Saturday, August 28, 2010

Interview with Author Margaret Browley

Pepper here, and I'm so excited to have Margaret Brownley visiting the Alley today. Her debut INSPIRATIONAL novel, A Lady Like Sarah, came out in April and to learn more about it you can visit Margaret's website at

or read my review at

It was a fabulous story.

Okay, okay - enough monologue here. Let's get on with this interview.

Help me welcome, Margaret Brownley.


It is such a pleasure to have you with us today on The Writers Alley – and just in time for your new release, A Suitor For Jenny. It comes out in September and I can’t wait to read it. If it’s anything like your novel, A Lady Like Sarah, it’s bound to be an exciting and heartwarming adventure.

So, we’d love to learn a little more about you. When did you begin writing? A Lady Like Sarah was not your first published work, right?

First of all, I want to thank you for having me.

To answer your question, I’ve actually published more than 20 books and have written for Harlequin, Penguin and St. Martin’s Press. A Lady Like Sarah is my first inspirational novel. It’s a Women of Faith selection, a 2010 RITA finalist and a CBA and ECPA bestseller. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English and could barely get through history. (To this day I can’t diagram a sentence.)

I’ve always wanted to be a writer and wrote my first “novel” in 5th grade, a mystery with no ending. It wasn’t until my children were out of grade school that I began writing in earnest. I wrote four books, including the world’s worst romance, before selling my first.

What inspired you to begin your novels in the West? Is there something in particular you enjoy about that era or setting? ( or both) :-)

I like writing about change and the West meets that criteria with both barrels blasting. The westward migration freed women in ways never before imagined. Women abandoned Victorian mores and fussy, confining clothes. The gun may have won the west, but it was the women who tamed it. They brought churches, schools, and newspapers to remote and even lawless towns. It must have been a shock to the male ego to have to deal with those strong and unconventional women—and this is at the very heart of my stories.

What’s your writing process like, Margaret? Do you plot out the story first, plan a little then write a little, or scribble by the seat of your pants?

Plan a story? I don’t even plan dinner. All I need is a basic idea and I’m off and running. I never know what’s going to happen from day to day—and that’s the fun of it. Since I don’t even plan meals, even dinner is a surprise.

Of the characters you’ve written, who do you like best and why?

Tough question! It’s kind of like choosing your favorite child. I’m kind of fond of Sarah in A Lady Like Sarah because she’s unique and has to struggle so hard to become a lady. But you have to laugh at the heroine of A Suitor for Jenny, the second book in my Rocky Creek series. She knows how to find husbands for her sisters—or so she thinks. Boy, does she ever have a lot to learn about matters of the heart.

When you write your novels, do you go straight through for a first draft, or do you stop along the way and edit?

A little of both. I generally write the book from beginning to end. This means I have to work every day so I don’t lose the rhythm. If I skip a couple of days I have to read everything I wrote prior to get back into the swing of things. I fiddle around with sentences or add research information as it occurs to me, but I don’t do much editing during the creative process. Once I get my story on paper I take a couple of weeks off to distance myself from the book and reintroduce myself to friends and family. I then sit down and work on the final draft.

Why do you enjoy the writing world? Is there anything in particular that moves you most?

I love the idea of creating something from absolutely nothing. I can’t knit a sweater without yarn. Nor can I cook a meal without ingredients. I can’t even grow a garden without soil and water. But I can create a book from nothing more than a wisp of an idea and a blank page. I love that!

Sarah, in A Lady Like Sarah, is such a spunky and compassionate character. How does Jenny measure up when compared to Sarah?

Jenny is very different than Sarah. She’s terribly motivated and is never caught without her infernal notebook. In seeking husbands for her two sisters she surrounds herself with lists, schedules, and etiquette books. Worse, she puts every perspective suitor through the PHAT (Ptotential Husband Aptitude Test). It takes a very strong and motivated hero to peel away her defenses and find the soft, vulnerable and lonely women inside.

What advice would you give to those of us learning the writing craft? What encouragement?

I would say this: Enjoy the process. You have the luxury of taking as much time as you need to write your book. You can give it all the love and attention it needs without worrying about meeting a deadline and having to deal with the business of writing. Write every day, cherish your writing friends, and hold on to the dream.

Thanks so much for your encouragement, Margaret - and I can't wait to find out how you create another fantastic heroine and loveable hero in A Suitor For Jenny.

Thanks for being with us today.
You guys can find out more about Margaret on her website at
or on her group blog at


Julia M. Reffner said...

Great interview. Jenny sounds like a fun and spunky heroine I can't wait to meet. I like your phrase about writing as creating something out of nothing. I've never thought about it that way before but I like that thought.

Pepper said...

Thanks for stopping by. Isn't that a great quote? I love writing because of it - I can be anywhere and I can still create a story. Sometimes that can be pretty distracting ;-)

Beth K. Vogt said...

What a fun interview--and now I have 2 new books to download to my Kindle! :O) And I also don't have to feel so badly about not planning dinner every day. It's just another indicator I am more of a SOTP writer like Margaret! I like her encouragement to enjoy the writing process.

Krista Phillips said...

LOVE this!

First, I write exactly the same! Well, not like voice/story etc, but without plotting or planning! Give me a little idea and I hit the ground running. I usually don't know how I want to really end it until a third to a half of the way through, and many times that even changes.

Second, LOVED this book! It was one of the ones I bought to read at the hospital, but it only lasted me a day or two! Funny, I bought another one at the same time, and I took me 2 weeks to finish it because I kept putting it down. I won't name it, of course, but it was a HUGE difference between the two.

I swear, I am going to go broke buying books to read while I"m hear! *grin*

I totally plan on getting a Suitor for Jenny when it comes out! Sound fantastic!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Julia, Beth and Krista,
I just wanted to pop in and say hello and thank you all for your lovely comments.

Pepper, you're right, creating stories can be distracting. I get my best ideas on the treadmill but I have to watch myself while driving.

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

I'm curious....what kinds of stories did you write before you wrote inspirational? That's a lot of writing and a lot of books!

I must say this book looks intriguing and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing about your writing journey!

Pepper said...

Hi Margaret,
Yep, while driving I've gotten ideas too. What's really bad is when I'm in my office at work and start talking about (or to)a character - and inevitably, one of my students will walk in.

rbooth43 said...

I am a reader but I sure enjoy The Writer's Alley and I cherish my writing friends, and hold on to the dream, including the guest authors. I have been introduced to many great authors like Margaret Brownley through this blog.
Thanks Pepper.

Pepper said...

So glad you're an Alley-Pal. If A Suitor for Jenny is as good as A Lady Like Sarah, we're in for a great treat!!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Sherrinda,
You asked what I wrote prior to writing inspirations: That's books you're asking about right? And not the funny notes I wrote to my kids' teachers. I wrote contemporary and historical novels for Harlequin, Penguin and St. Martin's Press. I also co-wrote a story line for a daytime soap.

Casey said...

Great interview ladies! Margaret, thanks for visiting the Alley today! I loved what you said and found it inspiring. :)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Margaret, thanks for the answer! So you helped write a storyline for a soap! How fun! Did you get to kill someone off?

Pepper said...

Oh come on, Sherrinda,
You know NOBODY stays dead in soap operas for long ;-)

Margaret Brownley said...

That's true. No one dies on a soap--but apparently a soap can die. The soap I wrote for is going off the air on September 17th--and I had nothing to do with it--honest!

Krista Phillips said...

Ohhh you write for as the world turns! (so says a quick google search of soap that is going off the air, ha!)

That is SO SO true though. No one EVER dies in a Soap. Everyonce in a while we think, "Wow... that's an unbringbackable death..." but then nope, ten years later... we find that they were just drugged to make it look like they were dead, and they weren't really buried but just put on some weird island or land or something...

Then there are those deaths where we roll our eyes and say, "Wow, they just went on maternity leave and will be back in about 3 months..."

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

lol...Krista, you nailed it on the head! :P

I also googled what soap was going off the air! lol