Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 5: Meet Margaret Brownley, author of A Pony Express Christmas

Today's best-selling and award-winning author, Margaret Brownley, offers a glimpse into her novella A Pony Express Christmas, a story set in Nebraska Territory in 1862. 

1.  What made you write about your period in time?

I love writing about the 1800s. The westward migration freed women in ways never before imagined.  Women abandoned Victorian traditions, rigid manners and confining clothes and that’s not all they did; they brought churches, schools and newspapers to frontier towns, and helped build communities.  The gun might have won the west, but it was the women who tamed it.

2.  How is Christmas celebrated in your family and what effect did it have on your writing this story?

The hero and heroine in my story celebrate Christmas in an abandoned Pony Express station with a mule. If they saw my family Christmas extravaganzas they would have thought we belonged to the royal family.

3.  What research did you do to authenticate Christmas celebrations in your story?

Absolutely none.  I wanted their Christmas celebration to be simple and rustic given the times and conditions.

4.  When you dreamed up your story idea, what came first, the time period, the story, the location?

I’ve always wanted to write a Pony Express story but couldn’t figure out how to make it work. So the first thing that came to mind was why not have them celebrate Christmas in an abandoned Pony Express station? 

5.  What was the "germ" of your story idea and how did you flesh it out?

My heroine is searching for her brother, a former Pony Express rider. I was surprised to discover how little information is available on the Pony Express. It was only in service for 18 months and some station keepers didn’t bother to keep records. As a result little is known about many of the riders.  We don’t even know where all the stations were located.

6.  Would you like to have been there?

I was there or at least it seemed that way when I was writing the story.

7.  What aspects of your characters are reflected in yours?

Determination and stubbornness.  Also, abiding faith.  

8.  Have you been to the locations in which your story is set?

My story takes place in Nebraska and yes, I’ve been there.  Of course, it looks nothing like it did in the 1800s.

9.  What surprised you the most about your story?

The end surprised me the most because I had no idea what would happen until I got there.  (But then of course I never do.)

10. Would you have made a good pioneer?

I would have made a great pioneer providing I had a modern bathroom and good mattress.

11. Were any of your ancestors pioneers? If so, where and when?

Crossing an ocean to get here makes them pioneers, right?

      12.  What spiritual themes did you deliberately incorporate into your story? Which ones did you discover later?  

       The story involves the Chimney Rock in Nebraska and the spiritual theme is God is my rock. But family love and loyalty is also a strong theme.

You can find Margaret at: margaretbrownley.com as well as a contributor to Petticoats & Pistols.

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