Healer of My Heart by Sheila Johnston / #Interview @SperrinGold

“Why are we so angry with each other?”
“Because there is nothing else left to be.”
Intense and riveting, this is the powerful story of two lives that collide on a relentless path from an unforgiving past to a future to begrasped … or lost.
Rookie teacher Robyn Daniels drives away everyone who tries to come close to her. Her emotions are locked in impenetrable ice until a flawed, charismatic and headstrong young man attacks the frozen
layers of this woman who entrances him.
From despair to delight, from trust to betrayal, will he be the healer of her heart? Or will even he walk away before his own is broken?
Lyrical, thought-provoking, unforgettable, this remarkable novel will stay with you long after you have closed the last page.
What leaves you with the fewest wounds?
Making peace with the past? Or making war with it?

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Q&A

Hello Els, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog today. It’s a real pleasure to be here. You have asked me some good questions, so here goes!

Do you always take a book/e-reader wherever you go?

Yes, I do. Usually it’s the Kindle if I’m going away for a while. There are pros and cons to both. Like a lot of people, I love the feel of a proper book – I even love the smell of them! But undoubtedly the Kindle has the advantage of taking up very little room and can even be carried in a handbag. You can also have loads of books on it. In the pre-Covid days, an e-reader was much handier to take into a coffee shop for a sneak read in a corner, because it lies flat on the table. You don’t have to give up a sticky thumb to hold it open! I like being able to search them as well. For example, if I’ve forgotten who a character is I can look them up. For me though, e-readers only work for fiction or non-fiction without illustrations. I don’t fancy reading The Blue Planet on an e-reader! So yes, I always have a book with me. In fact I got into trouble with my in-laws when I got married because I brought a book to the sitting room and started to read when my new mother-in-law wanted to talk!

Say someone asks if they can use your name in a book. Would you rather be the ‘good one’ or the ‘bad one’?

It would depend on whether it was ‘me’ they were writing about, or whether they just wanted to use my name. If they were writing about the real me then I’d want to be nothing short of a saint! If they just want to use my name, I don’t mind what villain I am. It might be quite fun.

Where can I find you when you are reading?

Anywhere! Mostly in my much-too-comfortable recliner chair in my sitting room, feet up and a mug of coffee handy. Like a lot of people, I read in bed. I just can’t settle to sleep if I haven’t read something, even a page or two. One place I can’t read for long is on a train. I suffer from travel sickness and even a train makes me feel wobbly if I try to read for long.

Where can I find you when you are not writing/reading?

Apart from asleep in bed?? Perhaps with one of my sons and his family. I’m in a ‘bubble’ with them which is great, and I can play with my grandchildren or read them stories. I also love meeting friends and visiting parks and gardens and historical sites. So much activity is curtailed at the moment though. Here’s hoping 2021 will be better.

Can you walk past a bookstore without going inside?

That’s a big fat NO! And I usually emerge with something. I just love the atmosphere in bookshops, the smell of the books and the treasures to find. It’s good to support the bookshops that we have left, if you are lucky enough to live near one.

What are you most proud of?

My two fantastic sons and their families have to be top of the list! But after that, I think I would have to say that I am pleased to have proved to myself that I can be a novelist! My elder son asked me one day what I would still like to do and I said that I would love to write a novel. “So write one,” he said! So I did. I remember late one night sitting at my computer – I was about halfway through a first draft. I stopped for a minute and the thought came into my head: “I can do this!” It was an exhilarating moment.

What goes through your mind when you hold your new book in your hands for the first time?

“I hope there are no typos!” is probably the first thought. I’m quite pernickety about details so I also spend a few weeks with my fingers and toes crossed, waiting for someone to point out a huge mistake in the book! It’s just lovely to see the culmination of what has been a long and intensive process of crafting a story. I fall in love with my characters and it’s a great feeling that their lives are now out there to be – hopefully! – enjoyed by readers.

What piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Don’t expect your words to come out right the first time. The best piece of advice I was given was “Give yourself permission to write rubbish.” A draft is exactly that, a draft. As James Thurber said, “Don’t get it right, get it written.” Editing and polishing and rewriting comes later. You need the lump of clay before you can make the pot!

Who would you like/have liked to interview?

That’s tough if I can only pick one! It would be one of: Jesus, Paul of Tarsus, Cicero, or Emmeline Pankhurst.

When and where do you prefer to write?

I write at home in my chair by the window, with my laptop on a small table in front of me. Some writers say they can write in short periods of time fitted in throughout the day, in coffee breaks or lunch time or waiting to pick up the children. This doesn’t work for me. I wish it did. I need long periods of time alone – I mean days ideally – when I can totally sink into my characters heads and develop them and their stories uninterrupted. If it’s going well, I can write long into the night and not even notice the time passing. Writing is the only thing that makes me forget to eat! I can write at any time of the day if the ideas are there, but the evening and night are definitely the best. I think imagination is more free at the end of the day when the days practical concerns are over and done.

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Els, it has been a real pleasure to have a virtual chat with you today. I hope my answers to your questions make some sense! If anyone would like to get in touch with me, I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at sheilaturnerjohnston@gmail.com

Thank you, Sheila Turner Johnston

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About the author

Sheila Turner Johnston was born in west Cork, Ireland and spent her childhood in different counties the length and breadth of the country, as the family moved wherever her father’s job took him. She attended
Queen’s University, Belfast, and apart from managing to graduate against all her expectations, one of her best experiences was reading her poetry to an audience that included Seamus Heaney.
Sheila has won prizes for both fiction and non-fiction, and has written many articles for both local and national publications. She and her husband Norman founded the publishing house Colourpoint Creative
Ltd, which is now owned and managed by their two sons.

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Author Links

Twitter: @SperrinGold
Insta: sperringold
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Book Link