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Saving Grayson

Saving Grayson

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How far would you go to love someone well?

Grayson Hayes is a sharp-tongued, witty wordsmith. But the stream of language has become a trickle as words skitter from his mind. Dreading this growing loss and desperate to care for his wife after he's gone, he hatches a plan that requires a cross-country road trip to the West Virginia of his youth.

On the journey, Grayson encounters people, places, and forgotten wrongs done that greatly affected others and shaped his own story. What is the value of a life that diminishes daily? Will Gray find the peace and resolution he's searching for? And what does love look like for those who surround this force of nature?

In Saving Grayson, bestselling and award-winning author Chris Fabry takes us into a world of love and loss, dementia and startling clarity, hope and despair. We shake our heads (and sometimes laugh) at Gray's crusty antics. We share his fear of what's to come. And we root for him and those who love him to find answers before the words become a distant memory.

Author Notes

Q&A with Chris Fabry

Q: Good stories always begin with a character in terrible trouble. What is the trouble for Grayson Hayes?

Grayson is struggling with dementia. In the first scene, he is sitting in his closed garage in his boxer shorts holding a nail gun, and he can't remember why he's there. The trouble for Grayson is amplified for his wife and those who love him, and the story tries to capture the tension of how to love someone who is slipping away.

Q: Why did you choose to write about memory loss and Alzheimer's?

We are all dealing with this in our families and extended families. But I chose this struggle because the reader is forced to follow Grayson's search to solve a murder mystery as well as discover the truth about his own life. Grayson is trying to uncover the truth and get it down on the page before he can forget it. I found that a really compelling storyline.

Q: Your main character, Grayson, is an unreliable narrator. What problems did you encounter in telling a story from the perspective of someone you can't trust?

It really gave me freedom to enter his world and observe what he thinks about himself. And to an extent, Grayson is all of us. We think certain things that aren't necessarily true but we've chosen to believe them—good and bad and everything in between. And the truth will set you free if you let it. So I enjoyed the journey inside Grayson's mind and the journey of discovering what was really true. I think the reader will as well.

Q: Some of your stories feature a character returning to their hometown. Why is that theme so prevalent in your novels?

Where I grew up, the people, the region, the aromas, the sights—all of this is part of me. So my stories come to life when I begin to write about what I know the best, and that springs from the rich, loamy West Virginia soil where I was planted. In this novel, Grayson's hometown and one friend he remembers is all he can hang on to. And he is obsessed with finding his way back there, even though there is danger ahead that he can't remember.

Q: One huge theme you tackle is suffering and our desire to avoid it at all costs. Tell us about that.

I have equated the "good life" as one without struggle and suffering. I pray for ease and comfort, and if things go haywire, I often think God has abandoned me. But if I look closely at my life, the times of greatest growth have come in times of greatest struggle and turmoil. Grayson faces this by trying to manage the pain for his wife—to relieve her suffering before it gets too great. And the reader understands that by doing this, Grayson is robbing others of a chance to serve him and love him well. My hope is that the reader will see their own life through this story and, instead of avoiding pain, will embrace pain as much as possible to allow God access with his transforming power.

Q: In your stories, you try not to force faith on the reader but make it organic. How did you do that in Saving Grayson?

I've been trying hard with my stories not to "tell" as much as "show." Grayson had a huge spiritual shift late in his life that has now been clouded by his disease. The knock against Christian artists is that they make everything "nice" in the end with everybody coming to faith, which is not reality. All bows are not tied in our lives. So I painted this picture with some missing pieces and unresolved tension. God doesn't take away the pain and the struggle but walks through it with Grayson and others.

Q: There's a man in Grayson's hometown named Pooch. Why did you name him that, and what's his significance?

My middle name is Howard. That was the name of my uncle whose nickname was Pooch. I have been wanting to write about him for a long time, and I finally found the opportunity to have him be the friend Grayson will trust, literally, with his life.

Q: Alzheimer's affects everyone around Grayson. Tell us about his wife, Charlotte, and how she struggles.

Lotty, as Grayson calls her, knows all the things that Grayson has forgotten. So she is carrying the weight of memory in the relationship and the weight of her own mistakes. There is something pure about her love and her decision, at one point in the story, to let Grayson go and find his way. Her story will tear your heart out. It mirrors the stories of spouses of those with Alzheimer's I've heard and read.

Q: Grayson and others in the story have made some big mistakes. You deal with the process of righting wrongs and searching for forgiveness. Do you think that's possible?

I think it's not only possible but incredibly redemptive. The only caveat is that we can't control whether another person will forgive us and allow reconciliation. That makes things scary because we have no guarantee on a human level. But from a spiritual perspective, there's great freedom and vitality that comes when you recognize your mistakes, name them, and then reach out to those you have hurt. I want that in my own life and in the lives of readers.

Q: How did writing this story change you?

I actually did a major rewrite of it after it was finished because it didn't ring true to me. And in that season, I was face down on the pavement, so to speak, wondering how to make it work. And I realized that I was in the same place as many of my characters who were at the end of their own ability to love or make life work. When you get to that point, it's really hard, but it's also good because you've tapped into a big emotional aspect of the story you're trying to flesh out.

Q: What email do you hope you get after someone reads Saving Grayson?

I'm hoping someone will see themselves and say, "I realize that I have controlled the pain and struggle so much that I haven't allowed others to love me well." And perhaps someone will say the same thing about God—that through this story they see how they've kept God at a distance.

"From the first haunting line of Saving Grayson, master storyteller Chris Fabry mesmerizes with the tale of a man at war with the ticking clock of his own fragile mind. Employing the epitome of his prodigious evocative skills, the Christy Hall of Fame novelist takes us on a heartrending journey of pain and ultimately hope, redemption, and forgiveness."
— Jerry B. Jenkins, New York Times bestselling author
"Poetic. Profound. Painful at times. Saving Grayson is a captivating story not just read but experienced, immersing me in Gray's turmoil of trying to grasp life, only to find it slipping through a sieve of unforeseen circumstances. Chris Fabry is a masterful storyteller, capturing my attention from the first page to the very last. His thought-provoking message is clear: Even in the cruelest situations, even when we are not all that deserving, grace and mercy can be granted."
— T. I. Lowe, bestselling author of Under the Magnolias
"Saving Grayson has more spellbinding twists and turns than the scenic mountain roads of Chris Fabry's native West Virginia. It's a story of betrayal and love, sacrifice and selfishness, anger and release. It's a portrait of the transforming power and very essence of forgiveness. I wept as I neared the conclusion of this novel, one I will remember for the remainder of my days."
— Jeff Crosby, author of The Language of the Soul
"Our friend Chris Fabry does a remarkable job of blending fiction, mystery, well-developed characters, and the message of God's love into an enjoyable, poignant novel. Saving Grayson has humor, heart, and a large dose of reality as the characters unpack the truth that God's love isn't earned—it's a gift we receive. Thanks for taking us on this engaging journey with Grayson, Chris!"
— Alex and Stephen Kendrick, writers and directors of War Room and Courageous
"Chris has penned a tender and moving story about a man's struggle to mend a broken heart. Told through the cracked lens of a failing memory, Gray finds an unexpected remedy through the healing of selfless love and the transformational power of forgiveness."
— Charles Martin, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author
"Chris Fabry's Saving Grayson is a heartbreakingly honest tale of life with Alzheimer's disease. With masterful storytelling, Fabry takes readers on an emotion-filled journey, navigating marriage and family, love and sacrifice, forgiveness and acceptance. One can't help but cheer for the protagonist while at the same time identify with those who love him. Despite a topic that often brings fear and uncertainty, the pages of Saving Grayson are filled with brilliant nuggets of warmth, humor, and hope."
— Michelle Shocklee, award-winning author of Count the Nights by Stars
"Fabry's signature style shines as he draws readers into the story of Grayson Hayes's last-ditch effort to unravel his tangled memories and make peace with his past. Saving Grayson is a stunning testament to the power of love and how a shift in perspective can monumentally alter the human capacity for compassion and forgiveness. This redemptive tale reminds us that the most beautiful stories we have to offer are the ones we write with our lives."
— Amanda Cox, award-winning author of The Edge of Belonging and The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery
"This poignant and imaginative story lets the reader peek inside the mind and musings of Grayson Hayes as Alzheimer's disease slowly erases a lifetime of memories. Saving Grayson is an intriguing, bittersweet story, made all the more memorable by Chris Fabry's masterful use of language. I truly loved this book!"
— Deborah Barr, author of Grace for the Unexpected Journey: A 60-Day Devotional for Alzheimer's and Other Dementia Caregivers and coauthor of Keeping Love Alive as Memories Fade: The 5 Love Languages and the Alzheimer's Journey
"The world of an aging writer comes full circle, from haunting guilt to the freedom of forgiveness, from lost loves to found family, from mystery to discovery, in this tender story of a man at once losing his memory and finding himself. Readers seeking a story alive with faith and hope will relish journeying along with Grayson Hayes."
— Lisa Wingate, New York Times bestselling author of Before We Were Yours
"Chris Fabry is one of my favorite novelists (and people). What makes a great story isn't just the plot, it's the characters who linger with you, like real people you know, or wish you knew, or are glad you don't. Two weeks after finishing Saving Grayson, I'm still thinking about the characters. Chris tells an engaging and important story with a powerful ending. I'm delighted to recommend this book!"
— Randy Alcorn, bestselling author of Courageous and Heaven

Download the first chapter of Saving Grayson here:

PDF Excerpt from Tyndale House Publishers

What Readers Are Saying . . .

  • "Once again, Chris Fabry's brilliance in developing full-fleshed characters within a thrilling, yet poignant and sometimes painful story has captivated my heart and mind."

    FICTIONADDICT.COM on Every Waking Moment

  • "A tale of secrecy, sacrifice and family . . . This poignant story is worth the heartache: Complex and layered, The Promise of Jesse Woods goes beyond a youthful promise to center on a bond renewed by a desire for truth."


  • Under a Cloudless Sky is entertaining and a wonderful addition to the inspirational fiction genre . . . a multilayered, engaging story with rich details and interesting characters."

    ROMANTIC TIMES, 4-Star Review

  • "In this suspense-filled drama, Fabry covers hot topics involving illegal immigration policies, drug running between borders, and the cost of being involved with the mob. . . . Readers will be immersed in the lives of Maria and J. D."

    ROMANTIC TIMES, 4-Star Review of Borders of the Heart

  • "An evocative novel . . . Fabry weaves the events of the past and present into a finely layered story exploring the relationships of faith, forgiveness and family in the midst of healing from pain buried deep in the past."

    PUBLISHERS WEEKLY on Under a Cloudless Sky

  • "A conflicted, memorable main character. . . . While the mystery at its core is compelling, it's Wiley's inner conflict that's truly engrossing. Down to its final pages, [Not in the Heart] is a gripping read."


  • "Ultimately a story of love and forgiveness, [Dogwood] should appeal to a wide audience."


  • "Not in the Heart is the best book I have read in a long time. The plot is unique and creative, containing both ethical and moral dilemmas. . . . It challenges not only the readers' emotions but also their minds."