Interviewing Author Megan Hardgrave








1. Why did you decide to become a writer?

MH: Well, I like telling stories about historical people that interest me, and the best advice I follow is, as Mark Twain said: “write what you know best.” And I had a story to tell. I had found a nugget of history – a teenager who was caught up in the assassination aftermath of my hero, Abraham Lincoln. All I knew was a name and a picture. As I followed the research, I wanted to make this into an interesting story for my age group.


3. What was the first thing you ever wrote, and what do you remember about it?

 
After I watched the Pride and Prejudice mini-series on A & E, I wanted to read Jane Austen’s books. After reading those books, I read her biography. So when my high school teacher for British Literature assigned us to write a paper as though we were a person living in nineteenth-century England, I immediately chose Jane Austen. I wrote a mini-diary as Miss Austen at the age of thirty-seven, a published author. It was what I imagined her thoughts were as she took a trip to London and Bath, and as her family was impacted by the French Revolution. I also wove in historical figures such as Napoleon and Lord Nelson.

Please tell us the story about how you became a Lincoln enthusiast.

At a young age, my parents gave me the Caldecott Medal book Abraham Lincoln by the D’Aulaires. The watercolor biography had beautiful pictures, and there was something about his story that grabbed me. It showed who he was – kind to other children, his neighbors, and later in life, he enjoyed his boys. It ends with a picture of his son Tad holding his dad’s hand and the words, “Then he sat down on his rocking chair to rest….He had held together with the great nation.”

4. How/why did you develop this interest in the story of Lincoln into a book?

Interest in the story began with a junior high school bus ride, as I had the book open on my lap. Boy classmates peered over the seats and began looking at the book’s escape route map and pictures of the Lincoln artifacts related to the assassination. They began asking me questions like: “Megan, what is this about? Why didn’t the teacher tell us there was more to the story than just that Lincoln died? There was it a manhunt? Was this the gun? It sure is small. Are the things he had in his pocket? Why would he wear gloves? Where can you go see these things?” They saw a picture of a woodcut of Booth on horseback escaping from the back of the theater, and next to the stage back door stood a kid, and one boy asked, “Who was the kid?”

4. What kind of research did you do for your current book, Ride with the Assassin?

I spent sixteen years of personal study to absorb a wealth of interesting details I would later weave into my book. As I did this research, I enjoyed a variety of research activities including visiting the Library of Congress, Ford’s Theater, the White House, Lincoln’s Home, and his Tomb in Springfield, IL. I also took the official John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Tour in Maryland in spring 1996.


It’s also important to note that my main character, Mark Harris, shares my strong Christian beliefs and core values in the novel in many ways over the course of the story when dealing with hard subjects. A teenager dealing with hard subjects – the assassination of our President and taking the law into your own hands, etc…. I want to emphasize to the kids or adults that sometimes you can’t sugarcoat life, and you grow up fast.

5. How long did it take you to write the book? How long did it take for you to get it published?

I started researching and writing my manuscript in 1995 under the name The Unidentified Young Man in History short story, and then as I continued to add to it got a new title, Ride With the Assassin.

I also had guidance and help from others in the Civil War /Lincoln Field who shaped the story, and when I was ready, I shared the story with a special writing teacher in high school who helped polish it and get it ready for submitting to publishers.

Finally, in 2010, it was done and ready to be submitted for publication. I decided to self-publish hard copies of my book in 2010 and began direct marketing to museum gift stores, especially ones related to Lincoln.

The pace of the book is like an action-adventure film and moves fast like old Westerns. The book was “indie” self-published May 12, 2010. Due to its wide appeal and “word of mouth” on Facebook, so far, over 500 copies have been sold in softcover to retail and wholesale.

6. What has been the fan and critical reception?

It has been very favorable and people in the public eye have liked and been complimentary. Some readers have written notes to me telling me just how much they have learned about Lincoln.

Testimonials include a Hollywood producer/director, an actor, a librarian, teachers, an author, and readers. Be sure to check out the links at the end of my interview to read the reviews and comments for yourself.

6. Any other books in the works 2021?

I am currently writing a new story based on Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria –Hungary and his first two loves and how that got us into World War I.

7. Do you have plans to write in any other genres or styles?

I write poetry called ” Roller Coaster ” which shares my philosophy on my relying on God’s providence.

8. History seems to be something in which many people no longer take an interest. Why are you so passionate about history?

Because I feel that “History is a puzzle and we must fit together with its pieces. ”   I also believe it can become a personal story the more we know about the men, women and their lives and times. I think the process also helps us to appreciate our Nation, and our worldview becomes much wider. One of my goals is to engage with Lincoln’s life through a “personal experience” with Lincoln, his assassination, and its cast of characters. Adults are purchasing it for themselves–Lincoln enthusiasts, Lincoln historians, and history teachers–to use in their classroom along with a companion teachers guide, Civil War re-enactors, and others who enjoy historical fiction. Others are buying it for their grandchildren to learn about Lincoln.

9.If you could go back in time and meet one person, whom would you choose and why?

President Abraham Lincoln, of course! His is the Great American Story that we just like to retell. I would ask him many questions like: “What made you tick? Why did you get up so early? Why did you make the hard decisions during the Civil War that you did? What did you feel after the loss of your Mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln when you were only nine?” My favorite Lincoln TV series is 1974 Sandburg’s Lincoln based on the books by Carl Sandburg staring Actor Hal Holbrook because he portrays him as close to the real man as possible.

1.About me: When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Research recipes, develop, bake and sell gourmet pies.

Fun fact: I enjoy donating a pie every year to a charity auction for a Christian school. This year my key lime pie went for $200!

Watch classic movies, with my favorite years being the 1930’s through the 1940s.

Favorite coffee 

Green mountain caramel vanilla K cup 



Self-publishing is a venture that is not for the faint of heart, and Megan has demonstrated that she is equal to the task at hand. She has learned for herself how to market her books and get the word out to those who will genuinely delight in reading this historical tale she has woven. I am happy to be able to feature a young person like her who is driven and willing to invest the time and resources needed to make a success of her book. If you are so inclined, I hope you have the opportunity to visit all of Megan’s links below and perhaps even pick up a copy of the book for yourself. Moreover, as a writer myself, there is nothing better than promoting the work of a fellow writer and helping her in her quest to become a historical novelist of note.

Where can you find the ebook: FOLLOW MEGAN

You can now purchase her book for only $9.99 from:

· Amazon.com

Barnes&Noble.com 

· Universal Book Link

Facebook 

Facebook Group

It's also important to note that my main character, Mark Harris, shares my strong Christian beliefs and core values in the novel in many ways over the course of the story when dealing with hard subjects. A teenager dealing with hard subjects – the assassination of our President and taking the law into your own hands, etc…. I want to emphasize to the kids or adults that sometimes you can’t sugarcoat life, and you grow up fast.

How long did it take you to write the book? How long did it take for you to get it published?

I started researching and writing my manuscript in 1995 under the name The Unidentified Young Man in History short story, and then as I continued to add to it got a new title, Ride With the Assassin.

I also had guidance and help from others in the Civil War /Lincoln Field who shaped the story, and when I was ready, I shared the story with a special writing teacher in high school who helped polish it and get it ready for submitting to publishers.

Finally, in 2010, it was done and ready to be submitted for publication. I decided to self-publish hard copies of my book in 2010 and began direct marketing to museum gift stores, especially ones related to Lincoln.

The pace of the book is like an action-adventure film and moves fast like old Westerns. The book was “indie” self-published May 12, 2010. Due to its wide appeal and “word of mouth” on Facebook, so far, over five hundred copies have been sold in softcover to retail and wholesale.

What has been the fan and critical reception?

It has been very favorable and people in the public eye have liked and been complimentary. Some readers have written notes to me telling me just how much they have learned about Lincoln.

Testimonials include a Hollywood producer/director, an actor, a librarian, teachers, an author, and readers. Be sure to check out the links at the end of my interview to read the reviews and comments for yourself.

Any other books in the works that you can mention?

I am currently writing a new story based on Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria –Hungary and his first two loves and how that got us into World War I.

Do you have plans to write in any other genres or styles?

I write poetry called ” Roller Coaster ” which shares my philosophy on my relying on God’s providence.

History seems to be something in which many people no longer take an interest. Why are you so passionate about history?

Because I feel that “History is a puzzle and we must fit together with its pieces. ”   I also believe it can become a personal story the more we know about the men, women and their lives and times. I think the process also helps us to appreciate our Nation, and our worldview becomes much wider. One of my goals is to engage with Lincoln’s life through a “personal experience” with Lincoln, his assassination, and its cast of characters. Adults are purchasing it for themselves–Lincoln enthusiasts, Lincoln historians, and history teachers–to use in their classroom along with a companion teachers guide, Civil War re-enactors, and others who enjoy historical fiction. Others are buying it for their grandchildren to learn about Lincoln.

If you could go back in time and meet one person, whom would you choose and why?

President Abraham Lincoln, of course! His is the Great American Story that we just like to retell. I would ask him many questions like: “What made you tick? Why did you get up so early? Why did you make the hard decisions during the Civil War that you did? What did you feel after the loss of your Mother Nancy Hanks Lincoln when you were only nine?” My favorite Lincoln TV series is 1974 Sandburg’s Lincoln based on the books by Carl Sandburg staring Actor Hal Holbrook because he portrays him as close to the real man as possible.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Research recipes, develop, bake and sell gourmet pies.

Fun fact: I enjoy donating a pie every year to a charity auction for a Christian school. This year my key lime pie went for $200!

Watch classic movies, with my favorite years being the 1930’s through the 1940s.

Market my book!



Self-publishing is a venture that is not for the faint of heart, and Megan has demonstrated that she is equal to the task at hand. She has learned for herself how to market her books and get the word out to those who will genuinely delight in reading this historical tale she has woven. I am happy to be able to feature a young person like her who is driven and willing to invest the time and resources needed to make a success of her book. If you are so inclined, I hope you have the opportunity to visit all of Megan’s links below and perhaps even pick up a copy of the book for yourself. Moreover, as a writer myself, there is nothing better than promoting the work of a fellow writer and helping her in her quest to become a historical novelist of note.

FOLLOW MEGAN

You can now purchase her book for only $5.99 from:

· Amazon.com

Apple iBook

· Universal Book Link

Walmart.com

Facebook 

Facebook Group




 

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