Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Would You Want a Secret, Virtual Friend?

          My good friend John Faubion has achieved what many dream of doing, but don’t attempt: He has taken inspiration from his day job and authored a suspense novel, which released yesterday, February 4. The publisher is Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.
          The title, Friend Me, may sound innocuous enough, but beneath those two words lies a realm of high-tech intrigue that pulls the characters in directions they never imagined. John was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.

RB: John, without revealing too much of the plotline, share a little about Friend Me.

JF: I called the book Friend Me from the beginning.  Sometimes we have to change the working title, but happily, 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.
          Her husband is in a high-stress job, working late every night. He tries the virtual friend thing one day at work, but creates a virtual girlfriend. The problem is, there’s a real woman behind both (supposedly) virtuals. And she wants this man for herself.
happily, 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.

RB: John, so what is your day job, and how did it inspire your novel?

JF: 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 such a website, but my wife quickly discouraged the idea by showing me all the ways it could be turned to — let’s say problematic — uses.

RB: So, the people who subscribe to this virtual friend service build their own friend, like a confidant?

JF: A great number of people are on Facebook and other social media sites, always looking for friends. Of course, the great fear that people who use these social media platforms have is that they’ll reveal too much about themselves. Everyone knows that the Internet has a long memory. Once you put something online, it’s out there forever. People are commonly invited to “friend me.” So my idea [in the story] was to let the users build a virtual friend, one who would be entirely unique, and completely private. No one else would ever know what you discussed. You could share your dreams, your hopes, and all your weaknesses. That virtual friend would always understand, always be encouraging.

RB: Sounds wonderfully creepy. Especially since—contrary to the characters’ assumptions—a real human being is intercepting their private communications and manipulating them for her own purposes. But how did you find the discipline to go from being a non-writer to churning out a complete manuscript?

JF: Have you ever felt like, If I don’t do it now, I’ll probably never do it? I started taking my iPad to McDonalds during lunch, using my Saturdays, vacation days… anywhere I could find time. The key is persistence. You keep moving forward and eventually you get there. Of course, I’m preaching to myself when I say that. Even now, I’m struggling with balancing the day job, family time, publicity for this book, and working on a second.

RB: So, you’re already at work on a second book? Please give a quick teaser about

JF: I’ve got two in the oven right now. I’m not sure which will win. The first is tentatively named Bundle. It is a sequel to Friend Me. It’s about a cult family that has practiced serial killing for a hundred years, based on the old Pawnee Indian human sacrifice. A teen girl has disappeared, and Scott Douglas must travel to
Nebraska (Indian Country) to discover what’s become of her.
          The second, tentatively named Follow Me, is about a young pastor who is threatened by a demon he is driving out. “If you make me go, I will rape and kill your wife and daughters.” He guards and protects his family until he is killed in a chance car accident. As she stands by his grave, his wife asks God, “Who will protect us now?” Who, indeed?

RB: Speaking of following, where can people follow you on the Internet, John?

JF: My website is My author page on Facebook is

RB: Congratulations again on the release of Friend Me yesterday, and I wish you well
on book #2. Thanks for sharing!

And thanks for being a good friend, Rick.


  1. Great interview and great book! Loved it and highly recommend Friend Me to anyone looking for suspense that's hugely relevant to the world we live in today. Thanks Rick!

    1. Thanks for dropping by, Tom! Glad to hear you enjoyed it, too.

  2. I have to say, this book really interests me. What a great concept...