Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Deborah Heal  

Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT C:YA Christian Fantasy Fiction Young Adult Fiction

Born: 1954 in Eldorado, Illinois


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.

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