"Love and Laughter in the Old West." That's the caption on Mrs. Margaret Brownley's website, and boy, is it true! This talented lady is the author of over forty books set in the age of cowboys, brides, and pioneer life. As a long-time fan of Mrs. Brownley's work, I was blessed to be able to interview her. Here's what this amazing author had to say about her writing career...
Me: Does your inspiration for your books come from real life people and places? Or are they purely fictional?
MB: A little bit of both. In my Undercover Ladies series, the heroines are all Pinkerton detectives. The inspiration for this series was inspired by Kate Warne, hired by Allan Pinkerton in 1852. He thought she wanted a secretarial job, but she soon straightened him out on that score. (Wouldn’t you loved to have been at that meeting?) She turned out to be his most trusted detective. Allan soon discovered that women could go places and do things that men could not (like befriend outlaw wives and spy during the Civil War). It wasn’t long before he had a whole department of female detectives.
Before I could write my series I had to know why a woman in the 1800s would buck society and choose to work at such a dangerous job. Sadly, Pinkerton files were destroyed by the great Chicago fire, so there was no help there. Fortunately, where real life ends, fiction takes over.
Me: As an established author, I'm sure you've been able to travel to some beautiful locations. What is your favorite place to visit?
MB: That’s a hard question to answer. I’ve found something to love in every place I visited. I loved traipsing through the Costa Rica rain forest, and British countryside. Some of my fondest memories occurred in Paris. I’ve also been lucky to have visited all 50 states. The last state I visited was Alaska. I actually took a helicopter ride to a glacier.
Me: For our young authors who are just starting out, what kind of advice would you give them?
MB: It’s hard to give advice because the publishing world is constantly changing. There’re also a lot more distractions today than when I first started out and it’s easy to spend way too much time on Facebook and the like. The important thing is to keep reading and writing and have a goal. I write a thousand words every day no matter what. Yep, some of it’s pretty awful, but I don’t worry about that until it’s time to revise.
Me: Of all the books you've written, which was your favorite and why?
MB: Actually, once I’ve write a book I generally put it out of my mind. My favorite book is always the one I’m working on. Right now my favorite is the second book in my Match Made in Texas series, but that will change as soon as I start on book three. Count on it.
Me: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
MB: I thought first time author Andy Weir’s The Martian was a terrific book even though I don’t generally like sci-fi. I liked the book better than the movie—no surprises there, right?
Me: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
MB: In my other life I was a teacher. At a teacher’s workshop I attended years ago the instructor asked the following life-changing question: At the end of your career which statement will be most accurate? That you taught for 35 years? Or that you taught one year 35 times?
I use that same philosophy in my writing career. I don’t want to write the same book 35 or 40 times. So the most difficult challenge for me is to stay fresh and original. I can’t say I’ve overcome it because the challenge faces me anew with each book, but I keep trying.
BEST-SELLING AUTHOR MARGARET BROWNLEY has penned more than forty novels and novellas. Her books have won numerous awards, including Readers' Choice and Award of Excellence. She's a former Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist and has written for a TV soap. She is currently working on a new series. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.