Monday, April 2, 2012

Ten Questions With M.C.V. Egan

M.C.V. (Catalina) Egan
Today I have with me M.C.V. (Catalina) Egan, author of The Bridge of Deaths, a (somewhat) fictional recounting of her own research into the death of her grandfather in an airplane crash in 1939.  I’ve written a review of the book, which you can find somewhere over here, but right now it’s all about Ms. Egan. 

How are you doing, Catalina?  Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.

MCVE:  Hello Jonathan, How are you?  I am very happy to be here and to answer your questions.  Thanks for the invite.

Not a problem at all.  I know you’re eager to get into the fun part, so let’s do it.

Q1)  Why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself and your book?

MCVE:  I am originally from Mexico City, Mexico where I spent most of my childhood. Through the twists and turns of life I have lived in various parts of the USA as well as France and Sweden.  I currently live in South Florida with my husband Tom and our teenage son Austin

The Bridge of Deaths is a unique cross genre historical, paranormal, mystery and romance.  The story revolves around the crash of  a passenger plane that crashed in the summer of 1939 two weeks before Hitler invaded Poland, and the circumstances around the event were called “a mystery that would never be solved.”  The historical data is carefully documented and footnoted so that it can be verified or explored further.  I also used the help of most un-orthodox methods of research by using psychics and past life regressions (not my own), hence the paranormal angle.  I created fictional characters that weave the story together and that is where I sprinkled a touch of love.

Q2)  It’s been said that every author has at least one work that they have to write before they can focus on other creative avenues.  Is The Bridge of Deaths your “one” work?

MCVE:  Yes, it is something that I had to do. The plane crash the story revolves around was where my maternal grandfather lost his life. I tried to pull away from the story to work on other pieces, but it always tugged me back in.  Now I am working on a very different book, and I must say it is nice to have the freedom of so much fiction.

Q3)  Did you have any formal training for your research—or for that matter, your writing?

MCVE:  I attended schools that focused very much in writing.  I studied both French (Catholic University in Lyons, France) and Swedish (KV vid Stockholm and Lund Universities) as an adult, and the mode of expression most often required was writing. I also attended workshops here and there, as writing is my passion.
Research was not something I had the slightest training on, I bought books on how to research and where to look. I started before the Internet made it easier for us all to find information.  The fact is I looked everywhere; I would be very surprised if there are any files available to the public that I have not worked with.

Q4)  That fact shows through in your work.  It is meticulously documented and very thorough.  How much time did you spend on your research and then on the writing of this book?

MCVE:  I began digging into the story in the early 1990s in a very part-time way. I do not know, then, if it is fair to say almost two decades.  When I was able to get down and work on this on a full time basis it took me about one and a half to two years. Of course, by then I had all the information put together and carefully organized.  I wrote the story in other voices, but it just did not seem to encompass all that I felt it needed to include.

Q5)  You chose an interesting style of narrative, blending your real life investigations with fictional characters.  How much of The Bridge of Deaths is fact and how much is fiction?

Storsbrøms-broen bridge (picture by Thomas W. Egan)
MCVE:  Interesting? Thank-you. There were several reasons for blending the fact and fiction. Initially I set out to work on strictly fact and document the story, this including the recorded past life regression sessions used for the character Bill. However, a few years ago the “real Bill” asked for complete anonymity and I felt strongly that I had to respect that.

I then realized that I too wished to detach my life from the story as much as possible, so I created an individual who was alone, lonely, and obsessed by the crash of the G-AESY. Then there is my use of psychics which is fiction to many.  It just made sense to combine the two. I tried to footnote everything that was factual, including information from psychics and past life regressions. Maggie is absolutely fictional, and Bill is fictional.  Only his past life regressions are factual (there are a few exceptions for the narrative and that is footnoted or explained in the author’s note).

Q6)  If you’re blending fact and fiction, why didn’t you decide to choose a fictional outcome, the one you liked best or the one you found most compelling, something that would bring more closure to the reader?  Do you feel like an open-ended conclusion was in some ways more powerful?

MCVE:  I felt a strong need to keep the integrity of the facts as intact as possible. It would have been a blast to feel the freedom to write a purely fictional account. The characters had such interesting backgrounds, the era so riddled with intrigues and espionage—especially the German Lawyer especially traveling with his decorations from WWI and the glass eye.  I toyed a lot with the idea of simple fiction.  I cannot tell you how very tempting it was.

I have the perhaps ridiculous “dream” that my factual detail will spark certain things.  At the very least, a way to open the Danish Military file which, even in two years when the 75 year rule would apply, I have been told would not be made available.  (Perhaps I should explain that sealed files from WWII have a 50 to 75 year rule in Europe.  In the States it is 50.  This was established with the assumption that all involved parties, especially the innocents, would by then be dead)

Q7)  You’ve already mentioned it in passing, but psychics, hypnosis, and past life regression play a large in your narrative, and I can’t help but feel they deserve a more in-depth look.  How much stock do you put in these “new age” techniques?  Were they merely a vehicle for your plot, or have you used them to guide your own research in significant ways?

MCVE:  I walk a very fine line in these matters. My friends, who are psychic and very new age, sigh a lot around me as I constantly question and look for other plausible explanations. My friends who are not keen on “new Age” beliefs think I am a superstitious lunatic.  I do believe in past lives. I witnessed the regressions that are documented in the book and I wrote them as they occurred, even adding when the subject got nervous or scared.

I did go to several psychics, all of whom wanted their names acknowledged in the book, who by the use of psychometry holding onto watches and not being told anything about the story gave their version.  All four described the same man as the owner of the square watch, and he in turn matched to a T one of my corpses.  What they described also matched the corpse’s wounds. One psychic held it and asked, “Why do I see a Bridge?”  Another described sitting looking out a small window and proceeded to give me the correct lettering on the wing of the plane.  This was done without any information what so ever given to them.  I like to question and look for other explanations but I have yet to find them.

Lockheed Electra
Q8)  There is a lot of detail from your research and the historical record included in The Bridge of Deaths.  Did you worry that all of this granular detail might make the book more inaccessible to the casual reader?  If so, how did you strike a balance between telling the whole story (in all its messy detail) versus crafting a readable and engaging narrative?

MCVE:  Well I hope I struck a balance because I was worried. I was very surprised by the very positive reaction of my first reviewers, and especially to the historical detail. Lately I have come across a few readers/reviewers that found (I’ll borrow your words here) the granular detail to be too much.  That being said I have been absolutely amazed by the background and/or age of many that do not find the meticulous detail to be too much. I do believe I have opened the door to interest in history for some, perhaps not history in general but pre- WWII history at the very least.

Q9)   At the end of the narrative (I say narrative because the book includes some very thorough acknowledgement and bibliography sections) there is an epigraph, evidently the beginning of a book that the fictional Catalina decides to write titled “The Bridge of Secrets.”  Is this a hint at another forthcoming work?

MCVE:  I left the door wide open in the hope that I will someday get to see all the files. I have been getting a few contacts.  I also found Samuel James Simonton’s daughter, and the young guy in London who helped me with the aeronautical data has filed a formal request in the UK to see if there are any files I may have missed. In a few years perhaps I’ll send you a copy of The Bridge of Secrets.

Q10)  I’ll look forward to it!  And finally, I’d like to ask you a question I ask everyone who interviews on this blog.  What keeps you writing?

MCVE:  Right now I am enjoying the freedom of the fictional story that I am working on with a co-author, who also happens to be a clairvoyant Jolie DeMarco. It is so much fun to feel completely free and flexible, having characters that are simply fictional characters.  It does, however, have a factual, historical; angle, but not documented in meticulous detail, just sprinkled facts.

In general I simply love to write, whether it is with a pen, pencil or keyboard.  I love words and the images that we can create with them.  I find it such a curious thing that as individuals we experience and see that same things in such different ways. Writing is as intrinsic a part of me as is the need to breath.

Well, that about does it.  Thanks again for dropping by, Catalina.  It’s been a lot of fun and very enlightening.  I look forward to hearing more from you and your future projects.

MCVE:  Thank you Jonathan, I really appreciate that you took the time to read and review The Bridge of Deaths. It was fun, again thanks for the invite.

If you would like to learn more about Catalina or her work, you can visit her at her website, thebridgeofdeaths.com, on Facebook, or through her profile on Book Blogs.  

7 comments:

  1. Love the Lockheed Electra. Where did you find it?
    Catalina

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  2. I just did a google images search for "lockheed electra." It was on a Canadian RAF archive website. I decided to use that one rather than the one on your site because I worried the one you had would be too small.

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  3. It is a great photo. I have many others but I just worry about copyrights. I guess it is all a gray area with the internet. I paid for the ones from Critical past.
    Thanks again Jonathan.

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    1. The way I figured it, they put the image out ther on the internet, so they made it accessible to everyone. It's kind of like putting a couch on the side of the road and then getting mad when someone loads it up in the back of their truck. Plus, I sure as heck ain't making any money off of this thing, so the worst I'll get is a cease and desist letter--and I sincerely doubt I'll get even that.

      That's just how I am, I guess. Fast and loose with copyright law. I like to live dangerously. It's why the chicks dig me.

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  4. Great interview! Thanks for sharing; I'll be sure to check the book out.

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    1. If you really want to read the book, you could always enter that giveaway I've got going. You like free books, don't you? ;)

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