I'm really pleased to welcome Deborah Raney back with her second Clayburn series novel. Leaving November is the sequel to Remember to Forget which we featured when it came out.
My publisher has asked for several stand-alone novels, so I’m enjoying coming up with those ideas. They will all be contemporary women’s fiction, set mostly in the Midwest—those seem to be my signature story elements. But it’s fun to get to work with some of the ideas I’ve been collecting and some of the issues I’ve wanted to address.
Tell us a little about your family.
Ken, my husband of 33 years, and I are very close to being empty-nesters, since our youngest daughter is a junior in high school. Our grown kids all live out of state, including our little grandsons, but we manage to get together several times a year and it’s always a joy to spend time with our kids. They are our proudest “accomplishment”…not that we can take credit for the wonderful people they turned out to be, but we did manage to get them through puberty and out into the world. :-)
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Many writers have found that honing the craft tends to ruin reading for a writer—or at least makes one much more discerning and picky than before. I used to finish every book I started. Now if a book doesn’t grab me by page 50, I set it aside and move to the next title. This is in part because at 52, I realize there are only so many years left to read all the books on my ever-growing TBR pile—and in part because now when I read, I’m also studying the craft, and I want only the best teachers.
What are you working on right now?
The third Clayburn novel, Yesterday’s Embers. I have loved writing the Clayburn books and would love to have the chance to write one or two more stories set in this little town that is so like the ones I’ve lived in over the years. I also write a column called Marriage Perspectives with our oldest daughter, Tobi Layton, and we’re putting together a proposal for a non-fiction book based on our columns. It’s been a blast to write with my sweet daughter, who’s an elementary school teacher (and more importantly, the mother of our grandchildren!)
You'll have to come back when Yesterday's Embers releases. What outside interests do you have?
I’m always babying a large collection of houseplants, but when we moved to a new home with a big yard a couple of years ago, my husband designed a beautiful prairie-inspired garden in our backyard. Gardening isn’t really my talent, but I love helping my husband water and weed and try out new flowers. We stroll through the garden almost every morning spring through fall, and are always rewarded with some surprise—a new bloom, a butterfly, or a rabbit or bird who’s decided our yard would make a good home. Ken’s garden spawned a new “hobby” for me—blogging. I have two garden-inspired blogs, one that features our garden, and one featuring the gardens of several of my novelist friends:
How do you choose your settings for each book?
My settings are almost always fictional, even if there’s a real city close by. I like writing the kind of stories that could happen in real life, so I tend to follow the write-what-you-know maxim. I love small-town life and the Midwest, especially our “little house on the prairie” in Kansas. So those are things that appear in many of my books. But sometimes my stories—with the missionary characters in Beneath a Southern Sky and Over the Waters, for instance—require an international setting. Whatever the story demands, that determines my setting.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
I’d love to hear the story of my maternal great-great-grandmother and grandfather’s journey across the ocean from England to the United States in the late 1800s—in their own words. So I would choose to spend an evening with John and Elizabeth Small.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
That there were rules for writing novels! I had a God-given talent for writing, but I didn’t realize how much work it would be to learn the craft of writing. I suppose in some ways, it’s better that I didn’t have a clue how much work I had ahead of me. It might have scared me off—but then look what I would have missed! I love the writing life!
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
To simply trust Him. For everything! I spend too much time thinking about the future. Not necessarily worrying, but just wanting to know what my future will look like. The Lord is teaching me that it’s far more important to live in the here and now, and that He has my future in His very capable hands. I’m simply to take one step at a time, keeping my eyes on Him at all times and trusting that He knows far better than I what is best for me and my family.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
1. Stop measuring success by the world’s standards. If you fulfill, day by day, the small tasks God asks you to do, you are a success, whether the world ever recognizes it or not.
2. Bathe every day in prayer—when you wake up, before you sit down at your computer, before you close your eyes each night. A life bathed in genuine prayer can’t help but be successful.
3. Practice an attitude of gratitude. It always saddens me to see writers God has blessed with small steps of success lamenting because they aren’t more successful. I believe if we treat every success as a gift from our gracious God, one that is totally undeserved, then He is more inclined to bless us with greater success. And even if He doesn’t, practicing gratitude—giving thanks in every circumstance—is a good formula for joyful living in any circumstances.
Leaving November is the second Clayburn novel. I’ll let the back cover do the talking:
Eight years ago, Vienne Kenney moved away from Clayburn and all its gossip to pursue a law degree in California. But now she’s failed the bar exam again. Is she destined to be stuck forever, a failure—just like her father— in this two-horse Kansas town?
Nine months ago, Jackson Linder left Clayburn, with no explanation to anybody. Now he’s back. But he isn’t sure he’s ready to face the rumors and well-meaning questions of the town’s busybodies. Yet he’s determined, once more, to make his art gallery a success—in spite of the secret that haunts him every day….
Sounds intriguing. I can hardly wait for the release. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is http://www.deborahraney.com. I love hearing from readers and they can contact me via the email link on my homepage.
Thanks so much for the great interview, Lena. God bless you!
And thank you, Deb, for spending this time with us.
Readers, go to her web site and find more information about her books. By the way, if you haven't read the two missionary books she mentioned, get them. They're awesome, too.
Want a copy of Leaving November? Leave a comment. (Be sure to check back to see if you are a winner. One of our winners of Vendetta hasn't sent me her address.)
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Susan Page Davis & Megan Elaine Davis - Homicide at Blue Heron Lake
Rebeca Seitz - Sisters Ink
Valerie Hansen - Frontier Courtship
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