Bestselling author Debbie Macomber will make a National Writers Series appearance on Thursday, May 7 at Traverse City’s City Opera House. Ron Hogan will serve as the guest host for the Northern Michigan book event.
Macomber is the master of putting her heart on the page, renowned for her compelling novels of love, friendship, and the promise of fresh starts. More than 170 million of her books are in print worldwide and her books have spent 750 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.
In addition to her fiction, Macomber has published two bestselling cookbooks; numerous inspirational and nonfiction works; and two acclaimed children’s books. Her beloved and bestselling Cedar Cove series became the Hallmark Channel’s first dramatic scripted television series and was ranked as the top program on cable when it debuted in summer 2013.
Macomber also owns her own tearoom, Victorian Rose Tea Room and yarn store, A Good Yarn, named after the shop featured in her popular Blossom Street novels. She and her husband, Wayne, serve on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, and she is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative.
In anticipation of Debbie’s visit, area knitters are participating by creating Knitted Knockers (knitted breast prosthetics). Knitters can download the pattern or pick one up from a local participating yarn shop. Then bring the finished Knockers to the May 7 event or to a participating local yarn shop by May 14 so they can be donated to women who need them.
Before her visit to Traverse City, Debbie took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with Cymbre Foster of the National Writers Series about how she spends her days, what drives her writing and more. See below for the conversation.
You have said that knitting saved your life when you were a girl and it has since become your grand passion. I love how you have taken this passion and shared it with the world – literally. Tell me a little about World Vision and your role.
Those are tricky questions because it’s so broad. First of all, Knits for Kids is knitting sweaters for kids around the world and in the United States. I’ve distributed them in Chicago and I’ve also been to Kenya. And you think a country that’s on the equator is not going to need sweaters but we were 8,000 feet above sea level, and I was freezing! So yes, children in Africa do need knit sweaters. I needed a knit sweater!
Knit for Kids started with Guideposts (magazine), and I’m on the board of directors for Guideposts and it just got so big for them that they turned the program over to World Vision. I’m not exaggerating when I say that literally thousands upon thousands of sweaters from around the country and the world are being knitted for children all over and it’s just beautiful to see the smiles on those faces.
Editors note: Knit for Kids began in 1996 though Guideposts magazine as a way to send hand-knit or crocheted sweaters to children in need. Since then over half a million children have received something new for the first time in their lives. Guideposts turned the Knit for Kids program over to long-time partner, World Vision in 2009.
Most writers would be happy with finishing one book in their life but you’ve written dozens, own a yarn shop, do humanitarian work, are devoted to your family, go on yarn cruises and you even cook. How the heck do you do it all?
First of all it’s not just me, I have a big staff and although I own the yarn store and I certainly buy enough yarn, I don’t run it. I have an office manager and the whole crew that run the yarn store. I have very little to do with it. The only thing I do is go in, say hello, buy yarn and knit. It’s the best of all worlds! As for the writing – I’m such a passionate person, I love to cook and eat, I love to knit, I’m crazy about my family so I’m just a woman that has a lot of passions. And I really love the Lord so I’m just a passionate person. And so I divide my time with that. It’s really important for me to have that time with family and I have the best kids and grandkids, oh my goodness, they are fabulous. And I love to spend time with them.
Your books have been adapted into hit Hallmark movies including the popular series Cedar Cove. I’ve seen the photos of you on the set and with the lovely Andie MacDowell. Are you having as much fun as it looks like you are having?
I’m quite involved with the show, I’m one of the executive producers, so I’m up there for some of the shoots.
This story tells you everything about Andie: Last year I answered my front door and there was this huge, I mean huge floral arrangement. The only time I’d see something that huge was at a funeral. I couldn’t believe it and said who would send me something this big and it was from Andie and the card said, “Thank you for creating Cedar Cove, I so love playing the part of Olivia.” I was just blown away. So I do get to be involved and I do get to interact with the actors. And I do have to tell you this one thing because it is so wonderful. I was on the set and as the cameramen walk around they have someone behind them who lifts the cords and makes sure they don’t trip anybody. And I was there and this guy was with the cameraman, doing the cord stuff and he stops me and said, “I understand you’re the author” and I said, “Yes this is so exciting for me to see this.” And he said, “Well, I want to thank you because without you I wouldn’t have a job.” It just put the whole thing into perspective for me. God gave this creative imagination that you know, has rippling effects that I’ve never thought about.
And I have to tell you about the food (she is the author of two cookbooks). I always knew that being a frequent eater was going to pay off!
Who taught you how to cook? Your mom?
Yes, my mom. She was the tiniest little thing. She was 4’11” and the most she ever weighed in her life was 140 pounds when she was nine months pregnant with me! She was under 100 pounds when she died and she never really ate a lot, she just loved to cook and to feed me.
You love a happy ending and so your books end with one. Why always so upbeat? Life certainly doesn’t guarantee a happy ending.
No, it doesn’t guarantee a happy ending but think about it — why do people read? They want an escape. If you make an emotional investment in a book, you want a happy ending. There have been times when I’ve read a book and it has a sad ending and it so strongly effects me, I want to throw the book away! I don’t know if I’ll get a chance to talk about this when I’m there so I’ll tell you. I have a lot of ideas, that’s just really the gift that god gave me. Just all the time I have ideas and early on in my career I had to decide which ideas to pursue. I would come up with a plot premise and I had to think – Now is this something that will appeal to my readers and how am I going to know which is the best story to write so I came up with these 5 words:
Relevant: It has to be relevant to my reader. They have to think, well this could happen to me.
Compelling: It has to be compelling or proactive would be a better word, because I want my reader to think. I want to tell them a story but I want them to think. Twenty Wishes. If I had 20 wishes what would they be? If my husband left me for another woman how would I do, how would I react? The book I’m writing right now, I love the title, it’s called The Girls Guide to Moving On and it’s about exactly that — about two women who are divorced and starting life over.
Honest: It has to be honest. I can’t have the hero and heroine fight the entire book and on the last page say, “Oh I loved you all along.”
Creative: It has to be told in the most creative way possible.
Entertaining: It has to entertaining. I’m not here to preach, I’m not going to be hitting anybody over the head.
What books are on your bedside table – although I don’t know how you have time to read!
I read every night. Right now I’m reading a bunch of bad boy books. I need a younger voice and so I’m reading bad boy books and I love it. I have a lot of audio books to and I’m listening to All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr — very, very good. And I did finish the Boys in the Boat. He (Daniel James Brown) is a phenomenal writer.
Cedar Cove is loosely based on your hometown of Port Orchard, Washington. Does the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce love you?
They do. I’ve got the keys to the city and it’s the only time they’ve ever given anyone the keys to the city and I put it on my wall and the key fell off!