My Best Friend’s Funeral

Tomorrow & Friday I’ll be live-blogging from Catalyst sharing all the gold nuggets from Andy Stanley, Judah Smith, Craig Groeschel, and others.


Today, I share an interview I did with my friend and author Roger Thompson.

Last week Roger and I met at Social Tap – Ventura and discussed his new book which I absolutely love! Roger’s a great story-teller who inspires the reader to pause and self-examine his own heart.

3dCoverBookSo, as we hammered through a basket of fries, I asked Roger, “So, how would you describe My Best Friend’s Funeral in one sentence?”

Roger: It’s a ‘coming of age’ story with the high & lows of life that are both jacked up and beautiful.

Me: I always love to hear the “backstory” of a book. Why did you write this book?

Roger: As I looked back at my life, I was like a rocket ship taking off in my 20’s and 30’s. My business and life were going great. Right after Tim died, life sort of stopped but not just because of Tim’s death. It was a combination of things that included losing my best friend, my business closing, and suddenly I felt like I was failing. I was stuck. I felt like I lost my mojo.

So, even though I’d never written before, I started writing about my life.

Me: I bet that was therapeutic!

Roger: Yea. It was a cathartic exercise. I wanted to remember the big story and remember when I was most myself to give me confidence and get back to who I really was.

In my writing, I was searching for myself and because of the writing I actually became myself. It turns out; I was a writer and didn’t know it!

Everything about life was suddenly better. I discovered I was an artist trapped in a business suit.

Me: Wow! That’s must’ve been a remarkable experience. So, as you wrote the book, what’s your favorite part of the book?

Roger: My favorite part to write was the fishing stories. The fishing stories are the backdrop of fatherhood, which is ultimately God and the water signifies the Holy Spirit. So there are many different layers in the fishing stories.

Me: That’s awesome. But, I gotta be honest. I totally missed that symbolism when I read your book.

Roger: Yea lots of people tell me they are really drawn into the story but don’t know why it touches them so much. I tell them it’s because the story represents how much Jesus loves them and we all like that.

Me: One of the things I love about MBFF is how honest you are with your own doubts with faith, frustrations with God, etc. Has your candor created any pushback from people in the Christian community?

Roger: A little. In one scene at the lake I write about my prayer when I finally surrendered to Christ. I was hurting before I prayed. However, after my prayer I felt exactly like I did before, maybe even worse. Some people felt uncomfortable with me sharing that.

I have found in my relationship with God that my growth is slow, unpredictable and surprising.

Me: Yea, me too. So, there are great themes throughout the book (Father wound, questions about faith, grieving, 1st year of marriage and parenting, etc.). Is there one theme that people seem to be responding to the most?

Roger: Men seem to connect with two themes (one that I expected and one I didn’t). Many guys connect with the father wound – especially those who are currently fathering. The thing I didn’t expect was to hear how many guys have told me they don’t have a close friendship and don’t know how to find one. They want what Tim and I had.

Women seem to relate more with the close relationship Tim and I had.

Me: What do you hope the reader takes away from your book?

Roger: I hope there’s some self-examination. I cover so much ground for the person in different stages of life that I think people can easily connect with the story.

Me: This is your first writing experience. What have you enjoyed most?

Roger: I love the struggle of writing. I hate the 1st hour but love the time after that.

Me: What’s your writing process?

Roger: I have a few different writing approaches:

  • Most days I have a daily word count goal of anywhere from 500 – 2,000 words a day. These don’t have to be great words either just creating content that can be edited later.
  • Deeper, emotional stuff I approach differently. This is when I get away and really pour myself into the writing emotionally.
  • Forming the story of words. This writing approach is more about shaping than creating. Putting chapters and transitions together.

Me: So how do you start your writing when you’re staring at the blank screen?

Roger: Hemmingway said, “Write one true thing.”

So my approach was to write down one truth about “grief, or catching a wave, or the real feeling of the first kiss, or the true feeling of getting a call that your best friend just died.” Sometimes that truth was a word. Sometimes it was a paragraph.

After I have that one true thing then I write the story around it. I like to write to people’s heart.

Me: I’ve never heard that before. That’s gold. So where did you do most of your writing?

Roger: Inside my VW Westfalia Van at the beach, my writing office at home, and various coffee shops. I actually became superstitious about writing pretty quickly in the process. I have a lucky writing shirt that I like to wear.

Me: What? You have a lucky writing shirt?

Roger: Yea. It’s not that great looking or comfortable but it seems to work for me.

Me: Man I need to get one of those! Did you ever get away for extended time to write?

Roger: Sometimes I got away for a couple of days for the emotionally tough stuff so my kids didn’t see me as an emotional wreck.

Me: What time of day do you do most of your writing?

Roger: First thing in the morning. Usually, I try to be done by 10 or 11am since I’m not a full-time writer.

Me: Now that have experienced the book writing process from beginning to end, are you going to write another one?

Roger: Yes. Several.

roger-w-thompson

Me: Congratulations man. You’ve written a great book!

Roger W. Thompson advocates for orphans in Haiti with the Hands and Feet Project, and produces surf movies with Walking on Water Films. When not working, Roger can be found fly-fishing, building furniture, and surfing with his sons near the coastal town of Ventura, California, where he lives with his wife, two young sons, one old dog, and seven productive chickens.

Pick up your copy of My Best Friend’s Funeral here or at your local bookstore. Follow Roger on twitter or facebook. Watch this trailer for the book. For more information, check out Roger’s website.

Our conversation will be better if you participate.

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