Bonnie S. Calhoun
the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online
Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian
Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for
New from Howard/Simon &
In 2005 I discovered Christian fiction, Steeple Hill, and Deb Raney all at the same time. And that was the beginning of this journey. It warms my heart to see her still turning out great novels! Tell us about your new one Deb.
The heroes in all my novels are a lot like my husband, so it’s probably no surprise to my readers that Ken is my hero in real life. That applies as much to my writing as it does to anything else. Not only does my husband read all my books––regardless of how “chick flicky” they might be––but he’s always clipping stories out of newspapers and magazines that he thinks might hold the seed of an idea for a future Deborah Raney novel.
One day Ken handed me a clipping––the story of nine heroic firefighters who were killed in a fire in Charleston, SC. That story, along with the risk-laden career of my firefighter nephew, got me thinking about the survivors of fallen firefighters and how they find the will to go on after a tragedy like the one in South Carolina. My new Hanover Falls novels series (Howard/Simon & Schuster) explores the questions I encountered that day.
Because of the reception my Clayburn Novels series enjoyed, I decided to create a similar series with the locale being the thread that tied the books together. The books in this new series each stand alone, but as with most series, the books are best read in the order I’ve written them: Almost Forever, Forever After, After All. Almost Forever just released. Here’s the back cover copy:
Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear . . . but could it also set her free? Volunteer Bryn Hennesey was there at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter the night five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam. But a terrifying absence of memory makes her wonder if she might, in some way, be responsible. Garrett Edmonds’ wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. He was supposed to protect the woman he loved. Now she’s the one who’s died a hero. How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss? And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer.
Because part of the storyline of The Hanover Falls Novels revolves around events in a homeless shelter, when our church asked for volunteers at our local shelter, I knew the Lord was prompting me to answer the call.
My first night on duty was a Sunday, and I was told to bring something to read, since usually the hours were quiet and uneventful. I thought it strange when I arrived that no one else from my church was there yet. But I introduced myself to the volunteers from another church, and we began our evening, serving supper to about twenty residents who had checked into the overnight-only shelter.
Not once the entire night was there so much as a minute to sit and read. According to the other volunteers, this was the craziest and most eventful night they’d ever experienced at the shelter.
As the night unfolded, we dealt with a suicide watch; a new fresh-out-of-jail admittance, who turned out to be on the no-admit list; a bottle of Vodka discovered in the hallway that meant administering a (thankfully negative) Breathalyzer test on the main suspect; a mild altercation between a resident and a volunteer (not me!); and a phone that rang the entire five to eleven shift. Before the evening was over, I’d had some fascinating conversations with residents and had the privilege of praying with a suicidal man.
I went home with my brain brimming with ideas and information for my novel. Only after I arrived home after 11 p.m. did I glance at my calendar and do a double take. I had looked at my schedule wrong! I wasn’t supposed to show up for my shift until the following Sunday night!
Nights like that one give me a fresh appreciation of how God often turns research into ministry––how He never wastes an experience in the life of a writer.
DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her twentieth novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers’ Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Almost Forever, first in her new Hanover Falls Novels series, released May 11th from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four grown children and two precious grandsons, all of whom live much too far away. Visit her website at http://deborahraney.com/.