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Deborah Raney

Deborah Raney is the author of numerous novels, including the RITA award winner BENEATH A SOUTHERN SKY, AFTER THE RAINS, A VOW TO CHERISH, and her most recent work, A NEST OF SPARROWS. She lives with her husband, who is also an author, and their four children in Kansas. In this interview Raney explains how her faith is a constant influence in her life and work, and how she tries to practice the Scripture that says "pray without ceasing." She also discusses the role of writing in religion and relates some of the effects that her writing has had on readers.

Deborah Raney Answers The Faithful Fifteen

June 2004

FR: What kind of testimony to your faith are you demonstrating in this book? If you are writing fiction, do you write fiction that is based upon your faith, or that has a message for the reader? Is your goal to demonstrate your faith in your writing?

DR: A NEST OF SPARROWS, like all my books, is informed by my Christian worldview, my knowledge of the Bible and my personal relationship with God through Christ. I hope all my books have a message that will bring them closer to God without hitting them over the head with preachiness.

FR: When did you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus? Where are you today in your walk? Is your faith an important part of what you do?

DR: I trusted Christ as my Savior as a little girl, but I went through a brief rebellion as a teenager, then made a solid recommitment to follow the Lord when I was 18. I've never looked back.

FR: Tell us about your church experiences, how you grew up (or maybe didn't grow up) in the church, where you attend now, your involvement in your local assembly, etc.

DR: I was raised in a small country Methodist church. We had a pastor whose love for the Lord and mission-mindedness had a deep influence on my life. My husband and I now attend a small Presbyterian church where we have been involved in youth ministry, and are now teaching a Sunday School class on marriage and parenting.

FR: Tell us about your current church family/fellowship. How does it influence your work?

DR: Every aspect of my life influences my work. Our church and the groups of friends I fellowship with and attend Bible study with are no exception. Even though I write fiction, I look to real people --- Christians and unbelievers --- to model my characters' behaviors.

FR: Who are your spiritual mentors? Your professional mentors?

DR: My parents have always been spiritual mentors for me. They continue to set a wonderful example by their involvement in the church, on the mission field, and in their 50-year marriage. Professionally, I have several novelists in a group I belong to whom I would consider mentors and prayer partners.

FR: Discuss your calling/mission --- as a writer and as a Christian.

DR: I believe the Lord blessed me with a gift for communicating God's truth through fiction. While my husband and our children are my first responsibility and "mission," as a Christian woman, as the kids have grown up and moved away from home, I've been able to spend more time writing.

FR: What are your Scripture reading habits?

DR: My husband and I read the Bible together and pray for our children every morning before he leaves for work. I have been in numerous women's Bible study groups over the years and find that to be a good way to keep myself immersed in the Bible. Of course, researching my books takes me to the Word many times during the week.

FR: What books have most influenced your work?

DR: Catherine Marshall's books, especially her fiction, have had a strong influence

FR: Do you read secular fiction at all? If so, who are your favorite authors and why?

DR: While I prefer to read CBA authors who write from the same, hopeful and uplifting Judeo-Christian worldview, I do also read some secular fiction. I enjoy John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, and Jan Karon (whose fiction is Christian though not published in the CBA.)

FR: What are your other media habits --- television, movies, music, etc.?

DR: I enjoy listening to music --- everything from classical to jazz to film soundtracks, but I don't often have time to watch television. Our family enjoys going to the movies when we're together over holidays or on vacation.

FR: Do you and your family have any special faith-based traditions?

DR: On the ride to my parents' house for Thanksgiving dinner, we each share what we're most thankful for from the past year. At Christmas, we have a special "secret" tradition.

FR: Tell us about your prayer life and habits.

DR: I try to practice the Scripture that says "pray without ceasing." It's not uncommon for me to send up dozens of prayers throughout the day --- as I read about a need in an email from a friend, or see a story in the newspaper, or even hear an ambulance siren scream down my street.

FR: Describe what you believe the role of writing in religion is.

DR: Writing can be a wonderful way to encourage one another, to teach or entertain in a wholesome and uplifting way, and to reach as many people as possible with the truths of God's Word.

FR: Tell us about one or more of your favorite encounters with readers.

DR: My favorite encounters with readers are those that allow me a glimpse into how the Lord has used my writing to bless another person, or to lead them closer to Christ. I receive many letters from readers and a good share of them are from people whose lives have been touched because God used some simple thing I wrote in a way that spoke healing or hope to that person. For example, my first novel, A VOW TO CHERISH, is about a family dealing with Alzheimer's disease. I have heard from many families who were comforted and helped by reading about the experiences and faith of my fictional family (experiences that were inspired by real families). What is amazing to me is the way God uses my words in ways I never imagined or planned for a minute. But He knew all along that someday that hurting person would pick up my book and need just that message.

FR: Would you share a story about someone you've brought to Christ or share how your writing has helped someone?

DR: Just a few weeks ago I received a letter from a very young woman who was tragically widowed as a newlywed less than a year before. She had chosen one of my books because it had a missionary theme and she felt God calling her to missions. Not only did the theme of missions touch and encourage her, but the book happened to be partially set on the same college campus where she and her husband had courted. She told me it brought "sweet memories to her heart" to be reminded of the places she and her husband had fallen in love just a few years earlier.

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Current Titles

Deborah Raney
WaterBrook Press
ISBN: 1578565782

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Upcoming Titles

Deborah Raney
Steeple Hill
(Spring 2005)

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OVER THE WATERS (Steeple Hill, Coming 2005)
A NEST OF SPARROWS (WaterBrook Press, June 2004)
PLAYING BY HEART (Barbour, August 2003)
A SCARLET CORD (WaterBrook Press, June 2003)
AFTER THE RAINS (WaterBrook Press, 2002)
BENEATH A SOUTHERN SKY (WaterBrook Press, 2001)
A VOW TO CHERISH (Bethany House 1996, re-issued by BHP with a movie tie-in cover in 1999); now available on video in English and Spanish, and on DVD in 7 languages
KINDRED BOND (Bethany House, 1998)
IN THE STILL OF NIGHT (Bethany House, 1997)

MORE CHILDREN'S SERMONS TO GO (Abingdon Press, 2001)
CHILDREN'S SERMONS TO GO (Abingdon Press, 1998)

Contributor to:
CURRIER & IVES CHRISTMAS with Deb's novella, A Circle of Blessings (Barbour, 2002)
THE STORYTELLERS' COLLECTION: Tales of Faraway Places (2000)

Featured in:
BEHIND THE STORIES by Diane Eble (Bethany House, 2002)

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