Q&A: Michael K. Reynolds (In Golden Splendor)
Q: Your new book In Golden Splendor tells the story of a man on a journey across the American Frontier during 1849. What is it about that setting that suits this story?
You have the difficulty of the mountainous terrain, the despairing emptiness of the deserts, and the uncertainty of what lies ahead. These all parallel Seamus’s own personal challenges, and I think as well it's the romance of discovery, the alluring thought of something greater waiting down the trail, which carries him through the beautiful and rugged country. That, and of course, the pursuit of a mysterious woman! You know, the American West has always appealed to the dreamer within each of us, and I believe this is why it’s such a popular theater for novels.
Q: This book is part of your Heirs of Ireland series. What is a common theme throughout the series?
I would say it’s the preeminence of hope in all circumstances. The characters in all three novels face extraordinary challenges, as many of us do at some level in our own lives. This was a difficult time in Irish-American history when you factor in the Great Potato Famine, their persecution as unwanted immigrants and then the brutality and division of the Civil War. Yet, God never abandoned people back then and He doesn’t today. I want my readers to vicariously experience God’s triumph over tribulation. Although the books take readers on a wild journey, I want them ultimately to feel encouraged and renewed.
Q: Where did you get the inspiration for this book?
Having lived in the Reno/Lake Tahoe area for more than two decades I’ve spent many a day among the granite spires of the Sierra Mountain Range in hiking boots with a backpack. Inspiration comes easy when you peer down from a peak to see a crystal lake below draped with a fresh mountain flower bloom. So too with San Francisco. It has always been one of my favorite cities in America because it has such a superb European feel to it. It’s distinguished, eclectic and full of intrigue. You throw in the fascinating era of the Gold Rush and the book is already written!
Q: Can you tell us about your favorite character from In Golden Splendor?
I’m not sure I can answer that! Just as a father should never have a favorite child, so too is the case with our characters. They are quite sensitive about this, you should know. But if you lean in closely I’ll admit to being a fan of the runts of the litters, the outcasts, the unique characters you would never want your daughters or sons to marry but who prove to be quite entertaining. I have several of those in this novel.
Q: What is your writing process?
My books all are conceptualized with a joyful period of brainstorming and prayer which allows me to begin rough initial sketches. Brushstrokes of the time period, general setting, lead characters and overall themes. This provides me with the direction on where to focus my research which is one of my favorite parts of the process. It’s during this discovery period where many of the ideas solidify and hidden historical gems are uncovered. This is followed by a detailed outline of characters and a chapter-by-chapter plot. If I’ve been patient and done this part well, then the writing (of at least the first draft) is fast, fluid and pleasurable. After that, it’s a rather arduous peeling of the layers of prose until it’s ready to rest in the hands of a reader.