Thursday, July 19, 2012

Dawn Comes Early: An Interview with Author Margaret Brownley

More Love and Laughter in the Old West from N.Y. Times Bestselling Author Margaret Brownley!

I’ve matched up twenty-three couples over the years and in all that time I only made one error. Although, I still think the marriage would have worked had she not shot her husband.”—Aunt Bessie in Dawn Comes Early

Please tell us a little about yourself Margaret!

First, thank you for inviting me to visit with your readers. 

As for me, I was always a storyteller and constantly in trouble as a child for making up stories and day dreaming. The writer part was harder to acknowledge, partly because English was my least favorite subject.  I wasn’t that good in history either.  I’m probably better qualified to be an astronaut than a writer of historical novels.

On the personal side: My husband and I have three children.  As for hobbies, I like to herd cattle, chase down bad guys, and rob stages.  Wait at minute. That’s not me; that’s my characters! 

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it? 

In my other life I was a teacher.  At a teacher’s workshop I attended years ago the instructor asked the following life-changing question: At the end of your career which statement will be most accurate?  That you taught for 35 years?  Or that you taught one year 35 times?

I use that same philosophy in my writing career.  I don’t want to write the same book 35 or 40 times.  So the most difficult challenge for me is to stay fresh and original.  I can’t say I’ve overcome it because the challenge faces me anew with each book, but I’m working on it. 

If you had to sum it up Dawn Comes Early in 30 or less words, what would you say?

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney finds that the Wild West is nothing like she depicted in her books—and neither are the men!

What inspired the idea behind your book?

The idea for Dawn Comes Early was inspired by a group of fifty ladies of the First Church of Milford who formed a society of old maids in 1861. Each member vowed she would not marry.  Each woman paid five dollars on admission with the principal going to the one remaining unmarried the longest. 

According to an article in The New York Times thirty years later all but fifteen of the original had married. I was never able to find out who won the prize—and being a romantic I sincerely hope that no one did—but where real life stops, imagination takes off. 

In Dawn Comes Early, disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney has her own reasons for not getting married. If only she can stay away from a certain handsome blacksmith and his two matchmaking aunts…  

Do you have a favorite character in Dawn Comes Early? Who and why?

The minor characters were a blast to write, especially Miss Walker, Aunt Bessie and the outlaw Cactus Joe.  They were full of surprises and kept me on my writer toes. 

Without giving it all away, please tell us a little something about how Kate is going to get through their biggest challenge.

Kate has had a hardscrabble life. Deserted by her father and neglected by her mother Kate longs for something permanent.  She thinks land will always be there for her, which is why she decides to choose the ranch over marriage.  I think readers will root for her as she learns the error of her ways. 

What kind of research was involved for the Last Chance Ranch series? Did you find it became easier with each book?

Since each book takes place on the same ranch, the challenge was to make each story new and fresh.  In Dawn Comes Early, Kate is challenged by the desert and cattle.  In the second book of the series, Waiting for Morning, former dance hall girl Molly Hatfield has to take care of an invalid brother while learning to train wild horses.  In the third book, the heroine comes to the ranch as an undercover Pinkerton detective. I had to do an enormous amount of research and no, it didn’t get easier. 

What do you have in store next for your readers?

I’m currently working on the third book in my Last Chance Ranch series and a novella, which I’m doing with Robin Lee Hatcher, Mary Connealy and Debra Clopton. One of my backlist books A Long Way Home was just published in eBook and my first non-fiction book Grieving God’s Way: the Lasting Path to Hope and Healing will be published in July.

What type of hero do you like best? 

I like the strong and not-so-silent kind. In Dawn Comes Early, Luke Adams is a blacksmith.  Have you ever seen the chest and shoulder muscles on a blacksmith? 

What type of heroine do you like best? 

Feisty, independent, and strong-willed.

What appeals to you most about your chosen genre?

 I’ve always loved reading about the old west. That was when men were men and women were women, but a cowboy wasn’t a cowboy unless he was wild, woolly and full of fleas.  Of course my cowboy heroes are more likely to be tall, dark and handsome, but you know what I mean.

What challenges did you face in getting your first book published?

I wrote four books before selling my first book to Harlequin. At the time I was teaching and had three children still at home, so finding time to write was the
biggest challenge.  I did it by getting up at four a.m. each and every morning. I wrote two hours before getting the kids up and ready for school.  I did this for five years.  It’s amazing what you can do when you’re passionate about something.

Have you ever literally deleted or thrown away a book you’ve written?

Absolutely.  Six weeks before one of my books was due to my publisher I realized I hated the whole kit and caboodle.  I tossed it out and started over.  It was hard to do but necessary.  I rewrote the book and miraculously made my deadline.  It was grueling work, but it turned out to be one of my most popular books.  

Thank you MK and thank you everyone!

The Book
Looking for a woman of good character and pleasant disposition willing to learn the ranching business in Arizona territory. Must be SINGLE and prepared to remain so now and forever more. Will be given ownership of ranch. -Eleanor Walker

Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest book for a fresh start at a cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory. She hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels.

But what awaits her is a much harder life. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch in 1895, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early . . . every day. But she is tenacious.

Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn't expect to meet Luke Adams either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn't recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir.

Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.

Where can your readers find you?

My blog: (I’m a resident blogger)

Dawn Comes Early is available in both print and eBook.


  1. Loved the interview! This book sounds awesome and I love that it's part of a series. I'm definitely going to check it out. Oh, and the cover is gorgeous!

  2. I thought the same thing about the cover. I have the book on my shelf waiting to be read, so I'm looking forward to it. I don't often find clean reads either.

    Thank you for joining us Margaret and visiting about Dawn Comes Early.

  3. MK, I'm delighted that you let me visit. I love the cover, too. It really captures the heroine's dilemma: Land or marriage? Permanence or uncertainty?

  4. I like it when characters are faced with dilemmas. It makes me want to make the choice right along with them (or yell at them for not making the choice I want). :)

  5. What a wonderful post! I am so happy to know you. And I can't wait to read this book. It sounds awesome!

    All the best,

  6. Hi Margaret!

    Wonderful interview. I, too, can't wait to read the book. :)

  7. First time on your site and like the pic at top -so beautiful.
    This is wonderful interview and the book sounds like a great story. I have not read any of her books yet but want to.
    thanks for sharing today
    Paula O(

  8. I loved this book, Margaret. I'm smiling just thinking about the curmudgeon characters in it. Very fun.

  9. Hi Margaret! "Dawn Comes Early" sounds like another wonderful story with tons of fun and romance. Great cover, btw. I can already picture your hero and heroine battling it out!

  10. Margaret, I thoroughly enjoyed your interview. I learned a lot more about you. I did not know you used to be a teacher. But I did know you have an amazing sense of humor and that carries over to your stories.

    I LOVED Dawn Comes Early. I laughed so much. You sure put a lot of zany characters in that story. I loved it.

    Wishing you lots of success!

  11. What a fantastic bio - glad he had a word in your ear.

  12. I love seeing some of the gang from Petticoatsandpistols over here. Mary, I love that word curmudgeon.

    BTW: Mary has a new book out. The hero of Over the Edge isn't curmudgeon but he sure is crazy!

  13. Great interview, Margaret!

    What courage it took to scrap a whole manuscript and start another. I don't think I could have done it. But then you're a rock star. :-)

    Will try to post this, but I'm Captcha impaired...

  14. Great interview, Margaret. Love your insight, particular about teaching school. That's very thought provoking. Can hardly wait to get your new book. Looking forward to meeting you in person at RWA next week. Big hugs and thanks for a fantastic interview, Phyliss Miranda

  15. Margaret, definitely TBR! I love your books. And it's fun today getting to know you even better. Years ago, I took one of your workshops, and it's helped so much over the years.

    The interview is fantastic! Can't wait to get together at RWA. Xoxox

  16. Cheryl St John, I KNOW scrapping a manuscript with six weeks to go.

    Are you SURE it was bad, Margaret? Are you sure you weren't just locked into some self-doubt mode?

  17. Wonderful interview, Margaret. As usual your sense of humor shines through. I like your one sentence synopsis of the story!!

  18. I love what everyone is saying about the humor in the story. I'm excited to read it.

  19. Mary, asks a good question. Writers do get locked into self-doubt, but I'm pretty sure the book was bad. At least I hope it was. I hate to think I went through all that agony for nothing.