Set among the London Blitz of World War II, when British Services enlisted the aid of over 200,000 homing pigeons to carry messages across enemy lines, The Long Flight Home is a bittersweet tale of courage, soulmates, and sacrifice. It’s the story of an almost-love affair between two orphans brought together, then driven apart by war: Susan, a young woman who trains homing pigeons in England and believes that her extraordinary birds can help save Britain; and Ollie, a crop-duster from Maine, who disregards US neutrality and travels to Britain in a quest to join the Royal Air Force.
It is also a story based on true historical events related to Britain’s enlistment of homing pigeons for Operation Columba during WWII. And it is a story inspired by an astonishing news report in 2012, when a man renovating an old house in Surrey, England discovered the remains of a homing pigeon along with a tiny capsule containing a vital coded message—one that has yet to be deciphered by code breakers around the world even today.
What's your writing process?
I feel fortunate to be writing full-time, and I approach creating novels like a career job. Most of my work is completed between Monday and Friday, although I do complete revisions over the weekend. I typically write from 7 a.m. to noon at a local coffee shop. In the afternoon, I write at my office. Weekly word-count goals keep me on track to meet manuscript deadlines. Also, I’m a member of a local writers’ group, which has been a tremendous help with developing my craft.
Are there themes you like to explore in your books?
Yes, some of my favorite themes to explore include Hope, Courage, Love, and Sacrifice.
Do you listen to music while you write?
I love music, especially indie rock, but I do not listen to it while I’m writing. I think it might be because I frequently write in a crowded coffee shop, which conditions me to tune out background noise. But as soon as I get in my car, the tunes are on!
What's your favorite genre to read?
Historical Fiction is my favorite genre. I also enjoy contemporary novels, particularly stories that evoke emotion.
What are you reading right now?
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque.
What's the next project and when can we expect it?
My next book, Churchill’s Dragonfly, will be released in May 2021. Set in World War II, the story is about a British typist turned spy, who is parachuted into German-occupied France.
Alan Hlad is the international best-selling author of The Long Flight Home. He is a corporate executive turned writer and lives in Ohio with his wife, Golden Retriever, and the world's most persistent cat.