Author Q&A with Meghan P. Browne

Author Q&A with Meghan P. Browne

Meghan P. Browne was born and raised in Austin, Texas. She left her beloved Lone Star State to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson, the land of saguaro cacti, the loveliest winters, and gorgeous Santa Catalina Mountains. After graduation, Meghan returned home to Austin and the bluebonnets and blue skies of her childhood where she lives and writes these days on the south side of town with her husband, Greg, their three children, and a menagerie of honeybees, goats, chickens, a barn kitty, and their beloved dog. Meet Meghan.

You are an author, but is it your day job? Yes, this is my job! What a dream to be able to say that. I am also in the process of getting my MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts, so I’m a full-time graduate student. My family and I have a small homestead-style farm where we raise honeybees, own chickens, and our children raise goats for 4H, so those things keep me busy too.

Did you always want to be an author? I have always loved writing, and as a child I certainly held my favorite authors on a pedestal. I’m not sure that I knew that I could ever be and author, though, and the fact that my debut is coming out this summer is still completely surreal. It is the true definition of living my dream.

What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? My first book, due out June 22, 2021 is an illustrated picture book biography called Indelible Ann: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Governor Ann Richards. Fellow Texan, Carlynn Whitt, was brought on by my editor, Ann Kelley, at Random House Studio to illustrate, and I couldn’t be more pleased with Carlynn’s work. Ann Richards was a powerhouse in Texas politics when I was a young girl growing up in the state capital, and her legacy still looms large. I wanted to be sure that children my own kids’ age knew about Governor Richards and the work she did to open the doors of government to all Texans.

How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? I hope all children and their readers who encounter Indelible Ann are inspired by the life of Ann Richards and find in themselves the courage to raise their helping hands high in order to make their communities better and stronger.

What are you most excited about with this book? Governor Richards has been one of my greatest heroes since I was a girl, so having the honor to tell her story for young readers has been the thrill of a lifetime.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your professional industry? The best advice I ever received about getting started writing for children was from Sue Young, the librarian at my children’s preschool. Sue is a writer and musician, and she told me to join the local Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and take a writing class at The Writing Barn. These two steps were vital to my success because they helped me get into a community of like-minded writers with a common goal (sharing stories with young readers) and helped me improve my craft.

How do you handle setbacks and criticism? Criticism is the refining fire! My beloved graduate program advisor and fellow author, Jane Kurtz, once reminded me after she sent back a nitty-gritty response to my work that her critique was not a condescension of my work, but a step in the process toward saving me from a negative public critique by literary journals and readers down the road. The job of criticism is to make us better. I think the hardest part of receiving feedback is developing discernment to know what to change and what to let lie. More often than not, I realize that if I have a visceral reaction to a suggestion, I probably need to make some kind of adjustment toward improvement.

How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I have always been a very goal-oriented person. I set loose goals for my days and weeks and even years. I love competition, so being able to check off my boxes is a good scratch for that itch. As long as I’m setting goals that are in my control (daily word counts, research goals, task completion), I seem to do okay. I’ve learned to try not to set goals that are out of my control (land a literary agent, publish ‘x’ number of books this year). Instead, I try to focus on things like “send out ‘x’ number of query letters” or “write ‘x’ number of drafts.”

How do you structure your day and make time for writing? I’ve had a hard time with consistency of schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic. My husband is homeschooling our children this year, so a quiet house is not part of my life. I just try to squeeze in the work whenever and wherever I can. Sometimes that’s waiting in the car while my kids are doing their extracurriculars. Sometimes it’s early in the morning. Rather than tie myself to a rigid schedule during a time of such unpredictability, I’ve tried to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. It’s not ideal, but it’s what is working right now. One day, the kids will go back to school, and we will have a more structured schedule. For right now I’m just continuing to do my best.

What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? I’m still very early in this journey, but my favorite thing so far has been visiting with school children to chat about reading, writing, and my books. A close second is the excuse to research interesting topics. I love learning, and I feel like I can justify indulging my curiosities as a function of my creative work.

What book uplifts you? I have so many favorite books. Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale is a favorite for its display of unlikely heroism and the power of women under duress. Recently I read Lauren Wolk’s middle grade novel, Echo Mountain, and I was absolutely spellbound.

Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? I hope you never become satisfied with all that you have learned. Keep reading, keep exploring, keep writing your own path.

You can reach out and connect with Meghan via her website

Images Courtesy of Meghan Browne

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