Fascinated by pulp fiction and thriller novels as a child, a UA graduate student harnessed his love for literature and passion for storytelling by publishing his first novel.
Christopher Farris, an English M.A. student, is the author of “The Fountain,” a horror novel set in the Ozarks. The Wild Rose Press released the book on Jan 4., after Farris spent over a year of writing and went through five-to-six rounds of editing, he said.
Writing was always a secret ambition of Farris’, which he was always afraid to pursue, he said. Although he had always been fascinated by the arts, he never thought of himself as a creator. However, after taking some creative writing classes, some of Farris’ professors encouraged him to submit his novellas to several magazines and other publications, and he was pleasantly surprised when some chose to publish them.
“I got to a point where the short stories weren’t really telling the whole story that I wanted to tell, or the stories I started to come up with with were bigger than what we could fit in a short story,” Farris said. “So I started messing around with the idea of a novel.”
Farris graduated from Capella University in 1993 and stopped writing after he joined the military, he said. He resumed his education in 2017 and got his second bachelor’s degree at the UofA, in English with an emphasis in creative writing. Farris said he has worked with many faculty members during his time at the UofA who have helped him grow as a writer.
Jane Blunschi, assistant director of the UA English department’s program in creative writing and Translation, worked closely with Farris during his undergraduate years. She first read his short stories during a fiction workshop. Blunschi said she thinks Farris is an excellent writer who has an impressive sense of what he wants to write.
“I’m thrilled for Chris, and I am not that surprised that this is part of his future because he is such a dedicated writer,” Blunschi said. “I want to extend my warmest congratulations to him. This is super exciting. It is always thrilling to see a creative writing undergrad moving forward in their chosen field and receiving this kind of praise for their accomplishments. We’re just really proud.”
One of Farris’ main inspirations for “The Fountain” was his younger brother Greg Farris, whom he mentions in the book’s dedication as someone who lent him his imagination. Greg is a screenplay writer, and the two bounced many ideas off of one another during the writing process, Farris said. Although he knew the general direction in which he wanted to go within the story, Farris had hundreds of discussions with his brother that helped in the development of the novel.
“The last 10-15% of the book I refused to tell him what was coming, but everything before that — the characters, the background — all of that was a negotiation between us,” Farris said. “The guy’s got a fantastic imagination and that book would not exist without him.”
Farris had a hard time finding publications and agents that would accept his work after finishing the first draft of his novel. After making heavy revisions and pitching his story to an editor from The Wild Rose Press, the publisher bought his novel and they continued the editing process together.
Farris’ graduate advisor, Leigh Sparks, the assistant director of the UA graduate program in English, helped publicize the book’s launch through the Arkansas Newswire.
"We are so excited about the recent publication of Chris's latest novel, a horror story that builds upon the legends of the Ozarks, and we look forward to seeing him continue his career as an author,” Sparks said.
Although his first novel has just been published, Farris is already looking forward to keeping his momentum going. He is working to polish his manuscript for a second book that tells the story of a group of truck drivers, and is planning a third novel that will be a tie-in to “The Fountain” and will follow a young girl living in the Ozarks in 1918.
“In my teen years I read non-stop, I still read non-stop,” Farris said. “My first loves were John Carter of Mars, Tarzan and Stephen King and to a kid, who was really kind of bookish and interested in the world, it was a way to fall in love with words and I love those stories. I think there’s something to be said about reading just for fun, and so I wanted to write something that was fun.”