John Faubion ~ Friend Me

In 1966, as a new Christian and an American soldier in Vietnam, John Faubion was deeply moved by his first exposure to idolatry. After completing Bible college and missionary deputation, he—along with his family of four—moved to South Vietnam to begin formal missionary work.

Following the war, they continued their work, first planting a church and Christian school on Guam and then returning to the mission field in Taiwan and mainland China.

John and his family now reside in Indiana, where he works as a software engineer.

You’ve been down many different roads in life. What sparked your writing journey?

You’re right about the different roads. We started out as a missionary family in Vietnam, just before the end of the war. After that we were in Guam, then Taiwan. That’s where we “became Chinese.” Later on we found ourselves on the Chinese mainland, where we remained till 1999.

In all of this, I always wanted to write. I’d enjoyed so much good fiction in my life that I was just sure I could write it myself. Lots of big surprises for me there, when I found out what hard work it was. But I knew what I liked, and I figured if I could identify what captivated my mind, maybe the Lord would allow me to do the same for others.

How does your faith play into your work?

I’ve always thought as a believer in Christ, wouldn’t it be great to write fiction that would be a life-changer? Something that would be thoroughly captivating, totally relevant, and yet point people to a relationship with God?

God gifts his children with certain abilities, learned skills, and rich experiences. Godly writing is built out of those things. Plus hard work!

Detours, while unplanned, are often God working in our lives. Please tell us about an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive.

In 1989, Janet, my first wife, went to be with the Lord. I can scarcely imagine a greater turn of events in the life of a dad and husband. We’d been married twenty-six years, and I still had three girls at home.

I can’t say that her death was a positive in any sense. It was awful. It was tough, both on me and my girls. However, what God did with it over time was absolutely a positive. I remarried a wonderful woman, and God has given us two more children since then. On that note . . .  I’m done having kids! But four daughters and a son later, I wouldn’t change a thing.

The key to it all, for me, is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Whether you feel thankful or not, acknowledge the love of God in your life. Thank Him for the trials, even when you don’t feel thankful. Let Him sort it out.

Let’s talk about your debut novel, Friend Me (Howard Books, February 2014). Please tell us about it.

I called the book Friend Me from the beginning. Sometimes we have to change the working title, but this one stuck. It’s all about a young Christian couple. She’s stuck at home with the kids. Lonely, not many friends. She finds a website where she can create a virtual friend. Not a real person, but in most ways, just as good. She’s thrilled, and shows her husband.

He’s in a high-stress job, working late every night. His relationship with God has gone absent. He tries the virtual friend thing one day at work, but creates a virtual girlfriend. His virtual girl encourages him, is there all the time, and meets his more prurient needs.

The problem is, there’s a real woman behind both (supposedly) virtuals. And she wants him for herself.

What inspired the story?

My day job is as a software developer. The whole virtual friend idea came to me one day in a design meeting at work. I played with the idea of building a website where people could design the perfect friend. One who would always be encouraging, remember your birthday, be interested in what you were doing. And be someone who was totally private. You could tell her anything. In short, a person made to order.

My wife quickly discouraged the idea by showing me all the ways it could be turned to let’s say problematic—uses. People would be recreating deceased children, girlfriends, boyfriends . . . you name it. There would be no limits. She said, “You ought to write about it, not produce it.”

She was right. Now I think we’ve got a great story.

A few fun questions…

When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why

Get your gag reflex under control. Like I tell my kids, “I love you more than buttermilk.” That’s it. I love buttermilk, nice and cold. If I have a half-gallon nearby, I’ll drink all of it.

When I was around twelve years old I used to deliver newspapers. I had a big basket on my bike, and I’d throw the Springfield (Massachusetts) Shopping News on people’s porches. I’d stop by the Longmeadow Community Market, pick up a quart of buttermilk, and put it in the basket with my papers. It would be empty by the time I got home.

To be fair, I also like pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut or Domino’s. No wonder I’m on a perpetual diet.

This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?

I have the most neglected banjo in the world hanging on the wall. I’m looking at it feeling guilty as I write this. I sure wish I could play that thing.

If you were a song, what kind of a song would you be?

A romantic ballad from the forties or early fifties. I love that music. If my daughter should happen to read this (she’s sixteen right now), she’ll be rolling her eyes. Dads are just dads.

In the story that is your life, are you the tall, dark stranger; the romantic lead; the mythical warrior; the mad scientist; or the child in an adult’s body?

None. I’m the guy in the story that is struggling to do right in the face of a world that is warring against him. He persists, even when he sees no end in sight.

In my day job as a software developer, I have often said that the most valuable talent a person can have is persistence. Simply staying with a thing until it gets done.

So I wouldn’t make a very good story character!

I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.

I miss my dog Stanley. He was a German Shepherd and Collie mix that we bought when I was about three years old. I still remember the owner carrying him out to our car. He was twelve or thirteen years old when my mom finally had him put to sleep. I didn’t talk to her for a month. Of course, now I understand what she was up against a little better. Stanley would bite people that came to our door. I thought it was funny. Most people didn’t.

I also miss Bark. We bought Bark as a Golden Retriever  puppy in 1999 when we moved to Indiana, from China. He got crippled from being hit by a car and got to where he couldn’t walk. We had him put to sleep by a vet while he lay on the back seat of my car, with his head in my daughter’s lap. I can’t even think about it. He was a loving, faithful animal. He sure did like to run off, though.

Thank you, John! It’s nice to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.

Your questions were interesting and made me think more than I usually do. Some were even fun! Thanks for asking me to be part of Divine Detour.

~ ~ ~

For more information about John, visit his website.

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2017-10-03T18:59:10+00:00 February 4th, 2014|Literary|Comments Off on John Faubion ~ Friend Me