Book Talk: Romance writer Debbie Macomber serves up a cookbook

CANBERRA Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:54am EDT

CANBERRA (Reuters Life!) - American writer Debbie Macomber is a best-selling author of romance and other women's fiction but now she is serving up a new genre to satisfy her readers -- cookery.

Macomber, 60, a prolific author for Canada-based publisher Harlequin with more than 150 novels to her name, branched away from traditional romance about seven years ago to focus more on women's relationships, particularly in her Cedar Cove series.

But readers of the series set in small town America, which has just had its ninth book "92 Pacific Boulevard" published, wanted more and kept writing to Macomber asking for recipes for the food mentioned.

Ever responsive to readers' wishes, Macomber has just released her first cookbook, "Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Cookbook," with recipes like cowboy eggs with smoky black beans and lime-avocado salsa and roasted garlic white pizza.

Macomber spoke to Reuters about writing and this weekend's transformation of her home town of Port Orchard, Washington, into the fictional community of Cedar Cove to raise money for local charities:

Q: Why a cookbook?

A: "Readers would write me for the recipes. I'd mention the food and the recipes wouldn't be there and they wanted them. I love to cook and I love to eat so I understand this interest."

Q: Are the recipes all your own?

A: "No, it is a mixture. There are some of my own recipes that I gave to a recipe developer to write up, and all were cooked in a test kitchen. If I didn't have a recipe for something in the book, then she would also develop a recipe for it."

Q: Is there a theme to the food?

A: "It is all basic, good, home cooking. The way the book is set up is that the grandmother in the series is collecting recipes to give them as a gift to her granddaughter."

Q: You also have a series of knitting pattern books that stemmed from your Blossom Street series. You are a keen knitter. Are those patterns yours?

A: "No, the patterns are not mine as I am not a designer but they come from the designs connected with the book. So if one of my characters is knitting a sweater, that sweater pattern will be in the book. I've done about 11 or 12 knitting pattern books."

Q: What is going on at the fictional Cedar Cove this weekend?

A: "The whole community has gotten together and we are expecting about 20,000 people, from three countries and 37 states. I will be doing the teas and there will be 33 tour buses. Three of the guides are (from my four) children, there are character parades, arts and crafts festivals, a farmers market. In total about 38 different events."

Q: Cedar Cove is now in its ninth book. Is there an end?

A: "I will continue to write the Cedar Cove books as long as the readers want to read them. When they grow tired, I will quit. I am contracted to books 11 and 12. I write one Cedar Cove book a year, one hardcover women's book, and one Christmas book."

Q: Had you grown bored of romance?

A: "I didn't grow tired of romance, but as I grew older it was harder for me to write about 25-year-olds falling in love. I am mature and I am more about relationships and friendships. There is always romance in my books but it's romance plus more."

Q: You must be disciplined to produce three books a year?

A: "I don't get to write every day because there are lots of other things to do, such as going on tour. But when I do write I am very disciplined. I give myself a page count that I have to do every day to meet my deadline and I won't go home until then."

Q: There are more than 100 million copies of your books in print internationally. To what do you attribute your ongoing strong sales?

A: "I listen to my readers and what they want. The reader mail I get is across the board, from 13-year-olds to 96-year-olds. A story is a story that can appeal to any age group. I do make an effort to have different ages in my books, from young girls to grandmothers."

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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