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Holly Phaneuf Erskine

I’m a retired academic research scientist and biochemistry professor. My PhD in medicinal chemistry and BS degrees in both biology and chemistry are all from the University of Utah. My book, Herbs Demystified, A Scientist Explains How Herbs Really Work (under Holly Phaneuf) was published in 2005 (Hachette). Italian and Mandarin versions also exist but I can’t read them. My husband and I wrote, filmed and produced The Emissary, an award-winning movie on which my solarpunk scifi trilogy is based. In my spare time I compose music, play harp for nursing homes, rescue stray cats, and blog about meditation and brain science.

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Herbs Demystified: a scientist explains how herbs really work 

2005 Hachette  Illustrations by Tim Erskine.


In 2005, (under Holly Phaneuf) she wrote Herbs Demystified in order to clarify for herself and others the molecular mechanisms natural product molecules popularly consumed in herbal supplements might exert in the body to create both therapeutic and side effects. She says her goal was, above all, to create a book about molecular, cause-and-effect mechanisms featuring natural products, with non-technical language that anyone might understand. It has since been republished in Italian and Mandarin.


THE EMISSARY: Door County and the Time Bomb from Outer Space 

 seeking an agent/publisher

Living on Wisconsin’s scenic Door County peninsula, engineer Jim Morgen isn’t expecting a visitor from outer space. He expects to grapple with three simpler problems. First, he wants to help his disabled brother Andy overcome an urge to mimic others and wear costumes. Second, Jim longs to share with Mark, his tolerant best friend and owner of a failing independent bookstore, his latest passion: meditation. And third, Jim wants to ask the new librarian out on a date, though he has yet to learn that she’s actually a research scientist whose coworker is jeopardizing her bionic leaf invention. But after Jim coerces Mark and Andy into a wilderness meditation hike, his life is upended. The terrified trio witness a spaceship land. The spaceship’s pilot, a wise and benevolent bioprospector from a mysterious space colony, recruits the three men for an urgent mission. He must find a lost alien artifact—lost during the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald—before it breaks down and blows up their entire peninsula. A dairy farm that has for decades been secretly relying on the device as a source of unlimited power is threatened by factory farms and a greedy energy executive. Jim, Andy, Mark and the spaceman have two days to find and disable the bomb or their community will be destroyed.

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