Can you tell us a bit about your family, and what it is like where you live?
My husband and I have three grown children and six grandchildren. We live in
California. We love it here. We live close to the ocean, the
mountains, the desert and everything in-between. Right now we're going through
a terrible drought and everyone is pulling out lawns and replacing them with
artificial turf or drought-friendly plants. I'm just doing a rain dance.
Is there a story behind Undercover Bride?
This is the second book in my Undercover Ladies series (all books stand alone). This book combines two of my favorite literary elements: Pinkerton detectives (in this case a female one) and mail order brides.
The idea came to me after reading a biography of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton Detective. Allan hired her in 1852. He thought she was applying for a secretary position but she straightened him out on that score. It didn't take long for him to discover that women could go where angels—and male detectives—feared to tread. After reading Kate's story I just knew I had to write about female detectives.
Did you have a specific theme in mind as you wrote Undercover Bride? Did a theme pop out as you finished the book?
I never think about themes until after the first draft is written. The basic theme relates to the Bible verse chosen for the book: Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety. Proverbs 11:14 NKJV. This theme plays out through the heroine's determination to help the paperboy Linc, whom she fears is on the wrong path and will one day end up as one of Pinkerton's most wanted. I believe we're all called to serve as counselors or mentors and to reach out to others and change lives.
What’s the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
A book of poetry that I wrote at the age of 12. It's pretty awful.
What’s your favorite genre of writing?
I especially like writing romance because you can explore every possible theme known to mankind through the relationship of two people falling in love. I'm also a big believer in happy endings. I also like writing historical novels because I don't have to worry about the book becoming outdated before it's published. It's hard to keep track of all the latest technology. I'm still using a "dumb" phone, for goodness' sakes.
How much research do you have to do for the genre in which you write?
It depends on the book. My undercover series took more research than most. That's because I had to learn how Pinkerton operatives solved cases. They didn't have fingerprints, DNA or cameras back then, but they almost always got their man. I use their techniques in my book and some of them are pretty interesting.
Do you have a writing system? What works best for you?
No system. No outline. Nothing. I start with a vague idea and an opening sentence. I then sit down and write and write and write. Eventually, I get it right.
Where do you most like to write?
I write in my Monet purple office which looks out to the pool and mountains. I sit on a big round purple balance ball. I don't recommend sitting on one during an earthquake. Recently we had a shaker and I suddenly found myself on the floor.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so how often do you get it? How do you fix it?
I believe that writer's block is the subconscious saying that something is wrong with the story. So whenever I'm stuck I go back to the beginning to see where I might have made a wrong turn. If the writing bogs down around page 50 I try changing a character's name. Believe it or not, that often solves the problem. A character is pretty well defined by page 50 and sometimes "outgrows" his or her original name. For example I recently realized that my heroine's feminine name just didn't suit her tomboy ways. Once I figured that out, the story took off again.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I just completed revisions on one book, am reading proofs on another, and polishing a third. Since I have two books out in June and one in August, I'm also up to my eyebrows in promotion.
What are your five favorite words?
These are my normal every day favorite words: Love, laughter, family, food, books
Since I write westerns, I thought it would be fun to share my favorite words from a bygone era: fiddlefooted, ranktankerous, rumbumptious, skedaddle, splendiferous? Fun, eh?
What character that you’ve created most resembles you?
I haven't the slightest idea, but I have written many characters that resemble my friends. The funny thing is that none of them recognize themselves in print.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
The Prairie Summer Brides collection will also be out in June. My story is titled The Dog Days of Summer Bride. The third and last book in my Undercover Ladies series Calico Spy and will be released in December. I loved writing this book and I think readers will enjoy reading it. In a nutshell: Someone is killing off the Harvey Girls and undercover Pinkerton detective Katie Madison hopes to find the killer before the killer finds her—or before she burns down the restaurant trying.
Thank you so much for letting me visit today. Now I have a question for you: Had you lived in the 1800s, under what circumstances would you have considered traveling across country as a mail-order bride and marrying a complete stranger?
Back Cover Blurb
Pinkerton detective Maggie Cartwright has no intention of walking down the aisle. . . .
But her current case has Maggie posing as a mail-order bride for widower Garrett Thomas, the prime suspect in the Whistle-Stop Bandit robbery.
No sooner does Maggie arrive in Arizona Territory when she’s confronted by his meddlesome aunt who insists the two set an early wedding date. With the clock
ticking, Maggie sets to work to uncover the truth.
Maggie is nothing like the woman widower Garrett expected from her letters. But he’s immediately smitten with the blue-eyed beauty and feels the need to protect her, not only from his aunt’s critical eye, but also from the ugliness of his past.
As the day of the wedding draws near, Maggie begins to panic. The investigation may be progressing, but the real problem is that the more she gets to know Garrett and his two charming children, the harder it is to keep up the deception.
Can a man as kind and gentle as Garrett really be the Whistle-Stop Bandit? Or has the possibility of a home, family, and a handsome husband blinded Maggie from seeing the truth?
To purchase the book:
NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR MARGARET BROWNLEY has penned nearly forty novels. 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.
To connect with Margaret:
Margaret Brownley is giving away a copy of Undercover Bride. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice -- once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post.)
Off to read another great book!
Sandra M. Hart