Monday, February 13, 2017

14 Days of Sweet Stories: "Home At Last" by Deborah Raney

Interview with Deborah Raney, author of Home At Last:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book? 

Deborah: God sees and loves all of His children equally. And He has called us to love one another the way He loves us. Right now, we’re not doing a very good job of it in this country (The United States of America) and in this world. And that breaks my heart. If my writing can be one drop of water in a flood of love that brings healing, then I will feel my work was worthwhile.

Alexis: What can you tell us about your hero (Link Whitman)? Describe his looks, personality and heart for the heroine.

Deborah: Link is the fun-loving little brother in a big, boisterous family. His older sisters dote on him. His only brother, a U.S. Marine, died a hero, and Link lives somewhat in his shadow.

Alexis: What can you tell us about your heroine (Shayla Michaels)? Describe her looks, personality and heart for the hero.

Deborah: Shayla is a product of her parents’ loving, but difficult interracial marriage. She struggles to discover who she is, in her own right, but also in Christ. She’s been saddled with the huge burden (but also joy) of raising her niece and caring for her father after her mother’s death.

This is how I pictured my characters: 

Alexis: What brings Link and Shayla together? Do they like each other at first? Why or why not?

Deborah: Shayla has met Link before (and likes him very much), but doesn’t realize at first that it’s him when they meet again on an icy morning after Link almost runs over her niece with his truck!

Alexis: What does Link not like about his life as a bachelor? Does he have issues with him being the only single person in his immediate family? Explain.

Deborah: Link is definitely starting to feel the pressure from his sisters and family. He would like to be married and have what his siblings have—love and family—but he’s not willing to rush into anything just to satisfy his sisters’ matchmaking whims.

Alexis: What role does Chicory Inn play in this story?

Deborah: The Chicory Inn is symbolic of the warmth of home, the love of family, and the coming together in Christ of many diverse people. It is the setting of two weddings in Home At Last, and it has been, of course, Link’s childhood home.

Alexis: Shayla is biracial with an African American Dad and a White American Mom. Was it challenging for you to write her character? Why or why not?

Deborah: Just as it is when I write any character who is different from me—whether in gender, age, occupation, economic status, religion, or race—it is a challenge to assume the point of view of someone very different from yourself. I know that I’d better do my homework if my character is to be believable. When I write from a male character’s point of view, I often holler down to my husband, “Is this something you would say? How would you feel if…?” Or if I’m writing a character who’s closer in age to my kids than to me, I’ll shoot them an e-mail and ask, “How would you say this? What word would you use?” Of course, knowing a wide variety of people, having watched a ton of movies and read a ton of books, I’ve learned a lot about people who are different from me. But I admit I’m surprised by how often I guess the answer wrong to those questions!

Writing a biracial character was no different. I’ve never experienced being biracial, and I’ve never been in an interracial relationship. So I did what I do with every novel: I found real people to interview who have experienced those things. I also asked them to read my finished manuscript and to be very honest about whether I was writing realistically or if I’d gone off track.

Alexis: Why is the maternal side of Shayla’s family so hostile to Shayla?

Deborah: The simple answer is: sin. Perhaps it began as fear, or an unwillingness to learn to know someone different from them. But the bottom line is that they let the sins of of racism and hate infect their family, and Shayla and her family suffered because of it.

Alexis: Why did the paternal side of Shalya’s family embrace her but her maternal side did not?

Deborah: Racism seems to be one of those “sins of the fathers…visited upon the children…” kinds of sins. My own parents taught us to love all people. They treated everyone the same, and it seemed to just come naturally to follow their example. But sadly, for children who grew up in homes where hate and racism ruled, they leave home with those same ugly attitudes and judgments—and worse, they pass them down to their own children. 

Alexis: Shayla’s had a rough life. How did you as the author, use her pain to propel her into her purpose?

Deborah: I’ve learned in my own life that God can take our pain and turn it into something useful, make us teachable, make us compassionate. Turn ashes into beauty. I wanted that kind of redemption for Shayla.

Alexis: What role does your characters’ faith in God play in this story? Explain.

Deborah: I usually write about how faith makes a difference in my characters’ reactions to the trials and tragedies of life. In my own life, God has made all the difference, so I want to explore that phenomenon through my characters as well. 

Alexis: What role does the bakery, “Coffee’s On” play in this story?

Deborah: As the Chicory Inn business is a backdrop for Link’s life and home, so the bakery is the backdrop for Shay’s life. She’s practically grown up there and can’t imagine any other way of living.

Alexis: What makes Shayla and Link fall in love?

Deborah: They discover that they have much more in common than they have differences. They genuinely respect each other. And they genuinely like each other. They make each other laugh. And they’ve each learned some important truths about life from the other.

Alexis: What challenges do Shayla and Link face when they go out on dates as an interracial couple?

Deborah: Until Jesus returns and the New Heaven and New Earth are established, there will always be jerks on this earth. And each of us is likely to cross paths with a jerk or two in our lives. Shayla and Link, because of the differences in their outward appearance, run into more than their share. But as they grow into God’s calling for them to be together, they also begin to notice the positive reactions of some people who encourage and cheer them on, despite the challenges. 

Alexis: What’s the moral of the story?

Deborah: The entirety of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation is a story of redemption and reconciliation! Christ’s death on the cross, which reconciled us to God, is the essence of the love we should have for one another. If we all lived and walked in His love, reconciliation would happen every minute of the day.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: My favorite part about writing this story was __________________ because __________________________.

Deborah: My favorite part about writing this story was the love story between Link and Shayla, and how they became “parents” to Portia because love makes the world go ‘round! I love exploring the intricacies of family life and the beauty of godly romance between a man and a woman.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Deborah! Do you have any final comments?

Deborah: Thank you for the great questions, and for giving me a chance to talk about my series and this newest book in particular!

Author bio: 

Deborah Raney's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched Deb’s writing career. 

Twenty years and thirty books later, she's still writing. She and her husband traded small-town life in Kansas, the setting of many of Deb’s novels, for life in the city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four grown children and seven grandchildren who all live much too far away. 

Visit Deb on the Web at

Blurb for Deborah's book, Home at Last: Link Whitman has settled into the role of bachelor without ever intending to. Now he’s stuck in a dead-end job and, as the next Whitman wedding fast approaches, he is the last one standing. The pressure from his sisters’ efforts to play matchmaker is getting hard to bear as Link pulls extra shifts at work, and helps his parents at the Chicory Inn.

All her life, Shayla Michaels has felt as if she straddled two worlds. Her mother's white family labeled her African American father with names Shayla didn't repeat in polite––well, in any company. Her father’s family disapproved as well, though they eventually embraced Shayla as their own. After the death of her mother, and her brother Jerry’s incarceration, life has left Shayla's father bitter, her niece, Portia, an orphan, and Shayla responsible for them all. She knows God loves them all, but why couldn't people accept each other for what was on the inside? For their hearts?

Everything changes one icy morning when a child runs into the street and Link nearly hits her with his pickup. Soon he is falling in love with the little girl’s aunt, Shayla, the beautiful woman who runs Coffee’s On, the bakery in Langhorne. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Is there hope of changing the sometimes-ugly world around them into something better for them all?

Buy Deborah's book, Home At Last
Abingdon Press:

Connect with Deborah:
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Enter the book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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  1. I love reading novels with difficult subjects - such is the reality of life, reading fiction on such subjects can educate and help prepare us to reach out to others.

    Congrats on 'Home At Last', Deborah - can't wait to read it and so enjoyed the interview!!

    1. Dear Bonnie,

      Thanks for visiting my blog today! I am delighted to know that you enjoyed Deborah's interview! :)

      Good luck in the book giveaway contest! Take care and God bless you.

      *Jeremiah 29:11*

  2. Deborah Raney is one of my favorite authors. I have enjoyed reading her Chicory Inn series very much, and have been waiting for this last book with much anticipation!

  3. Because I have loved everything Deb has written! Also my granddaughter was in a biracial relationship so I'd find it interesting. jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

  4. Thanks for asking such great questions to Deb. It's always interesting to learn about an author's research process and motivation for character development.

  5. I love this series. I have read all except this one. Would love to win a copy! Thanks much for the review and interview!
    Blessings. Joy
    ibjoy1953(at)yahoo dot com

  6. I love her books and this series looks so good.

    Author interviews are always so much fun. Thank you for doing this and offering a giveaway.

    Thank you,

  7. Thanks so much for having Deborah Raney! She's one of my favorite authors! I really enjoyed the interview and how you complied the questions to go along with the book.

    I haven't read this one yet. I think I'm really going to enjoy it because it deals with a subject I'm familiar with. I'm been in a relationship with an African American man for almost sixteen years. We have one child together and he has a child from a previous relationship. Our son's get along really well.

    I think this book will be one of my favorites because I'll relate to the subject. I've only gotten to the second book in the series. The first two were so good. Thanks for the giveaway.

    Blessings to you!

  8. Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Alexis. And reading the comments is such an encouragement to me! I'm so glad you're all enjoying the series! Happy Valentines Day to all!

  9. This is such a timely book. Can't wait to read how Deborah navigates the challenges and joys between Link and Shayla! I love series books, I guess I better catch up! Happy Valentine's Day everyone and best wishes on the giveaway! Too bad we can't all get a copy!

  10. I like reading books by these 2 authors. Happy Valentine's Day! Someone who wins will be especially blessed with this offer!

  11. The book blurb sounds very interesting. Love to read and this one sounds good.


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