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Monday, January 7, 2013

Chatting with Michael K. Reynolds!

I am so excited to have Michael K. Reynolds as my guest today!

His Irish historical novel, Flight of the Earls, just released. I first "met" Michael through Books and Such Literary Agency, and I had the pleasure to meet him in person at the ACFW conference last fall. You can't help but like Michael when you talk to him. He's friendly, smart, and he hands out chocolate (green foil wrapped, of course!). Yes, my chocolate-covered heart was quickly won over, but more importantly, he's an excellent writer. I loved Flight of the Earls!

Let's get to it!

1. I am fascinated with American history, and I'm always drawn to immigrant stories. What was your inspiration for the Heirs of Ireland series?

I have grandparents on both sides of the family and many great aunts and uncles who emigrated from Ireland. On the couple of occasions I was blessed to visit the Emerald Isle I was embraced by my Irish relatives as if I had sprouted from their own soil. Having my characters engage with the rich tapestries of my heritage has been an intimate and rewarding experience.

2. It's obvious your heart belongs on the "Emerald Isle." Do you have plans to return to Ireland?

Yes. It’s been quite some time since I’ve been to Ireland and I am making plans to go back soon, hopefully in the upcoming year. Once you visit the Emerald Isle, many of the memories are indelible and as fresh as the day you first visited. But after all of my research there are so many new places I would want to explore. I have family there I would love to spend time with again, and other members who I have yet to meet in person. So, it’s high on my list.
 
3. From the opening sentence of Flight of the Earls, the historical details blend seamlessly with the story, adding a rich flavor to a fascinating plot. What research did you do for this book?

For me the research process is unfiltered joy. There is a childlike giddiness for me as I open up my many tomes of history books for my projects. I absolutely love history and reading about it and drifting to those time periods and dreaming about ideas. I believe in any slice of time there is a plethora of intriguing characters and unfolding drama. The greatest portion of my research is through reading, but I also typically include site visits, museum tours and film in my efforts to paint in all the numbers. The hardest part about my research is loosening the grip of my fingers from my history books so I can get about the task of writing.

4. Ahh, getting to the task of writing, not an easy thing to do some days! What's the most surprising thing that happened while writing this book?

For me, the biggest surprise came when I started sharing the initial pages of Flight of the Earls at Mount Herman Christian Writers Conference. After college I was a journalist for a few years and then shifted to marketing and copywriting before writing scripts for documentaries. I continued to write, but I hadn't lifted a pen to fiction for two decades. It was frightening to share those first few chapters with writers, editors and agents. I came into it blind, literally having no idea what the response would be in regards to my voice and prose. I remember asking Brandilyn Collins, "Is it any good?" and she said, "Are you kidding? Is that you trying to be modest?" Fortunately there was a visceral buzz about the writing which was so encouraging, and I considered myself a novelist ever since.

5. I can relate to the fear of having professionals read your work for the first time. It is scary! But it's also reassuring when we hear positive feedback. 

Don't you love the possibilities of a new year? What are you working on now?

The second book of the Heirs of Ireland Series, In Golden Splendor, is completed and releases July 15, 2013. I am hard at work on the third book of the series, currently titled Songs of the Shenandoah, which is staged during the Civil War era. We’re in the process of securing our next projects, which I am thrilled about, and hope to be able announce those shortly.


I look forward to reading them! Thank you so much for being my guest today, Michael!

***

Flight of the Earls


It’s Ireland in 1846. When her family’s small farm is struck by the blight of the Great Potato Famine, 24-year-old Clare Hanley heads out along with her younger brother Seamus on a harrowing journey across the ocean to the Promised Land of America. Once arriving in New York, Clare is both overwhelmed and enraptured by this coming-of-age city of intrigue, romance, the arts, squalor, wealth, uneven freedoms and exploding opportunities. Here she discovers love, adventure and a terrible secret which threatens to destroy her family and all she believes.



My review (5 Stars)

Get ready to be swept away in this action-packed, emotional tale of one woman's journey to survive and help her family during the potato famine in Ireland.

Clare Hanley, her brother Seamus, and family friend Pierce must journey to America in order to find work and keep their Irish families from starving. The journey tests the three's morals, their loyalties, and their very lives. New York does not live up to its reputation, and the struggles they face tear them apart. But through it all, Clare draws strength from the memory of her siblings back in Ireland and ultimately finds love and a strong faith in God.

I loved this book so much that I devoured it in less than 24 hours! Michael K. Reynolds shows a rare gift of balancing historical details, emotional reactions, a complicated family history, and a fast-paced plot to create characters I couldn't stop rooting for. Clare, especially, as the protagonist melted my heart. I rooted for her every step of the way. My heart hurt at the many injustices she bore out of love and generosity.

The supporting characters displayed plenty of vices, but they also were multi-dimensional. My fingers are crossed that Seamus will get his own book!

Terrific read! I highly recommend it! I can't wait to read more by this talented author.

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own. It's amazing--get your hands on a copy!*
***
About Michael

Michael K. Reynolds is the author of a series of Irish historical novels being published by B&H Publishing Group. His debut Irish historical novel, Flight of the Earls, releases January, 2013.

To learn more about Michael's books, head to his website, be friends with him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

If you'd like to purchase Flight of the Earls, it is available on Amazon, Christianbook.com, Barnes & Noble, and other fine retailers.

***

Have you gotten swept up in a great book lately? If yes, please share! I'm always looking for a fabulous read!

Have a wonderful day!

26 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to visit Ireland and I'm looking forward to reading the book.

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    1. I want to visit Ireland too, Jessica! I've gotten those large photography books out about it, and the pictures show such lush scenery! :)

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    2. Jessica...you must visit Ireland. It's much greener than you can ever imagine and the people are so humble and kind.

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  2. This book has been on my to-read list since I heard about it through Books & Such. Meeting Michael and eating that creamy chocolate...well, how can you not read the book after that???

    Great interview! Michael, I wish you great success with your writing. Savor every minute.

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    1. I hear you, Lisa! How can you not?? Ha! Thank you SO much for stopping by!

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    2. Lisa...I used to be known as the "Irish guy" but since my last few writing conferences where I passed out my dark Belgium shamrock embossed coins I'm only referred to as the "chocolate guy". I may have to write a historical series based in Hershey, Pennsylvania to take advantage of this branding.

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  3. Hi, Michael! I loved meeting you at ACFW...and thanks again for that chocolate! :) Congrats on your book release. Sounds great.

    I loved Susan May Warren's "You Don't Know Me." Haven't had too much of a chance to read lately, but that one was a quick read for me since I couldn't put it down!

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    1. I haven't read that one by Susan May Warren yet, Lindsay! Thanks for recommending it. I'll add it to my list! ;)

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    2. What's interesting is that it's a writer's joy when he hears that someone started his book and couldn't put it down. Many people have said they read Flight of the Earls straight through in a day (into the wee hours of the morning). But then there is a part of me that is a bit disappointed in this news as I know how long it took to write!

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  4. Wow, my TBR pile is so tall, but I HAVE to put this one on there! Sounds fabulous, Jill. Thanks for introducing Michael to us!

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    1. It IS wonderful, Kathy! I loved it!!

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    2. The bad news Kathy is that it's a thick book, over 425 pages, so it's going to add a fair amount of height to your pile. But please don't put it at the bottom. I can't wait that long to hear what you think.

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  5. Hi Jill! Hi Michael! Happy New Year! Very interesting interview. I'm a huge fan of early American history, Irish history, and immigrant stories. This book sounds like it would be a great read. Nice cover too.

    Thanks for the review, Jill.

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    1. I think you'd love it, Loree! I love historical fiction too, and I really enjoyed learning more about what Irish immigrants faced when they landed in New York!

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    2. Loree...Flight of the Earls is perfectly customized to suit your tastes. I must have written it for you. The cover is a blessing. It was designed by the talented Diana Lawrence at B&H Publishing Group. A little known fact is that it was the second cover. The first cover was in black and white, trying to give it a historic feel. But after we showed it to a few folks, we realized it was a bomb-a-rooskie. Fortunately, Diana's next version hit it out of the park. At that point we had it down, because the cover of In Golden Splendor, the next book in the series was absolutely perfect. Now I'm looking forward to seeing Diana's talent put to use on the next book cover. I hardly wait to see what she comes up with.

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  6. This sounds like a good book. Anything that has to do with Ireland has to be interesting. I would love to go there sometime. My, Michael certainly loves his research, doesn't he?

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    1. I agree, Nancy!! I would love to go too. We should make this happen! :)

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    2. Nancy...you are so right. I LOVE the research aspect of writing these historical novels (at least the initial part). So much so I have to peel myself away from the history books at some point and get on with the writing. The part that I don't enjoy so much is the nit-picky details at the end. The worst part of it all is when you find out history doesn't support your great plot timeline and then you have to make adjustments.

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  7. I'm putting this on my TBR list. I actually haven't been swept up in a book (or series) since The Hunger Games.

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    1. Glad to hear it Jennifer! This is going to be a different read for you than the Hunger Games. It's very descriptive. Although, I think you'll enjoy the pace and hopefully will bond with the characters. Make sure you let me know what you think.

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    2. There's just nothing better than getting swept up into a different place--that's why I love reading! Flight of the Earls transported me!

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  8. Great review! Michael I would love to read this book sounds great!
    Blessings
    joeym11@frontier.com

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    1. Diana...that is wonderful news for me. What is a writer without readers?

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    2. If you get a chance to read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Diana!

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  9. Hmm...having trouble posting, so I hope this doesn't post in triplicate.

    I was there at Brandilyn's mentorship class at Mount Hermon and remember my jaw dropping as I read Michael's submission. I've been a big fan of the Chocolate Guy ever since. :)

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    1. Sorry, Karen! I have comment moderation on after a day to stop the spammers (it works!). I'm a big fan of the chocolate guy too!!

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