Award-winning author Deb Raney
has enjoyed a lifelong love of words
and the power of a good story. Life was full of many blessings,
including four children, when she wrote her first novel. The Lord
blessed this effort abundantly, and now, some nineteen novels and
fourteen years later, Deb continues to praise the Lord for all that He
has done through her writing career.
many life experiences have contributed
to her wellspring of story ideas, and she has also enjoyed the faithful
support of a loving family along the way. Her stories resonate with the
truths God has taught her, and she is faithful to explore His mercy and
grace through realistic life circumstances. Deb’s readers also play an
important role in her writing, and she is often encouraged by their
responses to her stories. Faithful to recognize God’s hand in all of
her circumstances, Deb will have fresh stories to entertain readers for
years to come!
A Vow to Cherish
was a successful first novel/publication for
you. What was the significance of this story in your life, and how did
it affect your writing career?
My story of a family dealing
with early onset Alzheimer’s disease
was inspired by my work with Alzheimer’s patients in a nursing home.
Early in my marriage, I worked as a nurse aide, and later my husband
and I worked as occupational therapy assistants in a large nursing home
in New York. There we saw the overwhelming ways Alzheimer’s disease
shaped both the victim and his or her family. It was amazing to see how
a family’s love could transform a person who couldn’t even remember his
or her own name. I wanted to explore what “for better or worse, in
sickness and in health” looked like on the “worse/sickness” side. And I
wanted to write a novel that showed the profound value of commitment in
As for how that first novel
affected my writing career? Quite
honestly, I doubt I’d be where I am in my career if not for the success
of A Vow to Cherish––especially the film deal. It
afforded me attention that a debut novelist rarely receives. I’m very
grateful for that.
successful first novel led to a successful movie deal as
well. Did the movie capture the essence of your novel? What did you
learn during that process?
I was very pleased with the way
World Wide Pictures and director
John Schmidt (who was also a cowriter of the screenplay) interpreted my
novel. While they changed many of the plot elements––as I knew they
would––they retained the parts of the story that were important to me,
and I feel they made the story’s emotional impact even stronger. It was
surreal for this Kansas farmer’s daughter to sit at the movie premiere
in Hollywood, surrounded by the actors from the movie, and watch my
story come to life on the big screen!
been a lifelong passion. What is the most
significant change you have noticed in your writing as time has passed?
How do you feel about this change?
I’ve become a much more spare
writer than when I first began. I was
enamored with the poetry of words, and greatly influenced by older,
classic books when I first started writing. I’ve since realized that my
stories are better suited to a simpler, more sparse style. While I’m
grateful when a poetic metaphor jumps onto my page, I think I’m a
better writer when I don’t grasp too desperately at what doesn’t come
Many of your
stories deal with heart-tender moments: losing
someone you love; finding love again; dealing with a shattered dream;
and learning to take life in a new direction. Where do you find
inspiration for your stories? Are they ever hard on you emotionally?
Why or why not?
You know, I’ve had such a happy
life––an idyllic childhood, a happy
marriage, precious children who’ve given us very little trouble––that I
think I’ve had to stir up some angst in my life through my novels. And,
yes, those heart-wrenching stories are hard on me! My novels always
make me cry. In fact, I don’t consider a book
I’ve evoked tears in the author. (Granted, sometimes my tears are
because what I’ve written is so bad! Or they’re tears of gratitude
because I made a seemingly impossible deadline!)
Of all of your
novels, do you have a favorite?
When I’d written only half a
dozen novels, I wouldn’t have dared to
name a favorite, but now that I have twenty under my belt, a few have
risen to the top as my personal Top Five. In order of publication, they
are: A Vow to Cherish (there’s just something about
one’s first novel); Beneath a Southern Sky; Playing by Heart;
A Nest of Sparrows; and Remember to Forget.
I may have to amend that list to a Top Six, since my newest release, Almost
(from Howard/Simon & Schuster), has really taken hold of my
especially as reader mail comes in. I must admit that most of my
favorites have earned their place on my list because they are also
Through all of
your years of writing, has a story ever
ministered to you in a surprising or powerful way? Can you share that
experience with us?
The second book in the Hanover
Falls Novels series, Forever After,
set to release next spring, turned out to be therapy for me. Almost two
years ago, my husband was laid off from his job after twenty-five loyal
years with the company. We went through a long period of uncertainty
and fear that shook us both––and frankly, shook our marriage––to the
core. It’s a coincidence that my heroine, Jenna, ends up homeless. But
God certainly used her circumstances to teach me the same lessons Jenna
needed to learn: God always provides just what we need, just when we
need it, and usually not a moment before. As difficult as these past
months have been, I’ve grown so much as a woman, as a wife, and as a
child of God that I wouldn’t go back to the way things were before for
Holt Medallion, Inspirational
Readers Choice Award: These are only some of the awards bestowed upon
your writing. What significance do these awards hold for you? Does any
one hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
I wish I could say that awards
mean nothing to me, but that wouldn’t
be true at all. I think writers are generally very unsure about our
writing until we begin to hear positive feedback from readers and
professionals. (That’s why a negative review stings so much!) The
awards I’ve won have reassured me that even if my books aren’t
everyone’s cup of tea, several significant someones have declared my
work worthy. That means the world to me.
think I’m a little odd in one sense, concerning awards. I can’t even
analyze why, but I’ve always been thrilled to the gills about finaling
in a contest; however, winning simply isn’t that important to me. Sure,
it’s nice to win an award, but I’m every bit as pleased about my
Christy finalist medallions as I am about any
first-place trophies and pins I’ve won.
When you meet
someone who has a passion for books and writing, what advice do you
My first advice is not to rush
the process. It takes time––and much
practice––to learn the craft of writing. I recommend attending at least
one writer’s conference a year, finishing at least one full-length
novel before seeking an agent or publisher, and finding a great writing
critique partner or mentor, or a writing group, to give honest feedback
on your work. ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is a wonderful
organization that encourages and grows new writers––and old ones, too!
I also encourage writers not to
lose the joy they first found in the
act of writing. Yes, once you’re contracted, writing becomes a job––and
not always an easy one––but it has the potential to bring great joy if
you don’t treat lightly that a talent for writing is a gift from God.
raised four children and now have grandchildren. Does
your family read your stories? How do they feel about Mom/Mimi [the
name Deb’s little grandsons call her] being a successful writer? Do any
of your children share your love of writing?
My wonderful husband has read
everything I’ve ever written. Ken has
always been my biggest supporter and cheerleader. Because I began
writing when our kids were seventeen, thirteen, eleven, and three, they
very much took what I did for granted. Our oldest daughter served as a
talented proofreader for me, but after she went out of state to
college, she called me one day after seeing my books in a Missouri
library. Apparently the librarian had been impressed to learn I was her
mom. Tobi called with awe in her voice. “Mom, you’re
famous!” Tobi is an elementary teacher now and a wonderful writer
herself. She and I wrote a “Marriage Perspectives” column together for
Our oldest son read my books in
college while donating plasma twice
a week (because the blood center didn’t allow donors to play video
games). And our youngest son read one of my books only because his
sweet fiancée––now his wife––guilted him into it. But he, too, called
to tell me how much he enjoyed the book––and how much of our family he
saw in my stories. Our youngest daughter had no choice. I read one of
my books aloud to her when she was ten or eleven. I feel incredibly
blessed to be surrounded by supportive family, parents, in-laws, and
that twenty published novels, what still surprises you about
That I still have so much to
learn! Yes, after seventeen years in
this industry, there are things about being a writer that I feel quite
confident in. But it’s still thrilling to discover a new writing
technique, or to sit in a workshop and soak up new information about
the industry. And it’s always gratifying to know that I continue to
grow as a writer. Just today, I received a letter from a reader who
said, “I just finished Almost Forever and wanted to
let you know how touched I was. I sensed a new depth to your writing .
What is your
current project? What excites you about it?
I’m working on the third book in
the Hanover Falls Novels series for
Howard/Simon & Schuster. I’m excited because the story has
very different direction than I expected it to. A minor character from
the first two novels has stepped forward and let me know she wants a
larger role in this book. And I’m thoroughly enjoying letting her tell
me her story!
Do you have
any closing words you’d like to share with your readers?
As a twelve-year-old,
discovering Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little
House books, if I could have had a glimpse into the life God would give
me as a writer, I don’t think I could have contained my joy! Being a
stay-at-home mom for over twenty years was the job of my dreams, but I
always knew that if I did my job well, I’d put myself out of a job! I’m
so grateful that God has given me this next thing to do. And I feel
very blessed with the community of writers He’s allowed me to be part
of. I feel even more blessed with the readers He’s allowed to be part
of my life. I love hearing from my readers. They can contact me through
my Website at www.deborahraney.com.
Ford has been a resident of
Alabama for more than ten years. Originally from Georgia, she holds a
Bachelor’s degree in English from Brenau Women’s College. She has spent
the past 9 years in sales and marketing and has been an avid reader of
Christian Fiction for more than 20 years.
A mother of two teen sons and married to a technical writer and Army
veteran, Kim’s life is full and blessed. She and her husband also
volunteer as teachers for a resident rehab program for women with
life-controlling issues. She uses her fiction to encourage the ladies
she teaches. She blogs at: Window
To My World