Hello – It’s Wednesday and that means I have an author visiting. Today I welcome M.C.V. Egan (AKA Catalina) to my blog to talk about her books and her new release. Her first book, The Bridge of Deaths, is a fictional account of a real historical event that occurred in 1939 in Denmark. At the brink of World War II, an English plane crashed and sunk in Danish waters. Five deaths were reported: two Standard Oil of New Jersey employees, a German Corporate Lawyer, an English member of Parliament, and a crew member for the airline. Ms. Egan’s grandfather was one of the dead. Defined by Others, her new release, is the first in a series that touches on themes of astrology and the paranormal.
Hello Catalina. Let’s talk about both of your books. I’m wondering if you have a common theme or thread running through them.
I am fascinated by superstition, astrology, numerology, palmistry, and other subjects that at one point were referred to as occult, paranormal or New Age. So there is alwaysat least a touch of that in anything I write. However, it is not necessarily the main theme or used in In The Bridge of Deaths, which is available in two versions. The historical part of it is what strongly attracts readers, but I also added the element of past lives and a touch of astrology. In Defined by Others, main characters play an underhanded game which involves pretending to be psychic, and questioning whether there is credence to such abilities.
Defined by Others is the first in a series which will be followed by Climbing up the Family Tree; Defined by Pedigree. It has a far smaller influence in that theme, well so far… it is after all a theme that is so broad and fascinates me.
Why have you chosen to write about this particular theme?
The spectrum in this theme is so large and can be incorporated in such diversity. I also find it fascinating; the possibility of fate being imprinted in our features or our stars.
It takes me back to the magic of the children’s books that fed my imagination growing. It is also a great tool to address anything; the very name occult meaning hidden immediately gives a story line a great point of departure. I include ghosts in that as well but never in a horror or fear inducing way.
Do you have a favorite character that you created?
Maggie the fun-loving young pacifist in The Bridge of Deaths is one of my favorites and one I admire tremendously. I am working with such a large variety of characters right now for my defined series that to be honest there are many I love; even the mean ones with all their flaws!
How does setting play a role in your books?
Setting is very important, but I am a writer far more focused on events and story line as opposed to setting. I was just discussing this with another writer who is far more setting-oriented and does a wonderful job at it. I try to use real settings to compensate for the fact that trying too hard to create them would hurt my joy of writing. That being said if a place such as a house can be a sort of character in a story, then I do find describing it with far more ease.
What kinds of techniques do you like to use in your writing?
I love my tape recorder a great tool to brainstorm. I am a list maker, I write lists of all the topics I feel the book needs to cover, not necessarily hard and fast lists. I am flexible and open to change in my work. For my characters I resort to interviewing them, playing with them, making them fill out a job application, anything needed to get depth and make them as real to me as can
Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?
My plans for the series I am working on is to make the idea of a variety of things that define us, but each book is a stand-alone and not necessarily following a thread. As much as the theme of the occult is used it will probably be present, but I hope that I will play with a wide variety of eras and not stick strictly to contemporary fiction.
That sounds like an intriguing journey for you as a writer as well as for your readers. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?
“An unusual yet much recommended read” by The Midwest Book Review. The reason is that I hope that my stories are unique. I believe that everyone has the capacity to express a unique voice and that as individuals we have different perspectives; as such I hope to be able to convey my own unique and unusual way to convey my stories.
You are so right about that. You stand out in your unique perspective so therefore does your work. We all get the occasional dreaded negative review of our work, so I wonder what advice you can give to other writers about receiving one?
It is not a nice feeling to be criticized and some reviewers can be absolutely scathing. Anyone willing to put themselves out there with any form of writing should develop a nice coat of thick skin! A great tool to learn from and balance the impact of a bad review is the following: Choose a book by a famous, successful author you consider fantastic, look up their bad reviews! A review is simply an opinion, and a bad review is an opinion you disagree with!
That being said, I strongly recommend that writers have the courage to learn and grow from others (reviewers) opinions. I try to use them as tools to become a better writer; to find the elements of constructive criticism in a review.
Very good advice. It’s important to distinguish constructive criticism from simply mean reviews. I agree about looking up famous authors and their reviews. It helped me tremendously after my first bad one. I’m so happy you stopped by today, Catalina. You are an inspiration to all of us Indies out there striving to have our individual voices heard. I hope you’ll come back when the second book in your new series is published.
Catalina was born in Mexico City, Mexico in 1959, the sixth of eight children, in a traditional Catholic family. Communication in such a large family fueled her desire and need to find a voice and write.
She only spent her childhood in Mexico. Her father became an employee of The World Bank in Washington D.C. At the age of 12, she moved with her entire family to the United States.
Catalina was already fluent in Southern English as she had spent one school year in the town of Pineville, Louisiana with her grandparents. There she won the English award; ironically being the only one who had English as a second language in her class. In the D.C. suburbs she attended various private Catholic schools and graduated from Winston Churchill High School in Potomac, Maryland in 1977. She attended Montgomery Community College, where she changed majors every semester. She also studied in Lyons, France at the Catholic University for two years. In 1981, due to an impulsive young marriage to a Viking (The Swedish kind, not the football player kind), Catalina moved to Sweden where she resided for five years and taught at a language school for Swedish, Danish, and Finnish business people. She returned to the USA in the late 1980s where she has been living ever since. She is fluent in Spanish, English, French and Swedish.
Maria Catalina Vergara Egan is married and has one son, who together with their five pound Chihuahua make her feel like a full time mother. Although she would not call herself an astrologer she has taken many classes and taught a few beginner classes in astrology. This is one of her many past times when she is not writing or researching.
YouTube video link