Welcome back, Deborah. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I combined two of my favorite genres—historical fiction and mysteries—to write my Time and Again series. The first purpose of my writing is to proclaim God’s grace through the vehicle of storytelling. I came close to getting Time and Again published many years before it actually was when an agent, who liked the premise of using a computer program for virtual time travel, told me that if I got the Christian stuff out of it she could sell the book to a publisher. I thought about it for about a second and then came to my senses.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Our first child, born Christmas Eve 1975, was my very own living doll for Christmas. I was filled with the same joy when our second and third children came along.
How has being published changed your life?
Getting that first book contract gave me the courage to really begin writing in earnest. Now I spend much less time on other pursuits and a lot more time writing. The Lord has been so gracious to give me what I consider the perfect job at just the right time in my life.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading a whole slew of books as research for the third book in my trilogy. Some of them are: Black Like Me, Growing Up Black, Escape Betwixt Two Suns; Slaves, Salt, Sex & Mr. Crenshaw, and The Emancipation of Robert Sadler. (Read my review of this awesome book here.) Does this give you a clue of my topic? Of course non-fiction is work, not fun, and so I’m taking a break to read Ken Follett’s Fall of Giants. Next up is Tracy L. Higley’s Isle of Shadows. Both are historical fiction.
What is your current work in progress?
I’m working on book three in the trilogy. The working title, Up from Egypt, is one that has been used many times before, so I guess I’ll have to come up with something else eventually. But it is so apt because the story is set in the deep south of
Illinois, which is nicknamed Egypt or Little Egypt, and the historical
plot is about slavery. (Yes, Virginia, slavery
actually existed in the free state of Illinois.) I hope to
have the book ready for publication in the spring of 2013.
What would be your dream vacation?
I’ve always wanted to explore
Britain’s mysterious Stonehenge
and its museums, cathedrals, castles, and pubs. I’d want to visit London, of course, but
I’d spend most of my time walking about the green countryside in sensible shoes
and a tweed skirt.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
So far, each has been set in southern
Illinois because, as they say, write what
you know. The region is rich in history with unlimited topics to explore.
However, if I ever get the chance to take that vacation to Great Britain,
I’d do the first-hand research and then write about one of my Scottish
ancestors. After the Battle of Dunbar, Duncan Buchanan, along with many other
political prisoners, was transported by Cromwell to Barbados, where he was a slave in
the sugar plantations before making it to Virginia Colony.
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Hmmm. This might sound strange to some of your readers, but I can’t think of a single movie star, singer, or politician I’d like to hang out with. But I hear Dean Koontz is a nice guy. I’d love it if he invited me to bring my manuscript and come on over for dinner with him and his wife. After a nice time chatting about the
weather, he would be anxious to tell me all the things he loved about my manuscript
and offer concrete suggestions to improve it. Of course, I’d take copious
notes. On the way out the door, he’d say, “Keep in touch,” and hand me a card
with his agent’s name and number.”
Actually, very few of the people I interview want to meet a movie star or singer. What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
My other great love is gardening. For a while, I even had my own backyard nursery and propagated many of the shrubs, trees, and perennials I planted in the landscape around our ten acres. I never tire of finding new places to tuck in the perfect plant. Over the last several years, my back began suffer from all the bending, digging, hauling, and lifting. Isn’t the Lord good to give me a new career now as a writer?
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
I am sold on the idea of keeping the two sides of my brain happy throughout the writing process. I would advise beginning authors to start with an outline. But then let the right brain free rein to be creative during the brainstorming and composing phases. Worrying about the details, the grammar and punctuation for example, will shut creativity down cold. Let the left brain handle all that after the ideas are on the page.
An interesting perspective that will help many authors. However, I’m one of those who must edit as I go. I just can’t leave a chapter with errors in it and move on. Now tell us about your featured book.
Time and Again is the first book of the trilogy. (Unclaimed Legacy is the second. I’m working on the third now.) Abby’s “time-surfing” adventures begin during her summer-long college service project.
Abby expected to spend the summer in the dilapidated old house in Nowhereville getting to know her student Merrideth.
She didn't expect to get to know Charlotte Miles, the girl who had lived there 160 years before.
She planned to tutor Merrideth in math and English—not history. But that's before the freaky program on her new computer started waking her with its invitation to “take a virtual tour.”
It turns out a lot of stuff happened in that old house … and most of it never made it into the history books.
Time and Again is a story told in the past and in the future. A story of three girls and their journey of self-discovery and faith.
Sounds interesting. Please give us the first page of the book.
Abby had at first considered volunteering at St. Louis Children’s Hospital for her required
so that she could “contribute to the community while also enlarging her
horizons.” But her roommate, Kate, had reminded her of her tendency to faint at
the sight of blood. Several of her classmates had chosen to build homes for
disadvantaged families with Habitat for Humanity. But since she had never
actually used a hammer before, much less a power saw, being a “companion and
tutor to an economically disadvantaged adolescent” had seemed like a much
better choice. After all, it would be good practice for when she became a
teacher after graduation. Ambassador
After packing up her dorm room for the summer and saying good-bye to Kate, Abby had left
and driven south six and half hours, following the directions her client’s mom
had given, through terrain foreign to her city-girl eyes. Just after the sign
that said Brighton, Illinois—population 1,750—she turned onto Miles Station
Road, which got narrower and bumpier with each mile until there were no more
houses, only cornfields and trees. Then, in the last bit of daylight, she
finally crossed the railroad tracks she had been told to watch for and pulled
up to the house where she would be spending the summer.
Seeing the house, she began to wonder if she had made the right choice after all. Kate had teased her about being a “governess” and warned her to watch out for dark, brooding men skulking about. Now, getting slowly out of her little blue car, she thought maybe Kate was more right about the Jane Eyre bit than she knew. She stretched and then started up the cracked sidewalk that led to a very old house that stood in the gloomy shade of several huge oak trees, probably as old as the house itself. The two-story house had, no doubt, once been white but had obviously not seen a paintbrush in about a million years. One faded blue shutter hung at a drunken angle, squeaking as it shifted in the wind. There were no shrubs to soften the foundation, just some scrubby grass struggling to survive in the shade.
Service Project, she reminded herself firmly and knocked on the door.
Sounds really interesting. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Please visit my website: www.deborahheal.com and my author page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/DeborahHeal.
My books can be purchased on Amazon. com
Thank you, Deborah, for visiting with us today. Please email me about booking the third book in the trilogy. I'm sure my blog readers would love that.
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