Author Interview with Chris Fabry

In his newest RT Top Pick! rated release Almost Heaven, inspirational author Chris Fabry uses his real life experiences as a radio host to enhance his story. Now the author discusses what it is like to use personal anecdotes in his fiction and what readers can expect in his next book.

RT BOOK REVIEWS: Almost Heaven is told in alternating viewpoints, that of Billy and the angel Malachai. What is a something you used when writing from Malachai's point of view to reinforce the angel's heavenly voice?

Chris Fabry: Angels have always been difficult to get right as far as voice. They either come off sounding too Elizabethan or too hokey. I tried hard to keep a somewhat distant voice, separate in a way, but still inquisitive and full of wonder. I can’t wait to see if I was anywhere close.

RT: Your new novel is based on a real person, a radio host, from West Virginia named Billy. What about his life inspired you to write Almost Heaven?

CF: The first news I had about the real Billy Allman was that he had passed away. A friend of his, Carmeleta, called me and told me his story. I was so captivated that I told my wife that night, “I think I have my next novel.” His humble spirit, his genius with radio equipment, and his being a loner all came together to make what I think is a fascinating character study. 

RT: Is it correct to assume that you used some of your own experiences as a radio host in the story? 

CF: Oh yes. There’s one story about a woman writing Billy about having to put her cat down. That happened to me after I talked about having to put our beloved dogs down, Pippen and Frodo. Most of the good stuff is based on something that actually happened, but it’s still fiction.


RT: You grew up in West Virginia, just like the hero of Almost Heaven, how did this familiarity with Billy's home state affect the character?

CF: The hills and hollers are still running through my veins. The people who populate my home town are such great folks, giving to a fault, tough as nails, and people who endure such great hardship. The state is another character in the novel, really.

RT: You suggest that readers turn on some bluegrass music while enjoying Almost Heaven. What is a Bluegrass song that gets you in the Almost Heaven frame of mind? 

CF: The song that hits the nail on the head as far as “feel” for the book is titled "Short Trip Home." It’s on an album titled Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology. But anything by Ricky Skaggs or Bill Monroe will do.

RT: You write approximately four books per year, can you give RT readers a special peak inside your current work in progress? (Perhaps a detail that they can look for in the story?)

Chris Fabry: I wish I could write four adult novels in a year—I used to write 4-6 kids novels each year. Now it’s a lot less. My current novel is called Not in the Heart. It’s about a writer/reporter who’s investigating a murder case. His own son needs a heart transplant and a condemned man has offered his heart. But what if the writer discovers the guilty man isn’t guilty? If he helps the man prove his innocence, his own son may die. The writer is not a Christian, so it’s going to be interesting to read from that perspective.