Margaret, welcome to Writers on Reading! I’m looking forward to getting to know you as a reader. Your most recent novel, Calico Spy released at the beginning of this year—January 1st to be exact. With soooo many historical romances to your credit, I’m curious, if you read the same genre? Do you find one theme more repeatedly snags your attention as a read? Is there something special you seek when selecting your next reading adventure?
Thank you for letting me talk about one of my favorite subject: books! I actually read all over the board; westerns, romance, mysteries, women’s fiction, the toothpaste tube—you name it! I like to read fast-paced books on the treadmill to keep my mind off the fact that I’m doing something that goes against my nature.
You have me laughing. (I’m a toothpaste-tube reader too, and I think we can all relate to the treadmill comment.) What was the most out-of-character book you’ve recently read, and what led to your choice?
I read a lot of weird books for research and some are pretty boring. I just finished reading The Art of Blacksmithing and Pennsylvania Clocks. Can you believe? I’ve now got books on Texas rangers spread throughout the house. I never read just one book at a time.
Now that let’s into your reading world. As a writer, you should know better, but as a reader, you know we all do it…so, when did you last “judge a book by the cover”? How did it work out?
I don’t generally choose a book by its cover, but I do choose them by titles. I picked up the Eloquence of a Hedgehog and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society solely on the basis of their titles. How can anyone not read titles like those? It worked out just fine.
Love those titles and your thinking---after all the titles show the author so much more than any cover can. Having published so many stories do you find time to read during the months you spend writing or with deadlines ahead is it either/or for you? If so, what did you read while working on your last book? If not, what did you read when you finished this one?
I always find time to read. Since I finished writing Calico Spy more than a year ago I honesty couldn’t tell you what I read afterwards. I just finished book two in a new series. To celebrate I’m reading Lee Child’s Make Me on my Kindle. The book came out in September so as you can see I’m behind.
What was the last book you absolutely couldn't put down? Why?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a beautifully written book that must be read slowly and savored. Even after I finished reading it I didn’t want to put it down.
Oh, I’m jealous! I haven’t gotten to read that one yet. (Of course, once I read it, I don’t get to look forward to it any longer, so maybe you’re a wee bit jealous too.) Were you the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading?
I read all the time as a child. My favorite was Little Women. We didn’t have cellphones, video games, or the Internet back then, so there wasn’t much else to do but read. We also didn’t have much in the way of young adult books, so by the time I was twelve I was sneaking books written by Daphne du Maurier and Mary Stewart. Frank Yerby introduced me to the romance novel, and it’s a shame more people don’t know about his books. I read beneath the covers with a flashlight. As a result of staying up late reading, I couldn’t stay awake in school. Things got so bad they tested me for a blood disease.
Your poor parents! When did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire?
I think I always wanted to be a writer and wrote my first “book” in fifth grade, a mystery. It took place in a bakery and someone kept stealing the macaroons.
I hated history in school—all those battles and dates. That changed when I read Gone with the Wind in sixth grade. That’s when I realized that history was really about people and how they dealt with the times. That had a great influence on me and is probably why I love writing novels set in the nineteenth century.
With a chilling winter upon us, what is on your cozy to-read list? And what is your ideal winter reading experience?
This question made me laugh because I’m usually writing a summer story in winter and winter story in summer. That’s how it always seems to work out. As for my reading list I’m a judge for the Romance Writers of America Rita contest and have nine books to read by March. Since this is a contest I can’t tell you the titles, but of course they’re all romances. Yum, yum. I plan to read in front of a blazing fire with a box of chocolates on my lap! I love that I can enjoy myself reading and still call it work.
If Katie in Calico Spy were to pick a book from today’s shelves, what do you think it would be?
Katie is a dime novel buff so it would have to be something equally popular like a romance, mystery, or thriller. She’d probably pick up a Nora Roberts or Debbie Macomber book. Then there’s always the possibility she’d stumble upon one of mine.
Hah! I luuuvv that answer! What a fun interview. Thanks so much for visiting and letting us get to know you better as a reader, Margaret! Folks, you can continue to connect with Margaret—and find out more about her books!—at the links below.
Thank you. It’s been fun!
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.
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