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Why I Tell Stories
I used to hope for a big splash with each book published. I used to envision thousands of people lining up to get the latest story because they were so excited—just like I do for my favorite authors. That kind of hope can motivate for a while. But only for a while. Then you realize the truth. Most people have never read your stories and don't care what's on your heart. Some will even boast, "I don't read fiction. I only read what's true."
What I've come to understand is that I don't write because of the reception of my stories. I don't live for positive comments. I don't write to get a "bestseller." I don't tell my stories to meet some bottom line, though my publisher has a vested interest in meeting a financial return. I also don't write to assuage some need to be "seen" or "heard."
I tell stories to be faithful with what I've been given. Life experiences. Hopes. Dreams. Deep feelings that are hard for me to express other than on the page. I tell stories to help me figure out what happened and how that has shaped me. I write to understand the world, others, God, and how I relate. I do not write to "figure it out" or solve the problems of my life. What did Eugene Peterson say? "People are not problems to solve. They are mysteries to be explored." And so it is with my stories.
I suppose I write for the same reason others feel compelled to climb Mt. Everest. The compulsion is so strong I will spend months alone, hammering away at something and getting lost in that other world that has drawn me. And in the drawing I learn and explore and exit the other side with something tangible to offer the world.
And so, I give you the latest climb up my literary Everest, The Promise of Jesse Woods. There are parts of this story that are far from my experience. Like being a pastor's kid. Or rooting for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That never happened. But being an overweight child around skinny kids? Yep, that was me. And feeling on the outside looking in at life? Sure.
Now, the falling in love with an Appalachian girl and being privy to the deepest secret in her life... and being drawn in by a promise—those ideas felt compelling to me. So I invite you to walk down the dusty road of my youth. Hear the junebugs, watch the fireflies, taste the roasted marshmallows and Faygo soda, hear the dog barking underneath the cinderblock steps at Jesse's house, and learn the heartbreaking truth about the way Matt and Jesse's lives have been affected by one night.
I asked Charles Martin, the author of When Crickets Cry and Wrapped in Rain and other novels, to read the book and comment if he felt it worthy. His quote is on the front of the book—but here is what he emailed me in its raw form: "A coming-of-age portrayal of the innocence and identity of first love found and then inexplicably lost, told through the aching echo of 'What if?' Chris has penned the tender story of a promise kept, the pain and prison of secrets, and the soul-freeing power of truth."
Charles captured what I was trying to convey. I hope the story speaks to you at some deep level of the soul.
Some Early Reviews . . .
"For anyone who likes getting in on something good from the get-go, this book is the next To Kill a Mockingbird. It felt like the child of the classic, all grown up and refocused for today's reader."
—Rebekah Dorris, blogger at More Than the Ancients
"The Promise of Jesse Woods reminds me of To Kill A Mockingbird in the way it touches on racism, poverty, and justice, but Fabry also weaves in a beautiful faith thread which never feels forced. It's lyrical yet also down-to-earth. Deep yet never overwhelming. This is real-life storytelling that's effortless to read and will leave you wanting more from Fabry's pen."
—C.J. Darlington, author (review on Goodreads)
"There is something about Chris' writing style that makes me comfortable. I would say that he writes with a Mayberry feel to it. A place we all want to go home to.... Do yourself a favor, if you haven't read any of Chris' books, grab one, get started and find yourself at home in Dogwood, West Virginia."
—Chris Jager, fiction buyer for Baker Book House
Thanks for subscribing to the FABRYGRAM, a periodic communiqué about life: observations, questions, news, and more.
Jesse is quickly making her way to the online retailers, where you can find her story in paperback, eBook, and audiobook formats! Visit my website's Jesse Woods page for quick links to your favorite seller.
Want to sample the story? Download the first chapter here.
Visit The Flog
To learn more of the "story behind the story" of The Promise of Jesse Woods, check out my recent posts on The Flog - The Fabry Log.
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