Conclude Deborah Raney’s Chicory Inn novels with the final book, Home at Last, a story of acceptance, trying to overcome differences, and love. Everything changes for bachelor Link Whitman one icy morning when a child runs into the street and he nearly hits her with his pickup—and then the girl’s aunt Shayla enters Link’s life. Can Shayla and Link overcome society’s view of their differences and find true love? Read our story spotlight on Home at Last to learn more about Deborah and the final book in the Chicory Inn novels.
P.S. Join Deborah on Thursday, March 23, for a live author chat party in her Facebook group with fun prizes to be won! Click here for more details and to RSVP. Hope to see you there—bring a friend or two who loves to read!
The Story Behind Home at Last
Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did you find inspiration?
I’ve become really concerned about what seems to be a new wave of racial conflict in our nation. For many years, it seemed like we were making strides. But with tragedies like the ones that happened in Ferguson and Charleston, I couldn’t ignore the subject any longer. Home at Last isn’t my first novel with a theme of racial reconciliation. Because of the Rain (originally titled In the Still of Night) and Above All Things also deal with racial issues, but Home at Last is the first time I’ve written from the viewpoint of a person of a different race than me. I didn’t take that task lightly, but as with any novel where I write a character different from myself, I first did my research, and then asked people like my characters to read the manuscript and let me know if there was anything that didn’t ring true.
What was the hardest part about writing your novel: Getting started? Keeping it going? Finding the perfect ending?
The first draft is always the hardest part for me. I love rewrite and editing and always feel that’s when the real story happens. But getting the bare bones of the plot and characters down in first draft is like pulling teeth for me.
What trait do you love most about your main characters?
I love Link’s good-heartedness and the sense of innocence he has, just taking life as it comes. I love Shayla’s determination to do the right thing, even though it’s a really difficult thing.
When readers get to the last page, what do you hope they take away from the story?
My Scripture theme for this book was Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” That was the theme of this book: We are all one in Christ, and therefore we are all brothers and sisters, and should love and care for one another as such. It’s a tall order, but I hope readers will be compelled to be more compassionate, more understanding, less judgmental, and more full of God’s grace toward each other—even when we disagree on some matters.
What are you working on next?
I’m writing a novella for a collection with two other authors—all light-hearted romances set in small towns. I’m excited about this project but can’t share details just yet.
Get to Know Deborah Raney
What are your ideal writing conditions?
I can’t write until the dishes are done, the bed is made, and the house is relatively clean. Then I put on some music that fits the scene I’ll be writing, light some scented candles, and I’m ready to go deep with my characters. As long as the phone or doorbell don’t ring—which happens all too often. 🙁
If you could write in a different genre, which would you choose?
I’d love to write with more elements of mystery or suspense. I’ve done that with a couple of other novels, A Scarlet Cord and The Face of the Earth. I love how those books turned out, but it’s just not the genre that comes naturally to me the way women’s fiction does. Guess I’ll be content with reading other authors in that genre.
What book have you reread the most?
Besides the Bible, I’ve only reread two books: Catherine Marshall’s Christy, and LaVyrle Spencer’s Then Came Heaven. The latter, I read the last page and was so sad to leave the characters behind that I immediately turned back to the first page and started re-reading it!
Favorite first line of a book:
It has to be A Tale of Two Cities, because it still rings so true to life: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Do you have a go-to writing snack?
I keep a jar of Gobstoppers (mini jawbreakers) beside my desk. I like them because they last a long time and keep me from pigging out on something more fattening.
What is your favorite writing tool?
I could cheat and say “the Internet” because it’s a tool I barely had at my disposal when I started writing, and it has absolutely changed EVERYTHING about being a writer (and has kept my desk much tidier than it used to be!) But I’ll be more specific and say Pinterest. I love that I can have a virtual idea board for each of my novels, whether a private one to collect my research material on, or a public one that I share with readers, including photos of my characters and setting, and all sorts of other visuals for my book. The Pinterest board for the Chicory Inn novels can be found here.
If you were trapped in a book, what fictional place would you like to explore?
What a fun question! I wouldn’t mind being trapped in Jan Karon’s Mitford! I love her characters and the town of Mitford is just charming. Also, Watership Down would be a lovely place to spend time with Hazel, Fiver, and Bigwig.
What would the title of your biography be?
Blessing Upon Blessing. Even with a few bumps in the road and a few sorrows threading through my life, I could not feel more blessed by the Lord!
If you could live a day in one of your characters’ lives, who would you choose? Explain:
I would love to spend a day at the Chicory Inn with Grant and Audrey in the day-to-day running of the inn, and especially one of their Tuesday family dinner nights with all the kids and grandkids there!
I love missionary martyr Jim Elliot’s words: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”