Charles Egan | Historical Novelist

When financial services businessman Charles Egan began researching his family history in 1990, he did not suspect it would change his life or that he would ever become a SilverWood Books best-selling author.

Best-selling Irish historical fiction


How genealogy research became a best-selling Irish historical fiction series for self-published author Charles Egan.

Author profile


When financial services businessman Charles Egan began researching his family history in 1990, he did not suspect it would change his life or that he would ever become a SilverWood Books best-selling author.

When his brother passed away, Charles’ father found a box of documents in the outhouses on the family farm in County Mayo. Curiosity led Charles to help dry and restore them to find out more about the history they contained. The documents led to a fascinating view of the Great Irish Famine - the 1840’s era of extreme poverty.

With his imagination fired and inspired from exploring the history, Charles wrote a series of three stories to include the romance where his great-grand-uncle had met a girl during the famine and married her against the odds. The first book,The Killing Snows, was published in 2012, followed by the second novel,The Exile Breed, published in 2015. To complete the series, Charles wrote Cold is the Dawn, which was published in 2017.

Historical fiction series based on eye-witness reports


Atypical for a poor farming family from County Mayo, the documents showed that Charles’ great-grand-uncle could both read and write. In fact, they revealed he had worked as a clerk in the 1840s, recording payroll for people from the workhouses who were building roads through the rural mountains. The dates in the documents uncovered the devastating story where payments stopped abruptly in December, because a snowstorm arrived, preventing access to the mountains and starving the workers. Researching the background for hundreds of hours in the British Newspaper Library, Charles was able to piece together the history, using eye-witness reports featured in the local newspapers of the time.

His discoveries led him to write the novels, despite Charles feeling uncertain whether they were any good. He knew the book market well enough to feel like he didn’t stand a chance with the big publishers. But his perception of self-publishing was tarred: the company Charles worked with to publish the first book in 2008 went out of business.

Self-publishing expert produces ideal cover designs


When fellow author Helen Hollick recommended he speak to SilverWood Books, Charles was delighted to receive a warm welcome from Publishing Director, Helen Hart. Immediately, Charles could see they only published works of a certain quality which gave him the confidence to go ahead. SilverWood Books designed the cover for The Killing Snows, re-publishing it with a new cover in November 2012.

With SilverWood’s help on a technical basis, Charles was ready to publish his second book in November 2015. In this, the story continues with the harsh journeys leading to the Irish diaspora as people emigrated to England, the USA and Canada. Then in February 2017, SilverWood and Charles launched his third book, Cold is the Dawn, continuing the historical fiction saga into 1848 when the crops failed, and famine hit Ireland again. SilverWood also helped Charles to update all of the technical publishing information online, ensuring the books were correctly linked as a series with the distributors. He says of the publishing process, "I loved the cover designs. In that time, people were leaving Ireland because of the famine and going to work on the railways and roads in England and further afield. And it was too early - there wasn’t much photography around. Yet their cover designer got a good idea of the story, creating images that really reflect the stark reality. I’ve always thought the artwork at SilverWood was a strong point. And Catherine and the other publishing assistants at SilverWood have always been excellent."

Book sales increase steadily as positive reviews roll in


Book purchases have steadily grown each month since late 2018. Since releasing the third in the series, Charles has had more time to get involved with book marketing and learn about his readership. His e-books are now available exclusively via Amazon KDP Select (Kindle Direct Publishing) to test the appetite for electronic versus traditional books. Statistics estimate the Irish diaspora covers more than 70 million people globally, so he’s been delighted to receive positive feedback, not only from the UK but also from the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Charles recalls, "I began to notice the books were getting extremely good feedback on Amazon. It’s not important what I think, only what the readers think, and it was great to see a large percentage were giving me 5-star reviews. And these were from people I had no connection with; the books were selling randomly. So we started with Facebook, creating a page for the books in summer 2017 to see what responses it got. As more comments and reviews started to come in, the number one country was the USA. And readers were expressing that they had to know what happened next to the characters. In spite of the horrors describing the famine, they felt the books were un-put-downable."

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Cold is the Dawn

Cold is the Dawn

Charles Egan

Paperback

£14.99

The Exile Breed

The Exile Breed

Charles Egan

Paperback

£14.99

The Killing Snows

The Killing Snows

Charles Egan

Paperback

£14.99

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