Deb Raney interview

» Posted on Jul 18, 2007 in Blog | Comments Off on Deb Raney interview

1. What made you start writing?
The summer I finished all the Little House on the Prairie books,
turned to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s bio and discovered that she was once
a little Kansas farm girl like me, I decided I wanted to be the kind
of person who wrote books that gave people that same sense of wonder
and joy.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I started my first novel on New Year’s Day 1994. I sold it to Bethany
House Publishers about 9 months later and it was published in January
1996, two years after I wrote the first words.

3. How do you handle rejections?
Not very well! ; ) I don’t think anyone really likes to be rejected.
It hurts. I got about 17 rejections before I got the call from Bethany
House, and I’ve had numerous proposals rejected since I was first
published. But honestly, I haven’t suffered too much in the whole
scheme of things. I’ve learned that getting that contract is about
being the right person in the right place at the right time with the
right manuscript landing on the right editors’ desk. So there’s a lot
that has to come together. And if you’ve studied the craft and done
the best writing you’re capable of, a rejection is rarely personal.

4. Why do you write?
I think it’s the way I express the creativity God put within me. I
think it’s a way to put my gift into practice. And because it’s so
much fun! Quite often, writing feels like worship to me.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?
Reading. : ) I also enjoy decorating our home, traveling to visit our
grown kids and our grandson every chance I get, working in the
beautiful garden my husband has created in our backyard, and baking.
But I’m glad God called me to write.

6. What are you working on right now?
Today I wrote the discussion questions for Leaving November, the
second Clayburn novel with Howard/Simon & Schuster. Now I’m waiting
for the line edits to come in for that book. I’ll finish those and
take a short break from writing to attend a writers retreat and the
International Christian Retail Show. When I get back, I’ll begin work
on the third Clayburn novel, Yesterday’s Embers.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Definitely. A technique I learned to help me write a tight point of
view is envisioning myself crawling into the skin of my POV character
and viewing the scene through their eyes. That tends to make you
really live the story! When I first began writing, I found a lot of my
own true life creeping into my characters’ lives. But as I’ve grown as
a writer, I’ve learned to create unique characters that are their own
people and not so much an extension of their creator. : )

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.
Remember to Forget is the first in the Clayburn Novels series from
Howard/Simon & Schuster. It’s my first attempt at allegory of new life
in Christ (although most readers won’t even be aware of the metaphor
until they read the discussion questions in the back of the book.) The
story asks the question, “What would it be like to have a chance to
begin our lives all over again, make better choices the second time
around, fix the mistakes we’ve made, and go on from there?”

Coming later this year is Within This Circle, the sequel to my first
novel, A Vow to Cherish. It was really a privilege to be able to
return to those first characters I ever created and tell “the rest of
the story.”

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?
You’ll hear it over and over again whenever you hear writers speak,
but I have to say it once more: Write the book of your heart, the book
God’s given you a passion for. If you do that, you can’t go wrong. But
along with that, don’t expect to get by on passion alone. A concert
pianist takes lessons and practices hour after hour. Good writers do
the same.

10. How important is faith in your books?
My stories are usually about people of faith in situations that test
their faith to its limits. So in that sense, faith plays a very large
role. Because I believe so strongly in God’s role in my life and in
the universe, it’s difficult not to make Him a big part of my stories.
And if my characters aren’t already people of faith, they are seekers,
who usually find faith in God by the end of the book. That’s what a
happy ending is all about in my estimation.

11. What themes do you like to write about?
WIthout my really planning for it to be, redemption seems to be the
underlying theme in most of my stories—how God can take something bad
and turn it into something beautiful. I also find forgiveness cropping
up as a theme quite often. And restoration. I like to explore
contemporary social issues in my books, and I think that’s part of the
reason those themes emerge.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?
That’s a tough question, but if I were forced to name just one, it
would probably be A Nest of Sparrows. Besides being a fairly unique
story line, I love my hero, Wade Sullivan, and the humor that came out
in that book through the children. I think another reason this book
has a special place in my heart is because there was a point where it
had me on my knees, telling the Lord I could NOT finish it! The
research was proving too confusing, the deadline too tight, the
writing too difficult. So I literally got on my knees and gave the
whole thing to the Lord at one point. Well, of course, then he gave it
back to me and said (in that still, small voice), “Yes, you can finish
it, with MY help.” And I did. And I couldn’t be more pleased with the
results. Others on my Top 5 favorite list are Beneath a Southern Sky,
A Vow to Cherish, Playing by Heart, and the new Clayburn series.

13. How do you juggle writing for different houses?
I actually sought out a second publisher when I realized how much time
I was spending “twiddling my thumbs” waiting on editors. Now, while I
wait on the editors from one publishing house to read and edit, I can
be first-drafting for another house. It’s really worked very well, and
while I often think it would be nice to “go steady” with just one
publisher who would keep me busy all year long, this is where the Lord
has me right now, and I’ve had great experiences at each of the
publishing houses I’ve worked with.

14. What is your writing schedule like?
As for the actual writing/rewriting/editing of each book, that pretty
much happens from 9 or 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday for several
months, then six days a week and longer hours for several weeks before
my deadline. But I spend many more hours on the non-writing parts of
my career—speaking, booksignings, promotion, keeping my website up to
date, answering reader mail, doing interviews, live, radio and print
or online, like this one. And then there’s research, developing new
ideas for proposals, creating ideaboards for each book, and the list
goes on. I never dreamed when I began writing that I’d spend at least
50 percent of my time on non-writing aspects of the job.

15. A Vow to Cherish inspired a movie. How exciting! What did you do
when you got the news?
Thanks, Margaret. It was exciting! I stayed fairly cool on the phone,
but once I hung up, I jumped up and down, screamed, called my husband
at work, and we took the kids out for pizza that night—which in those
days when I was a stay-at-home mom to 4 kids, was a HIGH treat. ; )
Then, a few months later, Ken and I were privileged to get to attend
the movie premiere in Hollywood—pretty hot stuff for this little
Kansas farm girl! : )

Thanks so much for inviting me to be a part of your blog. It’s been fun!

Deborah Raney