Deborah Raney – The “story” behind The Hanover Falls novels:
“My husband is always clipping stories out of the newspaper that he thinks I’ll find interesting––that he thinks might hold the seed of an idea for a future novel. One day he placed the story of nine heroic firefighters who were killed in a fire in Charleston, SC. That story and the career of my firefighter nephew, got me thinking about the lives of the survivors and how they find the will to go on after such a tragedy. The Hanover Falls novels explore the questions I encountered that day.
“The three-book series was contracted by Howard/Simon & Schuster and will follow the lives of several of the survivors of fallen firefighters as they try to piece their lives back together after a tragic fire at a homeless shelter in Hanover Falls.
“The research was the most difficult thing about this book because it took me WAY out of my comfort zone. Since part of the storyline of The Hanover Falls Novels series revolves around events in a homeless shelter, when our church asked for volunteers at our local shelter, I knew the Lord was prompting me to answer the call.
“My first night on duty was a Sunday and I was told to bring something to read since usually the hours were quiet and uneventful. 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 twenty residents who had checked into 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’d ever experienced at the shelter.
“As the night unfolded, we dealt 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 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 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. 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 following Sunday night! Nights like that one give me a fresh appreciation of how God often turns research into ministry––and of how He never wastes an experience in the life of a writer.”
Thank you, Deborah! What a fascinating story. Look for Almost Forever – Available now!