Sometimes you need to interview an author with something special. As a guy who cut his teeth on interviews, I am always looking for a new way to get a certain somebody to spill their beans. This is Tom Ufert as you have never seen him before. Naked? Almost. Tom was wearing clothes when he sat for this interview– but he really placed himself on show. So… what are we waiting for? Let’s see how Tom Ufert handles cutting edge.
Q) What makes “Adversity Builds Character” such a special read?
Adversity Builds Character is a special read for its bold, frank, and honest self-reflection of the numerous adversities I’ve faced. Yet, in the end, I overcame them through the support of a core group of caring individuals and an unshakable faith in God. That combination gave me a hopeful/positive attitude to NEVER SURRENDER because I saw first-hand from my mom’s struggles how despair whittles away at one’s core self-confidence. ABC tells that story, and its sequel, Crossroads To Character, expected to be released in 2014, brings my tale full circle and how it can truly inspire others to lift themselves up.
Q) What makes you the perfect inspirational writer?
After twenty-one years of coping with not just one life altering disability but three that all hit me in the same year, combined with alcohol/drug/sex addictions that I mistakenly used as crutches to deal with my adversities, my impression is that I just may have some inspirational hope to convey. Any one of these challenges is enough to rattle your mind, much less rock your psychological foundations. Coping with each, overcoming them all, and maintaining a strong positive mental attitude is no less than miraculous. Therefore, just maybe, others might garner a glimmer of hope and an enriched perspective to handle their own adversities.
Q) What is inspirational to you?
There are many things that I find inspirational, each one specific to particular moments or experiences in time. Music, art, quotations, true life stories, etc…have all inspired me at different times. Therefore, with today’s technological multi-media world, I find using audio/visual/graphic combinations the most potent means of sharing my inspiration to others. On a personal note, my mom and godmother/grandmother were both the direct inspiration for my writing. Public figures like Churchill, Ghandi, Golda Meir, Anwar Sadat, Dr. King, Nelson Mandela, former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer all have been political inspirations, and recently, 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai’s voice gives me hope.
Q) A drop of rain falls from the sky—what do you think?
First off, it is one of God’s cleansing tears. Secondly, it is a further example of life’s miracles on this planet when one considers literally the millions of planetary bodies throughout the universe where water cannot possibly exist. Yet again, how awesome and miraculous it is to have a SINGLE drop of rain fall through the myriad atmospheric obstacles and bless my day by being detected by me, and me alone. It’s one of those daily miracles that we are so often too damn busy to notice that reinforces my faith in something greater than myself…coincidences like that can’t be cosmic chances, but maybe are God’s subtle way of touching our lives for the better.
Q) How does a cloudy day make you feel?
Granted, there are times when cloudy days make me feel “blah” and even contribute to an encroaching air of depression. However, following literally weeks of smouldering heat and dry humid air here in Texas, they are welcomed old friends bearing blessings of comfort and soothing cures for the wretched torments of my body and soul.
Q) What does a bar of chocolate taste like to you?
Most times it tastes like a piece of gut wrenching freeze dried coffee which I cannot stand. However, white chocolate resurrects cherished childhood memories of joyous Christmas holidays and fond remembrances of my now deceased beloved godmother/grandmother’s homemade Divinity candies.
(“The next part of this is word evaluation- I will say a word and you will say the first thing that comes to mind.” Tom readied himself and nodded- we began.)
Deer – hunter
Jazz – New Orleans
Pig – the book Animal Farm
Memory – the song from Cats
Pat Benatar – the song I LOVE ROCK AND ROLL
Frank – my deceased “adopted” grandfather Frank Bolte and the wonderful times we spent in Perry Square, Erie, Pennsylvania when he played bass trombone for the Stilkowski Concert Band.
John Kerry – dedicated outspoken public servant since his famous speech as a returning Vietnam vet, failed presidential campaign, U.S.Senator, and Secretary of State.
Dreams – visions of how we wished the world , our lives and people around us would be.
Love – a trembling heart, raspy breath, and churning stomach that all occur when you are in the presence or a cherished memory of someone who changed your life forever.
( “Now we are going to just do a few follow up questions,” I say with a smile. Tom just smiles and readies himself for the next phrase of our interrogation.)
Q) What makes a man happy?
Success, security, stability, family, and tranquility.
Q) What makes a woman happy?
Enduring love, laughter, tears, home, subtle touches, smiles, mementos.
Q) What is character? Those singular qualities that are regularly practiced when no one else is around to notice, but pervade your everyday life in words, acts and deeds.
Q) What makes you Tom Ufert?
A singular notion, that though I am but a small cosmic speck in the grandeur of creation, my life makes a difference, and without me the lives of others would be less colourful and God’s majestic tapestry would be incomplete. I have a part to play in humanity’s drama, and it is my choice to make it a Greek Tragedy or a historical Academy Award winning lifetime achievement to be pleasurably watched for generations to come.
Q) How does it feel to be alive?
Speaking as a person who has been directly affected by death and the victim a self-inflicted near death experience, I can honestly say, “Life on earth is hell to live through, but it certainly is worth the trip when pondering the alternatives. I am not proud of everything I’ve ever done, that’s for sure. But everything that has happened has to me has made me the man I am today and of that I am uniquely proud.” IT’S GREAT TO BE ALIVE AND I HOPE AND PRAY MY LIFE HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE.