I feel so blessed to be able to do something I only dreamed of as a girl. I think my skills (and certainly my confidence) have improved with each book I’ve written. And the ideas for stories are flowing—ideas for lots and lots of stories. I see myself writing for many years to come.
Tell us a little about your family.
I married my high school sweetheart Bob Heal, and we’ll be celebrating our 40th anniversary in July. Our daughter lives with her family in
One son and his family lives in Dallas, and
another lives in St. Louis, just across the Mississippi from where
we live. We have three sweeeeet granddaughters and a grandson on the way. And
then there are our furry boys Digger and Scout.
Let me know when you come to the
area. Maybe we can get together. Has your writing changed your reading habits?
If so, how? Dallas
Writing has forever changed my reading experience because now I notice the structure and conventions of a novel. This makes reading a good book even more enjoyable and reading a mediocre or poor book less tolerable. The biggest change, however, is now I have a lot less time to read because I’m so busy writing my own stories.
What are you working on right now?
I’m in the research and brainstorming stage for a retelling of the story of Ruth and Boaz from the Old Testament. I’ve always thought it was such a great romantic story. The challenge will be making it work in a modern setting with modern characters.
What outside interests do you have?
I love to garden and have extensive perennial and vegetable beds and landscaping to maintain. It’s good I love it so much or I’d never pry myself away from my computer to get fresh air and exercise.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
settings for my trilogy are ones I’ve long been intrigued by. I grew up down
the road from Miles Station, the lost town featured in Time and Again. Unclaimed
Legacy is set where my heroes Lewis and Clark camped for the winter of 1803
before taking off on their great exploration. I was born in Eldorado, the
neighboring town to Equality, the setting of Every Hill and Mountain. I
wrote about my personal
connection to the setting.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Like many people, I’d probably choose Abraham Lincoln. He’s always been a hero because of his connection to my town. At the risk of being disillusioned, I’d like to know what his true beliefs were, including his complex faith.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I wish I’d known that I actually could write. My 8th grade English teacher’s encouragement kept my dream of being a writer flickering in a secret place in my heart. But it was years before I overcame my low self-confidence and dared to try.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
The Lord keeps teaching me of his love and acceptance in spite of my sinfulness and brokenness. Hallelujah for
Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no
condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
I’ve got four things. To be a writer, first be a reader. I think what skill I have comes from soaking up the syntax, style, and conventions of a million books I’ve read.
Second, do begin to write. Get the story on the page. It won’t be perfect, but you can’t make it better if you don’t write it.
Third, keep writing. I’ve noticed that with each book the process becomes easier, faster, more natural.
Fourth (but really first), pray.
Tell us about the featured book.
The major theme in Every Hill and Mountain is racism, and writing it was cathartic. I like to think of the novel as an assignment I turned in for the lifelong sanctification class I’m in. Read my article “One White Woman’s Education.”
Please give us the first page of the book.
Every Hill and Mountain begins only an hour or so after the end of Unclaimed Legacy. The opening pages connect readers to the previous two books and set the scene for the new story:
“Did Doug say how long this is going to take?” Abby said, blowing her bangs out of her eyes.
“And remind me. Why exactly are we using this antique instead of an electric one?”
“He said using an electric ice cream maker meant it didn’t count as homemade,” John said, wiping his forehead with first his left T-shirt sleeve and then his right.
“Really. And I’m supposed to crank until I can’t turn it anymore.”
The day was typical for southern
Illinois in late August: hot and humid. At
least she was sitting on an icy, albeit uncomfortable, seat in the shady
pavilion. Doug Buchanan had to be sweltering out in the sun where he manned the
deep-fat fryer along with three of his cousins. Wearing a Cardinals cap to keep
the sun off his balding head and an apron that said, “Kiss the Cook,” Doug
looked so friendly and benign that Abby wondered again how she had ever thought
of him as The Hulk.
One of Doug’s cousins gestured their way and said something that she couldn’t make out. Whatever it was made the other men laugh.
A short distance away, under the shade of a maple tree, Jason and Jackson, Doug’s twin teenage sons were practicing their washer-throwing skills in preparation for the tournament to be held tomorrow. The washers clinked and clacked, depending upon how, or whether, they hit the sand-filled wooden boxes. Those sounds along with the rhythm of the turning crank and the hot afternoon made Abby drowsy, and she surveyed the activities going on around her through a sleepy haze.
Next to them, Doug’s wife Dora and a dozen other Buchanan women began unpacking coolers and setting out dish after dish onto the groaning picnic tables under Alton City Park Pavilion #1. Abby turned and smiled at the look on John’s face as cakes, pies, bowls of watermelon chunks, and dozens of other goodies made their appearance.
“Hey, Dora, is that potato salad?” he asked.
“Yep,” she said with a wide smile. “And I brought macaroni salad and deviled eggs.”
John sighed blissfully.
“This is nothing. Wait’ll tomorrow,” Doug called to them. “That’s when the ladies go all out. I heard Aunt Hil’s making her chocolate chip cake.”
Under the second pavilion reserved for the event, Eulah and Beulah played dominoes with several of the other elderly relatives. Fanning themselves with paper plates, they chattered happily while they waited their turns.
Abby smiled and a wave of contentment washed over her, knowing that she had been instrumental in getting the Old Dears in touch with their Buchanan relatives. And now the 85-year-old twins were at their first-ever family reunion.
Eleven-year-old Merri came over, panting and red-faced, but smiling. On each arm clung—as they had from the first half hour there—an adoring little girl. One little blonde looked about four, the other about six.
How can readers find you on the Internet?I hope readers will check out my website for more information about the history behind my books. http://www.deborahheal.com If they sign up for what I call V.I.P. Perks they will be alerted when my next books will be released and when they will be free or reduced. I also connect with readers through my Facebook author page http://www.facebook.com/DeborahHeal and Twitter: https://twitter.com/DeborahHeal
Thank you, Deborah, for sharing this book with us.
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Every Hill and Mountain (Time and Again) (Volume 3) - paperback
Every Hill and Mountain (Time and Again) - Kindle
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