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.
Bio:
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 Megan@MeganEasleyWalsh.com.
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.
Links:
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up-to-date book information, historical happenings, seasonal celebrations,
writing tips and more.
Thanks, Megan!

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