Delores Topliff grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest along the Columbia River at the end of the Oregon Trail. The beautiful setting of her childhood filled her head early on with the adventures of fictional frontier and WWII heroes (and heroines) that have so far inspired three of her four historic novels—and helped shape her personal adventures.
Since marrying a Canadian, travel has always been an important part of her life. Her graduate studies required teaching, and having foreign students living in her home led to her visiting their countries and becoming part of their extended families. Mission trips added more to her international experience, enriching her life and expanding her personal story.
When she’s not writing, teaching, or speaking, Delores spends time with her sons’ families and five grandchildren. She resides six months of the year on a Minnesota farm and six months in Northeastern Mississippi.
It’s so nice to finally have you as a guest at Divine Detour! What set you on a writing journey?
Moving into a house across the street from a small community library when I was six-years-old with the nicest grandmotherly librarian in the world. We lived there until I was thirteen, and besides schoolwork, I typically read two books a day. She guided me to great reads and encouraged my writing ideas and floating library dreams. I really did want to fill a houseboat with books for people up and down the Columbia River who didn’t have libraries, and Cara Newell was nice enough not to laugh when I told her my desire.
Has God ever sent an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be the better path?
Marrying a Canadian and becoming a citizen of that country as well as the U.S.
Requiring dual-chamber pacemaker surgery at age 41. I’ve now on my 7th. It makes me aware of God’s great grace and purpose for my life which has made me much bolder in looking for His purpose, direction, and daily enabling.
How does your faith play into your writing?
I love to develop characters, sometimes based on real people, who are on an assignment or quest. They must grow to overcome the dangers and challenges faced—or fail.
Let’s talk about your new book, A Traveling Grandma’s Guide to Israel (TrueNorth Publishing, August 2023). It has such a fun cover! Please tell us about it.
I was teaching in a small Christian college in Canada when a retired Biblical Archaeologist came to visit. I had just agreed to develop and teach a course in Biblical Archaeology but so far only had one paperback book plus the back of a Thompson Chain Reference Bible. Bob Allen provided books, articles, replicas, and a few genuine artifacts.
When I taught the course for a week of evenings that fall so surrounding communities could attend, Bob flew up to cheer me on. He was pleased and gave our college $3,000 if I would travel to Israel to learn more Archaeology hands-on and come back even better equipped to teach his favorite subject. I had a year to plan by writing letters and making thorough inquiries. That thirty-six day trip was so amazing, I worked hard to save and send myself eight more times during the thirty-nine years since, staying 135 days total so far.
I’m privileged to maintain friendships with a wonderful network of people there so I enjoy Israel as someone with close connections inside the land—not as a tourist. Many ask me to help plan their trips and introduce them to some of my contacts. That ultimately led to writing this book. It went to the pub board of a major publisher just as Covid greatly limited international travel. I spent time in Israel again in January 2023 to update and add information and am pleased to provide this blended memoir and travel guide. There’s nothing else like it on the market.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
My father’s father’s Christian forefathers immigrated to the U.S. from Prussia and spent time in Wisconsin before going to Minnesota by train to homestead land. Ultimately most moved to Washington state for its favorable agricultural climate, but somehow I’m a cheesehead fond of most cheeses. Favorites are cranberry cheddar or English Wilton with mango. I’ve loved lengthy mission trips to the Philippines, Colombia, Indonesia, but miss cheeses when they’re not available. (I find excellent cheese varieties in Israel.)
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
I have minimal talent but love music. I whistled recognizable tunes before age two and played songs on the harmonica by age four. My mother played violin and hoped I would, but it was her desire—not mine. After several sessions at age seven with violin teacher, Mr. Herzl, he asked her not to bring me again. I later studied piano and liked it, but my sister and cousin are truly accomplished. I’m happy to write songs occasionally, mostly for my own enjoyment.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I was the oldest child and regularly cared for my sister and brother so I grew into the fairly standard strong female lead.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
When I was seven or eight, I had Frosty, an attractive, fluffy cat but neighbors put out pest poison that she got into and died. Our family wasn’t ready for a replacement after that. When I visited family in Oregon recently, my nephew’s family has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-French Bulldog mix that was absolutely adorable. I travel too much to manage house pets but sing songs to the Scottish Highland Cows on our Minnesota farm and spoil them a bit.
Thanks, Delores! It’s great to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
Thank you! I appreciate sharing this time with you and your readers.
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To purchase A Traveling Grandma’s Guide to Israel in print, ebook, and audiobook (coming soon), go to —