James Russell's novel The Mason Jar is now on sale.
childhood and undergraduate years
James Russell Lingerfelt grew up on a ranch in northeast Alabama helping his dad and brother doctor cattle. Lingerfelt was an average student in high school but excelled in literature, gravitating toward Emerson and Thoreau due to their romantic portrayals of the North American countryside. He served in the Student Government and started at point guard on the varsity basketball team.
He first attended a community college through a full tuition theatre scholarship, building sets and acting in the Broadway musicals Annie and Big River. He worked as an extra in Dawson's Creek (starring Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes, James Van Der Beek) and Tim Burton's Big Fish (Ewan McGregor, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito, Miley Cyrus). He majored in Psychology and worked two jobs: the college maintenance crew where he scrubbed toilets and mopped floors, and as a bookkeeper at his hometown bank. Having a close relationship with his parents and brother, he journeyed in-state to Auburn University where he and his brother were roommates.
James Russell's brother is Dewey Wayne Lingerfelt, a chemical engineer and lead singer for the award winning Texas country music group, The Dewey Wayne Band. His mother raised her sons as a stay-at-home mom, and is now a retired middle school math teacher. His father worked as a manager for thirty years at a tire factory, maintained the farm, and even served as their hometown mayor.
At Auburn, Lingerfelt completed a BA in Marriage & Family Counseling with independent studies in 19th century British Literature/Poetry and the theolgical writings of CS Lewis. He joined the university lacrosse team and they won two consecutive conference championships. Lingerfelt volunteered with international humanitarian organizations every summer for the next ten years; joining relief teams in Jamaica and Romania, medical teams in Mexico, and a homeless men's soup kitchen in Scotland. In 2005, he spent a summer in Morocco assisting Berbers build village homes while studying Arabic and Islam under Muslim professors to better understand Christian-Muslim dialogue.
Lingerfelt wrote his first book as he left Auburn, The Warrior of Ephes Dammim: When Teenagers Overcome their Giants. Written as a pamphlet to instruct teenagers in how to maintain their identity and integrity in high school, the book was published by the small literary press, Choate Publishing. Over a course of two years, the book became one of the highest selling books in the company's history. The following year, when the publisher requested to run a second print of the book, Lingerfelt refused, saying he no longer agreed with most of the book's message.
Lingerfelt completed a Masters in Ancient Judaic & Christian Studies at Pepperdine University with a focus in Hebrew Wisdom Literature and Exegesis. Writers and theologians who influenced his life are Jewish scholar Harold Kushner, Oxford scholar and Bishop of Durham, N.T. Wright; the late Yale Chaplain Henri Nouwen; and anti-Nazi, Christian martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. While at Pepperdine, he volunteered as a mentor and counselor at Camp David Gonzales; a juvenile delinquent rehabilitation center in Los Angeles County. After completing his Masters, Lingerfelt spent a year in residence at Friends University studying Patristics and the works of St. Augustine.
After Pepperdine in 2006, he journeyed to East Africa and counseled genocide refugees in Uganda, and taught English at Made-in-the-Streets, a street children's rehabilitation farm in Kenya. Upon his return, Lingerfelt completed a low budget documentary titled Made in the Streets of Africa. The non-profit now uses the documentary during their annual fundraisers. He then enrolled at Fuller Theological Seminary to begin his PhD in Intercultural Studies where his emphasis was Children at Risk among Arab-Muslim Youth. While there, Lingerfelt maintained a 4.0 GPA. After his first year at Fuller, feeling burned out, he resigned from missions and seminary study, and applied to work as a ranch hand in northern Colorado. During his hiatus, he read The Ragamuffin Gospel by the former Franciscan priest Brennan Manning, and they met at Lake Arrowhead in December 2007. After a lengthy conversation concerning purpose in spiritual and third-world poverty, Lingerfelt re-engaged in humanitarian efforts (Egypt '07, Mongolia '08, Syria, Israel and Palestine '10, Liberia '11) but has not returned to seminary.
In 2010, Lingerfelt served as an American representative at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Conference in Beirut, Lebanon which focused on Christian-Muslim dialogue among youth peace movements. In Liberia, he wrote, produced, and directed a low budget documentary on microlending for the Peachtree Presbyerian Church in Atlanta. The church now uses the documentary People Who Make a Difference at their annual missions gala.
Lingerfelt serves on the board of directors for LifeBread and taught two years as a visiting professor in Ancient Judaic Studies at Lipscomb University ('07-'09). He was awarded the Lily Endowment for his work with street orphans in 2006, and his documentary, Made in the Streets of Africa, is now used as material for human rights and social activist courses in a number of universities across the States including Princeton and Fuller seminaries.
In May 2010, Lingerfelt resigned from teaching and lived off $12,000 a year for two years to finish writing his first novel, The Mason Jar. A coming of age love story, The Mason Jar was distributed globally in December 2011 through the publishing division of The William and Keats Group. Lingerfelt spent five years writing the novel. HarperCollins offered Lingerfelt $40,000 plus 20% royalties for The Mason Jar and a sequel novel, but Lingerfelt refused since he couldn't keep the film rights. Best-selling romance author Diana Bold said she was "blown away" by The Mason Jar and award-winning children's book author Nicole Weaver stated in a review, "Lingerfelt's book reads like one, long, beautiful poem."
In 2012, he finished a producing and screenwriting internship at the Emmy award winning production company Revolution Pictures in Nashville. After studying Hollywood screenwriting instructors (Will Akers, Robert McKee, Blake Snyder, and John Truby), Lingerfelt wrote the screenplay for The Mason Jar which was edited by Will Akers and James Breckenridge.
currentThe Mason Jar feature film is scheduled for pre-production in 2015 and to be released in cinemas nationwide in 2016. Lingerfelt will serve as Writer/Producer. The film is written and will be directed in the same dramatic and romantic tones as The Notebook (Ryan Gosling, Rachel McAdams, 2004) and Pride & Predjudice (Keira Knightley, Matthew Mcfadyen, 2005).
Lingerfelt is represented by The MacGregor Literary Agency and divides his time between meetings in Southern California and his family's ranch in north Alabama, where he works and writes full-time. His blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective, reached over 5.1M views in just two years of existence and currently averages over 5K visits per day.
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