Talking with Debbie Macomber
Debbie Macomber has written so many bestselling novels that the list of titles on her Web site scrolls for several pages. The number of audiobooks she’s heard may be almost as long.
“I’ve been a big, big fan of audiobooks for years and years and years,” enthuses the bubbly author. “I love them because they let me multitask. I have players all over my house. In the kitchen, in the bathroom--I listen whenever I put on my makeup--and I have one in the car. So I have them in three different places, and I may play three books in the same day. Oh, I also listen while I knit. In fact, I write books to support my yarn habit.” (This may well be true, for she evidently has a yarn room rather than a yarn basket.)
Macomber also says that listening has given the simple joy of reading back to her. “As an author, I know too much about structure and plot points. Reading for pleasure has almost been destroyed for me. But I can listen to a book and not have any of those critical thoughts.” And, she adds, “I’m dyslexic, which means that I’m a slow, thoughtful reader. Listening is a good way for me to consume lots of books efficiently.”
One reason why the list of titles on Macomber’s cheerful Web site is so long is that she began her career writing three to five category-romance books a year. “There are many advantages to starting as a romance writer,” she says. “You learn to be prolific, to plot easily, to think of ideas and write them down.” And you learn to keep a crowd of characters in your head. “I guess it’s a good thing that I came from a large family. I’m used to writing with lots of voices clamoring! Seriously though, I wrote at home with the kids when they were little. I’m so accustomed to interruptions that it never bothers my flow. Writing all those romances taught me the discipline of writing.”
Ready good humor notwithstanding, discipline is clearly essential for a woman who still produces three books annually: a hardcover in one of the Cedar Cove or Blossom Street series she has developed about the lives of realistic adult women, a romantic trade paperback, and a Christmas novella.
“I write every day when I’m not traveling. When I finish a book, I immediately plot the next one and write up a synopsis. I do that because I’m in the mode--the characters are fresh in my mind. It’s a comfort for me to know what comes next.”
Macomber’s other daily habit is to keep a special journal, which she calls her “Ode to Joy.”
“As part of my morning devotional time, I list five things that I want to be grateful for and that bring me joy. Five things, every day.” One of them, surely, is writing. For this bestselling author, whose manuscripts were rejected for five years before she made her first sale, says, “I’m happiest when writing. At the beginning, I wanted it so badly that I didn’t care what it took. Now I know that I would have lost a piece of my soul if I had given up.”--Aurelia C. Scott
© AudioFile 2008, Portland, Maine
Photo © Nina Subin