Born June 12, 1958, in Fort Worth, TX; daughter of Calvin and Tommie Pigg; married Jack Bedford, 1982; children: Jeff, Avery. Education: Texas A…M University, B.A.
Addresses: Publisher —Warner Books, 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020. Website — http://www.deborahbedfordbooks.com.
Editor for Evergreen Today , a weekly newspaper in Evergreen, CO, early 1980s; worked for ad agency in Colorado, 1982-84; began writing fiction, 1984; published first novel, Touch the Sky , 1985; first inspirational story, the novella "The Hair Ribbons, " published in the collection The Story Jar , 2001; first inspirational novel, A Rose by the Door , published by Warner Faith, 2001.
Awards: Reviewer's Choice Award, Romantic Times , for Touch the Sky , c. 1985; Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence; Wyoming Writers' Milestone Award.
Deborah Bedford, author of more than a dozen novels, is "a star in the burgeoning Christian fiction genre, " according to People 's Sue Corbett. Accolades like that are especially striking, since Bedford set out on a dramatic mid-career change at the end of the 1990s that left her without a publisher for three years. After 12 years as a successful romance writer, Bedford decided her relationship with God called her to write inspirational Christian fiction. Since 2001, her novels have focused on characters who find forgiveness and renewal when they face up to painful experiences and decisions.
Bedford was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and grew up in Richardson, Texas. During college, she channeled her dreams of being a writer into a journalism degree. After college, Bedford's first job was with a small newspaper in Evergreen, Colorado, where she worked as the editor, writing, reporting, laying out pages, and even distributing the paper. She and her husband, Jack, married in 1982, and Bedford took a job at an ad agency in Colorado. In 1984, she began to write fiction, mostly late at night and early in the morning. A year later, Harlequin, a leading publisher of romance novels, accepted her book Touch the Sky , about a woman who goes to a ranch to grieve after her airplane pilot husband dies in a crash, and meets a cowboy with whom she falls in love. The book set a new sales record for a Harlequin author's first book and won a reviewer's choice award from Romantic Times.
She wrote for Harlequin until 1993, producing about one romance novel a year as well as Blessing , a historical novel. She signed with HarperCollins Publishers, wrote four more books, and appeared on the USA Today best-seller list. Some of her books reflected her faith by mentioning God and Jesus. But, like many romance novels, her work included sex scenes with unmarried characters, a fact that came to trouble her.
A turning point in Bedford's career came when a biblical allegory in a sermon by her minister convinced her that books with premarital sex scenes in them did not serve God and that she had compromised her religious beliefs for success as a romance novelist. She decided she wanted to write inspirational, Christian romances from then on. She left her publisher and her agent and sent out new manuscripts to Christian publishers, but at first her search did not go well; she went three years without publishing a new book. She says she looked at the difficulties as God testing her convictions, so she lived off her credit cards for a while.
Eventually, her perseverance paid off. One of her new stories, "The Hair Ribbons, " was published in 2001 in Multnomah Press' The Story Jar , a collection of three novellas about motherhood accompanied by letters and anecdotes from other authors. Bedford read from the story at the Jackson Hole Writer's Conference (a gathering she co-founded) and described her decision to move from mass-market fiction to Christian fiction. In the audience was Jamie Raab, publisher of Warner Books, who invited Bedford to become an author for the company's new imprint of Christian books, Warner Faith. Her first book for Warner, A Rose by the Door , was released in November of 2001. "It's wonderful writing for Warner, " Bedford told Sarah Sawyer, a writer for Today's Christian. "So many of the letters I've gotten say, 'This is the first Christian book I have ever read and I want to read more like it.' And I'm getting so many letters, maybe ten times as many as I got before."
The new novels Bedford wrote confronted difficult topics. In 2001's A Rose by the Door , for instance, the main character is a woman who prays for her son to come home, only to find out he has died. The protagonist of her next book, 2002's A Morning Like This , discovers that her husband has had an affair and secretly fathered a child. When You Believe , published in 2003, tells the story of a high school counselor who is in love with a teacher, and then hears from a student that the teacher abused her. "All of my earlier career, I had thought that writing for the Lord would mean that I had to put parameters around my stories, " she told an interviewer for the website Focus on Fiction. "Almost from the first page of writing, I realized how wrong I had been about that. In the market today, anything goes as long as it's handled right."
In 2004, Bedford published If I Had You , which dealt with the issue of abortion. "I'm not a preacher, " she told a conference of booksellers, according to Sawyer of Today's Christian. "I'm not a speaker, but I wrote this book because I had an abortion and I want to share how God healed me." In the book, Nora, a mother, convinces her daughter, Tess, to bring her pregnancy to term. Nora is hard on Tess, but eventually confronts her own long-denied secret, which had hurt her for years.
Bedford's determination to write redemptive stories seems inspired by her own past and her spiritual journey. "I grew up in Texas, in a town where everybody talked about Jesus, " she said in her interview with Focus on Fiction. "If something went wrong with someone, people lived under a strange code of silence. I grew up believing that everyone had to stay 'good' all the time and if you slipped a little then, well, you might as well fall all the way." That is exactly what she did in her early college years, she told the Focus on Fiction interviewer, so that when she became a mother and a regular church-goer again, she spent a long time feeling she "had a lot to make up for." But then she had a religious awakening, when she prayed to God to tell her directly how to believe in Him, instead of hearing about Him from others. Her decision to switch to Christian fiction came soon after.
Bedford's next book, Remember Me , told the story of Sam Tibbits, a middle-aged minister who, facing burnout after a death in his family, takes a sabbatical and returns to the place in the Pacific Northwest where he spent his summers as a child, and he runs into the woman he was in love with as a teenager, who disappeared before he could propose marriage to her. Publishers Weekly called the novel "a multilayered, rewarding read" and praised Tibbits' character as "beautifully drawn."
In 2005, Bedford was busily acquiring the rights to her older books and rewriting them, or redeeming them, as she put it, replacing the premarital sex scenes with different plot points. First to be republished, in 2004, was her 1992 Harlequin romance Just Between Us , followed by her 1993 historical novel Blessing the next year, both published this time by Harlequin's new Christian publishing house, Steeple Hill Books. But for Bedford, replacing sex with God did not mean getting rid of romance. The reason "we're fascinated with secular romance, " Bedford asserted in the Focus on Fiction interview, is that "God physiologically designed us to be drawn to a romance with Him."
Touch the Sky , Harlequin Superromance, 1985.
A Distant Promise , Harlequin Superromance, 1986.
To Weave Tomorrow , Harlequin Superromance, 1989.
Passages, Harlequin, 1990.
Just Between Us , Harlequin, 1992; Steeple Hill Books, 2004.
After the Promise , Harlequin Superromance, 1993.
Blessing , Harlequin Historical, 1993; Steeple Hill Books, 2005.
A Child's Promise , HarperCollins, 1995.
Chickadee , HarperTorch, 1995.
Timberline , HarperCollins, 1996.
Harvest Dance , HarperCollins, 1997.
"The Hair Ribbons, " published in The Story Jar , Multnomah Press, 2001.
A Rose by the Door , Warner Faith, 2001.
A Morning Like This , Warner Faith, 2002.
When You Believe , Warner Faith, 2003.
If I Had You , Warner Faith, 2004.
Remember Me , Warner Faith, 2005.
People , November 21, 2005, p. 57.
Publishers Weekly , August 29, 2005, p. 32.
Today's Christian , May/June 2005.
"Biography, " Deborah Bedford, http://www. deborahbedfordbooks.com/bedford_bio.html (March 4, 2006).
"Deborah Bedford, " FaithfulReader.com, http:// www.faithfulreader.com/authors/au-bedford-deborah.asp (March 4, 2006).
"Deborah Bedford interview, " Focus on Fiction, http://www.focusonfiction.net/deborahbedford. html (March 4, 2006).
"Deborah Bedford: 1958, " American Collection Educators, http://www.ncteamericancollection.org/ litmap/bedford_deborah_wy.htm (March 5, 2006).
" When You Believe by Deborah Bedford, " Powells. com, http://www.powells.com/cgi-bin/biblio?in key=17-0446690414-0 (March 4, 2006).
— Erick Trickey