Author Interview and Giveaway – A Dance in Donegal – Jennifer Deibel

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This month, Jennifer Deibel brings us her delightful debut novel, A Dance in Donegal. I’ve got to say, this cover makes me want to visit the setting. Windswept fields, a village and cliffs by the sea… Let’s find out more about the story and the author behind it. A warm welcome to the Index, Jennifer!

A Dance in Donegal

All of her life, Irish-American Moira Doherty has relished her mother’s descriptions of Ireland. When her mother dies unexpectedly in the summer of 1920, Moira decides to fulfill her mother’s wish that she become the teacher in Ballymann, her home village in Donegal, Ireland.

After an arduous voyage, Moira arrives to a new home and a new job in an ancient country. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about Moira’s mother are unspoken in her presence but threaten to derail everything she’s journeyed to Ballymann to do. Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of friends–and the strength of Sean, an unsettlingly handsome thatcher who keeps popping up unannounced–as she seeks to navigate a life she’d never dreamed of . . . but perhaps was meant to live.

Jennifer Deibel’s debut novel delights the senses, bringing to life the sights, sounds, smells, and language of a lush country and a colorful people. Historical romance fans will embrace her with open arms.

Jennifer’s Website 


Questions about Jennifer’s Story

What inspired this story?

This story began as a way for me to process our own experiences after living in rural Donegal for two years early on in our marriage. Those years were some of the hardest, yet most incredible, years of our lives. And when we returned to the States, I found myself struggling to come to terms with all we’d been through. Then, one day, the idea for a story about a girl who moves to Donegal to teach came to me. What began as a personal cathartic exercise, turned in to the story of my heart—a love letter to a land and people to whom I will forever be knitted.

Moira’s experiences navigating the newness—and deep curiosity—of a rural Irish village is true to our own. And yet, she ends up connecting deeply with the people—and the land—much as we did. I wanted to share the incredible depth, culture, beauty, and charm of Ireland with the world. It’s my prayer that those who will never be able to visit her shores themselves, will feel as though they have after reading this book. And that they will see how God has moved and orchestrated their own lives in order to put them where they are for a reason—for such a time as this—and that they will be inspired to say yes to whatever He asks them to do next.

Is there anything in this book that is inspired by/modeled after something in your own life or someone you know in real life?

So very much of my own life and experiences have colored this story. Having lived in rural Irish villages for a total of almost 6 years, I know what it like to be the “blow-in.” So, much of what Moira experiences her first weeks in Ballymann mirror my own—particularly from our time in Donegal.

Many of the characters are an amalgamation of people I know and love in Ireland, but there is one who is directly inspired by a real person. The character Bríd is inspired by a lovely woman named Maire who runs the Teac Campbell Guest House in Bunbeg, Donegal. Maire is every bit as warm, inviting, and kind as Bríd—and just as good a cook! The people of Ireland are so warm, and see the world like no one else. I strove to bring that same unique view to the page.

What character in your book turned out to be your favorite?

I feel like I’m “supposed” to say it’s the hero or heroine, but as much as I adore Sean and Moira, I must admit that Colm has stolen my heart. He’s so full of joy, kindness, and a wisdom that runs far deeper than it would seem. He is one of the most well respected men in Ballymann, which is more than he is due based upon his station in life alone. As a lowly master-thatcher, his trade is respected, to be sure. But the people of Ballymann almost revere him. And I’ve come to do the same.

Colm loves and accepts people as they are. And yet, he loves them too much to let them remain as they are. His gentle wisdom and godly outlook help shape Moira, Sean, and countless others, and leaves a lasting legacy in the village. I pray that everyone has a Colm in his or her life.



Questions about Jennifer’s Reading

What Christian Historical Novel taught you something about the craft of writing because it was so well done? Tell us a bit about what it taught you.

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green literally took my breath away. Her impeccable research, the way she drew me in to care about the characters—even the hard to love ones—awed me. But, perhaps what struck me most was the beautiful and seamless way she presented the hope and grace of the Gospel. Her presentation of what it means to belong to Christ is one of the most poignant, breath-taking scenes I’ve ever read. She weaves it all throughout the story, and then all of a sudden, the weight and glory of the grace of forgiveness and belonging hits you. I literally gasped out loud. This is one of my favorite books of all time, and it cemented Jocelyn Green as one of my must-read authors.

If your job was to sell one author’s historical fiction (besides your own) which author’s wares would you want to peddle? And which is your favorite by that author?

This is almost like asking me to choose a favorite child. There are so very many Christian historical authors whose work I love, and whom I personally respect so very much. I’ve already sung the praises of Jocelyn Green, and she is one whose work I would absolutely love to sell—in fact, I served on a couple of her launch teams before I was published! But, I think I’m going to have to say Julie Klassen. Her regency romances are so well written, so swoon-worthy, rich and full of character, charm, and a good bit of drama. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite of hers, but I’d have to say either the Ivy Hill Series, or The Girl in the Gatehouse.

What was the last Christian Historical Novel that you read that made you think, “Man, I wish I’d written that”?

Ummmm….all of them? Ha! But seriously, the Scottish trilogy by Liz Curtis Higgs inspired me deeply. A Thorn in My Heart, Fair is the Rose, and Whence Came a Prince captivated my mind, heart and soul. I’ve read the whole series at least 5 times. I love how Higgs immerses us in sixteenth-century Scotland, and the heart-wrenching experiences of the characters gut me every time. I cry every time I read them. I also laugh and cheer every time. If I could attain even half the level of culture, charm, love, drama, and grace that she does, I’d be happy!

Jennifer is giving away a paperback copy, US entrants only. Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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