Almost Forever, Hanover Falls Series #1Almost Forever, Hanover Falls Series #1
Deborah Raney
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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.

Now 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..
     


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deb raneyThe basic theme of Deborah Raney's all  books is that God is a redeemer. He can take the worst situation and turn it into something good. We don’t always see what that good is on this side of Heaven. But we can trust that he will somehow take even the really rotten things in our lives and bring some good from them. No matter how hard I try to write a book with a different message than that, it always seems to come back around to that.

Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 8:25 - "If we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently." Based on Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good to those who love God."


 

 Our Interview with Deborah Raney


 


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve just started work on my 20th novel! That seems impossible, but I started my first book on New Years Day 1994, so I have a few years under my belt. I’ve loved writing every one of those books, too.

Before I started writing full-time, I was a happy stay-at-home mom for almost twenty years. As of this past fall, my husband, Ken, and I are empty-nesters. After a rather rocky adjustment period, we’re now enjoying it immensely! We have four fantastic kids and two little grandsons scattered all over the world – from Missouri to Iowa to Berlin, Germany! At least we always have a place to visit when we get restless.


How did you get started as a Christian fiction writer?
 
I’ve wanted to write a book since the summer I was 11 and read all the Little House on the Prairie series. But I didn’t get serious about writing until I was 38 and needing a way to help our kids with college. God reminded me of that childhood dream, I started writing on New Years Day, and I’ve been writing ever since!


How many awards have you garnered throughout your writing career thus far?

Awards have been a real encouragement to me as a writer. My parents raised me not to brag, but since you asked, I’ll just mention a few that are most meaningful to me: A Vow to Cherish won a Silver Angel Award from Excellence in Media. Playing by Heart and Remember to Forget were both finalists for the Christy Award. Playing by Heart was also the winner of the International Readers Choice Award in a secular novella category. And in 2008 all three of my novels won Book of the Year honors from American Christian Fiction Writers. (I had to walk up on the stage and accept the first two with a piece of steak stuck in my throat! I think it was God’s way of keeping me humble. But the third time was a charm. Just before they announced my name, the steak finally went down!)


How did you come up with the concept for Almost Forever? Did you plan this series out completely or have you taken your ideas book by book?

I sold the three Hanover Falls novels as a series, so this is the first time I’ve written a series that was planned! All my other sequels and series were conceived as I was writing the last chapter of the first book. It was nice to know ahead of time that Almost Forever would be part of a series, so I could introduce readers to the main characters for Books 2 and 3.


What is significant about Almost Forever?
 
This book was a chance to explore one of my greatest fears – being responsible for the death of a loved one. Thinking through all the ramifications – and my powerlessness apart from God – really did help me put my own fears in His hands.

 

Is any part of Almost Forever factual?
 
There are elements of real events in all my novels in the sense that what happened to Bryn has happened to others. When I was researching this story, I was amazed at the news stories I found where similar incidents had occurred. My books are also “factual” in the sense that I’ve researched how things would happen in real life so that when something happens to one of my characters, the reader can know that this is realistic – it really could have happened this way, with these results, in the real world.


What is the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Almost Forever?

I’ve had some of the most interesting experiences while researching my novels! Because part of the storyline of Almost Forever revolves around events in a homeless shelter, when our church asked for volunteers at our local homeless shelter, I answered the call.

My first night on duty was a Sunday and I was told to bring something to read since usually the hours were dull and uneventful. (Yeah, right!) I thought it strange when I arrived that no one else from my church was there yet. But I introduced myself to the volunteers from another church, and we began our evening serving supper to about 20 residents who had checked in to the overnight-only shelter.

Not once the entire night was there so much as a minute to sit and read. According to the other volunteers, this was the craziest and most eventful night they had ever experienced at the shelter.

It was quite an eye-opening night for me, with a suicide watch, a new fresh-out-of-jail admittance who turned out to be on the no-admit list, a bottle of Vodka discovered hidden in the hallway that meant administering a (thankfully negative) Breathalyzer test on the main suspect, a mild altercation between a resident and a volunteer (not me!), and a phone that rang virtually the entire 5-11 shift. Before the evening was over, I'd had some fascinating conversations with residents, and had the privilege of praying with a suicidal man.

I went home with my brain brimming with ideas and information for my novel, and a new appreciation of how God often turns research into ministry. Only after I arrived home after 11 p.m. did I glance at my calendar and do a double take. I had looked at my schedule wrong! I wasn't supposed to show up for my shift until the NEXT Sunday night!


What other projects do you have on the horizon?

The second Hanover Falls novel, Forever After, will come out next January, and book three, After All, the following September. Once I finish writing the third book, due this September, I have a stand-alone novel to write for Howard/Simon & Schuster, called The Face of the Earth. I have a couple of other fun writing projects in the works as well, so I won’t have any trouble keeping busy!

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

One of the biggest challenges of writing, for me, is having my office at home. I’m not a terribly disciplined person and it’s far too easy for me to abandon my desk at the least little excuse. That problem was compounded this past year when my husband started a new business and now works from home, too. His office is downstairs and mine is upstairs, but we spend quite a bit of (very pleasant) time at the “water cooler” in our kitchen when we really should be in our respective studios working!


Who was the person who most influenced you in your writing journey?

I’ve been blessed with a lot of wonderful teachers and mentors from childhood on, but I’d have to say my mom was the most instrumental in my becoming a writer, simply because she instilled in me a love and respect for books and for good storytelling. Even the captions in her photo albums were creative and told a story. And I treasure the memory of the hours she spent reading to me and my brother and three sisters on cold winter nights. She still likes to read aloud to anyone who will listen! 


What message would you like your readers to take from Almost Forever?

The core message of all my books seems to distill into this one truth: God can redeem even the greatest tragedy. There is nothing that is impossible for Him!


What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My first goal is always to provide wholesome, hopeful entertainment. It doesn’t matter what I’ve written if I don’t keep the pages turning with a good story. Beyond that, my goal is to write a story that illustrates the nature of God’s relationship with us, his children. I always hope that readers will feel they know Him and His truths just a little more intimately for having walked with my characters through their trials and their joys.


What do you do to get away from it all?

We love to travel, and our scattered-around-the-world kids have given us a reason to do plenty of that. I also get to do a lot of traveling when I teach at writers conferences across the country. Another favorite get-away is as close as our backyard. My husband has created a gorgeous Kansas prairie garden in our backyard and we love spending evenings weeding and watering, and sometimes just sitting and listening to the birds and watching things bloom.

 

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