Debbie McDermott was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, where she met and married her husband Sean in 1990 and subsequently migrated to New Zealand. Initially, Sean moved to New Zealand in 2005 and was employed by the Steel Mill at Glenbrook. Debbie and their two sons, Daniel and Peter joined him 10 months later. The family settled in Waiuku, South Auckland.
Debbie McDermott is a skilled writer and has served the New Zealand Christian Writers collective in various roles, including being a board member and magazine editor from 2011 to 2019, and Level One competition judge since 2012. She has also joined the magazine proofreading team at the request of the collective’s new magazine editor, who took over from her in July 2019.
Debbie has a real passion for inspiring Christian writers to become so good at their craft that their published works lead the market. She has achieved this by providing objective critiques to competition entrants and publishing quality writing tutorials, articles and stories that are full of useful writing tips in The Christian Writer magazine.
Debbie enjoys being a judge as it’s not just a matter of awarding first, second and third place. Rather it's about coaching, mentoring, teaching and encouraging each entrant to take their writing to the next level. The collective’s other competition judges did this for her in her early years with New Zealand Christian Writers and it is this that has contributed to her becoming the editor and judge she is today. Debbie counts it a real privilege to pass on what she has learnt to other aspiring writers.
Debbie spends the rest of her time writing. It was not long after her arrival in New Zealand that Sean encouraged her to write her first book. So Debbie’s writing journey began in earnest, but not all was plain sailing and life was to take an unexpected turn.
In 2007, Sean McDermott was diagnosed with a large tumour. Chemotherapy sessions took their toll on them both, but despite the setbacks Debbie’s manuscript steadily grew. In October that year, she heard about New Zealand Christian Writers for the first time through a friend. This led to her joining the collective so she could attend a workshop being hosted by John and Elizabeth Sherrill (ghost writers of Cross and the Switchblade, The Hiding Place and God’s Smuggler, as well as authors of many other books).
Having her manuscript assessed by such renowned authors and the other workshop delegates was a real eye-opener for Debbie. While it showed she still had a lot to learn about writing well, it was also exciting to discover her story had great potential.
The process of rewriting and polishing up her manuscript was hard work but worth it in the end. In November 2009, Voyage of the Redeemed received a first acceptance from Melrose Books publishers (a mere 3 months after Sean sadly passed away) and was officially published a year later. Debbie admits she could never have written her first book without the encouragement of her husband or the valuable input from New Zealand Christian Writers.
In November 2018, she successfully published her second book, And the Lion Roared No More, through DayStar Books. This epic tale of the destruction of a kingdom and the rise and fall of the Lion of Babylon has received great reviews from individuals and the media.
In March 2019, Debbie moved to Havelock North in Hawkes Bay and has recently enrolled in a Bachelor of Theology Degree programme through Life Christian University. She believes God is about to open new avenues of ministry for her through her writing, teaching and mentoring capabilities and wants to be fully equipped. She is also set on completing the sequel to And the Lion Roared No More and remains dedicated to continuing to contribute her talents to New Zealand Christian Writers as a Level One competition judge and in her new portfolio of Competition Coordinator.
New Zealand Christian Writers provides so much for its members through its magazine, writing competitions, tutorials, writers’ groups, seminars and retreats, as well as through members simply networking with each other. It was a combination of these things that led Debbie to become such a talented writer.
To find out more about joining New Zealand Christian Writers, please visit www.nzchristianwriters.org
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.