This is Chris's first time on my blog. Welcome, Chris. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Every writer draws from some kind of well of themselves, past experiences, and relationships, as well as good stories they’ve heard or read. I try to add as much of the real stuff of life that I can while still staying true to the character I’m writing about. They really take on a life of their own so that there’s a bit of a number of people in them.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Have 9 children. That was easy.
I actually wanted 13. Does that make me quirkier than you? When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I found myself writing into the night in 7th or 8th grade. It was this release for me and I enjoyed putting things down on paper and expressing myself. While other kids hated writing assignments, I ate it up.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love to read mysteries, biographies, crime stories, self-help, spiritual self-help, the Bible, but rarely the directions to a new appliance.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ve had nearly 70 books published. Most of those were children’s novels. I wrote 35 novels for the Left Behind: The Kids series with Jerry Jenkins and Dr. Tim LaHaye. Jerry and I collaborated on another 20 novels. I’ve also co-written a book with Ohio State football coach, Jim Tressel called The Winners Manual.
I managed a church bookstore when the Left Behind kids series were coming out. I stocked your books. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
My wife helps keep me centered on what’s important. Plus, with nine children, I have to prioritize. We don’t have time to run, run, run after unimportant things because we’re already running to the store!
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes they’re chosen for the sound of them. Others are anagrams—one character in Dogwood had the last name, “Buret,” which is an anagram of “Brute.” And sometimes the name is just there, like June Bug. That one came during a writing conference when I wasn’t thinking at all about the character and it just popped into my mind.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Having my first novel published was huge, but being married 26 years and having nine children is probably the top.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A faithful, loving Bichon-Frise.
What is your favorite food?
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
While writing Dogwood, I became stuck on a plot point and couldn’t get past it. Jerry Jenkins said, “Let your subconscious work it out. Don’t force it.” One morning I woke up, wasn’t thinking at all of the book, and an idea snapped in my head that made everything make sense. The rest of the book was like writing downhill.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Keep at it. If God has put this on your heart to do, don’t give up. And don’t be afraid to attempt small things with your writing rather than the huge. Write for anyone who will publish you. Your church newsletter, a newspaper, a blog. Keep writing and let the creativity flow.
Tell us about the featured book?
June Bug is a young girl who travels with her dad in a junky RV. Because money is tight, they spend most of their time in Walmart parking lots. One morning, she walks into the front door, looks up at all the “Missing Children” on the wall, and sees herself.
The rest of the book is a journey to find out who she is, who her dad is, what circumstances arose that brought them to the road, and what her place in the world will be. I think it’s pretty special.
Sounds intriguing. Please give us the first page of the book.
Some people know every little thing about themselves, like how much they weighed when they were born and how long they were from head to toe and which hospital their mama gave birth to them in and stuff like that. I’ve heard that some people even have a black footprint on a pink sheet of paper they keep in a baby box. The only box I have is a small suitcase that snaps shut where I keep my underwear in so only I can see it.
My dad says there’s a lot of things people don’t need and that their houses get cluttered with it and they store it in basements that flood and get ruined, so it’s better to live simple and do what you want rather than get tied down to a mortgage—whatever that is. I guess that’s why we live in an RV. Some people say “live out of,” but I don’t see how you can live out of something when you’re living inside it and that’s what we do. Daddy sleeps on the bed by the big window in the back, and I sleep in the one over the driver’s seat. You have to remember not to sit up real quick in the morning or you’ll have a headache all day, but it’s nice having your own room.
I believed everything my daddy told me until I walked into Walmart and saw my picture on a poster over by the place where the guy with the blue vest stands. He had clear tubes going into his nose, and a hiss of air came out every time he said, “Welcome to Walmart.”
My eyes were glued to that picture. I didn’t hear much of anything except the lady arguing with the woman at the first register over a return of some blanket the lady swore she bought there. The Walmart lady’s voice was getting all trembly. She said there was nothing she could do about it, which made the customer woman so mad she started cussing and calling the woman behind the counter names that probably made people blush.
The old saying is that the customer is always right, but I think it’s more like the customer is as mean as a snake sometimes. I’ve seen them come through the line and stuff a bunch of things under their carts where the cashier won’t see it and leave without paying. Big old juice boxes and those frozen peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Those look good but Daddy says if you have to freeze your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, then something has gone wrong with the world, and I think he’s right. He says it’s a sin to be mean to workers at Walmart because they let us use their parking lot. He also says that when they start putting vitamins and minerals in Diet Coke the Apocalypse is not far behind. I don’t know what the Apocalypse is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was right about that too.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I also do a radio show which you can find at http://www.chrisfabrylive.org/.
Thank you, Chris for spending this time with us.
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