More than anything in the world, Ivy Merchuk longs to be just another face in the crowd—easier said than done for a woman born with the ability to heal grievous injuries with the touch of her hands. To a young girl just struggling to fit in, this gift is an unbearable burden, one that fills her with shame and anxiety. Her mother understands and cautions the young girl to keep this strange and wonderful ability a secret, for fear that her daughter will attract the wrong sort of attention. So Ivy struggles to conceal her extraordinary skills from the world as she grows into adulthood.
Desperate for answers, she pours herself into a life of research and lands a job as a librarian. One fateful night after work, she stumbles onto a brutal crime scene. Horrified and conflicted, she makes the difficult decision to help the victim, who has been beaten almost to death. And this chance encounter with a brooding urban samurai named Victor Morgan sends her already precarious world skidding off its axis.
What these two discover together will change both of their destinies.
Sabrina Furminger spins futuristic yarns from an antique secretary desk in Vancouver, Canada. Sabrina studied English Literature at Queen’s University and edited The Reader, the monthly literary supplement published by the Queen’s Journal; later, she honed her craft as the Journal’s news editor and spent one glorious summer interning at the Kingston Whig-Standard.
Since 2002, Sabrina has contributed dozens of articles to a diverse roster of trade and consumer publications, and in recent years she has returned to her first loves: creative non-fiction (in which she often explores her biracialism), historical narratives, and speculative sci-fi. Sabrina published her debut novel, The Healer, in August 2011.
INTERVIEW WITH SABRINA FURMINGER
What will readers like about your book?
The Healer brings the addictive “what-ifs” of science fiction into chick lit territory. A gripping tale of heart-wrenching romance and self-discovery unfolds as Ivy—the spirited protagonist—embarks on a wild paranormal adventure.
Many readers see something of themselves in Ivy. Though she’s desperate to be just like everyone else, her big secret—that she can heal horrific wounds in others by summoning the regenerative energy of the universe to her hands—makes her feel like a freak. And so she seeks comfort in books and self-imposed isolation—until a chance encounter with a brooding urban samurai sends her world skidding off its axis.
Readers have told me they love the quirky cast of characters that Ivy meets along the way: Victor, the deeply flawed romantic hero who lights a fire in Ivy and sets the events of the book in motion; Bill, the aged Reiki healer who helps Ivy explore her one-in-seven-billion talent; and Piper, the sunny Yakuza bookkeeper that Ivy first encounters in her darkest hour.
Why did you self-publish?
Self-publishing was my first choice. I love The Healer, and I didn’t want it to languish in an unending series of slush piles. The publishing industry as we know it is dying; publishing houses are closing their doors at a record pace. I do not mourn these closures. I see it as an opportunity to appeal directly to my potential readers. Self-publishing gives the author complete control over the process. Self-publishing is the future, and the future is now.
What is your writing process?
I admire those disciplined writers who rise at dawn each day and write 1,000 words before their first cup of coffee. I just can’t do that. I can’t force myself to be creative. I need to be gripped by the muse, and when that happens, I can’t sleep until every word of the story has vacated my brain. When I’m in the zone, I write in coffee shops, on the bus, and between meetings. Once I have a first draft in my hands, I let it simmer for two or three weeks, and then I read, re-read, drink coffee, curse and edit until my eyes bleed. I read each sentence out loud to test the melody, rhythm and flow of my story. I have a team of professional beta-readers who give me their brutally honest opinions; I want to hear what works and where I’ve failed, and then I make adjustments accordingly. I choose to be precious about story and not necessarily the words I use to tell it, and so I play with the words until I’m satisfied that they’re communicating my story with razor-sharp accuracy.
How long does it take you to write your first draft?
It took me nearly two years to complete a first draft of The Healer. The manuscript was lacking a final chapter when I pushed it aside to give birth and dive into new motherhood, but once I came up for air, I wrapped it up in next to no time at all. Adrenaline and lack of sleep were all I needed to get it done.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
The Healer is based on a recurring dream I had for more than a decade, in which I’d watch helplessly as injury would befall my friends and pets, but then I would discover I had the power to heal their wounds with my hands. I’d wake from these dreams full of questions: what would I do if I actually had this gift? What kind of life would I lead? How would society view my abilities? What dangers would I face? After I received a life-altering Reiki session from my uncle, himself a certified energy healer, I decided to finally explore my recurring dream.
I also love a good love story (the kind that makes your heart ache), and a hazy romantic figure that eventually took the form of Victor Morgan has lurked on the edge of my consciousness for years. I needed to “meet” him, and now that I’ve built him out in words, I’m in love with him more than ever.
Interestingly enough, since I completed the first draft of The Healer, I haven’t dreamt about healing. I miss those dreams.