagonist into a villain. Breaking Bad, Narcos and Game of Thrones are examples of shows which captivated me.
- Tell me something in brief about your book?
My goal is to have an entertaining book that will make people laugh. The other aspect, that I worked hard on, is to educate the reader about meditation and spirituality. I don’t consider my book overtly religious, but rather a way to explore deep spiritual questions. My day is made if the reader is both entertained and educated.
This book was therapy for the stress of turning 40 and balancing the work/ family dynamic. JuBu was a great way for me to explore spirituality, indulge my love of pop-culture and make mid-life anxiety relatable for people. Although I wrote the book really for myself, I was inspired to keep moving forward when I realized my beta readers were connecting with the story. I guess people find humor in an anxiety plagued, snarky dentist.
- How do you organize yourself, as a writer, to keep track of the world you’re writing about?
I’m a very detailed oriented person. As an orthodontist I work in millimeters, so, I like to be organized. I have an outline and a spread sheet of the characters in front of me when I write. I also jot down ideas on sticky notes when they come to me during the day, and I add them to the story at night.
- How did you approach the writing process this time around? Do you have a set routine or does it vary? And how do you manage it with your full-time work?
As I said before, it gets busy balancing work and family life with my writing. So, I don’t sleep a lot! In all seriousness, I try and write at least 5 days a week, sometimes just a page, but it’s important for me to keep exercising that part of my brain. I prefer to write by hand, but it’s really inefficient. I will pen 5 to 10 pages and then type them into the computer. Though it’s a lengthy process I find it produces the best results.
I am super thankful for Rachel, my wife. She’s incredibly patient and supports my passions like writing and hiking. After a day straightening teeth, writing at night is an outlet for me. I’m a night owl which stems back to dental school when I used to stay up very late after a long day in class and clinic to prepare my work for the next day.
I find it’s valuable to do writing workshops which helps to focus and motivate me. For the first book I took courses at Westport Writers Workshop in Connecticut. Now I work with Julia Bobkoff and Tom Fiffer at Christmas Lake Creative.
- How do you think being a writer has helped you as a person?
Writing for sure has helped me as a person. I want to create relatable, fun, and interesting characters. To do that I have to get into the mind of a vast array of people. I need to determine how they’re feeling and how they’d react in different situations. Getting into the mind and body of my characters has helped me understand other people’s perspectives. For instance, when I was writing a funny husband and wife scene—trying to make it relatable, I had to dig deep for the wife’s reaction. This exercise helped me see things from my wife’s view point.
- Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I love reading. In high school and college, I worked in B. Dalton Bookstore and gobbled up books nightly. My favorite book is Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. I admire Philip Roth and I especially loved Portnoy’s Complaint. I also connected with Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo and The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. These books helped me realize there’s a market for exploring spirituality through a modern fictional story. Some nonfiction authors I enjoy include Bill Bryson, Jon Krakauer and David McCullough.
- What does being a successful author look like to you?
At this point, writing doesn’t pay the bills. Despite how the book depicts an unhappy orthodontist, I like my day job. I worked hard to be an orthodontist (22 years of schooling!) so I don’t see myself giving that up any time soon. However, I have a passion for story-telling so I continue to write and do stand-up comedy. While I would love to sell a lot of books, I’m realistic that it’s a very tough way to make a living.
Success as an author is to have a lot of people connect with my book. I want to be seen as both a full-time author and an orthodontist. Now I’m focused on balancing seeing patients while writing a sequel and promoting my book.
- Any advice you would like to give to aspiring writers?
My advice is to be patient with yourself when doubt and negative thoughts creep in. Easier said than done, but do your best to focus on having a positive mindset.
When the ideas aren’t flowing or I get down on myself for thinking my story isn’t good, I take a break to reset my mind and let the thoughts percolate. Whether it’s taking a hike, going for a run or reading a book—resting my mind is the best medicine. Taking a writing break when my mind tries to sabotage my progress helps me come back stronger during tough writing times.
- Are we going to hear more from you in the future?
My dream is to adapt Journey of a JuBu into either a television series or a movie. The characters lend themselves to being on screen and taking a personality of their own. The book is filled with dialogue that pops off the page and it would play out well in the movies or on TV. I pitch it as The Big Bang Theory meets Entourage.
*We wish Author Blaine Langberg all the best for his future endeavors.*
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