Sandy Huseby

Review by

“Even when the bad is staring a woman in the face, she wants to believe her man is good.” Dodge Hanley knows that better than most, and when Caroline King reaches out to him after years of separation, he seizes the opportunity to redeem himself in her eyes. He’s been waiting his baby’s lifetime for just such a call. That baby, Berry Malone, is all grown up now, but Dodge and Caroline’s daughter is in a jam she can’t talk her way out of: A stalker has a twisted plan to punish her for rejecting him in her climb up the ladder at a Texas marketing agency in Sandra Brown’s hot new thriller, Tough Customer.

Caroline calls Dodge after an intruder breaks into her home intent on killing Berry. Instead, Berry’s work partner, Ben Lofland, is shot and left for dead. Calling Dodge was reflexive; the ex-cop turned investigator may have broken Caroline’s heart when Berry was born, but he has the talent and hard-edged drive to catch the shooter. Small-town sheriff Ski Nyland teams up with the battle-scarred veteran of law enforcement—and he’s as susceptible to seductive allure of the daughter as Dodge is to that of her mother.

From the sophisticated realm of the Houston business world to the swampy heat of East Texas’ brambly Big Thicket, the killer leads them on a chase against the time as he targets his next victim. But the romantic pursuit of Berry and Caroline presents even greater dangers to Ski and Dodge.

Brown masterfully weaves a tapestry of two romances with the pulse-pounding suspense of a deadly stalker intent on avenging a lifetime’s worth of wrongs. Dodge may be the “Tough Customer” of the title, but he meets his match in the tenacious Caroline and the strong-willed daughter born of their long-ago love. Readers will meet a story that delivers, with fast pacing, breathless action and twists right up to the very last page.

Sandy Huseby writes from South Dakota and lakeside in Northern Minnesota.

“Even when the bad is staring a woman in the face, she wants to believe her man is good.” Dodge Hanley knows that better than most, and when Caroline King reaches out to him after years of separation, he seizes the opportunity to redeem himself in her eyes. He’s been waiting his baby’s lifetime for […]
Review by

A chance encounter on the pier of Magic Beach, California, launches the newest adventure of Dean Koontz’s singular hero, Odd Thomas, who has starred in three previous bestsellers. Wise beyond his 20-something years, Odd evokes the homespun wisdom of Forrest Gump amid the mind-spinning adventures of a Jack Bauer.

The ultimate Everyman, the one-time fry cook is ostensibly just a jack-of-all-trades for an aging actor. Yet a prophetic vision triggers a manhunt for Odd by the Magic Beach police. While on the run, he puts his trust in the mysterious Annamaria and people like Reverend Moran, who betrays him by revealing him to the police. Odd also trusts his own instincts and one of his “oddest” companions: Francis Albert Sinatra, Ol’ Blue Eyes, haunts Odd, and goes ballistic with such descriptive finesse it’s a joy to read.

Canine relationships are a hallmark of Koontz’s writing, and they’re sublimely apparent in this tale. Odd’s companions include a ghost dog and new dog who intertwine in time and memory, much as Odd’s encounters with people and with danger. Throughout Odd Hours, there is the threat of a nuclear terror attack that would affect hundreds of thousands of people. But it’s with his descriptions of the personal terror that circles Odd as he confronts a world that blends life and death . . . and lingering death . . . where Koontz is at his zenith.

In the creation of the character Odd Thomas, with his prophetic dreams and psychic encounters and plain-spoken philosophizing, Koontz may have intended an avatar for himself, a voice to opine on everything from the two-way therapeutic interrelationship of man and dog to the global state of distress, but he’s transcended that to provide an avatar of hope and honor and courage for all of us – the linchpin of a rollicking good tale.

Sandy Huseby writes from Fargo, North Dakota, and lakeside in northern Minnesota.

Wise beyond his 20-something years, Odd evokes the homespun wisdom of Forrest Gump amid the mind-spinning adventures of a Jack Bauer.
Interview by

The belief that love has the power to transcend even mortality is the heart of Luanne Rice's evocative love story, Cloud Nine. The sheer poetry of the relationships she portrays is the story's soul. Rice transforms tragedy into grace in telling of Sarah Talbot's soaring triumph.

Sarah's family creates down-filled quilts which she sells in her shop, Cloud Nine. But the family is estranged, and Sarah's son, father, and aunt live on the remote Maine island which was, at one time, her home.

As Thanksgiving approaches, Sarah makes arrangements to return home, aided by the nurse who became her friend while she recovered from cancer surgery. Will Burke is the pilot who takes her, and in the process becomes the new love of her life.

Sarah's capacity for love encompasses Will's daughter Susan, who masks emotional pain by adopting unlikely nicknames like Secret and Snow — until Sarah helps her find acceptance.

Luanne Rice describes Cloud Nine as a book that demanded to be written. Like Susan, Luanne's experience of caring for her own dying mother affected her profoundly, and for two years she was unable to write. Her mother "was the constant, encouraging figure in my life," notes Rice. She attended the same small public school as her mother, and credits her teachers with reinforcing her mother's support of her writing. "The years of her treatment and decline were so terrible and compelling," Rice says. "The whole thing affected me really deeply, and I stopped writing. I stopped being able to think like a novelist, I couldn't make the emotional connections I've been so blessed to be able to make."

The loss of her mother and the loss of her writing lingered until Rice sat at the kitchen table in her childhood home, and Cloud Nine began to come to her. Rice describes that setting as a place where there were a lot of personal ghosts, a lot of loss, but also a lot of love. "The whole experience came to me in one character, and that was Sarah. I didn't know how to work with her, and I didn't have it in mind to write a book about death at all."

Rather, Rice says, the story is about how to really love, "how when you open yourself up to that experience, it can really transform your life."

In Cloud Nine, Sarah's courage and love transform all those whose lives she touches — including her birth family, whom she seeks out for reconciliation, and the new family of Will and his daughter.

Just as she draws on personal experience in creating the emotional lives of her characters, Rice also draws on personal touches for the story's details. Rice's visit to a down shop, for example, inspired her to create Sarah Talbot's quilt shop. Even Sarah's family home in Maine is an outgrowth of Luanne Rice's love of that locale, where she always goes for the revision process of her story-writing.

"I realized as I was writing that I was very much writing about my own experience," Rice says. When asked whether that means she identifies most with Susan, Rice demurs. "All the characters in the book are aspects of people I have known and loved, or they reflect experiences that I've had.

"I think it's the realization that Sarah herself comes to that I wanted to get across. To go through loving somebody and losing them is very transformative when you allow yourself to love them through it all. The only reason you can feel that much pain is that you have that much love."

On how the book evolved, Rice says, "The characters just came out my fingertips, I didn't so much tell them what to do as they created themselves."

Rice reflects now that while writing the book may have been cathartic, even more cathartic were the two years of silence she went through before writing it. "Writing the book was a joy, it came out so fast, it just shocks me."

The joy that Rice takes in her writing makes the book a joy to read, too. Lessons are sewn in tiny, telling stitches until the completed experience is as warm and encompassing as the enduring quilt of life itself.

Asked if she could tell readers one thing in handing over Cloud Nine to their keeping, Rice's response is swift: "Love your family." You will, in reading this evocative novel, love Sarah Talbot's family, as well.

Sandy Huseby writes and reviews from her homes in Fargo, North Dakota, and lakeside near Nevis, Minnesota.

The belief that love has the power to transcend even mortality is the heart of Luanne Rice's evocative love story, Cloud Nine. The sheer poetry of the relationships she portrays is the story's soul. Rice transforms tragedy into grace in telling of Sarah Talbot's soaring triumph. Sarah's family creates down-filled quilts which she sells in […]
Interview by

Fiction with vision and visions We recently chatted with novelist Catherine Lanigan about the challenges of finding an audience for her new novel, Wings of Destiny.

Wings of Destiny is the story of two families entangled in a generations-long struggle; the conflict between the Dukes and The House of Su dates back to the Chinese opium war. The Duke lineage began with the illicit relationship between Jamaican plantation owner Ambrose Duke and his slave, Yuala. Destinies converge and a battle of good and evil ensues in San Francisco in the late 1800s, where Nan-Yung Su is driven to destroy forever the family of Ambrose and Yuala’s grandson, Jefferson Duke.

The scope of Lanigan’s novel is global, ranging from the Caribbean to the Forbidden City in China, and is decades-long. That span is scarcely grand enough to encompass this unforgettable tale.

BookPage: You wrote the novelizations for Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile. Wings of Destiny is a multi-generational saga, complete with ghosts and paranormal phenomena. What compelled you to write a story so different from what you’ve been writing? Catherine Lanigan: I always write from my heart in that, all of my books are the same. But Wings of Destiny is my soul. It is the one book about which I’m over-the-top-passionate. In the 20-plus novels I’ve written, I’ve done several multi-generational sagas. I love their scope and depth. This kind of book is rather like taking a scalpel to life, slicing through layer after layer to come to the raison d’etre. To me, that is our spirituality. Through this book I hope to open the eyes of each reader to see herself, where she came from, and where she’s going in a way she never dreamed or imagined for herself.

BP: It took a little-known publisher to launch Tom Clancy. Likewise, your publisher is taking a leap of faith with you. What do you hope this demonstrates to booklovers? CL: It is true that Peter Vegso at HCI is taking on an enormous challenge in the publication of this novel. By the virtue of his faith in this book, he is opening an entirely new genre of fiction. Can you imagine? Writers like myself, who have been turned down, rejected, scoffed at, and even ridiculed by countless publishers Wings was rejected over four dozen times in 13 years will find an avenue where our out of the box imaginations and passions will have a chance to be heard. My favorite story about Wings of Destiny was over a decade ago when my agent took it to the head of a prominent publishing house, and the editor read it and said, There’s a ghost from the future as a main character. Everyone knows there’s no such thing. Stonefaced, my agent replied, You never read A Christmas Carol? Next! Visionary fiction is destiny driven. I know I am following my divine path in seeing this book to publication. Though I can’t speak for Peter, his actions certainly show that he shares this belief.

BP: Where does your writing go from here? CL: I have two nonfiction books contracted with HCI currently. The Evolving Woman: Intimate Confessions of Surviving Mr. Wrong is a compilation of letters I have received over the past five years from responses to my national publicity campaigns for Mira Books, in which abused women relate how they found the courage and faith in themselves to escape from abusive marriages and relationships. The fact that two publishers are supporting my mission to help families who are victims of violence says a great deal about the heart and soul of the caring commitment they have to making the world a better place.

Angel Watch, the second book from HCI, is a series of factual accounts of paranormal and angelic intervention experiences in my personal life and those of my family and close friends. These are the real stories behind Wings of Destiny and how this book came into being. This is a book I have lived.

Other than that, I have three visionary fiction novels, fully formed in my head, but yet to write. Not to mention another half-dozen paranormal adventures, both contemporary and historical. I have no fear that I will ever run out of tales to tell. ¦ Sandy Huseby writes from her homes in Fargo, North Dakota, and Nevis, Minnesota. She is online at SHuseby@aol.com.

Fiction with vision and visions We recently chatted with novelist Catherine Lanigan about the challenges of finding an audience for her new novel, Wings of Destiny. Wings of Destiny is the story of two families entangled in a generations-long struggle; the conflict between the Dukes and The House of Su dates back to the Chinese […]
Interview by

One of the greatest joys for romance readers is discovering a truly fresh take on a classic love story. One of the greatest challenges for romance authors is writing with an original voice. When the writer is a first-time novelist, the discovery is all the sweeter. Just such a story is Linda Nichols's Handyman, an enchanting contemporary retelling of the Cinderella tale — only this heroine is single mom Maggie Ivey, struggling to make a life for herself and her son Tim in a shabby apartment in Oakland. Prince Charming is contractor Jake Cooper, whom Maggie mistakes for Dr. Jason Golding, the self-help guru of the "21-Day Overhaul."

Jake is in the psychologist's office to bid on a remodeling job, but from their first encounter, he decides Maggie is the one who needs fixing. No Cinderella tale would be complete without a conniving pair of competitors for our hero's affections. Lindsay, Jake's ex-girlfriend, is determined to help him resolve his "issues" so they can get back together. And Gina, well, she's supposed to be Maggie's best friend — she even paid for the 21-Day Overhaul — but now can't stand having "her" guru give Maggie more personal attention.

After indulging in this irresistible tale, we asked author Linda Nichols to do a little self-analysis:

Sandy Huseby: Your novel pokes at the psychobabble, self-help fixation. What do you really need help with?

Linda Nichols: Handyman does sort of poke fun at psychobabble, but I don't think struggling with mental health issues is funny, and I'm very much in favor of competent counselors and psychologists doing their work. But there is an aspect to the whole self-help industry that strikes me as very commercial and almost addictive in nature. Your phrase "self-help fixation" describes it perfectly. I do have struggles myself in that area from time to time. I'm a worrier, and I've noticed that I get worse when my life feels out of control for some reason. The other thing I struggle with is being sort of a loner. I was an only child, and I tend to be pretty independent anyway. It's easy for me to sort of hibernate and let myself get out of touch with other people. But it's interesting; I've found the cure for both of these problems is to stay connected to the people I care about. They tend to help me put my worries into perspective, even if it's just to say, "Even if the worst happens, I'll still love you."

SH: What do you like most about your heroine?

LN: I think the thing I like most about Maggie Ivey is her sweetness. She hasn't let betrayal make her hard and bitter. And I also like that she takes such good care of her son. She has her priorities straight, no matter what other people are telling her.

SH: What do you like best about yourself as a writer? As a person?

LN: I think the thing I like best about myself as a writer is my perseverance. I made the decision a while back that I was never going to give up on my writing, no matter how hard it was at times. I felt I had been given a talent and it was my responsibility to develop it. I take classes, belong to a workshop, and write five days a week, almost without exception. What I like about myself as a person is a tougher question. I feel I have a lot of character flaws. Sometimes I think I should wear a sign that says, "As Is." But I guess the thing I like best about myself is my honesty and lack of pretense. I'm not very good at pretending to be anything other than what I am.

SH: Who is your real-world hero and why?

LN: I have a group of heroes. When I was a junior in high school my family disintegrated. My dad moved us to the Seattle area from Virginia. I left behind all my friends and extended family, and as soon as we arrived here my parents' marriage sort of melted down. I was an only child, without friends, whose family was falling apart. But then, miraculously, I think as I look back, these people just came out of the woodwork and took care of me. One was the pastor of the church I began attending. He filled the role of father in my life during high school and college. Another was a girl who came along and became my friend. Her family included me in everything they did. A third was an older woman who took me under her wing. I would sit at her house for hours, and she would listen and encourage me. They are my heroes. Out of a complete void came a father, mother, and family. I'll never forget what they did for me.

The caring relationships Linda Nichols describes in her own life ring just as true in her story. Help yourself to Handyman, sit back, and turn off all the distractions — you're in for a real treat!

Sandy Huseby writes and reviews from her homes in Fargo, North Dakota, and lakeside near Nevis, Minnesota. 

Author photo by Perler Photography.

One of the greatest joys for romance readers is discovering a truly fresh take on a classic love story. One of the greatest challenges for romance authors is writing with an original voice. When the writer is a first-time novelist, the discovery is all the sweeter. Just such a story is Linda Nichols's Handyman, an […]
Interview by

If you’ve ever wondered just how closely art imitates life, you need only turn to one of the world’s superstars of fiction: Judith Krantz. The author of Scruples, Mistral’s Daughter, Princess Daisy, and many more, has written a memoir, Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl. In the telling of her own colorful life, Krantz out-glitzes her heroines.

We caught up with the author for a question-and-answer session as frank as the memoir itself, drawn right from her descriptive book title.

BP: So, which is better, sex or shopping?
JK: I’d hate to think of a world in which a person had to give up one to have the other! On the one hand, shopping is dependable: You can do it alone, if you lose your heart to something that is wrong for you, you can return it; it’s instant gratification and yet something you buy may well last for years. You can browse to your heart’s content but it’s hard work and not easy on the feet unless you do it through catalogs or the Internet, and I like to touch and try on the things I buy.

Sex generally — certainly at its best — requires a willing partner; it’s not particularly dependable because it’s always different. Once you’ve done it with the wrong person you can’t take it back, it’s become your personal history. It can’t possibly last for years and browsing has its limits. Only a certain amount is healthy or wise.

I guess I’d have to say that shopping would win your horrible question. However I’d choose LOVE over shopping any day.

BP: What advice would you give your 20-something self if you were starting out today?
JK: Knowing what I do now, I certainly wouldn’t decide to write a first novel because I wouldn’t have anything like the necessary life experience. I got that experience through dating dozens of men for six years after college, getting an entry level magazine job at 21, working in the fiction department at Good Housekeeping and then working as a fashion editor there as well as writing many articles for the magazine. After I married at 26 and had my first son at 29, I continued to write part-time from home, but I always had a deadline.

My work caused me to interview hundreds of women about their lives and their problems. I think that getting to know so much about women was crucial before I started to write fiction to be read mainly by women. I would, however, start writing fiction about 10 years before I actually did, because it’s such great fun to do, many times more creative than nonfiction.

Otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing, and I’d advise a young, would-be novelist to do as many jobs and talk to as many people about their lives as possible. There’s nothing worse than the 25-year-old novelist regarding her own misspent youth. Live first!

BP: And what’s still to come for your readers to look forward to?
JK: It’s a secret.

Author photo by Deborah Feingold.

If you’ve ever wondered just how closely art imitates life, you need only turn to one of the world’s superstars of fiction: Judith Krantz. The author of Scruples, Mistral’s Daughter, Princess Daisy, and many more, has written a memoir, Sex and Shopping: The Confessions of a Nice Jewish Girl. In the telling of her own […]
Interview by

The crown jewel of romantic comedy writers surely has to be Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who starts the new millennium with her first hardcover, a novel harkening back to her most beloved storytelling. This Heart of Mine teams children's author Molly Somerville with pro quarterback Kevin Tucker in a romance with more action than a Super Bowl showdown.

Although Kevin can't seem to remember her name, Molly has been harboring a crush on the Chicago Stars player since she was 16 years old. She's been living out her fantasies through her children's book heroine, Daphne Bunny, a witty gal with a to-die-for-wardrobe. Now 27, Molly decides to swear off unrequited love but can't keep the overpaid, Ferrari-driving, poodle-hating jock out of her mind. The couple battles it out off the field and soon Kevin is on defense against Molly's winning ways.

Where do such warm, charming, sassy-tongued and vulnerable people as Molly and Kevin come from? The clever, gifted heart of Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who talked to BookPage recently from her home in Chicago.

BookPage: So what's a demure romantic comedy writer like you doing writing about brawling, bruising football players like Kevin Tucker?
Susan Elizabeth Phillips: And Dan Calebow, Cal Bonner, Bobby Tom Denton and Kenny Traveler. Odd, isn't it for someone who doesn't really like sports? In my mind, if you don't have to wear mascara to do it, it doesn't count as recreation.

BP: Are you a real-life football fan? Da Bears? Who's your favorite player?
SEP: The Bears suck. I think I watched part of the Super Bowl last year. I can't stand watching baseball because the players spit. Watching golf is less interesting than watching grass grow. Favorite players? You've got to be kidding. I'm just not much of a fan.

BP: Are you a closet children's book reader? Or author, like Molly?
SEP: Now here's something I can get into. I own the complete set of Eloise, which I adore. I've read all but the last Harry Potter. My 23-year-old son tells me it gets really scary. I'd love to be able to write one of the Daphne the Bunny books, but I don't share Molly's talent. One thing I've discovered in the past year: Romance readers are passionate about the books they loved as children and they delight in talking about them. It's also pretty easy to figure out how old everyone is by the books they choose.

BP: Which is the most-thumbed children's book on your own reading shelf?
SEP: Goodnight Moon, hands down. I read it to the boys every night for years and years.

BP: You're a former teacher? What did you teach? Why?
SEP: I taught high school drama, speech and English. My degree is in theater, but I knew by the time I graduated that I was neither beautiful enough nor talented enough to make it on the stage. Thus, teaching.

BP: Would you go ever go back to teaching?
SEP: I loved teaching, especially teenagers. Now I have to get my teaching fix by doing writing workshops, which I adore.

BP: What's the most important banned book you've ever read?
SEP: So many great books have been banned in one place or another that it's pretty hard to choose. I remember reading Forever Amber in the back of the public library because my mother told me I wasn't old enough for it. Catcher In The Rye was a book that knocked me for a loop. It was the first time I understood the concept of author voice. I've never gotten over that book. Currently, Harry Potter. We all should get down on our knees daily and give thanks to J.K. Rowling for all the future readers she's snagging us.

BP: When the Chicago wind chill's 30 below and everything's socked in what do you do?
SEP: EXCUSE ME? We don't get "socked in" in Chicago at a mere 30 below. We're hearty Midwesterners and we go out and meet the elements! After I've met the elements, however, I love sitting snug at my computer and writing while the snow and wind try to shatter my office windows.

This Heart of Mine is just the romantic comedy readers will want to snuggle up with. Susan Elizabeth Phillips delivers a championship story!

Sandy Huseby writes at fireside in Fargo or lakeside in northern Minnesota.

The crown jewel of romantic comedy writers surely has to be Susan Elizabeth Phillips, who starts the new millennium with her first hardcover, a novel harkening back to her most beloved storytelling. This Heart of Mine teams children's author Molly Somerville with pro quarterback Kevin Tucker in a romance with more action than a Super […]
Interview by

The sacrifices of military couples In her new novel, The Ocean Between Us, popular romance writer Susan Wiggs pays tribute to the military families who struggle to keep their bonds strong during challenging times. As Wiggs richly demonstrates, the simple vows "for better, for worse . . . 'til death us do part" have a special meaning for couples who face lengthy separations as a result of military deployments. Grace, the Navy wife at the center of The Ocean Between Us, finds the challenge of sustaining her 20-year marriage takes on bittersweet urgency when a catastrophe on her husband's aircraft carrier threatens to separate the couple forever.

A Harvard graduate and former math teacher, Wiggs is a RITA award-winning author who has written more than 20 novels, from historical romances to contemporary women's fiction. She recently talked to BookPage from her island home in Puget Sound about how her latest novel took shape.

BookPage: What compelled you to write this book? Do you have a military background?

Susan Wiggs: Not at all! Researching this, I felt like an anthropologist studying another culture. The military is definitely a world apart. The book I wanted to write was the story of a woman and her marriage a good marriage. Novels about bad marriages abound, but I find the idea of a good marriage that is severely tested much more interesting.

Then I went in search of my characters. Who was this woman? Where did she live? Who was she married to? What will make this story special? That's when I hit on the military angle for this book. The U.S. Navy is a huge presence here in Puget Sound. It's common to be driving along on Bainbridge Island, and pulling over to watch an aircraft carrier steaming toward its home port of Bremerton. In fact, I stood in the freezing wind one day to watch the Carl Vinson come home after its post-9/11 deployment.

One of my dearest friends and fellow writers, Geri Krotow, is a Navy wife. The day I saw her fix a Command Pin on her husband's chest at his Change of Command ceremony, I was so moved by the gesture that I knew this would be the right background for The Ocean Between Us. The bravery and sacrifice of Geri and her family touched my heart.

What have you learned about marriage through writing this story?

I have a vivid recollection of writing a scene in The Ocean Between Us in which Grace and Steve say goodbye just before he boards the aircraft carrier for a six-month deployment. In the scene, they've just had a huge falling-out, and they're estranged. It's a very sad scene and I remember thinking, "Wiggs, you'd better find a way to fix this situation!" Now it occurs to me that the marriage of the people in this book, which I think is a very good marriage subjected to some terrible pressures, reflects what I believe about marriage and commitment. The good ones are worth fighting for.

What have you learned about writing through telling this story?

That the best way to tell a story is the way that gives the reader the best possible ride. This story doesn't unfurl chronologically. It starts with a huge, dramatic event, then goes back and reveals the steps that led to that moment. Then the story finishes with the fallout from the big drama. It was an interesting challenge to write, and I'm hoping it's compelling for the reader.

What do you hope readers learn about military families from this book?

Without ramming it down their throats, I do hope The Ocean Between Us is an honest look at the benefits and the costs faced by families in the military. It's often a good news/bad news situation. For example, last year, my friend Geri's husband didn't have to pay income tax on 10 months of his income. That's the good news. The bad news is that the reason he doesn't have to pay taxes is that for those 10 months, he was in harm's way fighting in Iraq.

 

The sacrifices of military couples In her new novel, The Ocean Between Us, popular romance writer Susan Wiggs pays tribute to the military families who struggle to keep their bonds strong during challenging times. As Wiggs richly demonstrates, the simple vows "for better, for worse . . . 'til death us do part" have a […]
Interview by

Noted for her down-to-earth characters and heartwarming tales, best-selling author Debbie Macomber is a clear favorite among romance readers. With dozens of novels to her credit and more than 60 million books in print worldwide, Macomber delivers exactly what her readers want with clockwork regularity. Each holiday season, she gives her fans a Christmas-themed romance, and she continues this tradition with the release of There’s Something About Christmas. Emma Collins, a reporter for a small-town newspaper in Washington state, is assigned to interview the three finalists in a national fruitcake-baking contest. Getting to the creators of the fruitcakes proves to be a challenge for a reporter who’s afraid of flying, until she meets pilot Oliver Hamilton. The book comes complete with recipes for the award-winning fruitcakes.

Macomber took time from her busy writing schedule to answer questions about her new novel and her own holiday celebrations.

BookPage: Tell the truth—do you really like fruitcake?

Debbie Macomber: In the world of fruitcake, most people either love it or hate it. I am firmly in the camp of "love it." But, I have to admit, not all fruitcakes are created equal. High-quality fruits (not those loaded down with the bitter commercial citrus peels) and nuts, plus a good rum or brandy to keep everything moist while it waits for Christmas, that’s the confection I call a good fruitcake. Most often, that would mean a homemade fruitcake.

BP: You’ve written several novels with a Christmas theme. Why do you think the season makes an especially good setting for romance?

DM: Romance and Christmas seem to naturally go together. Every woman I know has a picture of the perfect Christmas in her mind, the same way we do romance. Reality rarely lives up to our expectations, so the best we can do is delve into a fantasy. That’s where I come in. Besides, with all the tension filling the holidays, I want to give my readers a reason to laugh and a reason to sigh.

BP: What is your favorite holiday tradition?

DM: I created several Christmas traditions with my family. [One] involves my daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters. We have a slumber party. Okay, it started out as an all-night affair, but after the first year I decided I’m too old (and smart) to stay up all night. We get together the first Friday night of December and assemble nifty gift packets that can include spice rubs, drink, soup or cookie mixes. The grandkids decorate and color the labels, and then at the end of the evening, we share the bounty. It’s great fun. We play Christmas music, sing, munch on goodies and just generally laugh ourselves silly.

BP: What is your greatest writing strength—and personal strength?

DM: My greatest strength as a writer is that I’m a storyteller. But, it was a long, hard struggle for me to make the transition from verbally telling stories to writing them. You’ll note I don’t dwell on descriptions in my writing, because I’m far more interested in telling the story. There are many better writers in this world, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone more passionate about stories than I am.

My greatest personal strength? You mean other than my obvious beauty, charm and sense of humor? Just kidding! In all seriousness, I consider my greatest strength my complete and utter faith in a loving God. Strong family values are also important and I do not hesitate to write them into my books. My reader mail tells me this is something that readers especially like about my books.

BP: What is your worst flaw? Does every heroine have one?

DM: So you want to get personal? Okay, if you must know, I’m an optimist and my heroines seem to be that way, too. It’s too much work to be cynical and distrusting. That doesn’t mean I create perfect stories and perfect people, however. What this means is that my stories are resolved in a manner that leaves the reader with a feeling of hope and happy expectation . . . and wanting to reach for another one of my books.

BP: What will you be working on next?

DM: I’m just about ready to start on the story for next Christmas, Christmas Letters. It is about a woman who earns extra money for the holidays by writing Christmas letters for her friends. She makes the trials and tribulations of the year sound like triumphs. For example—Shirley is husbandless and is about to attend her college class reunion. She can’t bear to face her friends and let them know the only males in her life are her three cats. Catherine, my heroine, while writing the Christmas letter for Shirley, states: I divide my time between Harry, Charlie and Tommy. I love them all and simply can’t decide on one over the other.

Noted for her down-to-earth characters and heartwarming tales, best-selling author Debbie Macomber is a clear favorite among romance readers. With dozens of novels to her credit and more than 60 million books in print worldwide, Macomber delivers exactly what her readers want with clockwork regularity. Each holiday season, she gives her fans a Christmas-themed romance, […]

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our enewsletters to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.

Trending Features

Sign Up

Sign up to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres!