Author Robin W. Pearson is taking time from her busy schedule to discuss her latest release, Dysfunction Junction.
What inspired this story?
When I was four years old, a neighbor nearly ran over me with his station wagon, and my sisters, parents, and I each tell a slightly different version or part of the event we think we all witnessed. Such is life, where factors like relationship—to one another and to God—age, maturity, and feelings impact our perspective. And such is Dysfunction Junction, in which my characters have unique ways of viewing and handling their shared life experience. But how they see things doesn’t mean that’s how it was. Or how it has to be.
What messages or themes do you focus on in this book?
In this story, I show how God can reveal, restore, and recover what’s broken, whether it’s an old house, relationships, a fragile faith, or lies disguised as truth. The women in Dysfunction Junction explore what love really means and see how God continually meets their need for relationship, family, and community in unexpected ways—through adoption, the bonds of sisterhood and friendship, multigenerational interactions, and marriage.
How does faith play a role in this story?
The story takes shape around the passage from Psalm 27:10, “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.” Through the lives of my characters, I show how God’s love is unfailing, even when others let us down. He makes provision for our need for love, truth, and shelter, even when we are unaware He is working on our behalf.
What do you hope that readers learn from Dysfunction Junction?
I hope readers see that truth doesn’t necessarily have an “s” and that the God of all truth will open our understanding if we seek Him. Through this book, I encourage them to explore heart-related issues related to sibling dynamics and birth order, forgiving someone who hasn’t asked for it; and loving in spite of, not because of. When people read Dysfunction Junction, I want them to search their hearts and lives for evidence of their own dysfunction and seek God for healing and restoration.
What did you hope to communicate about mother-daughter relationships through this story?
Frankie, Annabelle, and Charlotte discover in Dysfunction Junction that mother-daughter relationships take work, and they don’t always look the way you want them to or expect. “Mothering” doesn’t come naturally to some; it takes God to move the heart. A nurturing relationship can occur between siblings and by others in the community, and the absence or the abuse of this crucial connection can impact a family for generations.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of the writing process? What advice would you offer young writers?
It’s so challenging to “just keep swimming,” like in Finding Nemo—to avoid the distractions of social media; celebrate, not imitate, other authors and their stories; and ignore that voice that whispers worries and what ifs. What helps is to focus on what God has called me to do, to courageously and faithfully “do the work” (1 Chronicles 28:20).
Which books and authors have shaped you most as a writer?
The Bible forms the basis of the truth in my fiction, so it’s the Book I open first. While I love Christian authors, I also enjoy Maeve Binchy’s impactful stories about families in small towns, Liane Moriarty’s way of crafting mystery and interesting characters, and Bebe Moore Campbell’s use of compelling dialogue and contemporary settings.
Do you have any other writing projects planned?
I’m currently researching a novel that explores the idea that “your sins will find you out.” It’s set in a family-owned bookstore in a (you guessed it!) small North Carolina town. Also, I’m blogging about what God has taught us during our recent renovation and in our continued adventures as a homeschooling family.
Robin W. Pearson’s writing sprouts from her Southern upbringing, her belief in Jesus Christ, and her love of her husband, seven children, and their dog, Oscar. Her novels are “rooted in the soul of the story” and include her Christy Award–winning debut, A Long Time Comin’, as well as ’Til I Want No More, Walking in Tall Weeds, and her latest, Dysfunction Junction. Robin has corrected grammar up and down the East Coast in her career as an author, editor, and blogger and in her calling as a homeschooling mama of many. She loves to share about her faith and her family because they’re the source and subject of her fiction—in her novels, in the new characters currently living and breathing on her computer screen, and in the stories waiting to be told about the experiences at her own kitchen sink. Follow her @robinwpearson and sign up for her blog and newsletter on robinwpearson.com.