Monday Morning Author Interview: Delores Topliff

I’m excited DeloresTto introduce you to today’s author – Delores Topliff.

Where did you grow up?   Vancouver, WA (formerly Fort Vancouver), at the end of the Oregon Trail. But I’m still in the process of growing up—hope to accomplish that someday while still remaining a child at heart. Now I live in the northwest suburbs of Minneapolis.

What are some memories you have of where you grew up?  As a kid exploring old Fort Vancouver even before it was a designated national monument site. I lay on my belly peering down a deep well lined with hand-crafted stones and thought of those who built and settled the area, absorbing history.

Photo-City of Vancouver
Photo-City of Vancouver

I ate apples from the Pacific Northwest’s oldest apple tree, protected and still living, marveling at the connection between someone in England giving a captain seeds to bring to plant to provide fruit for Hudson’s Bay Co. traders and the first settlers who would arrive.

I’m also writing a historic novel about this stirring, inspiring period, and Marguerite McLoughlin, wife of Dr. John McLoughlin, who helped her husband establish Fort Vancouver and ultimately became hailed as the mother of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. I’m working to do this amazing story justice.

It sounds like where you spent your childhood had a huge impact on your writing. I believe growing up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (and learning to love its history) was a very important, God-given, formative influence on my life.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A teacher or librarian creating a 778px-ColumbiaGorge_CapeHornfloating library to serve isolated residents along the Columbia River—which I’m writing in my current WIP. And I am a teacher to the core, love it, still going strong. So many students in so many places have become lasting friends—extended family.

What do you love about living in Minnesota? What are you not particularly fond of living here?   I love Northern MN geography, Lake Superior and north to the Canadian border, the Boundary Waters, etc. I lived in northern Canada for years near the Alaska Highway.

I’d venture to guess you love being outdoors?   I do. It’s so beautiful, wild outdoor scenes nourish me. I don’t care for the weather extremes here. I grew up with milder Pacific Northwest weather, especially early and long springs with lots of flowers. We were always mowing lawns by Washington’s birthday on Feb. 22nd.

Not a lot of lawn mowing going on in Minnesota in February! Tell us about your writing journey.  My family situation was a bit rough but we had a small but good public library right across the street in a community center. A small church also started using that center. Both of those factors changed my life.

Photo by Great Oregon Vacations
Photo by Great Oregon Vacations

How so?  Though a low-economic neighborhood, the Sunday School moms had a contest to write in 100 words or less why you wanted to attend their first-ever summer Christian camp in beautiful Silver Creek Falls, Oregon. I won (not sure if they rigged it or I really won) but I could not have gone otherwise and going changed my life.

I heard the gospel message very clearly, respoACFW Logonded totally, and it changed my life. Some of these factors also appear in my ACFW Genesis finalist unpublished novel, The River’s Daughter, being considered by several publishing houses.

When did you start writing?  In 3rd grade, I started writing funny epic poems. I can still rattle large parts off. As I recited (when the teacher was out of the room) I immediately gathered enthusiastic classmate onlookers and saw first-hand the power of words to connect and influence. Plus I love the creative process.

Do you have any books completed?   I have 3 published children’s books out. Little Big Chief, the Bear Hunt was originallyLittle Big Chief composed at age 15 by popular demand from my younger brother and sister, but has been slightly more fully developed since. It’s stand-alone sequel, Little Chief and Ogopogo, is based on a deep-lake creature with more eye witness accounts and photographs than the Loch Ness monster. Just Google “Ogopogo.”

WhooshWhoosh is the true story of my oldest son praying for an owl where no owls lived. God answered a little boy’s prayer and sent one. All books are available through my website or by emailing me at

Tell us about your current work.  I have another new book in the works that I won’t progress on until I properly finish/polish several others. Significantly it is my first based in Minnesota/Wisconsin, indicating my successful transfer (after living here for 15 years) – returning to the region my grandparents on both sides hailed from.

Editing, with the help of trusted, gifted friends, has more beautiful and complicated dance steps than the minuet.  In February I attended Susan May Warren‘s Deep Thinkers Retreat in Florida where I worked on Cruising Down the River. I started it at last July’s MN-NICE Great Lakes Getaway when Colleen Coble and those attending encouraged me to pursue the idea. The River’s Daughter, one of two finished books being sent to three publishing houses now, began about 12-13 years ago as an assigned character sketch that simply grew and grew like Topsy in Uncle Tom’s Cabin until the entire story took over and told itself to me.

It has 2 sequels. The third in the series, The Mountain’s Children, is also finished and is being submitted. The River’s Daughter was so epic I was advised to divide it in half, which is why Book 2 in the series isn’t fully finished yet, though I certainly know its story line and events.

What is a lerunning tracksson you’ve learned during your writing journey?   That God is amazing and truly does more than we ask or think. Sometimes He waits longer than we wish He would, first letting our strength run out, to make sure we know it’s Him. I think runners and muscle builders train the same way, going beyond what is comfortable to stretch, maybe tremble, and gain new limits—until the process is repeated again.

What are your future plans and goals around writing? Do the best skilled job I can and write all I can, while still remaining socially active and being a good mom, grandmother, church member, friend, and enthusiastic mission trip member.

I know you’ve done, and continue to do, extensive world traveling. I think we’re going to need another interview just to cover the mission trip side of you!

So what is soHot air balloonmething you’d like to experience in Minnesota that you haven’t yet?   A hot air balloon ride out of Stillwater. We have tickets, just haven’t managed yet. I’d also like to take a steamboat ride on Mississippi-maybe need to arrange that this year.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?   I’m 1/128th Chippewa Indian and appreciate my love for/knowledge of nature that comes along with that heritage. I make porcupine quill jewelry and sometimes (gently) collect quills from the living animals myself.

Photo by Marry Harrsch
Photo by Marry Harrsch

How in the world would you gently collect quills from a live porcupine?   I follow them and gently wave a towel against them which makes some of the quills fall out. The porcupine is actually happy that I’m helping rid them of their old quills.

Now THAT I’ve got to see. There are so many facets to Delores, I didn’t have room for them all here. Here’s a snippet of the other things she’s up to:  Current President of the 130-member Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, she teaches at Northwestern College, St. Paul, MN, and conducts classes and seminars for churches and various groups. She operates Creative Design Services, a consulting business offering editing and ghostwriting skills to those readying their own materials for publication. That led to founding TrueNorth Publishing: A Friend to Writers, producing quality books.

Thanks for being here, Delores! If you’d like to learn more about Delores, her books or her porcupine jewelry, check out these links:


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