Christy Award-winner Chris Fabry takes readers back to his Appalachian roots with a poignant story about good people and hard circumstances.
Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality whose novels have won multiple awards—including two more wins at this past Christy Awards ceremony. His books include movie novelizations, nonfiction titles, and stories for children and young adults.
For his eightieth(!) published book, Fabry takes readers back to his Appalachian roots with a poignant story about good people and hard circumstances. A novel for fans of Southern fiction, Under a Cloudless Sky (Tyndale House) explores the well-kept secrets of a lush and storied coal-mining town—and the good people who live there—in danger of being destroyed for the sake of profit. Will the truth about the town’s past be its final undoing or its saving grace?
In this interview, author Fabry shares the dangers of keeping secrets bottled up, what it was like to win two Christy Awards in one night, and how wrapping truth inside a story is a tradition as old as the Bible.
You’ve described Under a Cloudless Sky as a “Gone Grandma” story (as opposed to Gone Girl). Without giving too much away, can you tell us about? Is this book a bit of a mystery?
Ruby is the main character, and at a pivotal point in the story, her daughter comes to Ruby’s house and discovers she has disappeared. There are several possibilities as to where Ruby might be—all of them pretty dire. The reader has to figure out the clues and follow them along the trail. These breadcrumbs lead to a truth that Ruby’s daughter would never have guessed about her mother’s past. I’m hoping this “Where’s Ruby?” motif will pull readers into the story and make them want to find her.
What can you tell us about your protagonists?
Ruby is a feisty older woman who loves her independence—and that is about to be taken from her. Her daughter, Frances, desperately wants to love her mother well, but there are things in her mother’s past she doesn’t comprehend. This is one of the main struggles in the story—to figure out how to love another person well and all that means.
One other character I have to mention is Hollis, a man who lives in the hills of Appalachia, who is dealing with loss of his own and how to love his family through some desperate times on Beulah Mountain.
What themes are explored in this novel?
Elderly parent–child relationships, the power of secrets, trusting the wrong people, what God promises us and doesn’t promise us, the power of telling the truth, how the past can affect the present and future, and the power of forgiveness.