Chris Fabry is a writer and broadcaster who has written more than 65 books for children and adults. His first novel for adults, Dogwood, received a 2009 Christy Award. Chris is the host of the nationally syndicated program Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He is also heard daily on Love Worth Finding, as well as the weekly broadcast of Building Relationships with Dr. Gary Chapman, which he co-hosts with his wife Andrea. Chris is a graduate of the W. Page Pitt School of Journalism at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia and the Advanced Studies Program of the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He and Andrea are the parents of nine children and make their home near Tucson, Arizona.
Favorite Verse: Colossians 3:23-24 : "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
Words of Advice from Chris Fabry
If fiction is your passion, you will do whatever it takes to hone your craft and become published. I’ve met so many people who say, “I know I have a story in me.” That’s probably true, but writing it is as difficult as anything you’ll ever do. So I tell people who want to write fiction that if this is what you want to do, you’ll evidence that passion by turning off the TV, reading great books, writing every day, reading books on writing, subscribing to Writer’s Digest Magazine, going to conferences, and all of the things you need to do to reach your goal.
Many people sit down and the first thing they try writing is a novel. That’s just not realistic, though some have done it. When I was starting, I knew I had to write consistently, so I journaled, I wrote dramas for my church, and I even wrote a weekly column in the local newspaper. All of these things gave me deadlines and chances to work out my style and my voice. But they were small, measurable advances. Some I was paid for, others I wasn’t. I was more concerned about becoming a writer than the pay it gave.
I also purchased a big desk and as nice a computer as I could afford. Becoming a writer means you invest not only time but some of your resources. Every time I sat at that big desk, which is gone now, I said to myself, “You are a writer. Get to work. Sit your rear end down and do what you were made to do.”
The next best thing, other than doing the work of writing, is to find someone who knows what good writing really is. I’m not talking about an English professor, necessarily. There’s nothing wrong with English professors, but what many teachers will call excellent prose is not what a publisher thinks is excellent. You need to find someone who has actually published and knows more than you do. If you can find that person who can answer your questions about writing query letters, how to format your manuscript, and all the process questions, as well as choosing topics and plots and characters, you’ll have someone who can look over your shoulder and encourage you.
Jerry B. Jenkins was the person who made writing a reality for me. I was hosting a radio program, Open Line, and every time Jerry had a new book, he would come on the program. (That was about every two weeks.) I’d ask him questions and probe his mind about stories, ideas, and the mechanics of writing. This was long before Left Behind ever came out. I’d send Jerry stories, articles, ideas for books, and he’d give me his honest appraisal. Most of those came back so red it looked like they were bleeding. But instead of being hurt or hanging my head and saying, “I’ll never be a writer,” I took his advice and wrote my heart out for many years.
Part of the mentoring process was to help write the series for children, Left Behind: The Kids. I’d send Jerry ideas for the stories, he would correct me on spurious plot twists, keep me as firmly rooted in reality as he could, and then set me free. His editing was brutal, but it taught me the value of tight writing. That was a painful, but great process to go through.
Jerry and I have actually written more than 50 books together, and I think that training from him has helped me immensely. Who wouldn’t like to learn from a New York Times bestselling author—and get paid at the same time.
I used to walk by the Moody Bookstore in Chicago and dream of having a novel on the shelves. I said, “One day, my book will be in this window.” I think that kind of dream is important. In my current novel, Dogwood, one of the characters brings this very thing up—that one day her book will grace the shelves of the local bookstore. I think that dream, that yearning, not just to see my name on a book, but to see a work that I had nurtured and helped grow, is something that God gave. I won’t be in Chicago to see it on the shelves, of course, but I thank God that he is faithful to those dreams we have if we’re willing to work on them with all our heart.
There will be plenty of naysayers about your writing. Many will think, “Who are you to write a book?” I had that from people I loved and trusted. They couldn’t believe I would have the audacity to think that I could write something that mattered. Where did I get that kind of chutzpah? You have to block out those voices—and to be honest, some of those voices are the ones from your childhood or your teachers—and push through.
I’ve been affected by a lot of books through the years and my greatest goal is to write something that moved me, deep inside, to live life more fully, to enjoy my children more, to grow closer to Christ, and more. But there will always be those who will denigrate that dream.
Here’s the way I look at it. No, I’m not Karen Kingsbury or Jerry Jenkins or Walt Wangerin. But God didn’t call me to be anyone but who I am. And if there is this tug on my heart to write, who is to say that the message God has given is not important? Why should I hide the gift God has given, no matter how small, under some bushel basket? So I encourage those who want to write to listen to the voice that says, “I want you to write something for my glory.” Don’t worry about the audience. Don’t worry about the bestseller lists. Don’t take any thought for who or how many will actually buy and read what you have written. That’s in God’s hands. You be faithful to the calling you’ve been given and leave the rest up to him.
I hope some of these thoughts have been encouraging. And I hope you can find someone who will help nurture that dream in your life.