Waterloo, Illinois. March 27, 2013—Author Deborah Heal Releases novel set in Gallatin County Illinois
Those who have read the author’s first two books Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy know that Abby Thomas’ college service project is not going according to plan. For one thing, she discovers a weird computer program that lets her fast-forward and re-wind the lives of people who lived in old houses long ago. The old house in question in Every Hill and Mountain, the final book of Heal’s trilogy, is Equality’s infamous Crenshaw mansion, otherwise known as “The Old Slave House.” Not that Abby and her friends know that at first. They come to Equality to help Abby’s roommate Kate find her ancestor who, according to their research, was born at a place called Hickory Hill.
The Equality in the story is a combination of things past and present—things the author recalls from childhood and things from an earlier time. For example, Abby and her friends arrive in Equality during its annual salt festival and have lunch at the Red Onion Restaurant. The restaurant is current. “I enjoyed a very tasty hamburger there when I visited last summer while researching for the book. My dad would have described it as larrapin’ good, I’m sure,” Heal said.
But salt festivals are a thing of the past, and Anderson’s is no longer a general store on Lane Street. “I’m not sure if The Baptist Hour, sponsored by Otis Carter Hatchery in Eldorado, is still broadcast over WEBQ radio. But I included that and other details because that’s what I remembered from visits to my grandma’s house when I was a girl,” Heal said.
The disclaimer in front of the book says, “This is a work of fiction. Any references to real people, events, institutions, or locales are intended solely to give a sense of authenticity. While every effort was made to be historically accurate, it should be remembered that these references are used fictionally.”
But the author did her research, and her portrayal of the people and events in Equality (with a side excursion to Shawneetown) is based in reality. “I read as much as I could about John Crenshaw and his despicable activities. Jon Musgrave’s book Slaves, Salt, Sex & Mr. Crenshaw is a wealth of information,” Heal said.
Of course, there is no descendant of John Crenshaw currently living at Hickory Hill. But in the story, Abby and her friends meet the eccentric Miss Granger, Hickory Hill’s current owner, and eventually get the chance to “time-surf” there with their computer. Their shocking discovery on the third floor concerning Kate’s ancestor 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.
“In spite of the grim subject, I think readers will come away with a positive message of redemption,” Heal said.
Although Deborah (Woods) Heal did not grow up in Gallatin County, her roots are there. Her mother, Barbara (Starnes) Woods went to Hickory Hill School, just a stone’s throw away from the “Old Slave House,” and Heal grew up hearing stories about it.
“My dad Earl Woods and his family lived “out in the hills.” It sounded capitalized when he talked about it. By that I mean they lived in Eagle Creek Township near Equality. As far as I know, there’s no local bluegrass band called Eagle Creek, but there ought to be, and so I included one in the story. If there had been one back in the 1940s, I’m sure my dad would have been a member of it. And my Grandpa Woods, just like Mr. Frailey in the story, really did make moonshine out behind the house in the old days. In their later years, Grandpa and Grandma moved into town where he built a little house covered in gray asphalt shingles, much like the one mentioned in the book. Every Hill and Mountain is fiction, but I hope it rings true to the region and the people and that my fondness for ‘down home’ comes through,” Heal said.
“I like how the author weaves the stories from the present and the past in such a way as to appeal to someone interested in history, yet firmly living in the technological world of today.” –Donna Maguire, librarian
The premise is “unique…sort of a Back to the Future meets virtual reality, with a little dash of Seventh Heaven thrown in.” –Tiffany Harkleroad, Amazon reviewer.
Every Hill and Mountain
Genre: Christian fantasy, young adult fiction
Author: Deborah Heal 618-939-1717
Soft Cover, 5.5×8.5”, 278 pagesIt would be so nice of you to share!