Meet Deborah Raney author of A Vow to Cherish. She is at work on her nineteenth 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 highly acclaimed World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Her newest books, the Clayburn Novels, are from Howard/Simon & Schuster. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small- town life in Kansas.
I got the chance to interview Deborah, so here are the results -
Heather: To start off, tell us a little bit about your background:
Deborah: I grew up on a farm in Kansas, the oldest of five kids. After I married, I was privileged to be a stay-at-home mom of four kids, but as our kids grew, I soon realized that if I did my job as a mom right, I'd soon put myself out of a job. I'm very grateful God has given me this next thing to do. Being a novelist has been a dream come true.
Heather: How long have you been writing?
Deborah: I wrote the prologue of my first novel on New Year's Day 1994. That book was published in 1996 and I've been writing ever since.
Heather: What started you writing for publication?
Deborah: My desire to stay home with our youngest--a "bonus" baby--meant that I needed to find a way to make money from home so I could help put our older kids through college. Writing proved to provide exactly the amount of extra income we needed, and it's doing so still, as that bonus baby just left for college.
Heather: Do you have a set time when you write, or just whenever you get the urge?
Deborah: Now that I'm always writing on deadline, I don't have the luxury of writing only when I feel like it. But I do vary the times of day I write, depending on what else is going on during a particular week. But for the most part, my word count is met sometime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., but during the final month or two before a deadline, I often go back to my desk in the evening, or get up early to write in the morning.
Heather: Who is your favorite author?
Deborah: I can't name just one. But some of my favorites are Angela Hunt, Roxanne Henke, James Scott Bell, Tamera Alexander, Robin Lee Hatcher, BJ Hoff, Liz Curtis Higgs...the list goes on and on!
Heather: Have you ever had writer's block, and if so how do you get rid of it?
Deborah: I've had times when the words weren't flowing, but when you're on deadline, you simply have to push through, even if it's not your best writing. There's always a chance to go back and edit, and then rewrite after I get my substantive edits. Some of the things that help me push through: going for a walk, reading someone else's work, brainstorming ideas with writer friends or my husband, and PRAYING!
Heather: What do you recommend to aspiring authors?
Deborah: Don't be in a hurry! It takes time to learn to write, and then to perfect your writing. Many writers I know have written 4 or 5 complete novels before they finally wrote one that was publishable. Concert pianists and brain surgeons don't perform the first day they set out to be a concert pianist or a brain surgeon. They perfect their skill and craft, and then, after years of practice, they are finally ready to perform. It's no different for writers.
Heather: How do you invent your characters?
Deborah: When I first plop my characters into my stories, they are quite one-dimensional. But as the story happens to them, they begin to take shape and come to life. It's hard to explain, but they develop slowly, over the course of writing the story, and then when I write "the end" I go back and "plump" them up and deepen their characterization.
Heather: Do you have anything in the works?
Deborah: I'm working on the second book in my new Hanover Falls Novels series from Howard/Simon & Schuster. The first book is finished and will be released in May. The titles are Almost Forever, Forever After, and After All.
Heather: What was your favorite part about writing your book?
Deborah: Like most authors, my favorite part is writing "the end." But next to that (and this is NOT most authors' favorite part) I love editing. It's during the editing stage that I know my book is becoming the very best it can be, with the input of professional editors who know what it takes to make a story really sing. A novelist gets so very close to her own story, that she can't be objective. An editor adds that objectivity and can make all the difference in the world.
Heather: Has music ever inspired your writing?
Deborah: Often! I write to music most of the time, and I find it very inspiring. It's fun to choose certain kinds of music depending on the scene I'm working on. Movie soundtracks are particularly good to write by, as long as the songs are all instrumentals.
Heather: Keyboard or pen?
Deborah: I used to have very nice penmanship, but after using the computer extensively for so many years, I can barely write by hand in a way that I can read myself, let alone have others be able to decipher it! So keyboard. Always!
Heather: What do you think is the hardest part about being an author?
Deborah: The very hardest thing is disciplining myself to keep my seat in the seat and just DO IT! Too many distractions! The second hardest thing is getting critical reviews. Nearly every author has gotten at least one scathing review, and there's some comfort in that--and in knowing that my writing is not going to suit every reader's taste--but it still hurts when a reviewer has bad things to say about the book that I poured my life into for almost a year! Published writers have to grow thick skins, but I'm not sure I'll ever get past being hurt by bad reviews.
Heather: Some people say that you need to live life before you write a book, do you think that it's experience that writes a book or imagination?
Deborah: A little of both. I certainly couldn't have written the kind of books I write when I was twenty, or even thirty. Imagination is necessary and wonderful, but if you haven't lived through some of the major passages of life--falling in love, marriage, giving birth, raising children, experiencing the death of a loved one, sending a child off to school--it's difficult to write those things authentically. That said, being well-read can make up for a lot of life not lived. And I have known some very young writers who somehow managed to capture the essence of life's passages they had yet to experience. So I would never say never.
I like the colors of: peaches
The sky is most beautiful when it''s: sunset
My favorite feature of a computer is: email
I think inventors should invent a/an: self-mopping-floor
Thing I love most in the world is: family
Things I hate most in the world is: sin
My favorite type of electronic device is: cellphone
My favorite thing that has been available before the year 1900: icecream! (I know it's two words, but I'm making it one!)
My favorite thing that has been available since the year 1960: headphones
The oddest thing you have ever written on (hand, wall, etc.) is: Kleenex
To check out Deborah Raney's books and to learn more about her, head on over to her website - http://www.deborahraney.com/