BOOK FUN MAGAZINE - FREE READ

NORA INTERVIEWS DEBORAH RANEY


How did you start out your writing career? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

The summer I was 11 and read Laura Ingalls Wilders' Little House books, I remember reading in the back of one of them something like "Laura was a little Kansas farm girl who grew up to write the stories of her life." It was as though a lightbulb went off and I thought, "Wow! I'm a little Kansas farm girl, too! Maybe someday I could grow up and write a book." It was the first time I connected the fact that every book had an author, had to spring from someone's imagination. From that day on, I wanted to someday write a book.

I really love your books Deb and how you have your characters face some really difficult times in the middle of doing the right thing. Many of your books make you ask God "Why did you let this happen? Have you had readers write in about that very subject? Is there any part of you in your characters? If so which ones? Do Tell!


Wow! That's a lot of questions rolled into one! : ) The theme of all my books, no matter what I start out thinking it will be, is that God is a Redeemer of hopes and dreams and lives. The longer I live, the more I realize that if we live long enough, we will experience some sorrow and some tragedy. But God is in the business of taking those very tragedies and turning them into something beautiful--beauty for ashes, joy for mourning. I love that quality about God! And that's what my characters always discover. And yes, I do hear from readers who've experienced that in their lives, or who write to say that my stories have given them hope that they will eventually find redemption for whatever trials they are going through.




(Deborah Raney's book called "A VOW TO CHERISH" was made into a movie. Here is the movie trailer that was made. I've seen the movie and it will definately pull at your heart strings. It's a very powerful and moving movie.)

Sometimes I think the purpose our books serve is just to let the reader know they are not alone. Someone else has felt the same joys and sorrows they are feeling. Just last night I received a phone call from an 82-year-old man who'd read my novel A Vow to Cherish, about a family dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. He said "I could really relate to everything in that book because my wife has had Alzheimer's for six years now." I didn't know this man, but by the time we hung up, I felt like I had a new friend. It's very gratifying to know the Lord is using my stories in that way.

To answer the second part of the question: there is much of me in my characters, especially those in my earlier novels. I soon learned that if I was going to continue to write, all my heroines couldn't look/think/act/speak exactly like I do, so I've learned to think outside the box and create some characters who are very different than I am, and some heroes who aren't exactly like my husband. But he and I both seem to keep sneaking into my books, so... : )


Out of all the books that you have written which one was your favorite book to write so far? Why? Which one was your most difficult? Why?

It's probably no coincidence that one of my favorite books was also my most difficult. A Nest of Sparrows is the book that took me to my knees, telling the Lord "I can't DO this!" The research threw me at every turn. Every time I thought I had an answer, I'd talk to another social worker or another judge or another guardian ad litem and I'd get a different answer! Part of the problem was that I was interviewing social services personnel from three different counties. Procedures, I discovered, do vary from county to county and state to state. At any rate, I finally was able to get the details and technicalities to fall into place, and once they did, the rest of the story almost wrote itself. But God had to step in in a big way.

I should probably say that A Nest of Sparrows is my favorite book to have written--key being past tense! The most fun book to actually write was Playing by Heart, my only (so far) romantic comedy. I've never thought of myself as a funny person, but in that book I cracked myself up--or rather my characters did. They kept doing hilarious things...things I did NOT tell them to do. But oh, they kept me entertained! And that book ended up being a Christy award finalist! I have an idea for a sequel called Playing for Keeps and I can't wait to get a chance to write it someday!


(Deborah's office in her house)

Is being an author everything you thought it would be? If not, what has been surprising to you?

Everything and then some! : ) I think there are two things that have surprised me about the writing life.

(Deborah's writing environment outside)
1. How hard the work is. It's a good thing I love my job because I put in many, many hours a day. Not just writing, but handling all the business aspects of being a working writer. Things like answering these interview questions, for instance. : )

2. How wonderful my peers are. When I contemplated being a writer, my one concern was what a solitary life writers lead. I'm an extrovert, a people person, and I wasn't sure how I'd handle all that time alone with only a computer to keep me company.

So I've been very pleasantly surprised by the opportunities to attend writers retreats, teach at conferences, and keep in touch through a number of wonderful, supportive online and in-person writing communities.

How did you come up with the idea for A Nest of Sparrows? That was an amazing story of Wade Sullivan and Starr Parnell and her three kids. Again the emotional interplay in that book was so real and believable. Did you do research for this story? If so what did you do?

Like many of my novels, the seed of the idea for the story came from something that actually happened. A friend of a friend of a friend's fiancée died, leaving him with difficult decisions regarding her children. I changed every detail of the real story for the novel, to make it my own, but real life holds the best stories, and that's probably why I so often hear that my stories seem very true-to-life, because they all have an element of the front page headlines to them.

The research for A Nest of Sparrows was, as I said above, the most difficult I've ever done, but every novel I've written--even those I think follow the "write what you know" maxim, end up requiring extensive research. Research isn't my favorite part of the writing process, but I take it very seriously and never underestimate the importance of good research. The most important things I did with A Nest of Sparrows was to interview dozens of people in the social services field, and to have a degreed social worker read my manuscript for accuracy in plot and details.


My next series has a significant event that happens in and surrounding a homeless shelter. I don't think it's a coincidence that our church has just begun a ministry to our local homeless shelter. I plan to take the training and sign up as a volunteer as a way of researching this novel. Of course, I've talked it over with the heads of the ministry, making sure they know my motivation. And I have no doubt the Lord will use this research "trip" as he has so many other, to teach me more of His truth.

What are you working on now? Can you tell us something about it?

I'm finishing up the first draft of a women's fiction story for Steeple Hill, and in the midst of that, copyedits for another novel came in. Here's the blurb that will appear on the back of that book, Insight:

She's having a baby

It's a blessing that brings comfort to newly widowed Olivia Cline.
Yet with no insurance, no job, and precious little money, how will
Olivia care for herself and her child?

The answer is a handsome and brooding artist seeking an assistant.
Reed Vincent has recently regained his eyesight, thanks to a donor.
And through his eyes, Olivia begins to see all the possibilities before her.
Before them.

Until, in a flash of insight, she knows why his signature is so hauntingly
familiar. The revelation could tear the couple apart . . . or open their eyes
to a new journey from sorrow to joy.

What was your favorite book as a child? Why?

I attended a two-room country schoolhouse, one of the last in Kansas. We had an incredible, but small, library and I'm sure I read every book on the shelves. But one I returned to over and over again was called The Village That Slept. It was the story of two young teens who survive a plane crash in Europe and care for a tiny infant survivor as they try to make their way out of the mountains to civilization. When my childhood school closed down, I lost track of that book, and spent three decades searching for it--except I couldn't remember the title OR the author! Makes it difficult to find a book if you don't know those two details. Long story short, I'd almost given up when I came across a reference to the book while I was researching a novel. (Turns out it was a translation from the French, and I'd been searching for a story set in the Alps, when actually the crash happened in the Pyrenées mountains.) The book was long out of print, but I was able to locate a used copy online. The dealer was asking $60 for it, but he cut his price in half, and then a dear writing friend sent me a $30 certificate to that site, so I got it free! When the book came in the mail some time later, it was like welcoming an old friend home!

Could you please share some of your Testimony with us?

I grew up in a warm, loving, Christian home, the oldest of five children. As a teenager, I took a brief detour into drinking, smoking and cursing (the three things my parents preached loudest against) but God got hold of me about a year later and I realized I wanted exactly the kind of life I saw my wonderful parents living with such integrity. I came home from a beer party one night, lay on my bed with my head swirling, and I told Jesus that I loved him and I wanted to live a life that would please him, but that I couldn't do it on my own. (Duh!) I never looked back, and life with Him has been an adventure every day!

How did you come up with the idea for Over the Waters - What an amazing subject matter? Did you come up with this title? If not what was the working title of your book?

About the time my parents became empty nesters, they began volunteering with Teen Mission International each winter, as well as becoming involved with an organization called Haiti Love and Faith, that supported an orphanage near Port au Prince, Haiti. They visited Haiti for 1-2 weeks of every winter and came to have such a heart for that country and its people. So they were my inspiration for Over the Waters. The title was my idea and it came from Psalm 29:3 - The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. I liked the double meaning of God's voice hovering "above the waters" as some versions say, and "over the waters" meaning crossing the ocean to travel to the country of Haiti. Unfortunately, I was never able to do that! Twice my husband and daughter and I had our airline tickets bought, only to have the flights canceled when violence broke out in Haiti. I'm very grateful that the Lord provided many people to help with the geographical, linguistic and cultural research I needed to do.

TOP THINGS YOU WANTED TO ASK DEBORAH, BUT WERE AFRAID TO, SO I DID!


1. If you could interview or hang out with someone alive or dead for 48 hours who would that person be and why? What questions would you like to ask them?


Alive, it would be my husband. Ken is simply the most interesting person I know and my favorite person in the world to hang out with. Someone dead: my little sister, who was killed in a car accident at 21, three months after her marriage. All my questions would be about what it's like to sit at the feet of Jesus and to dwell in Heaven.

2. Out of all the characters you have read in books; which one would you secretly want to be and why?

I'd like to be some character who's brave enough to go outside or down the basement at night and check on the scary noises. I have no idea who that character is because I'm too scared to read books with characters like that, which is why I'd like to BE one! (I'm president of the Big Honkin' Chicken Club, in case you didn't know!)



(My friend Ane Mulligan - fellow Big Honkin' chicken club member - filled me in on the fact that you were in the club with her. But she never told me you were the President. Ha! Ha! your secret it out.!).

3.If you had the time and money to learn something new, what would it be? Why? (Ok, Dream here – let's say that you will have the physical strength and coordination to do whatever it is you wanted to learn)

Well, when you throw coordination into the mix, I'd love to be a great dancer, preferably ballet; but I'd settle for country line dancing. ; ) Given my current talents and lots of time and money, I dream of becoming fluent in a second language, and I know the best way to do that is to live in a foreign country for a long period of time. I'd probably choose French, since I studied it for three years in high school and have a tiny head start.

4.If you had all the time in the world (and just as much money ;) to do anything you wanted, what would you do? Why?

Again, I'd probably choose traveling around the world. I love our home and don't like to be gone from it for long, but I also love exploring new things and would like to set a contemporary novel in Europe some day.

5.Look outside the back of your house right now – What do you see? Please describe it for us!



Oh! I see the gorgeous prairie garden my husband has created in our back yard. Because of an unusually cool and rainy summer, it is as lush now as it usually is late spring. If you'd like to see it, too, I have a whole blog about it here: http://kansasprairiegarden.blogspot.com
I've also created a blog where other novelists have graciously shared their garden spaces here: http://novelgarden.blogspot.com

6.What is a special quality, talent or event you have or have experienced that would surprise people? Please explain?

Quality: This isn't a good quality, but I have a bit of a temper. It's usually well under control, but once in a while I spout off--and am always sorry for it after! Talent: I play the piano by ear, and I speak fluent Pig Latin. ; )
Event: I witnessed a murder in our local grocery store--it happened fifteen years ago, September 8--the day before I received my first contract offer.

7. Where are your two favorite places to shop and why?


Flea markets and antique stores. I LOVE rummaging for treasures in these two places. I'm always looking for new ways to use old or used things. When I buy old things, they can't be too "precious." I must be able to use and enjoy them, not have to coddle and protect (or polish and clean!) them.

8.If you found a magic lamp and a genie was going to grant you three whishes – what would those wishes be and why?



I would wish that my life could always be as wonderful as it is right now. (We are in a particularly sweet season of life with four amazing adult children, two little grandbabies, a great marriage of 34 years, and a little more financial freedom than we had when we had three kids in college!) I would offer the other two wishes to someone who needs them far worse than I do. : )

9.What is your favorite place to eat Breakfast? What do you enjoy most there? If you had all the time and the money to go out do a special dinning spot where would that be and what would you order?


What I'd order is easy. I almost always order French toast when we eat breakfast out...with a side of bacon and the house blend coffee. Where isn't so important, but if time and money weren't an issue, well, then I'd want my French toast in France (where else!) at a quaint little sidewalk cafe.

10. Out of all the superhero movies out what ones are your favorite and why? (Ironman, Spiderman, Superman etc).If you could be a superhero for a day who would it be and why? (you can be creative and mix and match super powers - you are the author dream here! Ha!)

Oh goodness. I should ask my husband! He's the superhero expert at our house. I don't know enough about most of them to even choose intelligently. So I guess I'll make up my own super powers: I'd like to have super language ability. Not only would I be able to speak every language in the world, including the language of animals, but I'd also understand the unspoken words and the words between the lines; and I'd be able to communicate in a way that was never misunderstood, and I could help others understand what their loved ones really mean beneath the words that so often come out wrong and hurtful. You know, come to think of it, I think that's exactly what I try to do as a novelist! Does that mean I'm a superhero?! ; )

(You are in my book Deb!)

Are there any last comments you would like to leave with my ladies and readers?

Thanks so much for inviting me to chat, Nora. I loved your creative questions and appreciate the opportunity to meet some of my readers through your blog. Most readers probably don't realize how much we novelists treasure them. Truly, the notes I get from my readers are the fuel that powers my writer's engine, the reward that makes the hours of hard work all worthwhile. I appreciate them more than they will ever know!

Have a great day!
Deb~

Thanks Deb for sharing your heart,insight and letting us get to know you better. I have loved your books for years. It's nice to know the woman behind the story. Wow!! Some of the answers to your questions have just left be speechless!!

We are definately looking forward to talking to you at book club and discussing "Beneath a Southern Sky" really soon. Blessings on your writing journey Deb your books have kept me up until the wee hours of the morning many times. Thanks for being faithful to your calling.

Blessings on your writing - until we talk at book club.

Nora
:)

20 comments:

  1. Great interview!
    I have heard Ane talk about Deb Raney for a few years now. I really look forward to reading Beneath a Southern Sky for October book club meeting. I am sure it will inspire me to read more of Deb's books.

    Ginger Aster
    Suwanee, GA

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  2. Great interview, Nora! I've read several of Deborah's books, and loved them...she is a truly gifted writer. i've also had the privilege of interviewing her on the radio. Thanks for showcasing great fiction!

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  3. Ginger, you'll LOVE Beneath a Southern Sky!

    I have to honestly say I've loved every one of Deb's books. She's influenced me and my writing more than she knows. I don't write like her, but there's a similarity in genre. She's by far my favorite author.

    And I can tell you, she's as nice as she seems.

    And Deb, I don't believe a word of the temper part. :-}

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  4. As usual, a great interview! I love Deb's honesty. You certainly know how to bring out great stuff in interviews!

    Mimi B

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  5. Since I have read quite a few of Deb's books, it was really neat to learn more about Nest of Sparrows--that was always one of my favorites of your books,Deb. I have used it countless times as an example in working with clients of agents. (smile)

    Good interview, Nora, because I learned a few things about Deb I didn't know before! More things to admire about her. I'm looking forward to this latest book because she has an artist--my 2nd son is studying art in college and my uncle was an artist (and I toyed with it in college when an art professor tried to talk me into majoring in it!) The fact that Deb's husband is an artist will give some depth, I have no doubt!

    Oh, and I attended a 2-room schoolhouse, too. Those were the days, eh, Deb?

    Thanks Deb and Nora~

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  6. Hi Nora,
    Beneath a Southern Sky is my favorite of all of Deb Raney's books. I own two copies, one that is a cherished autographed copy that I do NOT loan (because I am very possessive) and one to share because I believe this book should be shared with as many people as possible. I also loved a Nest of Sparrows and DOn't you love Deb's titles? I always feel jealous of people who have never read Beneath a Southern Sky because I would love to pick it up again for the first time.

    This was one of the very best author interviews I've read. Excellent questions and presentation, Nora.
    Long may you interview authors. :)

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  7. Wow, what a thorough interview. I saw the cover for Intimate Moments with God, I contributed a story to that book as well.
    Liked the pic of Deb's office (I'd never have the nerve to post mine on the internet as it looks like the wreck of the Hesperus. ha ha)
    I have a pic of Deb and me taken about three years ago when we were at, OMG I can't remember, either CBA Advance, faculty at GCWC or something like that. Anyhow, thanks for sharing. Continued best wishes!

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  8. Your interview with Deb Raney was so entertaining. I think it is one of the best I have ever read. Your questions were so creative and some of hers surprising. Thanks for inviting me over to visit.

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  9. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for taking the time to read the interview. Nora did a fabulous job with the photos and such unique questions. It was FUN to answer them!

    Ane, you'll have to come over sometime when my daughter has left the washer and dryer full of clothes on MY day to do laundry. THEN you'll believe that temper thing. ; )

    And yes, Brenda, I think it was CBA Advance...I remember it was FREEZING cold in Indianapolis!

    So great to hear from each of you! And like Cindy said, thank you, Nora, for being a champion for Christian fiction!

    Have a great weekend everyone!

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  10. Absolutely loved the interview! As always you did a great job Nora. Am still reading Beneath a Southern Sky but I'm really hooked. Can't to finish and read more of Deb's books. Can't wait until book club in October for discussion.

    See ya soon Nora,
    Gail

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  11. Nora,
    Love the interview and I had no idea there even was a Big Honkin Chicken Club! Do you have to own a big chicken or does eating at Chik Fillet count?
    After reading this interview I certianly want to read the movie and see the book... (oops dixlexia strikes again)You know what I mean.

    Deb, going into the scary places to check on noises takes nerve but writing the way you do and sharing of yourself so transparently ministers to me and takes tremendous courage.
    Nora is right, you ARE a Super Hero in my book. Thanks for sharing of yourself with us.

    Just little ole me...

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  12. Nora,
    Fantastic interview! You give a great well rounded interview, I learned so much.

    I love all of Deb Raney's books and I look forward to the movie.

    Although I knew about the BHCC and her presidency, I did not know she witnessed a murder. WOW.

    Blessings to you both!

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  13. Great interview. Laura Ingalls Wilder also inspired me as a young child to love reading and writing.
    Look forward to hearing more from Deb at October book club.

    Marlene Rauch

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  14. Nora
    I loved the interview with Deborah Raney. And I loved "Beneath a Southern Sky". I was hooked almost immediately and couldn't wait to find out how all would be resolved. Now I want to read some of Deborah's other books since I enjoyed her style so much.
    Thanks for a great interview.
    Ann

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  15. Nora,
    Great interview with Deborah Rainey! I LOVED "Beneath a Southern Sky". I loved her writing style and I felt all the emotions of the characters. I could not put it down.This has been my favorite book since I joined the book club in April. I can't wait to read some of her other books.

    Terrie

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  16. "Beneath a Southern Sky" was a great book but I had to have kleenex with me to read it. I will look forward to reading books by Deborah Raney in the future.

    Carol Littleton
    Book Ends Book Club

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  17. I really enjoyed "Beneath a Southern Sky" and am looking forward to reading some of your other books. Because my mom has Alzheimer's, the first book I plan to read is "A Vow To Cherish". Thank you for letting us get to know you better through Nora's interview. Tisha

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  18. Awesome interview, Nora.
    I finished the book yesterday and I felt like I needed an entire box of kleenex. Just when I thought I had myself together after crying my eyes out, those silly tears would start rolling down my cheeks again. I was totally shocked at the ending and how selfless Nate was -- I don't know if I could have obeyed God and walked away. And then to find that Natalie followed in daddy's footsteps -- how incredible!!!

    If all Deborah's books are this dramatic, I think I'll take stock out in a tissue company!

    Wish I could be there for chat with Deborah tonight...

    Chris G.
    Dacula, GA

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  19. Nora
    Your interview with Deborah was so in depth that it read like a biography. I feel like I know her now and can't wait to read her favorite, Nest of Sparrows. I loved Beneath A southern Sky and was quite surprised at the ending. Can't wait to hear other comments from the ladies.
    Claudine

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  20. I loved this interview! Deb seems like such a neat lady and her answers were just SO creative and genuine. It's clear that she is responding to God's calling on her life. I look forward to reading some of her books. It's easier to (financially)support an author that is such a obviously nice person.

    Rachel Walker
    Lawrenceville, GA

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