Interview & Giveaway: Erin's Children by Eileen O'Finlan

It's a fun day on the blog today! I have two posts to share with you and the first up is an interview with Author Eileen O'Finlan who is currently touring the blogosphere for Erin's Children! I hope you enjoy the interview and be sure to enter the giveaway!

Hello Eileen and welcome to Passages to the Past! Thanks so much for stopping by today to talk about Erin’s Children!

Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here!

To begin, can you please tell us a little about yourself and your writing?

Sure. I was born and raised in central Massachusetts. Both of my parents were from Vermont and loads of relatives live there, so Vermont is like a second home for me. I earned my undergraduate degree in history and my master's degree in pastoral ministry. I work as an administrative assistant for the Diocese of Worcester and facilitate online courses for the University of Dayton, Ohio.

My published novels are historical fiction, which is my favorite genre though I may add some other genres in the future. I especially enjoy setting novels in New England, probably because it is where I've lived my whole life so I know it best and love it. I love how a story takes on a life of its own as I'm writing. The characters often surprise me by doing things I never expected.

Erin’s Children is the sequel to your last novel, Kelegeen. What inspired you to write the series? Will there be a 3rd book?

As I neared the end of writing Kelegeen I started getting ideas for things that could happen to my characters but they were too far in the future to include in that book. I purposely ended Kelegeen in a way that begged for a sequel so I could get to all the stuff I couldn't put in the first book.

I think there will be a third book, but it will be set a little later with more of a focus on the next generation.

What research did you undertake when writing Erin’s Children?

All the normal historical research for the time period – food, clothing, the current events and politics of the time, etc. In addition, since I was setting Erin's Children in Worcester, Massachusetts, the city in which I work and very close to where I live, I did a lot of research on the history of Worcester in the 1850s. Besides books I made some field trips to the Worcester Historical Museum and Salisbury Mansion. I also took a walking tour of the Crown Hill historical district with a guide from Preservation Worcester. Crown Hill is the location where a few of my main characters live and work. A wonderful gentleman who lives there took me on a two hour tour of his home which is still very much as it was when it was built in the 1850s. That house became the home of Hiram Archer in Erin's Children.

What would you like readers to take away from reading Erin’s Children?

Erin's Children deals with the experience of the Irish who immigrated to America during the Great Hunger (aka Irish Potato Famine). That's where the title comes from – the Irish immigrants are the children of Erin (Ireland). They came because things in Ireland were so bad that for many it was their only chance for survival. Over a million Irish died during the Great Hunger and another million left the country. Upon arriving in America, they faced enormous prejudice and open hostility as they attempted to find work and a place to live and adjust to their new home while at the same time deal with the trauma from which they'd escaped. They endured the concerted efforts of the “Know Nothing” political party that was determined to send them back to Ireland. I hope readers will appreciate the hardships they faced and overcame and recognize what grit and determination it takes for all immigrants, no matter where they're from or when they came, to make their way in a new land.

What was your favorite scene to write?

It's hard to choose a favorite, but I loved writing about Kathleen's introduction to an American Thanksgiving.

What was the most difficult scene to write?

Probably the scene where Kathleen meets up with Meg after leaving the boarding house. I rewrote that multiple times before I was happy with it.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don't think I had a specific “aha” moment. I've been making up stories in my head for as long as I can remember. Whenever we had to write something for a school assignment, mine would almost always be the one the teacher read to the class, but I didn't think of it as anything special since it came naturally to me. I think I decided that I wanted to write novels sometime in my early twenties. I started reading Writer's Digest Magazine and books on writing. The first book-length piece I wrote was a middle grade story about summer camp. It wasn't very good, but I completed an entire novel and that alone told me that I was capable of doing it. Later, I joined a writing group which I stayed with for many years. My writing improved greatly because of that group. I finished Kelegeen while in that group. I missed it so much that a few years ago I started a new one. We meet once a week at my house to write and critique. We had to stop when the pandemic hit, but we've just resumed and it is fabulous to be writing together again.

What does your daily writing routine look like?

Since I work a full-time job I have to grab time for writing when I can. I am not a morning person, so my writing is usually done in the evenings. When I'm really into a story time can get away from me. I've been known to glance at the clock thinking an hour or two has passed only to find that it's 2:00 in the morning, I've been writing for hours, and I have to get up for work in the morning.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it?

Time constraints are my biggest challenge. As mentioned in my answer to the previous question, I have to write in the evenings. I long for the day when writing is my full-time job. I'm also challenged by the need to do my own marketing. That is not my forte, but it is necessary. I had to endure a steep learning curve and I still feel as though I'm banging my head against a brick wall with it most of the time.

Who are your writing inspirations?

Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charlotte Bronte, Diana Gabaldon, Alice Hoffman, John Jakes, Phillipa Gregory, Stephen King, Anne Rice to name a few.

What was the first historical novel you read?

I think it was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

What is the last historical novel you read?

Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian.

What are three things people may not know about you?

I was a gymnast when I was in my tweens and teens. When I was very young I lived in a haunted house. I wish I could have an exact replica of my grandmother's house built so I could live in it.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

I get to live vicariously in another time period without having to personally experience the unpleasant things of the time. Those things may be in the story, but I don't have to live with them every day in reality. I think many people romanticize the past, thinking of it as quaint, charming, and oldy-timey” not realizing it was quite often dirty, smelly, difficult, and dangerous. I confess to having been like that myself which is how I fell in love with history, wishing I could have lived at the time of Little Women. That was before I really started studying history. What I learned disabused me of my romantic ideas but also gave me a deeper appreciation and respect for the people of the past.

What historical time period do you gravitate towards the most with your personal reading?

The 19th century is my favorite, but the writing is more important for me than the time period. I want to read a good story no matter when or where it is set.

What do you like to do when you aren't writing?

Read, naturally! I'm a huge cat lover so I love spoiling my adorable calico Maine Coon. I enjoy spending time with family and friends, crafts, music, museums, and historical houses.

Lastly, what are you working on next?

I'm currently researching for my next historical novel. It will have a dual timeline of 1830 and 1973, set in Vermont, with the New England Vampire Panic as its focus.

I'm also working on revisions to a story told from the perspective of two highly anthropomorphized cats. It's hard to describe the genre for that story except to say it's women's fiction or domestic fiction except with animals instead of people.

I've enjoyed chatting with you today! Thanks for having me!

Thank you for stopping by!

Erin's Children by Eileen O'Finlan

Publication Date: December 1, 2020
BWL Publishing, Inc.
Paperback & eBook; 433 pages

Genre: Historical Fiction

In 1851 Irish Famine survivor, Meg O'Connor, buys passage to America for her younger sister, Kathleen, and arranges employment for her as a maid. Kathleen's feisty spirit soon puts her at odds with her employers, the bigoted and predatory Pratts. Driven from their home, Kathleen ends up on a wild adventure taking her to places she could never have imagined.

As a domestic servant in the Worcester, Massachusetts home of the kindly Claprood family, Meg enjoys a life beyond her wildest imaginings. Yet she must keep her marriage to Rory Quinn a secret. Rory, still in Ireland, eagerly awaits the day he will join her. But as the only jobs open to Irish men pay poorly, Rory's imminent arrival threatens to plunge her back into dire poverty.

On the eve of the Civil War, while America is being rent asunder by the fight over slavery, Irish Catholics wage their own war with the growing anti-immigrant Know Nothing party. Through grave doubts, dangers, and turmoil, Meg and Kathleen must rely on their faith and the resilient bonds of sisterhood to survive and claim their destinies in a new and often hostile land.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Eileen O’Finlan lives in central Massachusetts with a calico Maine Coon cat named Autumn Amelia who likes to "help" her with her historical research and writing mostly by shoving her research books onto the floor, sleeping on her keyboard, and demanding treats at inopportune moments. Eileen loves Autumn Amelia.

Eileen also loves history which is why she went back to college in her late twenties to earn an undergraduate degree in it. She later returned to college for a Master's degree in Pastoral Ministry. Now she teaches online courses for the University of Dayton, Ohio. Seems she can't get enough of college.

She also can't get enough of books - reading and writing them. And cats. She can't get enough of cats. Since she's had at least one since the age of six, she can't comprehend life without a cat.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, June 28
Guest Post at Novels Alive

Tuesday, June 29
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Wednesday, June 30
Review & Excerpt at Niki Loves to Read

Thursday, July 1
Review at Two Bookish Babes
Excerpt at CelticLady's Reviews

Monday, July 5
Review at Reading is My Remedy

Tuesday, July 6
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, July 7
Review at The Enchanted Shelf


Enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

The giveaway is open to US residents only and ends on July 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter.

Erin's Children

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