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June Bug believed everything her daddy told her. That is, until she walked into Walmart and saw her face on a list of missing children. The discovery begins aa quest for the truth about her father, the mother he rarely speaks about, and ultimately herself. A modern interpretation of Les Miserables, the story follows a dilapidated RV rambling cross-country with June Bug and her father, a man running from a haunted past. Forces beyond their control draw them back to Dogwood, West Virginia, down a winding path that will change their lives forever.
Chris Fabry is a writer, host of Chris Fabry Live! on Moody Radio. He studied Journalism at Marshall University in Huntington, WV, has worked in radio with many ministries since the 1980s, and has published more than 60 books. Andrea, now live in Colorado and are the parents of nine children.
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."
Our Interview with Chris Fabry
What turned your decision to write Adult CBA fiction?
I’ve always dreamed of writing for adults because I wanted to affect others with stories the way good books have affected me. I spent a lot of time writing humor and writing stories for children, and that’s a calling for me as well, but these stories for adults have stayed with me through the years and I really wanted to get them out and see if anyone would resonate with them.
What inspired the concept for June Bug?
I was standing in the parking lot of our local Walmart, looking at a dilapidated RV, wondering, “Who is in there? Where are they going? What are they doing on the road?” I walked inside and saw the list of missing children, and somehow I put the two together. What if a child walks in who travels the road with her father, sees her own picture on the wall, and wonders, “Who am I?”
Is any part of June Bug factual?
Current events always inform my writing, and while there were several stories that you might associate with June Bug’s life, it’s total fiction. Except the West Virginia part, of course.
How closely is June Bug based on your life experiences? Are you interested in RV’s?
I once asked Chuck Swindoll what his greatest mistake was in life and he said, “Buying an RV.” I think part of me really likes the thought of the freedom you can have traveling light and seeing different places around the country. But no, I’ve only driven an RV once, and that was enough. Interestingly, however, five months into the writing of the book, we had to vacate our home and leave everything behind because of a toxic mold problem. The last month I spent in Colorado doing my writing and radio program, I worked out of a little pull-along trailer in my driveway. It’s scary when art imitates life.
How did you choose the setting of Dogwood for June Bug?
This is the fictional town where I grew up. I know its sinews and lineaments by heart. I know the people. The hills are in my mind every day. This is not a setting many authors use, so I enjoy going there in my mind and telling the story of those people—my people.
How do you gather information for your book?
"I write as a process of discovery," as Jerry Jenkins says, so I’m doing more observing than I am collating facts. One story that stuck with me was a friend from Arkansas who came into a fair amount of money through Walmart stock and that tidbit of information worked its way into the book. Because this is a character driven story, I don’t have a lot of research on ICBMs or weaponry that some authors have to do. But I did have to listen to my 10 year old daughter, Kaitlyn a lot. She was my pattern for June Bug.
How long did June Bug take you to complete?
I began in June (ironic, I know) and finished at the end of December, writing straight through the most gut-wrenching time of our lives. Our children were sick, we had to leave everything behind in our house, we put our two beloved dogs down, but I was able to finish the story. I think there was something or someone else at work with this, to be honest.
What is the symbolism for the title June Bug?
June bugs come out in late May, early June in West Virginia. When I was a kid we would tie strings on them and follow them around like kites. (No junebugs were hurt in the writing of the novel.) The girl, June Bug, is this precious creature and the man who is taking care of her—you don’t know if he’s good or evil as the story begins—the man must make a decision toward the end of the book, and both of their lives are affected by the decision.
Do you have a favorite character in June Bug? Why?
Well, you just have to love June Bug. She’s so honest and vulnerable and tells you everything she’s thinking, and at the same time you know she is piecing together things in her mind and not talking about things. And there’s a progression from being a little timid at the start to her taking control of things near the end. I just love her.
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing June Bug?
That you can lose almost everything and God is still there. The characters get to a point where they have to abandon their plan of how life is going to work out. Again, that’s what our family was going through at the same time. In a way, I think this story was an intensely personal message from God that He is enough, and if others get that message, I’m glad.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Trying not to tie a bow on everything and have every character “get it” in the end. Trying to make the characters sound true and honest and real. Getting up early enough to get something done before our kids awaken. We have nine children so when people ask what motivates me I say, “If I don’t write, they don’t eat.”
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I like the solitude. I like the discovery. I think you find out surprising things about yourself when you come to the keyboard seemingly empty and something springs from that simply because you showed up. Life is a lot like that.
Are there any other new projects on the horizon?
Yes, I’m working on one more novel set in Dogwood with a character who is painfully, achingly beautiful and ugly. He thinks his life doesn’t really matter that much and that he’s had no affect on others. I want to encourage readers who may feel the same way.
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?
Hands down, Jerry Jenkins. He said to me in the mid-1980s, “If you want to do this, I can help you. But it’s going to be painful.” He edited me severely to see if I could take it. It was quite painful, but I learned so much from him, and have co-authored a number of books with him over the past few years.
What message would you like your readers to take away from June Bug?
I want readers to really connect with the pain of June Bug and those around her and realize that no matter what has happened in the past, God can redeem us. He is not just cleaning up old RVs to make them ready for the road, he is in the transformation business.
What is your greatest achievement?
I was asked this as part of a “Newlywed Game” competition at a church. My wife said, “He published his first novel.” I said, “I’m the father of nine children.” Now, anyone can father a child. That’s not a great accomplishment. But being a father is a great accomplishment. And I don’t pretend to have arrived. During this interview my daughter came in and I shooed her away because I was “doing something important.” I realize that is a struggle of mine, but I think it’s in the realization and the reconnecting to her and reaching out that you overcome those things. So, fatherhood is right up there.
What is your goal or mission as a writer?
I want to change people’s hearts one story at a time. I want them to feel deeply and connect emotionally to my characters and in the telling of the story discover more about themselves, about others around them, and about God.
What do you do to get away from it all?
My wife and I try to go for walks. I read. But honestly, with the medical stuff going on related to our mold exposure, there is not much getting away right now. That will come down the road.
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