"I could not stop drinking."
"I could not stop sticking that needle in my arm."
"I could not get my life together."
"No matter how I tried, I always failed."
"I could not stop sticking that needle in my arm."
"I could not get my life together."
"No matter how I tried, I always failed."
"Until...I learned the truth."
Free Man Walking is Andy Nieman's inspirational autobiography about how his life turned from one of alcohol, drugs, and prison to one of a college graduate, pastor, husband, and father. As Andy says, "If you are a chronic alcoholic or drug addict whose life appears to be totally hopeless, or if you are living with one, this is a book for you."
About the book:Over 10 years in prison. Hooked on heroine cocaine and drugs for 23 years. A chronic alcoholic for 27. Homeless. Eating out of garbage bins. Born into an alcoholic home. Molested by a pedophile in a residential school for three years. Surviving on skid row for 10 years. Living with the threat of suicide on a daily basis. Now this same person has a university degree, is a pastor, an officer of the Legislative Assembly, a poet, a husband and a father. This true story will give you a unique look into a world few know about or experience. Once you read this book, you will know God is real. You will be left with no other alternative because this story will touch you like you never thought possible. If you are a chronic alcoholic or drug addict whose life appears to be totally hopeless, or if you are living with one, this is a book for you.
How long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I have been writing in various forms for about thirty years now. I have always been a word monger and enjoyed doing crosswords, word scramble and find-a-word puzzles. Then I realized I had a flair for putting words together that rhymed, and I found other people enjoyed what I was writing. Since I enjoyed writing poetry so much, I stuck to that genre and that genre only until I embarked on writing Free Man Walking.
What inspired you to write this book?
As I told people of various events that happened to me throughout my life, I kept getting the comment, "That's interesting. That's a story that needs to be told, you should write a book!" Since I was receiving this same response from so many different people it inspired me to put pen to paper, ahh, I mean finger tips to keyboard, and decided I would get it done. I was also inspired by a walk-in clinic medical doctor I went to see once and since she did not know me I asked her if she would be willing to provide me with an honest critique as to what she thought of my writing. At the time I asked her, I had sixty pages written and had no idea if my writing was something people would want to read or not. I sent her a copy via email and after she read what I had written she said, and I quote, "You have a gift for writing. I could not stop reading and now you better finish it because I want to know what happens next! And let me get your autograph before you are a world-famous author and don't want to know me anymore." I laughed, but inside, her words inspired me tremendously and reassured me that I need to get this book done! It was her words that drove me to completion of this project.
How long did it take you to write Free Man Walking?
Would you believe eighteen yrs!? The book is a long-time dream of mine, and I wanted it to be what I consider my masterpiece. So I took my time and put my very best into it. As a result, all those who have read it thus far are telling me it captures their attention so completely that they have a hard time putting it down. I had three people who said they enjoyed it so much they read the whole book in one day!
That's the best kind of praise. What do you hope readers will get from this book?
The inspiration that there is hope for every single person no matter how bad of a "hand" life may have "dealt" them. As long as they still have breath in their lungs, they still have a chance to make something very positive of their life situation when they totally trust and obey the teachings of Jesus.
How did you come up with the title of your book?
I knew that when a prisoner finishes his time, and as he is walking towards the gate on his Release Day, a guard yells out, "Free man walking!" and they open the gate for him to go free. Then it hit me that...I am a free man walking too. A free man walking that is never looking back or going back to do time in a prison ever again.
Tell us about your favorite scene or chapter in the book.
Chapter Sixteen: (It's in the book excerpt). In this scene, it is the very first time I have ever tried cocaine, and I describe in detail how it feels. Also in this scene, I experience my first overdose on cocaine, and I go into detail as to how that scary experience feels.
Do you have another job outside of writing?
Yes, I am the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate.
What is your elevator pitch for Free Man Walking?
Have you ever read a book that actually made you laugh, cry, get mad and feel totally uplifted with your faith in God and humanity completely restored? If not, this is a book that does exactly that. You will feel, smell, taste and believe that you are the one living this real-life story as it unfolds, and you will be so engrossed in the story you will forget about your surroundings completely.
Why did you decide to write Free Man Walking?
So many people kept telling me that I need to put my life story in a book for others to be inspired and to see that any life can be changed.
Do you outline or write by the seat of your pants?
I write from the seat of my pants, straight from my heart and directly into yours.
How did you come up with your cover art?
That is me on the front cover holding up handcuffs and a Bible dressed nice and clean and with a great big smile on my face. I wanted people to see that I am now free from the bondage of prison, because of my obedience to the Bible which has made me totally happy, clean and sober!
What song would you pick to go with your book?
"Simple Man," by Lynyrd Skynrd.
Which author would you most like to invite to dinner, and what would you fix him?
Nathaniel Haney. I would fix him some moose meat spaghetti.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
Endtime Prophecy by Nathaniel Haney. Hardcover.
Who are your favorite authors?
God. Paul Reynolds. Nathaniel Haney.
What are your favorite books...
a) as a child: The Cat In The Hat
b) as a teenager: A Stone For Danny Fisher
c) as an adult: The Bible
Do you have a routine for writing? Do you work better at night, in the afternoon, or in the morning?
I have to get away by myself to write where there are no distractions. I can write all day any time of the day, but especially in the morning.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
In an isolated location where I will not be disturbed. An ideal holiday would be by myself pouring myself into what I am writing. Doesn't matter when.
Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
The love of Jesus and my family.
If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
The Bible of course. Smile.
Your last meal would be...
A T-Bone moose steak with lots of fat, macaroni and cheese and a baked potato with a coke.
Would you rather work in a library or a bookstore?
You won the lottery. What’s the first thing you would buy?
Would you rather be stranded on a deserted island or the North Pole?
You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?
Travel to Vancouver, British Columbia and go to the beach.
Where would your dream office be?
In the bush in the Yukon by a lake.
Where’s home for you?
Carmacks, Yukon Territory, Canada.
Tell us one weird thing about where you live.
Where the water comes out from the pump house it never freezes in the winter, even when it gets forty below and all the rest of the river is solid ice.
One nice thing.
It is quiet, and you can have more than three dogs.
And one fact.
It is the "hub" of the Yukon.
Do you ever get writer’s block?
Never get it. Writer's block comes from pressure that an individual allows to be put on him/herself. I write for enjoyment and for inspiration.
Is there anything in particular that you do to help the writing flow?
Sit down and think about where I want to go in the story and when it starts to flow I start writing.
What’s one of your favorite quotes?
"The past is a nice place to visit but a lousy place to live" (Unknown)
Love it. What three books have you read recently and would recommend?
A Tale Of Three Kings by Gene Edwards; The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson; and Free Man Walking by me. Smile.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Being out on the land hunting with my friend Bert Desmarais, going to church, and learning new songs on my guitar.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Somewhere in British Columbia, probably Vancouver.
If you could take a trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?
What are you working on now?
Free Man Walking 2.
Excerpt From Free Man WalkingI know it sounds like an age old cliché and most people who don’t know, think it’s a tactic to scare people away from trying it, but once I got my first taste of cocaine at the end of that syringe… I fell in love with it IMMEDIATELY! No two ways about it! This was THE HIGH to beat ALL highs! No question about it! The search for relief was over! Once I had drained all the cocaine contents into my blood stream and pulled that syringe out of my arm I was on cloud ten! I found what I was looking for! I finally found INSTANT and I mean INSTANT relief and an instant escape from myself and reality! When I pulled the syringe out of my arm immediately the drug made me feel like I was in another world where everything, I’m telling you EVERYTHING became BRIGHTER! The lights were brighter, the people were brighter, the environment was brighter, the streets were brighter and to top it all off my mind was as sharp as the proverbial tack! I could speak a mile-a-minute! I was floating in the Twilight Zone! I was the Master of the Universe! I was “Joe Cool” “JayZee” “Mick Jagger” “Valentino” and the “King of Rock N’ Roll” all rolled into one and ALL AT ONCE BABY! WHAT? Ya wanna’ talk with ME, the King of the Universe? Let’s get it on BABY! I can TALK WITH THE BEST! My shyness went away. My rotten teeth went away. I wasn’t an alcoholic anymore are you kiddin’ me!? I’m the King of my universe I CAN DO ANYTHING!
Well, sorry to burst your balloon buddy and sorry to have to hit the “reality button” on you but it all lasted the grand sum and total of a whole fifteen minutes! And before you know it my rotten teeth were back, my confidence grew wings and flew out the window as shyness took over its spot and reality slapped me on the back and showed me his ugly face again. HEY! WHAT AM I DOIN’ BACK HERE? GET ME OUTTA HERE! I DON’T NEED THIS DREARINESS! I WANT MORE! I NEED MORE! GIMME, GIMME, GIMME! I would spend the next three years day in and day out, endless days upon endless nights seeking to feel, seeking to just get a small taste of that amazing feeling just one more time, but it would never come to be. Nothing even came close to resembling that very first time I felt like the King of my universe.
I did everything short of selling my body to get money so I could get more “coke” so I could try with all my heart and try with all my soul to feel what I felt on that very first time I pushed cocaine down the walls of that syringe and into the mainline of my blood stream. Every time I chased that “high” it left me feeling cold in my soul and feeling “used”. It left me feeling like a fool yet I COULDN’T STOP the chase. I HAD TO HAVE MORE. The drug DROVE me. It RULED me. It CONSUMED me. It PUSHED me to my physical, emotional and suicidal limits. It drove me to the place where I wanted the drug more than alcohol (now that’s a story in itself), I wanted cocaine more than food, more than sleep, more than sex, more than money, more than any of my friends. When I was simply a practicing alcoholic at least my friends could trust me in their homes and with money and with other important things. Once the “coke” took over, it stripped me of every fiber of decency and of any shred of morality I had left. Even to the point where I lied, cheated and stole even from my closest friends. It got to the point where some of my friends wouldn’t even allow me into their homes because they knew I would steal from them. I am sad to say that I have taken some of my friends most important sentimental valuables and sold them. That is the “grip” cocaine can have on a person.
Every dollar I made went to “coke”, every dime and every penny. That was the “grip” it had on me. And any chance I got, I would increase the amount I put into my veins until I pushed even that to the limit. I can tell you personally and with all sincerity that I know it was God and God alone that brought me back from the brink of overdosing on cocaine many different times. There are three separate and distinct occasions where I can tell you in all sincerity that I was brought back from a serious overdose on “coke” simply because I called out the name of Jesus at the very last second of consciousness. I’ll describe one of those times for you. It was on what we call “Welfare Wednesday” which is the last Wednesday of each month. That is the day welfare checks are distributed. I had just cashed my welfare check and bought two “quarters” (a quarter is a quarter of a gram), of cocaine from one of the “Bikers” at a local biker bar. Back in those days and no doubt still today, cocaine was very, very potent and especially the “coke” you got from the Bikers. I always made sure I bought my drugs off the same people once I found they were a reliable source.
A bunch of my Yukon friends were sitting and drinking in one of the bars and I asked a friend of mine John, “Can I use your room to do a “fix”? (shoot up drugs with a syringe). “Sure,” he said digging in his pocket for his key. John had a great sense of humor and said, “Don’t make a mess I just hired a maid and it’s all spotless in there.”
“Yeah right!” I smiled at him.
I got his key bought a six-pack of beer and went up to his room by myself. The room was the room of a typical skid row alcoholic. It was a mess. Empty wine bottles littered the room and the overflowing ash tray was an over turned metal lid from a tobacco can that had cigarette butts that had been rolled and re-rolled time and time again until the tobacco resembled black ashes. I brushed away some of the ashes on the table as a couple of cockroaches scurried for cover and cleared a spot big enough to set my quarter gram down. I took out my syringe and was just going to do half of one of the quarters but then I thought, “Ah, I’ll do the whole thing,” I had no idea how potent the drug was. I filled the syringe with the cocaine, pushed it into my vein and injected all of it. About two seconds after I injected the drug it started to hit me. As soon as I took the needle out of my arm at that very second I KNEW I had taken TOO MUCH!
I am Northern Tutchone, a member of the White River First Nation in the Yukon Territory, Canada. Today I am completely delivered from the horrible loneliness, violence and pain of being a former convict, skid-row alcoholic and a cocaine/heroin addict. I am eighteen years clean and sober as of Feb 1, 2012.
After God cleaned up my life, I went back to school and eventually earned a University degree in Social Work. I ran my own counseling business for six years and on December 10, 2009 I became an Officer of the Yukon Legislative Assembly as Yukon's first ever Child and Youth Advocate. I was Ordained a Minister with the UNITED PENTECOSTAL CHURCH INTERNATIONAL on June 27, 2009. Looking back on my dangerous, traumatic, exciting, sad, happy life I have only one regret. I regret that I did not give my life to Jesus sooner...because the life He gives back is the absolute BEST LIFE there could possibly be! Follow me through these pages and through my life, and you will find that freedom too, that is...if you want it.
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