Andrew Robbins is one of the most fascinated writers in America heartland. His writings focus more in bringing awareness about the danger that we face everyday, although most of us seem to be unaware of it. Andrew Robbins is a writer who speaks from the heart. It is not a surprise that many of our readers often react positively to his columns that he regularly publishes here in CSMS Magazine. In order to give our readers a nicer glimpse of this fascinated author, CSMS Magazine decided last week to sit down with him for a dazzling interview. CSMS: It is a pleasure to have you at CSMS Magazine. Most of our readers may have already gotten used to your name and your writing since you are one of the contributors to this magazine. To start off, how long have you been writing and what encouraged you to choose this path?A.R.:I worked for the Department of Defense. My title was staff accountant, but my job was code development. Codes require titles, definitions and implementation instructions. This was my introduction to writing.January 2000 I began keeping notes. My workplace, the Major General Emmett J. Bean Center, was in the midst of a five-year renovation. Thousands of military, civilian, and contractor personnel inhaled toxins and carcinogens while this 1.5 million square foot endeavor dragged on.The U.S. government provided the contractor crew laboratory analysis stating the ceiling they were about to tear out contained no carcinogens. As unprotected contractor workers scraped from the ceiling what was soon found to be asbestos, our military and civilian personnel worked directly below. Immediately our employees became ill and I took a sample of the ceiling material to a laboratory for testing. This is how we learned amosite asbestos, one of the most deadly earthen-minerals mined and imported from South Africa, was being released into our breathable air.Further investigation revealed three separate occasions environmental engineers from Chicago, Indianapolis, and the City of Indianapolis’ asbestos inspector all failed to identify 155,000 square feet of amosite asbestos in the ceiling above our workforce.I vowed this calamity would be documented!CSMS: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?A.R.: I was born and grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.CSMS: We know that you are not only a writer, but also a writer with a cause, bringing awareness to your readers about safety hazards and hazardous materials. What made you chose this part?A.R.: I knew the workforce had been exposed to pulverize building materials. Laboratory analysis confirmed three different carcinogens (amosite asbestos, chrysotile asbestos, and fiberglass). I wanted to know what future health problems we faced. What symptoms, illnesses, and treatment options would we encounter? That is how the Medical Chapter evolved. I progressed into a focus-driven writer as my research screamed, “millions of people around the globe had developed and would continue to develop debilitating, life-ending preventable illnesses.”Over 4,000 minerals are known to exist. Not one is safe for you to inhale. Our lungs were designed to exchange gases not mineral particulates. When I observe an elderly person breathing with difficulty, I realize their lungs are full of inhaled “junk”. Had this stuff not adhered to their lungs, they would be fulfilling all their retirement dreams. The problem is not aging. The reason the elderly huff and puff is their lungs are clogged with junk and no longer provide sufficient oxygen for the body.CSMS: Your recently published nonfiction book, It Took My Breath Away, has received positive interest from our readers. It is a story that can really take someone’s breath away and can make one wonder if we are really safe anywhere. What finally motivated you to write this book?A.R.: As the Bean Center underwent renovation, many of us realized something was wrong. But, we had no tool to communicate our safety concerns to the senior executives. My purpose in writing this book was to provide that tool. Senior executives and employees are not experts in building renovation. How do we communicate workplace health issues without drawing a line in the sand?Let me tell you about Tom Heavyside. Tom was our executive officer, our second in command. As our renovation nightmare unfolded, I tried but failed to convince Mr. Heavyside that thousands of personnel were being exposed to toxins and carcinogens. I knew something was wrong but I had nothing in my possession to champion our cause. Tom told me, “bring me proof and I will intervene.” That is when my research began in earnest.The next time I met Tom was at the funeral of a co-worker who had died of heart failure at the age of fifty-three. Most people do not realize congestive heart failure may result from inhalation of earthen minerals. As Tom entered the funeral home we made eye contact. He came directly to where I was standing and as we shook hands, he said, “I bought your book! I read it twice. I highlighted it, and I finally understand the danger you tried to alert us to, we need to talk.”Three months later Tom Heavyside died of lung cancer.Managers and workers are often located on different floors. Mineral particulates move with airflow. Stairwells, elevators, and ventilation corridors provide these invisible fibers of death the means of transport throughout every building. Once managers realize their offices are no safer than yours and that following statutory guidelines gets everyone killed, then you have their attention.”It Took My Breath Away” should be read, highlighted, and safeguarded for future use.CSMS: Growing up, was reading and writing a part of you life? Did anyone in your household give the moral support needed to succeed?A.R.: My father was born in 1885. He could barely write his own name. My mother had a sixth-grade education. They observed that as each of their six children obtained higher educations greater employment opportunities awaited them. As I was the youngest, mother had the most time to influence me. Throughout my school years, she kept instilling “get an education, don’t end up like us!” The very basis of an education requires one to develop reading and then writing skills.CSMS: Who were your earliest influences and why?A.R.: The earliest influences were my parents and my four sisters and brother. My father was a blacksmith, farmer, and tradesman. My mother was a homemaker. She dragged me to church every Sunday, a loving effort for which I am grateful. Being the youngest was an advantage. I learned by watching my sisters and brother. Born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula influenced me. I was raised among fiercely independent freethinking individuals. They are people who would not fit in with today’s teamplayer corporate sheep.CSMS: Before this book, were you ever published?A.R.: No, this was my first venture into the world of publishing.CSMS: What role if any does multiculturalism play in your works?A. R.: I am passionate about researching minerals and the illnesses that result from our exposure to them. Minerals do not care how much money you have, minerals do not care what sex you are, or your age, and they do not care what skin pigmentation your body possesses. Minerals equally kill everyone.African children were employed to stomp and pack burlap bags of amosite asbestos for export. Few of those children became teenagers and NONE became adults. In New York City, 25 percent of Harlem’s children develop asthma before reaching the age of thirteen. High school students have repeatedly told me stories of their school renovations and described in great detail the exact conditions we endured as the Bean Center underwent renovation. Minerals are equal opportunity killers!CSMS: Your writing focuses mainly on bringing awareness about safety, which is a kind of social justice. How do you interpret the daily injustice done to people not only in America, but also in many parts of the world?A.R.: Greed! Individual greed and corporate greed are the offenders. Two thirds of the U.S. economy is dependent on consumers purchasing nonessential convenience products. Corporations search for low costs raw inputs (oil, minerals, electricity) while exploiting local communities. Corporations then leave behind environmental disasters. Most communities across our country have been left with land that is no longer habitable. These diabolical companies then move offshore to exploit other countries.CSMS: Have you received some positive feedback from the mainstream media since the release of the book?A.R.: “Well researched and well document” are the repeated media comments.CSMS: Is your work entirely nonfiction? Do you plan to publish fiction work?A.R.: This book is 100 percent nonfiction. At this time, I have no plans to write a fiction book.CSMS: As a writer, has there ever been a time when you simply wanted to quit? If there was such a time, how did you fight off such instincts?A.R.: Did I ever want to quit? NO! What drove me to complete this document was the knowledge that many people I worked with, including my wife and self, were at risk to illness and early deaths directly attributed to the renovation of the Bean Center. Each year thousands of commercial buildings are remodeled and people working in those buildings are subjected to the same experiences we endured. Sharing knowledge will save someone’s life. The desire to share knowledge and save lives drove me to complete the manuscript.CSMS: People in the media like to portray sacrifice as the only road to rise to the top. Do you buy into that? If so, what do you consider as acceptable sacrifices?A.R.: ‘Media’ and ‘The Top’ are levels of success I have yet to, and may never achieve. People born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula are fiercely independent. Life is simpler and less success-driven there. My values tend to be more relationship centered—my interaction with the land and its people are my motivations. For me a modest income, opportunity to write when energized, and lots of time to windsurf, are far more important than fame and personal wealth. I have yet to see a hearse pulling a U-haul full of money.If you compromise your fundamental beliefs, those building blocks that created and nurtured you, you have lost everything; you have lost your resolve.CSMS: What question you are usually asked most when giving interviews?A.R.: Unlike yourself, most interviewers have never read the book. They are what I call entertainers, talk show hosts existing on sound bites, ratings, and advertisement dollars. There is no most asked question.CSMS: What kind of advice would you give to someone who wanted to embark upon the same task?A.R.: I never set out to become a writer. I was driven by passion and commitment to share an unfortunate and preventable experience. Passion and commitment to finish the project are required. A dash of realism helps. Writing for profit is a goal obtained by only a few. My writings are directed toward a small segment of individuals who want to protect themselves and their families. A larger percentage of our country’s population mistakenly believe governments (federal, state, and local) will protect them; and that group is predestined to endure lives of preventable illnesses.I continue to update It Took My Breath Away with articles published here at CSMS Magazine. When you are motivated and your creativity juices are flowing, that is the moment you produce your best work. Writing and more writing, forces you to improve. New writers will encounter several obstacles between the manuscript preparation and its publishing debut. Agent or no agent, being selected by a publishing house, obtaining promotional dollars, and finding a competent editing staff, are hurdles all writers face.CSMS: Between fiction and nonfiction, which one is the hardest to accomplish?A.R.: In general, writing is difficult. I write nonfiction, I do not feel qualified to comment on fiction.CSMS: Besides English, is there any other language you speak?A.R.: I like this question and I often jokingly responded. Oh yes, I speak Australian, Canadian, Indian (India), and United States, thank God for the British. I have tried to learn Spanish and I have failed miserably, I seldom have the opportunity to practice the language.CSMS: Have you traveled outside the United States? If so, which part of the world interests you most?A.R.: I spent twenty-one months in Viet Nam and have traveled in Europe and the Caribbean. The world is full of beauty. My wife has a saying, bloom where you are planted. We have not always followed that advice. I believe one could spend a lifetime exploring North America and never see all of it. I enjoy windsurfing, where windsurfers gather that is where my interest lie.CSMS: Do you have children?A.R.: I love to answer this question. We both worked for the federal government. It is my belief that federal employees should not reproduce. We have no children.CSMS: Who are your favorite writers?A.R.: I have read most of Eric Lustbader’s books. Wilbur Smith’s works have entertained me, and Kathleen Meyer’s writings have made me a better writer. I just finished John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Researching articles published at CSMS Magazine forces me to review documents like ‘Asbestos in Ontario’ by M.A. Vos. I am almost certain that I am the first person to request that article. My favorite writer is Ernest Hemingway, we walked many of the same paths.CSMS: What is your dream city you would want to visit, but one that you would never like to live in permanently?A.R.: It is easier for me to visualize for you the cities that I would prefer to never visit. They are the cities with tall buildings encased with glass windows that never open. They are ventilated with powerful fans that move air throughout the structure and with it particulates of illness and death.CSMS: What’s next?A.R.: I am in a holding pattern. I won’t throw myself into the next project until this endeavor is finalized. I have started accumulating research for another book. This one is far worse than inhalation of earthen minerals. Substance easily incubated with terrorism application. It was engineered by corporate greed, it is available everywhere, and further spread by medical treatment. To stay one step ahead you must think like your enemy.CSMS: Thank you for taking the time to speak with CSMS Magazine.