Melanie Dobson shares the magic and mystery of Mackinac Island
I've always been intrigued by Mackinac Island (a very popular vacation destination on the east coast) because I was told time seemed to stand still there. There are no cars on the island so people ride bikes or horse-drawn carriages, and from the moment you get off a boat, you can sense it is a magical place.
Q: You’ve written in more than one genre including historical and contemporary. What genre or time period is your favorite and why?
My desire is to write stories that stir people's heart and soul--whether historical or contemporary--but my favorite genres would be to write historical romance and romantic suspense. I love to research--so much so that it's sometimes hard for me to stop and actually write the book. :)
Q: For such a small island, how did Mackinac Island become such a popular getaway? How long has it been a tourist destination?
The resort island nestled into a strait below Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is known by many names. Fairy Island. Land of the Giant Turtle. And my personal favorite—the island that time forgot.
From the moment I stepped off the ferry and heard the clip-clopping of horses’ hooves along the island’s historic Main Street, I was transported back a good hundred years. Pronounced “Mackinaw” like Mackinaw City (but spelled differently so the post office could differentiate between the island and town), Mackinac Island is a place that time did indeed seem to forget.
Even today, Mackinac Island reflects an era when the wealthy and their servants escaped the heat and grime in cities like Chicago and Detroit to enjoy natural spring waters and cool lake breezes. It was an era when women wore beaded gowns and plumed hats and twirled parasols in their gloved hands, when people were just beginning to talk about horseless carriages as they rode in their own horse-drawn carriages to an elaborate ball at the Grand Hotel or to an afternoon tea at what their neighbors would call a “cottage”—a residence that more closely resembled a castle. A nineteenth-century writer once said that the island was so healthy, a person had to leave Mackinac to die.
Mackinac Island hasn’t swung far beyond the era of the Victorians, and both residents and visitors alike savor the past. Its diverse history goes back hundreds of years, when Native Americans considered the island the home of their Great Spirit and local tribes gathered there each summer to fish. In the 1700s, lucrative French and American fur companies made their homes and millions of dollars on Mackinac until the British took over during the War of 1812 and held the island for three years before returning it to the United States.
Then, in 1819, the first steamship of tourists arrived.
However, the investors in the Grand Hotel made it a premier summer destination when they built the hotel in 1887. The Grand Hotel (on the cover of the book) celebrates its 125 anniversary this summer.
Q: What do you hope readers come away with after reading Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan?
I hope readers will be inspired by God's majesty and be reminded that not only does God love to create, He also loves His creation.
I've published ten novels now, and LFY in Mackinac Island was one of my favorite books to write. This story (I hope) is filled with beauty and wonder. It's about a magical place, during a magical time, and I hope that readers leave with a sense of God's majesty on this beautiful island where time has seemed to stand still.
Q: As you were writing this book, you were able to travel to Haiti to lead a women’s retreat. Tell us how you were able to tie your preparation and experience there into the book.
I went to Haiti to help lead a retreat for the wives of Haitian pastors. Our whole team spoke on a different name of God, and I spoke about God as Mighty Creator. As I researched God's passion for creating and the love He has for His creation, it was a joy for me to incorporate the wonder and beauty of the universe into this historical novel.