It is a pleasure to warmly welcome Allison Butler to my blog, Mrs B’s Book Reviews for A Tea Break with Mrs B, a short form author interview series. To celebrate the release of The Healer, we sat down for a chat. Thanks Allison!
What is your drink of choice as we sit down for a chat about your new book?
Hi Mrs B. Thanks for having me. It’s lovely to be here. I usually enjoy an English Breakfast tea with a dash of milk, but I’ve recently discovered Vanilla Chai Latte’s, so I’ll have one of those please.
Can you give us an overview of your writing career to date?
I made a note in my diary on the 15th of February 2001. I’d written – I’ve decided I would like to be an author (Romance Novelist). It was a great idea but one I didn’t take seriously until several years later. After a lengthy apprenticeship learning the craft of writing – with so much still to learn – in October 2014, I found a home with Escape Publishing, Harlequin’s digital imprint, for book 1 of my Borderland Brides titled, THE HEALER. Over the next five years, Escape published book 2, The Thief and then went on to publish my 3 Highland Bride stories, The Protector, The Rogue and The Saint. In November 2019, the lovely Nicola Robinson, commissioning editor at Harlequin, called to say they wanted to release The Healer in print. I was thrilled. We gave the story a polish to make it shine, the talented arts department created a gorgeous atmospheric cover and on August 5th, 2020, my first print book landed on bookshop shelves. I’m still pinching myself.
Can you tell us what inspired the creation of your new book, The Healer?
The inspiration for The Healer came from a combination of things. Thanks to my mum’s obsession with watching The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo every year when I was a girl and my Scottish hero husband’s passion for his homeland, I developed a love and fascination for Scotland’s turbulent history and magnificent landscapes. Add in my career as an AIN (assistant in Nursing) in aged care since 1992, and the idea for The Healer came to life.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? Did you have a set outline of The Healer before you sat down to write this novel, or did you allow this book to take shape during the writing process?
The Healer took shape during the writing of the book. I’m definitely a pantser who needs to learn to plot, even just a little😊
What are the main themes present in The Healer?
The themes within the story of The Healer are Belonging, Survival, Acceptance, Loss, Hope and Love.
What was the research process like for The Healer and what sources did you use?
I was lucky enough to have travelled to Scotland before I started writing The Healer. I had an idea of where I was setting the story, so made sure we visited surrounding areas to get a ‘feel’ for places. I referred to castle and abbey guidebooks I’d purchased on the trip and looked back at the thousands of photos I took while exploring. I used the internet to look up Scottish sites relating to clan names and their history and bought several herb and healing books to research medieval plants and remedies Lynelle used to tend and heal the sick and wounded.
Why did you decide to set The Healer in Scotland during the 1400s?
I chose Scotland as the setting for The Healer because I am fascinated by the history, the landscape, and the people. Great and bloody battles, cattle reiving and strife was a way of life for many living near the border between England and Scotland, but as I wanted to keep the focus on Lynelle and William, I chose 1402 as there wasn’t any significant moments in history at that time.
What is one thing that you really hope readers will take away from the experience of reading The Healer?
I hope readers feel stronger and never give up hope.
Have you developed any quirks or habits while writing your books?
I like having a candle or melts burning while I write and I often pace (or sometimes iron) when I need to figure something out.
How has your writing process been affected by COVID-19?
I haven’t added many words to my current work in progress. I’m not sure if that’s due to COVID or because I’ve been excited about the print release of The Healer and I’d focussed on writing promotional posts, updating my website and improving my online presence.
What book or books do you recommend that I add to my reading pile?
I have so many books to read and never enough time. Here are a few I recommend. The Boundary Fence by Alissa Callen. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The Darkest Shore by Karen Brooks. The Huntress by Kate Quinn.
What are you working on writing wise at present?
I’m currently writing Sorcha and Hugh’s story. I don’t have a title for this one yet, but Sorcha was a secondary character in The Saint, book 3 of my Highland Brides. Much of this Scottish medieval takes place within Kildrummie Castle in the north east of Scotland.
Thank you for the lovely tea break and chat Allison. Congratulations on the release of your new book, The Healer.
An Englishwoman, a Scottish laird … a love that will surpass all borders. A sumptuous romance in the spirit of Diana Gabaldon and Darry Fraser.
1402, the Anglo-Scottish border.
Lynelle Fenwick has been an outcast all her life. The daughter of an English lord, she was deemed cursed when her mother didn’t survive childbirth. Raised by the village healer, who has since died, Lynelle truly is alone. When her younger half-brother is captured during a Scottish raid, she sees a last chance to redeem herself to the father who rejected her, and offers to be held captive in his place.
Across the turbulent border, Lynelle strikes a bargain with William Kirkpatrick, laird of Closeburn. She will spend two weeks inside the clan’s castle tending William’s younger brother who is in need of a healer’s care. The laird has his own family curse to deal with, along with a deep distrust of healers – and Lynelle has exaggerated her healing skills to obtain her half-brother’s freedom.
Despite their differences, William and Lynelle are drawn to each other … then an unexpected foe threatens to divide them forever. Enemies by birth and circumstance, they can only succeed together.
The Healer by Allison Butler was published on 5th August 2020 by Mira-AU. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
Connect with Allison here: