Friday, April 20, 2012

The Irish Healer

Have you heard the buzz? "Engrossing." "Heartwarming." "Poignant." "Stirring." These are a few words I've heard flying to describe Nancy Herriman's debut novel The Irish Healer, released this month. Best-selling author Margaret Brownley deems it " . . . a perfect read." If you enjoy historical fiction, a captivating story, cheering others through their doubts and insecurities, you surely will agree.

So what's The Irish Healer about? Here's the official book description:

"Accused of murdering a child under her care, Irish healer Rachel Dunne flees the ensuing scandal while vowing to never sit at another sickbed. She no longer trusts in her abilities--or God's mercy--though when a cholera epidemic sweeps through London, she feels compelled to nurse the dying daughter of the enigmatic physician she has come to love. James Edmunds, wearied by the deaths of too many patients, has his own doubts about God's grace. Together, they will have to face their darkest fears . . . and learn what it means to have real faith."

Nancy joins us for a chat today, so please pull up a chair while I pour us all a spot of tea, and let's get to know her.

Welcome, Nancy! What inspired your imagination to give birth to Rachel’s personality and her particular problem?

When I was researching another novel, I came across the transcripts of a trial that had taken place in London’s Old Bailey. It concerned a woman who had been accused of killing a child she’d been taking care of. That woman’s tale (she was acquitted, by the way, on the coroner’s testimony that the child was sickly from birth) led me to wondering what ever happened to her in later years - how did she live within the community who had accused her? Did she feel guilt over the child? Was she a woman of faith who questioned God’s mercy? All of this led me to my Irish healer, Rachel Dunne.

You've woven such a beautiful story around this premise. The Irish Healer begins with an awesome hook: “My name is Rachel Dunne. I am not a murderer.” Complete this statement: “My name is Nancy Herriman. I am not a(n) _____.”

I am not an introvert!

I'm not sure Rachel is, either. At least she, a native of Ireland, found the courage in 1832 to move to England alone to begin a new life. Have you visited either or both of these countries?

I have never been to Ireland, but I have once visited England. I think I was stunned by just how beautiful the countryside is and how much variety there was in the few places we had a chance to visit. And the history….so very rich with it. I love Irish music and would dearly enjoy an opportunity to hear it in the country of its birth.

Speaking of these two countries, if tonight’s dinner menu offered only two options—fish and chips or corned beef and cabbage—which would you choose?

Sorry, Rachel - fish and chips.

How diplomatic, Nancy! You choose the food of England and the music of Ireland. Music seems to be a big part of your life. Your bio states you are very active in music ministry at your church. That comes with serious responsibilities, but can you share a time when humor ruled the day?

In my life, humor always rules the day, even during music ministry. Music is joy to me, the greatest expression of my faith, and I want everyone to feel that. We laugh often - over missed lyrics or mistaken notes or massive audio system failures that have forced us to nearly scream to be heard!

Which musical instrument could best express the tone of The Irish Healer and why?

The uilleann pipes, which are the Irish version of the bagpipe. I think they’re both mournful and moving.

Mournful and moving . . . like the music in your lovely and intriguing book trailer. Let's check it out.

If Rachel were here, what words of wisdom would she share with us about facing our fears?

Simple - trust in God. He may not provide the solution we seek, but He will provide the strength to endure.

That, He does! If God were to write a review of The Irish Healer, what do you hope He would say?

That He greatly enjoyed the themes of forgiveness and mercy and faith.

The Irish Healer certainly is rich with these themes. I enjoyed it tremendously! Finish this statement: "I write historical fiction because _____."

I love to escape the reality of modern-day life! The past has always, always intrigued me.

When you aren’t writing or participating in church activities, where are we most likely to find you?

At a local coffee shop with a friend or two. Probably talking about writing or singing!

What comes next for Author Nancy Herriman?

I am working on another book, completely unrelated to The Irish Healer, set in 1880’s San Francisco. A very different setting for me.

I'll be watching for it. Meanwhile, how might readers connect with you online?

They can reach me at my website at, or most easily at my author Facebook page,

Thanks, Nancy, for stopping by, and a special thanks for sharing your gift of writing.

The rest of you have grown so quiet. Must be my delicious tea. I'll top off your cup while YOU chime in. If you've read The Irish Healer, what did you enjoy most about it (without spoiling the plot for others, of course)?

In the novel, heroine Rachel Dunne shares the gift of healing, which has potential to bring a healing of her own. Have you ever set out to help someone and discovered that you were helped in the process? If so, please tell us about it in the comment section below. Share the gift!


About the Author: The Irish Healer is Nancy Herriman’s fourth completed manuscript, and it was runner-up in the Historical Fiction category of the 2009 ACFW Genesis contest. She also won the 2006 RWA Daphne du Maurier award for Best Unpublished Mystery/Romantic Suspense and has been a finalist in other contests. Nancy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two teenagers, and is very active in the music ministry at her church.


  1. I was one of the lucky ones to get an ARC of this wonderful book, I was drawn into this story from the very first and found it hard to put down.

    Nancy writes in a way that you feel you are living it from the first line "My name is Rachel Dunne. I am not a murderer" through her long journey from her home in Ireland to the streets of London where her life takes a different turn.

    Come go along with her and see just what happens as she tries to come to terms with her place in the home and heart of Dr. James Edmunds.
    Can she keep her secret from James and find peace and maybe love so far from all she has ever known in a world so different from her homeland or will she go home again?Guess you'll just have to read the book to find out.
    I am so looking forward to more great stories from Nancy.

    1. Isn't it awesome to have the opportunity to read a book before it is officially released, Wilma? Sounds like you enjoyed The Irish Healer as much as I did. You are so right--Nancy is a very talented author. I look forward to seeing her writing career soar!

  2. Thank you, Wilma and Diana, for the kind, kind comments! And I'm looking forward to my writing career soaring, too. ;-)

    1. Better buckle up, Nancy. Based upon the quality of The Irish Healer, I predict your career is in for a rocket launch!

  3. What a wonderful questions, Diana! And though I've been blessed to know Nancy for a very long time, I love that I've learned some new things here. (Like you Diana) this author is multi-talented. To answer your question regarding the Irish Healer, as a nurse I was particularly fascinated by the medical references--uses of herbs, early doctor's implements. And I am ALWAYS in awe of Nancy's skill with imagery and dialogue--it so delicious to get completely lost in these scenes.
    Thank you both for this insight!

    1. Candace, I have YOU to thank for introducing me to Nancy. I, too, was fascinated to learn about medicine of the day, and I knew from the first page that I was in the hands of a skilled, talented storyteller--the way I feel when I read your Mercy Hospital series. I'm thrilled that your Grace Medical series is launching NOW, Candace. The Irish Healer and Trauma Plan releasing in the same month--readers' heaven!

  4. I loved this story!! It showed both God's forgiveness to us and ours to others. Nancy is a great author and I can't wait to read her next book.

    1. Ann, well said, and I couldn't agree more. The Irish Healer explores forgiveness on multiple levels--even forgiveness of self, which is sometimes the most difficult forgiveness of all. Thanks so much for stopping by. Let's do this again when Nancy launches her next novel, okay?

    2. You are so right - it is often very difficult to forgive ourself. Looking forward to doing this again.

  5. Diana,
    Forgiveness,especially self-forgiveness is such a powerful, freeing force in our lives so this book is very intriguing to me. Thank you for introducing us to Nancy and her lovely story. I will put Irish Healer on my wishlist.

    1. Kathy, with your medical background, I think you will definitely enjoy this book. I predict we'll be seeing much more from Nancy Herriman in the future.