When did you decide to be a writer?
I think the dream was born the summer I read all the Little House on the Prairie books. That was the first time I connected that books were created by authors, and that it was a career to which I could aspire!
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
I still don’t trust myself, and never intend to. A writer becomes too close to her own work to see it with objective eyes. It helps if I can let a manuscript sit for a couple of months before I look at it again, but for a working writer on deadline, that’s not always possible. I work with a critique partner and have several readers who give me input before I send my “first draft” off to my editor.
Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
If I’m on deadline I make myself write. I’ve only been late with a manuscript a couple of times. But it doesn’t come naturally. I’m a little bit lazy and not super organized, so it’s tempting to only write when I feel like it.
What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
My husband and I enjoy gardening––flowers and trees only…no veggies. There’s something about getting your hands in the dirt that is totally relaxing and invigorating at the same time. See the link to my garden blogs below. The blogging is another thing I enjoy doing when I’m not writing.
What is your favorite novel and what made it special?
I loved Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns. I think one thing that made it special for me was that the author wrote it as a way of dealing with her diagnosis of cancer. It made me wonder how it would change my own writing if I knew this book would be my last.
How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
There’s something about reading good writing that inspires the same. Seeing how another author expresses himself causes me to evaluate the way I string words together, and to see what works and what doesn’t.
Tell us a little about your latest release:
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 has her wondering 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.
Where did you get your inspiration for Almost Forever?
My husband is always clipping stories out of the newspaper that he thinks I’ll find interesting––that he thinks might hold the seed of an idea for a future novel. One day he placed the story of nine heroic firefighters who were killed in a fire in Charleston, SC. That story and the career of my firefighter nephew, got me thinking about the lives of the survivors and how they find the will to go on after such a tragedy. The Hanover Falls novels explore the questions I encountered that day.
Which character is most like you?
Probably Bryn, the heroine. I could imagine myself responding much as she does to the crisis––and to the truth about her situation. (Can’t say any more without spoilers!)
Who is your favorite character and why?
I really grew to love Charlie Branson, the Vietnam vet who is the ex officio manager of the homeless shelter.
Did you know how Almost Forever would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?
Because I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, I’m often surprised by my plot and characters! I wouldn’t have it any other way! That said, I usually do know how my story will ultimately end, and at least a few of the plot points along the way. But I love discovering how my story will unfold much the same way my readers will discover it.
What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this story?
That sometimes we humans fool ourselves into believing something is true simply because we long so desperately for it to be true. It’s not easy to face the truth, but God’s Word says that the truth will set us free.
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
Just this week I got serious about diving into the writing of the third book in the series, After All. (The three books are Almost Forever ~ Forever After ~ After All.) Of course much of the research and character development for this book happened as I wrote the first two books, but since each book features a new hero and heroine, along with familiar characters from the previous book, I still have plenty of research to do. But subsequent books in a series are a little less intensive to research. When this series is complete, I have a stand-alone novel contracted with Howard, and a couple of other book projects, which I’ll be announcing soon.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
Thanks for having me, Lisa. I guess the best advice I can offer any fellow writer is to enjoy the journey and to look for the ways God is working along the way. Whether I realize it or not, He seems to use each story, each complete process of finishing a book to challenge me in my life, as well as to challenge my readers. No, they won’t all love every book, but God seems to use each one in unique and amazing ways, and I count it a privilege to still be involved in this amazing business after 16 years.
A few links:
http://www.deborahraney.com/ (Deborah’s official website.)
http://novelgarden.blogspot.com/ (The garden spots of favorite Christian novelists.)
http://kansasprairiegarden.blogspot.com/ (Ken and Deb’s garden in Kansas)
http://www.clashentertainment.com/ (The entertainment website for Christian teens produced by Deb’s husband.)