Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Deborah Heal  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Christian Fantasy Historical Fiction (Regional Illinois) Young Adult Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: 1954 in Eldorado, Illinois


-- Facebook -- http://www.facebook.com/DeborahHeal
-- Twitter -- http://twitter.com/DeborahHeal
-- Website -- http://www.deborahheal.com
-- Deborah Heal on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=deborah+heal

E-Mail: -- debbie@deborahheal.com


Illinois Connection

I was born in Eldorado, Illinois but grew up in Woodburn and Bunker Hill. I attended the University of Illinois, and received a Bachelor of Arts in English at Southern Illinois University. I currently live in Waterloo, Illinois. My books highlight southern Illinois history.

Biographical and Professional Information

I was born in Eldorado, Illinois (Be sure to pronounce that with a long A.) but grew up in Woodburn, a tiny village in Macoupin County. We lived in a house over 100 years old and I often wondered about the people who had lived there so long before. One of my favorite cartoons growing up was Mr. Peabody and Sherman. I wished there really were a “Way Back Machine” so I could go back to the olden days to see what it was like. My husband Bob and I farmed and raised a family there in Macoupin County on his Centennial Farm just up the road from Woodburn.I earned an English degree from Southern Illinois University and then taught high school English, including creative writing, composition, grammar, and literature. My husband and I left the farm and came to Waterloo in 2001, both taking teaching jobs in the area. We missed the farm, but loved our new hometown and loved teaching here. Eventually, I left teaching to devote more time to writing. I have secretly wanted to be an author for a long time. When I was four, I remember scribbling furiously on my paper, and then asking my mom if it was writing yet. “No, not yet,” she answered. I went busily back to scribbling, hopeful that the next time I showed her, the lead on the paper would have been transmuted into fine words.When I was in 8th grade my teacher wrote these encouraging words on one of my stories:Be sure to give me a signed copy of your first book!It's been a long time since 8th grade, but those words stuck with me, and that dream at last came true. Unfortunately, Mrs. Fite is no longer with us, so I couldn’t bring her a signed copy. But I did dedicate my first book Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station to her. The story is set in Miles Station, a town that once existed just down the road from our farm in Macoupin County. I had never found a “Way Back Machine,” but happily my characters did. (Ah, the beauty of fiction!) Abby and Merrideth get to see what the town was like in its heyday in the 1850s and they meet Charlotte, the girl who lived in their old house. Time and Again: Charlotte of Miles Station was released by Tate Publishing in January 2012. The next book in the series will be out in late summer 2012. In Unclaimed Legacy the intrepid explorers must solve a 150-year-old murder mystery, this time in Shake Rag Corner, another historic southern Illinois site.


Speaking Engagements

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Selected Titles At Your Library

Every Hill and Mountain
ISBN: 9781301283200. OCLC Number: 903689939

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Every Hill and Mountainbook 3An old house + A new computer program = The travel opportunity of a lifetime...to another century.The PeopleSince Beautiful Houses worked so well for the Old Dears' family tree project, Abby's college roommate Kate hopes the computer program will help her find out more about her ancestor Ned Greenfield.Abby and John reluctantly agree to help Kate, but only on the condition that she and her fianc©♭ Ryan promise to keep the program a secret, because if the government ever discovered they possessed a computer program that allows you to rewind and fast forward the lives of people it would surely want to get its hands on it.The two couples take a trip to the tiny town of Equality, set in the hills of southern Illinois and the breath-taking Shawnee National Forest. According to Kate's research, Ned Greenfield was born there at a place called Hickory Hill.The mayor, police chief, and townspeople are hospitable and helpful⁰́₄until the topic of Hickory Hill comes up. Then they are determined to keep them away. Eventually they find Hickory Hill on their own⁰́₄both the mansion and the lonely hill it sits upon.The HouseBuilt in 1834, Hickory Hill stands sentinel over Half Moon Salt Mine where the original owner John Granger accumulated his blood-tainted fortune with the use of slave labor. In the free state of Illinois⁰́₄the Land of Lincoln.Abby and her friends meet Miss Granger, Hickory Hill's current eccentric owner, and they eventually get the chance to run Beautiful Houses there. Their shocking discovery on the third floor concerning Kate's ancestor Ned Greenfield is almost too much to bear. What they learn sends them racing to the opposite end of the state to find the missing link in Kate's family tree. And there they are reminded that God is in the business of redemption⁰́₄that one day he'll make all things new.

Every hill and mountain /
ISBN: 1482609169. OCLC Number: 843433317

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Those who have read Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy know that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project with 11-year-old Merri. And they know that the summer is not going the way Abby had expected--but in a good way. For one thing, she meets a very nice guy named John Roberts. And for another, she discovers a strange computer program called Beautiful House that lets her fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but those of the people who lived in Merri's old house. And the Old Dears' old house, and ... well, any old house.

Time and Again
ISBN: 9781301997695. OCLC Number: 920466306

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Visiting another century...not the summer vacation she had planned.Abby thinks tutoring an an economically disadvantaged adolescent as her college service project for the summer will be a snap.Merrideth, her sullen 11-year-old student, thinks No thanks, I don't need a babysitter.John thinks Abby's kidding when she tells him she can fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but that of the girl who lived in Merrideth's house 160 years ago.It's difficult for Abby to break through Merrideth's emotional wall. The girl has been closed down ever since her parents' divorce, especially since she was forced to move to the dilapidated old house that her mom inherited. But when her dad sends her a top-of-the-line computer to make up for it, Abby and Merrideth discover a crazy program that invites them to Take a Virtual Tour of houses around the world⁰́₄ including Merrideth's.It's a tour all right... a tour of the past when the house was new and a girl named Charlotte Miles lived there. It's like being there, only better. They know Charlotte's thoughts and feelings. They experience her joys and frustrations as she courageously takes on a huge challenge, risking her life for others while her father is off fighting in the Civil War.Watching from a distance, Abby and Merrideth gain a new perspective on their own lives, their faith strengthened as time and again they see God's loving hand in Charlotte's life.What really made the story unique was how she brought the past to life via a computer program. While this book is geared toward teens, I think that anyone who enjoys contemporary and historical fiction woven together will certainly enjoy this book. On a scale of one to five I would easily give this book a six! Highly recommended.⁰́₄Brenda Casto, Amazon reviewer

Time and again /
ISBN: 1482627213. OCLC Number: 847888189

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A story of three girls told in the past and the present. Abby is tutoring eleven year old Merrideth for the summer. Abby soon realized that Merrideth has no intention of learning, but when they discover a freaky program on their new computer that lets them see Charlotte Miles, the girl that lived in Merrideth's house 160 year ago, learning becomes more interesting.

Unclaimed Legacy
ISBN: 9781301575879. OCLC Number: 900606712

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The olden days aren't all they're cracked up to be . . .I call it time-surfing, Abby said.It's like being there, Merri said, except no one can see or hear us.Whatever you call it, John said, that was crazy⁰́₄beyond realistic. I mean, I was inside that guy's head.Those who have read Time and Again know that Abby Thomas is a college student on a summer service project with 11-year-old Merri. And they know that the summer is not going the way Abby had expected⁰́₄but in a good way. For one thing, she meets a very nice guy named John Roberts. And for another, she discovers a strange computer program called Beautiful House that lets her fast-forward and rewind life. Not her own, of course, but those of the people who lived in Merri's old house.And now Beautiful House comes in handy when Abby, John, and Merri agree to help the Old Dears next door with their family tree.Except Abby and John learn more about one of the ladies' ancestors than they ever wanted to know. Convicted in 1871 of murder and arson, Reuben Buchanan is a blight on the family name. But was he really guilty? Abby and John must get inside the mind of a murderer to find out.And while they're rummaging around in the Old Dears' family history, they also find Nathan Buchanan, a heroic relative connected to the Lewis and Clark Expedition⁰́₄and a legacy waiting to be reclaimed.But the most important discovery they make is that God's promise to bless a thousand generations is true.In this sequel to Time and Again Deborah Heal has taken pieces of real life history and woven them [into] a fantastic story geared to keep the reader entertained and on the edge of their seat... I adored every single bit of this. It has the perfect blend of history and action-packed suspense to keep young adults glued to the pages...I think she has mastered a home run here. This one easily rates a 5 out of 5 stars for me...and I hope it will work its way to the top of the best seller lists for young adults.Pirate Kat, Amazon Reviewer

Unclaimed Legacy :
ISBN: 1478311495. OCLC Number: 849676667

Write Brain Activity,. .

Abby and her friends agree to helpt the Old Dears again with their family tree. Abby and John learn more than they wanted about Reuben Buchanan, convicted in 1871 of murder and arson. But was he really guilty? Who is Nathan Buchanan?