Welcome to the online home of Audra Jennings, a book publicist and crafter. Here I share about both. I hope you'll find books you'll want to read and crafts you will want to order. I live a rather boring, single life. At times I would like to think I am humorous. The kids I teach in Bible class tend to think so. I also blog about current seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I don't know why, I just do.
Deborah Raney shares the story behind Home to Chicory Lane
interview with Deborah Raney,
of Home to Chicory Lane
They say blood is thicker than
water, and in her latest release, Home to
Chicory Lane (Abingdon Press/August 19, 2014/ISBN:
978-1426769696/$14.99), Deborah Raney writes a story that examines how
the love of our family can help us weather life’s storms. The first book in the
new Chicory Inn series introduces us to Audrey Whitman, a mother who has
launched all of her children into life and now looks forward to fulfilling some
of her own dreams during her empty-nest years. However, not all of her children
are ready to stay out of the nest quite yet.
Q: They say blood is thicker than
water, and the closeness of family is a big part of the theme of Home to Chicory Lane. How did your own
experience with family shape the way you wrote this book?
have four grown children and five grandchildren (so far!). I grew up the oldest
of a family with four girls and a boy, and then I married the oldest of a
family of four boys and a girl. We both have many aunts, uncles, cousins, and
we both had our grandparents well into our forties (and even fifties, for my
husband). So as you can imagine, family is extremely important to us. We’re
both close to our families, and all of the good, the bad, the ugly, the wonderful
of being part of a family went into this series. Of course, the novels are pure
fiction, but I do find wisps of truth threading their way into my stories, and
a few of the funny things in the book may have happened in real life, though
not exactly the way they’re told in the book.
Q: Home to Chicory Lane introduces us to Audrey and Grant Whitman, an
empty-nest couple excited for this new season in life. How do you identify with
Ken and me, Audrey and Grant have looked forward to the empty nest and the time
they’ll have alone together now that their kids are gone. We definitely
identify with anticipating and then enjoying that empty-nest time (even though
there was a short period of grieving that a very precious chapter of our lives
had come to an end). But unlike the Whitman kids, who keep trying to come back
home, our kids have made a clean break and are scattered around the world from
Missouri to Texas to Germany! We miss them and sometimes wish they would move
back home. But we never wish it for too long!
Q: The couple decides to pursue a
dream — turning their family home into a bed and breakfast called “The Chicory
Inn.” It can be difficult for a married couple to work together and be together
ALL of the time — what kind of challenges do your characters discover and what
can other couples learn from them?
now, that’s where OUR real life comes into play. After a layoff from his job
five years ago, Ken started his own business and began working from home. There
was a pretty steep learning curve for us to learn to exist happily in the same
house 24/7, but like my characters, we did figure things out and have made it
work. Today, we can’t think of any better situation for an empty-nest couple.
We love it! The secrets that Audrey and Grant discover are: give and take, live
and let live, and don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff). But of course, like Ken and me, Grant and Audrey
have to learn a few things the hard way.
Q: Opening weekend of The Chicory
Inn, their youngest daughter shows up at the house with a U-Haul, fully
expecting to be able to move home. How much of a responsibility do you think a
parent has to take care of his or her adult child?
the answer to so many good questions, I think this one is: it depends. Most
parents’ goal is to launch their children into the world with all the tools
they need to make it on their own. But some kids boomerang back for a year or
two before they are ready to make it on their own. I think the secret is
learning to recognize whether your child is ready, and if not, to help from
afar as much as possible, not interfering too much, but offering guidance when
appropriate and when requested.
Q: Is a parent’s job ever really
think it is — or at least it should be — when the child leaves home and is
financially independent. Certainly when the child gets married. That’s not to
say that kids don’t still need a parent in their lives, but Ken and I loved how
the relationship switch flipped from parent to friend at a certain point. Now
our job is to encourage, enjoy, give advice only when asked and be the best
grandparents we can be to our kids’ kids. That’s
the true reward of all those sleepless nights raising our kids.
Q: A common problem between
newlyweds is when the husband wants to pursue his dream, while the wife is not
quite sure. What advice do you have for young wives?
advice I can offer, unfortunately, comes from having done it all wrong. I wish
I could turn back the calendar and be more supportive of my husband’s dreams
and ambitions — both when we were newlyweds, and more recently, after Ken’s
layoff. This is especially true because Ken has always been such a champion for
my dreams. For me, fear crept in and
I became more interested in being financially secure, rather than being willing
to follow God’s leading through my husband’s calling — even when it was a
little scary. I probably still have a long way to go before I’m where I should
be in supporting my husband, but I’m learning.
Q: The Whitmans are a close-knit
family, all living in the same community. That closeness provides support, but
it also causes tension from time to time. What advice do you have for managing
relationships between adult family members?
made a move just a year ago that puts my entire family of origin in the same
town, we are all learning how to set boundaries and how to allow one another’s
differences to be strengths rather than points of contention. If I could give
one piece of advice, it would be: If you’re angry with a family member, talk to
God about it, not the other members of your family. The other thing I think my
family has done well is that we’ve never let THINGS be more important than
Q: How close do your four adult
children live to you? Are any scenes in the book based on your own family
they all live out of state, and our oldest son is out of the country in
Germany. My kids always say they see a lot of our family in all my books, so
I’m sure they would recognize our family in parts of this series. But I’ve not
intentionally based the book on our family, other than the fact that, like the
Whitmans, we are Christians (albeit imperfect, human Christians) trying to live
out our faith in Christ as authentically as possible.
Q: Audrey wants to help her youngest
daughter during her marital crisis, but she is also careful not to overstep her
role. What advice do you have to help parents find the balance between helping
their adult children and interfering in their lives?
been fairly easy for Ken and me to not interfere, simply because our kids all
live far away. If they lived closer, I’m sure the temptation would be greater.
I think the simplest advice I could give would be to wait until asked before
giving advice. With rare exceptions, it won’t kill your kids to learn by making
some mistakes along the way. Don’t be tempted to swoop in and “fix” things too
soon or too often. Lessons learned the hard way are usually better learned. We
took a page out of both of our parents’ playbook and kept a hands-off approach
toward our kids, especially when they were beginning their marriages. Once the
grandkids came along, though, all bets were off, and we became much more
obnoxious and overbearing and insistent on getting more attention from our
kids. (Just kidding . . . but not by much.)
Q: Home to Chicory Lane is the first in the Chicory Inn series. How
many books will there be? Can you give us a hint of what we can expect in
books are planned for this series (and I have an idea for a special Whitman
family Christmas story I’d love to write someday as well). Each of the books in
the series will center on one of the Whitman’s children, whom the reader will
get to know through the various issues they deal with. The second book, which
I’m finishing now, is the story of the Whitman’s eldest daughter, Corinne, and
her husband, Jesse, as they wrestle with issues in their marriage brought to
light by a co-worker’s accusations. The third book will explore Danae and
Dallas’s challenges with infertility. The fourth book will follow the Whitman’s
widowed daughter-in-law, Bree, as she falls in love again and struggles with
separating herself from the family of the heroic husband she lost in
Afghanistan. The final book will find the remaining Whitman brother, Link,
falling in love with a woman the family isn’t sure is right for him. The more I
work on the early books in the series, the more I fall in love with this family
and can’t wait to tell each of their stories!
Q: What do you want your readers to
take away with them after they’ve closed the pages of Home to Chicory Lane?
hope readers will come away with a new appreciation for the families God has
placed them in — that they will learn to see past the warts and quirks to the
treasure that is in each family member God places in our paths. Family
relationships are hard work, but they are so very worth it! Nowhere else in my
life have I found such total acceptance for who I really am. Nowhere else am I
so free to laugh and cry and FEEL every emotion life brings. Nowhere else have
I grown more in my faith than in the midst of my family.