Born into the Catholic faith, Karina Fabian came to love her faith deeply, as an adult. Ms. Fabian has found that her strongest encounters with God’s love happens in the ordinary events of day-to-day living, especially being a busy mom of four children.
Karina Fabian has found a delightful way to incorporate her deep religious faith while providing entertaining fantasy and science fiction stories to readers. Ms. Fabian has edited three science fiction anthologies and has one published fantasy novel, her newest release, Why God Matters, which is her first non-fiction book.
First of all, could you tell us a bit about Why God Matters? What is the story about, who are the characters, etc.?
Far too often, we expect God to show Himself in grand ways yet ignore when He makes His presence known in the day to day. Neither Deacon Steve nor Karina had dramatic conversions. Rather, God led them into deeper faith through the seemingly minor details of life: pot of rice, a habit of prayer, a frustrating flight home, or a barefooted stranger. This father-daughter team have written a delightful, quick book about finding God in the day-to-day. With thought-provoking quotes, heartwarming stories, Bible verses, passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and simple exercises the reader can fit into his or her daily routine, they help others recognize God's presence. Great for the casual or converting Catholic longing for something more in their relationship with God, or the "advanced" Catholic wanting light spiritual exercise.
Do you have a favorite excerpt from Why God Matters? Could you share that with us, please?
The following is my personal favorite for a couple of reasons. First, I'd heard bits of the grain silo story over the years, but never this part! Second, my dad spent a lot time chuckling over the antics of his childhood as we worked on this story, and third, because he came a long way in improving this story from the first draft.
I can still hear the clang of the jail cell door as it closed behind me and my brothers in 1960. We were just teenagers, and I was terrified that it would never open again and that I would never get free. No matter how many times we told the sheriff we were innocent, he wouldn’t believe us.
The night before, someone had destroyed $4,000 of feed and seed by slashing the bags and pouring them down the elevator shaft. The real culprits had implicated us — and our reputations had sealed our guilt.
In the small town of Berthoud, population 1,200, everyone knew the Lumbert boys were trouble. We left burning sacks of doggie doo on random doorsteps. We moved the outhouse to the middle of Main Street. The night of the crime, we’d skipped Bible study to run around town. In fact, later that evening, we were hanging out with the real culprits, throwing water balloons at a state patrol car. We couldn’t resist temptation when it looked like it would be fun.
All day long, the deputies would grill me or one of my brothers, trying to get us to admit we were involved. We even tried demanding a lie detector test to prove our innocence! That was the longest day of my life. I spent a lot of time sitting on the jail cell bed — the only furniture in the room — thinking about what had gotten me into this mess.
What do you want readers to take away from reading Why God Matters?
I hope that they'll come away with a greater ability to see God in the small things in life, and that they'll realize that having a strong relationship with God doesn't have to be an exacting process nor does it have to involve sudden "burning bush" revelations. I've known some people who lost faith because he never had such a revelation, but God doesn't work like that with all of us. Some of us meet him in the ordinary.
What was the most fun about writing Why God Matters?
Collaborating with my dad, Steve Lumbert. We learned a little about each other – I knew the story about him and his brothers getting wrongly accused, but I didn't know they'd spent the day in jail over it! He also told me several hilarious stories of the Lumbert brothers' shenanigans.
It was also interesting to see how he responded to my being the expert. All my life, I've come to him for advice, but writing is my profession, so I was the leader in the book, and I was a pretty tough taskmaster!
What was the hardest part about writing Why God Matters?
Collaborating with my dad. Dad lives in a different time zone and is very busy in the day; I write by day and save evenings for the kids. I had to adjust my schedule, and Dad had to give me a few very intense evenings as we hashed out the stories. Also, as a deacon, he's more used to writing 10-minute homilies, so we had to do a lot of work narrowing the focus of his stories to meet the smaller word count.
What kind of research did you do for Why God Matters?
My dad and co-author and I spent a lot of time looking up Scripture verses and sections of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to go with our stories. Thanks to the searchable Bible and Catechism online, it was really pretty easy and fun. The hardest part was deciding what verses best fit the intention of our stories.
Could you please tell us about your writing process?
I'm what they call a "pantster." I usually have a fair idea of what happens in a story, but not a lot of plot mapped out. The characters tell me where to go and what to do. It's very exciting because each scene is an adventure. I have plotted on occasion, but usually in loose terms, and often, the characters throw out my plans, anyway. (Trust me — they know much better than I do!)
It was similar for Why God Matters. I had some stories I'd written over the years that I thought would work for the book with some tweaking, but the rest I had to just sit down and examine my life. A few surprised me, especially the last story about my son. It's not one I ever thought of writing, and yet it brings the story full circle — father-daughter-grandson.
Do you ever put yourself within your characters?
All the time. Naturally, since Why God Matters contains our stories, naturally we were very close to the characters.
Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.
It varies by book. Sometimes, I make a soundtrack to listen to while I play, like hero music for my superhero spoof, Gapman (a WIP). If I'm feeling noir, I'll wear my fedora.
In general, if I'm stuck on a scene and my characters don't tell me where to go next, I'll take a break and do housework or take a shower while I mull over the problem.
Where do you get your ideas and inspirations?
The better question for me is, "How can I slow down the flow of ideas?" Maybe I'm just easily amused, but anything can be material, especially for my fiction. In my latest book, for example, I got ideas from lines in song, in-jokes with friends, ads on the radio, my daughter's complaints about the first guy to crush on her, TV shows and books, and news stories. The whole book started because someone spouted off the line, "They ate Jorgenson first." I don't look for ideas and inspiration — they ambush me!
How did you decide you wanted to be a writer? Was there any authors or books that made you think "Wow, that's what I want to do – craft stories of my own for others to read"?
I've always enjoyed writing and sharing my stories, but the moment I decided I wanted to make this a vocation was Lent 1996. I was a mother of toddlers, in the Air Force Reserves, but otherwise at home reading lots of books and getting subjected to way too many Disney movies. I was reading one of Harry Turtledove's later World War Three novels and it was awful. (Sorry, Harry. Normally, I love your stuff, but you were off your game!) I got madder and madder, thinking how I could have written this — and better. It finally hit me: even if I could, I wasn't. I vowed to give up reading for Lent and take up writing instead. I wrote my first fiction piece in years ("Cinders," which ended up in Twisted Fayrie Tales) and got a job with Wyoming Catholic Register that month.
I haven't stopped writing since, although I am reading again.
What make you take that leap from "wanting" to be a writer, as opposed to "becoming" a writer? Many talk of being a writer and dip their toes in, but it seems there is often a sort of "push" to bring one over that wall.
BICHOK: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard. After that, it's learning not just about how to craft a good story, but also how to market it — writing strong query letters, the ins and outs of contracts and how to market your books once published. However, if you never get the words on paper (or in the computer file), you can't do the rest.
How do you come up with the names of your characters? It almost seems as though, as an author, you have the continuous fun of naming children!
Obviously, Why God Matters is non-fiction, so the names are real (unlike on Dragnet, where they're changed to protect the innocent.) In my fiction, however, it can vary. Some simply name themselves, like my dragon Vern d'Wyvern (who received that unfortunate name from a pope with less imagination than spirituality). Others I actually look up in the white pages of the area where I want that person from. Some are found in baby books for their meanings. And sometimes, I poll friends or fans. It really depends on the character. It is a lot of fun, but when I have a lot of characters, it can get frustrating, too!
Were you an avid reader as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books?
I read ALL THE TIME as a child. I would even go hiking with my nose in a book. I don't know why I didn't run into more trees and telephone poles! I loved Madeleine L'Engle, Piers Anthony, EE Doc Smith, Isaac Asimov–see a pattern? When a friend gave me some romance novels for my 16th birthday, I promptly exchanged them for Star Trek novelizations — James Blish, most likely. My first novel began from my imagining Charles Wallace (Wrinkle in Time) as a college student. The final novel is very different — I'd never want what happened to my character to happen to Charles!
If you had to summarize your life and give it a book title, what would that title be?
Who Knew Happily Ever After Could Be So Easy?
What are you working on right now? Could you give us a taste/teaser (aka excerpt) from your current WIP?
Oh, my! It's so different from Why God Matters! I'm working on a humorous novel about a zombie exterminator who is training a bunch of apprentices on a reality TV show. However, after that, I'm going to rework my Catholic sci-fi novel, Discovery.
Here's a teaser from that, from where trillionaire Augustus Cole is recruiting his friend, James, to explore an alien ship they discovered on an asteroid past Pluto:
"Did you have to say crash? You brought a ship out of salvage for this?" James said.
Augustus shrugged. "Hey, do you know how hard it is to find a ship on short notice that can make that kind of run? The Edwina Thomas is a great ship. She's been doing cruises to Saturn and back for two decades. First class engines, if outdated. They'd just started scrapping her insides, which made refit into a research vessel easier. It's not her fault her company went under."
"Was it yours?"
"No, O Father Confessor, it was not."
"I'm not a priest anymore," James grumbled. "I never really was."
Augustus leaned forward, trying to catch his eye, and he turned his face. Low to the horizon, a small, bright light tracked across the sky. LEO-York. Cole's family had built that city, then Augustus had sold all his real estate and rights in order to invest in asteroid mining–or asteroid miners. He had a cooperative agreement with various small ops that the press heralded as "unconventional." James remembered laughing about it to Rita. Now he worked for the man, even considered him a friend. And Rita?
He pulled his mind away from the thoughts that had haunted him all day.
Augustus couldn’t do anything in a conventional way. A cruise ship for a research vessel.
An archaeologist to explore an alien ship.
He turned to face Augustus, one elbow on the railing. "Why me? Why an archaeologist?"
"You mean other than it makes Thoren vent air?" When James didn't laugh, he cleared his throat and spoke seriously, again positioning himself to match James' posture. "An engineer gets given a piece of equipment and told to figure out what it is. What is he going to do?"
James shrugged. "Push buttons? Take it apart?"
"Exactly! Give biologist a new specimen, what will she do?"
Augustus stopped leaning on the railing, his hands in front of him, palms together, fingers pointed toward James. "Right! That's what we have going up so far. But James, this is more than equipment or a new species–this is a peek at a new civilization! Who do you send in to study that?"
James pushed himself off the railing. "An archaeologist."
What are you reading right now?
I'm evaluating the Father Brown Reader for the Catholic Writers' Guild Seal of Approval. It's a middle-grade reader based on the Chesterton mysteries. I'm enjoying it immensely and looking forward to reading it again to my nine-year-old for his opinion. (We still have bedtime stories. I love it!)
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Madeleine L'Engle will always stay close to my heart. Now, I like Terry Pratchett, Jim Butcher, Ann Lewis (my crit partner — her book comes out in August), Mercedes Lackey. I've tried to branch out my interests and so I read a variety of other authors, but SFF will always be my favorite.
If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Oh, that's a tough one. I wouldn't know what to say! I'd be afraid of coming off as a fangirl or too aloof! However, I'd love to talk to Madeleine L'Engle about what plans she had for Charles Wallace, if any. That character is still dear to my heart.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?
#1 Publish a book a year.
#2 Get my DragonEye, PI novels published regularly.
#3 Finish Discovery
#4 Get an agent or get "in" with a large traditional publisher
Is there anything that you would like to add? That you would like readers to know about you or your writing?
My writing has a lot of faith aspects in it — sometimes enough that it gets labeled "Catholic" or "Christian." However, I don't write to evangelize and I don't aim for religious fiction. I do believe that faith is a part of the human experience, however, and I don't ignore it in my characters. Besides, religion is interesting and fun!
I find that readers of all faiths — or no religious persuasion — agree. Last month, my fantasy novel, Magic, Mensa, and Mayhem won the INDIE Book Award for best fantasy, and all of my books so far have won or placed in popular (not religious) categories in the EPPIE awards, the Preditor and Editor Readers' polls and other areas.
Where can readers get in touch with you? Twitter, Blog, Facebook, etc?
For more about Why God Matters: www.whygodmatters.com
For more about me: www.fabianspace.com
My blog (where I vary between gen news and my work in progress) www.fabianspace.blogspot.com
If you like dragons, mystery and satire, www.dragoneyepi.net