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.