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Interview with Delores Topliff

Delores Topliff loves adventure, teaching, and family. “Travel remains my favorite means of education, and I also continue more adventures like gently collecting quills from live porcupines to make jewelry or mastering other wilderness crafts.”

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Recognize and oppose prejudice and injustice wherever they occur. Avoid generalities. Judge people and situations individually. Follow Paul’s advice in Acts 17:11 to be noble like the Bereans, “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.” NASB

Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I’m a blend. I start with a loosely formed plot but then finer plot details develop more fully as the narrative grows.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
I grew through seriously sticking with writing, joining national and regional ACFW groups, attending in-person and remote conferences and classes. In my case, I found Susan May Warren’s writing programs especially helpful. I network with many author friends and a good critique group, constantly learning, improving, and never giving up!

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
For the last 15 years, I’ve taught and sometimes written online classes for a good Christian university. However, students experience emergencies, and semester deadlines don’t allow flexibility. I have to carefully prioritize my time.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
The Lord started me writing in the third grade. It took me years to be sure that He approved of writing fiction, but I’m convinced of its storytelling value now.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I keep my ears open, and the Lord lets certain scenarios and/or characters lodge in my heart. I grew up along Washington state’s Columbia River. Learned more of the area’s fascinating history by writing both Books Afloat and Strong Currents, and inspired me to research Wilderness Wife. Before reaching the US, the Austrian-born family of one of my three college roommates survived heartbreaking experiences that are paralleled in Strong Currents, my February 21st release. I’m glad to retell parts of Ingeborg Oberweger’s true family story.

What is your writing routine?
I love to write early in the day when my mind is fresh and creative juices are flowing but usually do my devotional and Bible reading first. It takes a different set of brain cells to grade student work.

If you could have coffee with an author, dead or alive, whose work you admire, who would that be? What would you ask him or her?
I love how good historic writing can inform readers and even change public opinion. Charles Dickens and Harriett Beecher Stowe are two great examples. Since more is generally known about Dickens, I’d choose Mrs. Stowe. I’d ask what personal experience or information tidbit ignited her heart enough to do the unpopular work of writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as an author?
Some interview and podcast questions have surprised me into revealing more personality skills or quirks than I usually share, like the fact that I do a convincing Canadian moose call that really brought a moose one time.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I loved growing up in the Pacific Northwest and have had wonderful hands-on experiences working for the Forest Services of both countries conducting detailed vegetation surveys over remote areas with greatly varying scenery and wildlife, been administrative support at major forest fires in both countries, and had all kinds of other amazing wilderness survival experiences that illustrate and flavor the world of my books.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I love most forms of travel, international when possible. Besides many mission trips, I often visit former international exchange students who’ve lived in our home for a year or more, which lets me enjoy authentic life in other countries rather than being a tourist. One university course I teach is World Geography, so my broad travel experiences add enrichment.

Finish this statement: If I were not an author, I would do more teaching and missionary work. I love staying busy on all fronts and don’t wish to retire.
Kathy McKinsey lives in Lakewood, Ohio, with her husband Murray and the oldest of their five children. Besides writing, she enjoys activities with her church, editing for other writers, braille drawing, crocheting, knitting, and playing with their rambunctious cat.

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