Monday, June 26, 2017

Interview with historical fiction author Megan Easley-Walsh

Historical fiction author Megan Easley-Walsh joins me today to chat about her new suspense, Flight Before Dawn.

Megan Easley-Walsh is a bestselling author of historical fiction, a researcher, and a writing consultant and editor at Extra Ink Edits. She is an award-winning writer and has taught college writing in the UNESCO literature city of Dublin, Ireland. Her degrees are in history-focused International Relations. She is American and lives in Ireland with her Irish husband.

Welcome, Megan. Please tell us about your current release.
Flight Before Dawn is the first novel that I wrote and it's recently become a bestseller. It begins in Normandy, France in the autumn of 1943 and explores the story of Victoire, a female leader in the French Resistance. When Leal, a man she's had watched for over two years, arrives on her doorstep, he uncovers a twenty-five-year-old secret with Victoire at its heart.

What inspired you to write this book?
I grew up in an Air Force family and lived in Germany from the ages of nine to eighteen. I walked the beaches of Normandy and took part in a service project with Girl Scouts and French Scouts each Memorial Day, where we honored the veterans and decorated the largest American cemetery from WWII in Europe in St. Avold, France. History was thus incredibly palpable. All of my writing is motivated by a desire to encourage peace. I write historical fiction full of suspense and hope. We can learn from the past, be inspired by their courage, and create a better world today and for the future.

Excerpt from Flight Before Dawn:
       Part One
Autumn 1943
Normandy, France
Betrayed. I was always so careful and trusted so few. I never let myself get close to the “wrong” people. Yet, somehow, despite all that, I was betrayed. There are a thousand secrets in war. I have held many. Never did I suspect that as I guarded my secrets, someone else harbored a closely guarded secret with me at the center— a secret that's remained hidden for twenty-five years.
— Victoire

Chapter One

Pebbles slipped beneath Victoire's feet as she moved deeper into the cave. The waves lapped against her boots, urging her on in her steps. Shortly, the tide would wash over the area, but the contents of her pocket burned with greater compulsion.
A lone dog barked in the distance, reminding Victoire that others could also creep among the shadows. She had but one guarantee: danger. Moonlight served as a lantern, beckoning her farther into the cavern of solace. Her right hand lifted to trace the stones that she had touched countless times before.
“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine,” she counted, her lips barely moving to ward off any breath escaping. In Victoire’s nightmares, she would trip and let out a small gasp that echoed through the cave before resonating across the beach and over the sleeping residents of the village. Her gasp thundered over the countryside and amplified over the cities, until at last it arrived in Hitler’s ear.
“Victoire, you knew you could not escape me. You knew I would find you,” he would sneer, his mustache twitching, as he erupted in villainous laughter.
“Ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen,” her counting continued. At stone forty-four, she tapped it twice and pushed it back. A little golden key glimmered from the moon’s glow. Her pale fingers retrieved the metal, as she kept her other hand on the stone. For a moment, she held it to her heart and then slid it into the pocket of her coat. So many depended on her. So much rested on this secrecy.
“One, two, three, four.” She removed the fourth stone and then the two to the left and right of it and then the three above and below it. Reaching into the gaping hole, her hand brushed an oak box and she removed it from its location. The key turned in the sturdy lock and the box clicked open to reveal its contents.
She lifted a small notebook and recorded a few markings. A solitary golden coin then slipped from her fingers, to be deposited into the box along with the notebook. Locking the box and returning it to its location, Victoire placed the stones back into their positions and prepared to leave the cave. She remained close to the wall on the way out, so as not to attract anyone else who was also breaking curfew this evening or, more importantly, anyone who was enforcing it. Some of the soldiers delighted in showing off the moon from these sandy stretches, to the local women they set their sights on. The French were not considered untermenschen, an inferior people, but France was undeniably occupied.
A scattering of clouds filled the expanse of night above Victoire's head, as she pulled the scarf closer around her to fend off the coolness of the autumnal evening breeze. She hurried toward her home at the edge of town, avoiding the illuminated sandy reaches. Leaning on the stone wall, she looked to the lunar lantern to see if it might somehow mercifully dim its glow. A dog was barking again, but this time it sounded closer.
Her back to the wall, Victoire inched toward the stony stairs leading away from the beach and up to the town. She was halfway up the stairs, when a branch snapped against her face. Catching her balance after the surprise, she pushed the branch back into place with one hand. With the back of her other hand, she wiped the water droplets from her face that had cascaded from the falling limb.
No sooner had she distanced herself from the branch, then she found herself flattening herself against the bush again. The lights of a car on the road ahead were flooding the steps in a basking glow. She held her breath as her heart pounded in her chest, like a thousand horses in the American cowboy movies that she had seen before the war. Flames lapped at her lungs. She was convinced there would not be enough oxygen to last.
Half-praying, half-consoling herself, the words coursed through her veins,
Come on, just a little longer. Please let them go now. It’s all right. Almost there. Please. Please. Please.
Curving toward her, the light spread to the hem of Victoire's coat. Surrounded in an amber glow, she would be discovered. On suspicion, she would be detained and questioned. Relentlessly, the questions would fire at her like the machine guns of the Wehrmacht. She was certain of it. Convinced of the irony of her name and that no victory would come to her, she prepared to meet her fate.
Seconds slowing turned to minutes and at last the car turned— not toward her, but away from her. She did not allow herself to breathe, until the car had disappeared completely around the corner. Raindrops began to fall, as if the clouds too had been holding their breath and could breathe freely once again. Nearing the top of the stairs she turned toward home, thankful that the car had driven in the opposite direction. Tucking her hands into her pockets, she continued down the path. Skittish, but trying to remain in the momentary calm, she planted her eyes on her shoes.
A noise mixed with the sound of rain hitting the ground and bouncing against the buildings. Footsteps were gaining on Victoire. There was nowhere that she could retreat into. Well aware of the trouble she would face, if caught outside after curfew, she had no choice but to continue her journey. If only those steps had some way to identify themselves. Were they the small feet of some grandmother returning from church? Perhaps, they were the measured strides of another Resistance worker. Just as likely though, they could belong to Nazi feet.
She hastened her steps, without trying to appear as if it were for any reason other than the rain. Shuttered windows and steeped roof were in sight. Momentarily, she would be within those sheltered walls of her home. Sitting before the fire, she would savor her tea and evening reading. She would be ordinary and innocent of any accusations. Her hand lifted the latch of the gate. Falling heavy on her ears, the footsteps were much louder. Without turning her back, she opened the gate to her home.
Please, keep going. Keep walking.
The footsteps did not obey her.
“Pardon me,” a male voice punctuated the night air. Investing her safety in ignoring him, she continued walking.
“Pardon me,” he said again, in a slightly louder voice this time. Onward she moved, another step toward the door. A hand reached out and touched her shoulder, stopping her in her tracks. For the second time that night, Victoire was certain she had been caught and prepared to face her fate.

What exciting story are you working on next?
All of my published novels are historical fiction, but they take place within a variety of sub-genres.

My second novel, What Edward Heard, tells the story of a returned veteran from WWI to England and the mysterious Renaissance painting that he encounters and features magical realism. North Star Home tells the story of Ann Scarlet's adventure to get back her family's land deed and the romantic turn her life takes when she encounters the sheriff. It is my most straightforward love story. Across the River tells the story of suspense on both sides of the Atlantic in 1774 and love that knows no bounds, when the daughter of a lord is kidnapped and must find her way back home to the man she loves... but only if freedom is not too tempting to make her stay. My upcoming release, my fifth novel, is Painted Faces. In 1938, Vivian is desperate to become an actress, while on the other side of the world a brother and sister are just trying to escape the growing antisemitism of Budapest. Only one place will allow them all to realize their goals: Hollywood! I also have an e-book available of writing tips and tricks.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have been writing all of my life. I made up my first story before I could physically write, at the age of three, and my mom recorded it for me. I would say I became an author when I finished my first novel, Flight Before Dawn.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am an author, writing consultant and editor, and a researcher. As I told someone recently, “My days are surrounded by books”. She replied, “And you like it that way.” She was correct.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to make sure that I have enough time to set aside to complete a book when I start one, as I don't like to leave my characters in peril for too long. They have sped up in telling their stories to me as well, as I wrote the first four novels by hand and then typed them, but in the fifth novel I had to switch to typing as the story was coming out quicker than I could write. As it says on my website, I befriend characters in need of an author.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I knew I wanted to write a published book.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks very much for your interest in me and my books. I love hearing from readers. You can contact me at If you read something and enjoy it, I greatly appreciate reviews on Goodreads or retail sites and they allow new readers to find me. If you're a writer yourself and would like help with the writing process or editing your manuscript, please get in touch.


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Thanks, Megan!

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