Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More Love and Laughter From Margaret Brownley


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Did you grow up in the west around horses?
I guess you could say that.  I spent my early years watching old westerns on TV every Saturday morning.  I was hooked and words such as “howdy” and “reckon” crept into my speech.

How many westerns did you read before you wrote one?
Let’s see, how many westerns did Louis L’Amour write?   I think I read just about every western out there before writing one.  I really liked Maggie Osborne and LaVyrle Spencer’s books because they combined western themes with strong women.  Strong women were the one thing I found lacking in L’Amour’s books.

What is your favorite western written by another author?
That’s a tough one. There’re so many of them.  I think my favorite book is Lonesome Dove.  It’s all about relationships past and present. My favorite western movie is still The Searchers.  As for TV shows I like Longmire, which is now available only on Netflix.  But it’s a great soulful contemporary western.

Anything in your background or among your ancestors to give you ideas for conflict, settings, etc.?
I don’t have to look that far back to find ideas for conflict or settings. I can see the Santa Susanna mountains from my office where many of those early cowboy movies I watched as a kid were filmed.  As for conflicts, I think our ancestors struggled with many of the same issues we have today.  One of the reasons I place my stories in the 1880-1890s is that in many ways it mirrors current times. Technology in the way of trains, telephones and electricity changed the way people lived in the 19th century, just as it has today.  The Victorians even had their own Internet.  It was called the telegraph.  Banks failed, the job market collapsed, and congress was just as inept back then as it is today.  Reading about how people in the past survived and, yes, even prospered in tough times inspires me.  I hope it inspires my readers.

Tell us about the idea that birthed your latest book.
Calico Spy is book three of my Undercover Ladies series (though each back stands alone).   The series idea came after reading about Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective.  Allan Pinkerton hired her in 1856 and she turned out to be one of his most trusted detectives.  I was fascinated by the idea of women working as detectives some fifty years before the first policewoman was hired.   He actually had a whole department of female detectives.  Unfortunately, the files were lost during the great Chicago fire so there’s no information on them.  I can’t help but wonder what would motivate a woman back then into becoming a detective?

Do you sometimes need to write violent scenes? Is it difficult to describe a fight?
I don’t write violent scenes.  I just got through writing a saloon brawl, but it was more fun than violent. People do get shot in my stories but never in a gruesome way.  When describing a fight, I have to act it out before I can write it. Sometimes I get the grandkiddies to help and they love that.

Have you ever put a character into a situation you thought you couldn’t get him out of? How did you do it?
Oh, yes, lots of times. I once had a character tied to a chair with a mad killer in the house.  Another time I had a heroine atop a runaway stage.  I also had a hero being lynched by a mob.  If I told you how I got them out of these situations I would spoil my plots. But I don’t mind telling you, I’ve lost a lot of sleep through the years in an effort to get characters out of difficult situations.  It’s never easy.

Who is your favorite character among those you created?
Boy, that’s a hard question to answer. It’s like picking out your favorite child. I guess I have to say I always favor the character I’m currently working on.  Though I have to admit that the outlaw Sarah in A Lady Like Sarah still resonates with me.

How does humor rise from the characters and the situations you create? Give us an example of a short funny scene.
Yes, you’re so right; humor has to come from the characters.  You won’t find much humor in any of my first drafts.  That’s because it takes me awhile to know my characters enough for the humor to flow.  There’s a scene in Calico Spy where my heroine, working undercover as a Pinkerton detective, mistakes a bank robber for another detective.  He in turn mistakes her for another bank robber. This is all done in dialogue and it’s pretty funny, but I couldn’t have written it without first knowing the characters and what made them tick.

Was a career in writing expected, or was it a surprise?
I always wanted to be a writer and wrote my first “book” in fifth grade.  What continues to surprise me is that someone is actually willing to pay me to do it.

How many books have you written and what is the one you want to write above all else?
I’ve written more than forty novels and novellas.  The book I most want to write is the one I’m working on so that I can make my February deadline.    

Anything you’d like to add?
I just want to thank you for letting me visit.

About Margaret
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.

Calico Spy blurb

He never met a Pinkerton detective he liked; she never met a man so stubborn…

Pinkerton Detective Katie Madison Makes a Lousy Harvey House Waitress. But it’s the only way she can get close enough to the scene of the murders of two of the restaurant’s servers to solve the mystery. Between having impeccable posture, a perfect Harvey Girl smile, and memorizing menu specials of the day, not to mention dealing with the temperamental French chef, her mind might be too full to make any headway in the biggest case of her career.
               Sheriff Branch Whitman knows there’s something fishy about the pretty new Harvey girl with the flaming red hair, but he never would’ve guessed her to be a Pinkerton! And he’s never met a Pink he liked—but there is something intriguing about her.
               Soon a tornado hits town, and a shadow from the past puts Branch’s eight-year-old son in danger. Now the sheriff has no choice but to work with Katie—or chance losing everything he holds dear. Tracking a murderer is dangerous even for a man, and he fears for Katie’s safety. But as they get closer to the killer one thing becomes abundantly clear. Protecting Katie is one thing; protecting his heart something else.