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.
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!*
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!