Deborah Raney’s debut novel, A Vow to Cherish, was made into a film by Billy Graham’s World Wide Pictures. The experience, she says, was a confirmation that she had been called from God to write.
Since that time, Deb has become one of the most well-known novelists in the inspirational market, having published more than twenty-five novels and a number of essays and articles for publications like Christian Parenting Today, Writer’s Digest’s Writing Success, Welcome Home, and Mary Engelbreit’s Home Companion. A sought after teacher, mentor, and encourager to other writers, Deb is an avowed extrovert who enjoys interacting with fellow writers online and at author retreats and writing conferences.
She and her husband, Ken, have been married thirty-seven years and are now empty nesters with four children and four grandchildren. They reside in a small town in Central Kansas.
You’ve said you were twelve years old when you first felt the call to write. How did you prepare for eventually fulfilling that call?
I did two main things: I read everything I could get my hands on. And I wrote—letters, short stories, poetry . . . anything that would help me practice and hone my craft. I also took every creative writing class that was offered in high school and college, and doing so gained me some encouraging feedback from my teachers and professors.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Many, many times. First, by asking me to break up with my high school boyfriend, which led me to my wonderful husband of almost thirty-eight years. Most recently, the detour began with my husband’s layoff three years ago from a job he’d held faithfully for twenty-five years. I thought it was one of the worst things that could happen to us, but God took it and turned it into one of the biggest blessings of our lives. My husband started his own company and now not only does he love what he’s doing, but he is also free to travel with me to teach at conferences, to visit our grandkids, and whatever other opportunities the Lord opens for us. It’s been an amazing time!
How does your faith play into your writing?
I once thought I wanted to write books for the secular market–books that would not be blatantly Christian, but would be wholesome and free of profanity, graphic violence or sex. But the more I worked on my first novel, the more I realized that I could not write “honestly” without being open about how faith transforms a person’s life. I’ve occasionally written about characters who don’t know the Lord, and how they come to find faith in Him, but my favorite theme in writing is how faith empowers Christians to walk through difficult, even tragic, circumstances with peace and joy. That, to me, is what makes faith in Christ attractive!
Here’s a little blurb about this third novel in the Hanover Falls series:
Eighteen months after the tragic Grove Street Fire took the life of her husband, David, and four other heroic firefighters, Susan Marlowe thinks she’s finally beginning to heal. But then she discovers that David carried a secret to his grave. A secret that changes everything she thought their marriage had been. For the sake of their sons, can Susan forgive the unforgivable?
Andrea Morley lost her closest friend in the fire. But she has no right to mourn him. Instead, she must forever grieve in silence—because her dearest friend was someone else’s husband.
Peter Brennan carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. As Hanover Falls’ fire chief, he was responsible for the brave firefighters who lost their lives that awful November night. Can he ever shake the feeling that he should have somehow prevented the tragedy? As Pete tries to rebuild the team at Clemens County’s Station 2, it seems he might find comfort in the arms of the woman he least expected.
God often uses our stories to teach us when we’re writing them. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book or series?
It’s amazing—or maybe it’s to be expected—how often my characters end up walking a very similar path as mine. For instance, just as Ken found himself without a job, my Jenna Morgan in Forever After was facing a similar trial. I’m sure that as I was processing what our new circumstances meant, and as I was praying for the Lord to deliver us from our trials, those emotions and spiritual lessons came through in my writing. I love how writing a novel really turns into a wonderful study of God’s Word and His ways.
You teach and mentor at a number of writer’s conferences each year. What is your favorite piece of advice to give pre-published writers?
My best advice for aspiring authors is something I wrote a few years ago for a collection one of my writers groups produced called What the Wind Picked Up:
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned about the writer’s life is that it is full of ups and downs. In your own eyes, you will never, ever “arrive.” Some months you’ll be on top and feel wonderful about how things are going; other months you’ll be sure your career is over. The sooner you accept that this is normal––and just show up at your desk anyway, day after day after day––the more likely you are to start having more ups than downs. Besides, it’s not about you anyway. Though the act of writing may be therapeutic for the writer, a book doesn’t really come to life until it’s read by someone else. If God uses your story to bring joy or comfort or reproof or wisdom to even one other life, you are a success in the eyes of the only One who matters.
~ Deborah Raney, author of The Hanover Falls Novels
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Homemade Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream! Or any kind of ice cream! I just love it. But it’s definitely a guilty pleasure because nothing puts weight on me faster!
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
I tried out for a special chorus group in high school and was delighted when I made it. The Lionaires sang for many special events in our town and school and it was a great experience. I took piano lessons for three years, but I didn’t practice like I should have, so mostly play by ear. Since I was five or six I’ve been able to listen to a song a few times and then pick it out on the piano.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
Definitely a country ballad. I love songs that tell stories.
Are you a major or a minor chord?
Definitely major. I was born a PollyAnna and try as I might, I can’t seem to “sober up.” : ) My mom says I was an optimist almost from the day I was born. I think it’s a pretty good way to live.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
What a fun question! My first thought was girl next door, but on second thought I might be the little girl trying to walk in high heels. Whatever success I’ve ever had in life, I’ve always felt a little like an impostor who doesn’t deserve what she got.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Growing up on a farm in Kansas, I was privileged to claim all sorts of animals as pets, including the hogs I raised and showed for our 4-H club. We always had dozens of cats (to keep the mice population down in the barn and granaries) and I loved and lost many wonderful dogs. Since we’ve lived in town all my adult life, we’ve made cats our pet of choice. A few years ago a mama cat appeared on our front porch and our daughter made the “mistake” of feeding her. She adopted us and presented us with nine kittens before she went on her way. We found homes for all but the cutest one, Sundae, and we happily kept her and love her to pieces!
Thanks, Deb! It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
Thank YOU! I’ve enjoyed our conversation! : )
~ ~ ~
For more information about Deborah Raney and her books, visit her website at http://www.deborahraney.com/.
To purchase After All logon to: