Chris Fabry has published more than 65 other books, including novels for children and young adults. His first novel for adults, Dogwood, received the 2009 Christy Award in the Contemporary Standalone category. His latest is Not in the Heart (Tyndale House).
Q. Not in the Heart marked a new direction in your writing—can you tell us about it?
My stories have always had elements of suspense and mystery. There have been thrilling moments as well, but this book marks my attempt to tell a thrilling, suspenseful story from beginning to end and not let up until we discover the truth.
Q. This past spring, you went on a “sales list” fast. How did that go for you?
I had been sensing something in my heart about my writing. Discouragement. Discontent. And part of that comes from me looking at the sales rankings of my books on Amazon.com. So, as I explained in my newsletter, at the end of April, I decided not to look at the rankings for Not in the Heart for 30 days.
The first few were hard. There’s something about seeing a number attached to your idea, your baby, that draws you in, that makes you want your creation to climb higher. But there’s also the disappointment of seeing your little bundle of joy fall like a stone.
My success is not dependent on Amazon.com sales, but I erroneously think that’s the best way for me to assess it. If it’s doing well, if people are saying good things, I’m okay, I’m validated. I can keep on writing. If no one is buying or if I get critical reviews, I’m a failure.
Those 30 days provided a measure of creative freedom. I still read emails from people who read my books and had questions or kudos. I was particularly pleased that many wrote to say that Not in the Heart has given them a new vision for the “Truman” in their life.
But I don’t have to be a hostage to the rankings. God can do what he wants with my stories, my characters, my plots, and with me. Surrender is a daily task you can’t calculate on Amazon.com.
Q. You write such a wide range of fiction—how do you decide from one project to the next which direction you want to go?
A novel is difficult enough to write even if you have passion for the subject. My decisions are mainly based on what fire in the story furnace is hottest at that time that I think needs to be told. Spiritually, I always take this to God and put it before Him, but I don’t say “The Lord told me to write this.” If something good comes out of it, all glory to him, though.
Q. In addition to your career as a novelist, you’re also a national radio host—do these two lives (and audiences) intersect or interact at all, or are they just two things that you do?
They intersect every day. My characters show up on the radio all the time. My book, Almost Heaven, came directly from a listener who told me the story on-air of Billy Allman and I was so captivated with his life that I decided to use him as the main character in that book.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of FamilyFiction digital magazine. Subscribe for free today!