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What can I tell you? Age? Weight? No way! What about the fact that I recently celebrated my fiftieth anniversary, so I have some experience when it comes to romance. Will that do? I'm a native Outer Banker. For those of you who think that's a detached ATM machine, look at a map of North Carolina (conveniently pictured above) It's that skinny little elbow of sand jutting out into the Atlantic. Which means I grew up swimming, fishing, sailing, crabbing, clamming, surfing, cleaning up after hurricanes - whatever you can do on water, I did it.
Mama taught me early that the natural position for womankind is prone, with a supply of good books, ice tea and whatever snacks are available. It still works for me.
I was a painter before I was a writer. Studied art, taught art, wrote a newspaper column on art - works in a lot of permanent collections, ribbons and a shelf full of tarnished silver trophies, etc. Don't have time to paint, but I'm a co-owner of a wonderful fine crafts gallery here on the island called Browning Artworks.
Writing struck like a midlife crisis. It occurred to me to do it, and so I did it. Been doing it ever since. That was some eighty-five books ago. With a 90 year old mother who's a natural-born story-teller, a father who was a big-league baseball player, and a grandfather who was a seacaptain back in the days of sail, I've got more material than I'll ever be able to use. It comes out gradually, though, in both my contemporaries and the historicals I write with my sister, Mary Williams, as Bronwyn Williams.
Let's see ... where was I? Well, look, enough about me, okay? Read my books. No glitz or glamour - I wouldn't know glitz if it jumped up and smacked me on the head. Not a lot of suspense, either, because I don't have the required attention span. But warmth, and laughter and that wonderful, sizzling, tingling feeling of falling head over heels in love...
Whether she writes on her own as Dixie Browning or with her sister Mary, under the pseudonym of Bronwyn Williams, Dixie Browning writes romance novels that capture the imaginations of readers far and wide. With more than eighty titles already published, Dixie is still penning stories with wonderful characters and engaging plots. Make sure you pick up Bronwyn Williams' next release, LONGSHADOW'S WOMAN, in March and Dixie's new Silhouette Desire, MORE TO LOVE, in June! For now, here's a Heart to Heart with Dixie Browning, which is sure to give you insight on her life as a writer.
The Millionaire's Pregnant Bride
Jacqui: When did you first start writing? What made you want to become a writer?
Dixie: I first started writing a newspaper column on art in 1975. Six months later I decided to try writing fiction. My first two books were published in '76 by Avalon. I'd never even thought about writing before I was asked to do the art column, and writing fiction had never occurred to me.
Jacqui: Did you always know you wanted to write romance novels?
Dixie: If I'd started writing a few years earlier, chances are I'd have written science fiction or straight historicals, because that was what I was reading at the time. As it happened, I'd recently been introduced to romances.
Jacqui: How many books have you published till date?
Dixie: I've written 88 books to date, 86 of which have been published, with three more scheduled.
Jacqui: What satisfies you about your writing?
Dixie: I can't possibly say--it's simply what I do.
Jacqui: What and/or who inspires you?
Dixie: People inspire me. Strangers who catch my attention and make me wonder.... I try to create a life for them and make it as full and exciting and satisfying as possible.
Jacqui: Do you have a preference for one period of time over another? Why?
Dixie: I prefer colonial through Victorian periods. They weren't all that long ago--remants still exist all around us, in stories told by our grandparents. I feel a kinship, a closeness--as if I can reach back through the curtains and touch the fingers of someone who actually lived then.
Jacqui: Do you have a preference for one setting over another? Why?
Dixie: I'd rather write about places with which I'm familiar--which means North Carolina's piedmont and Outer Banks areas. As the stories are not about the place, but the people, it's simply easier to set them in the regions I know best.
Jacqui: What do you find comes to you first - the characters or the situation/plot for a new story? Once the basics are in place, what do you do next?
Dixie: There's no one pattern--things swirl around in my head for days, sometimes weeks. Certain things take shape--sometimes an event, sometimes a person--occasionally a conflict. Once I have that first element, the rest of the process is more orderly. If I know Who, the next logical question is What? And When? And Why? And how can I bollix it up? And what follows that? That's roughly the process.
Jacqui: Of all the books you have written, which story or character is your favorite? Why?
Dixie: Oh, mercy--it's hard to tell. Occasionally I go back and dip into an old book, and it's like seeing old friends years later. One that comes to mind is a 1998 World's Most Eligible Bachelor series from Silhouette. Mine was called HIS BUSINESS, HER BABY. It barely got distributed at all, but I thought it was a great story.
Jacqui: Have you created any secondary characters that you'd like to feature as the main character in a book yet to be written?
Dixie: Yes, but you know what? I forget them once I'm engrossed in another story, which is why I don't particularly like doing continuing characters. I can only juggle so many balls at one time.
Jacqui: How important is research in your writing?
Dixie: In our historicals, it's extremely important. Mary, my sister and writing partner for the Bronwyn Williams books, does most of the deep research. I do the immediate stuff that crops up in the day-to-day writing, such as 'was such-and-such invented then?' We try to be as accurate as possible, but you know what? Even the experts disagree on some aspects of our history.
Jacqui: When is your birthday?
Dixie: September 9
Jacqui: What can your fans look forward to in the next twelve months from you?
Dixie: In March, we have a Bronwyn Williams Harlequin Historical, LONGSHADOW'S WOMAN. I loved these people and hope our readers will find them just as special. Then, in June, my Silhouette Desire MORE TO LOVE, featuring an overweight heroine, will be out. In August we've a novelette entitled GOOD AS GOLD in a Montana Mavericks Historical anthology.
Jacqui: In your writing career, have you received any awards or nominations for your work you'd like to tell your fans about?
Dixie: Actually, I have. One Rita, five-time Rita finalist, three Maggies, half a dozen top awards from the National Federation of Press Women and nine top awards from the NC Press Club.
Jacqui: What did it feel like to sell your first book?
Dixie: Disbelief. Wild excitement. I was away from home at the time, teaching a watercolor course when my husband called to tell me that Silhouette wanted to buy my book. Believe me, I ran up a major long distance bill from the motel where I was staying!
Jacqui: What is your writing schedule? Could you briefly tell your fans about a typical day in your life?
Dixie: I write in the mornings. Up early, eat breakfast with a book in hand--same breakfast for years, a homemade mix of healthy dry cereal and a pint of coffee. Then I go directly to work, pause after a couple of hours to get a glass of water, then back until lunch time. Sometimes I go back in the afternoon, but as a rule there's too much else to do. Dishes, bed, laundry, vacuuming (Lawsy, I hate vacuum cleaners!) Gardening, post office--we don't have home delivery here on the island--shopping for groceries, cooking supper and the daily walk on the beach. It's a comfortable rut, and I love it!
Jacqui: What type of author are you? Do you plot and plan the story before you actually sit down to write it, or are you more of a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" writer?
Dixie: I'm definitely a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants writer, although, being a double Virgo, I would dearly love to be able to organize and outline. I've tried it. It just doesn't work for me.
Jacqui: Is there anything in particular, like music, etc., that helps you get into the mood to write?
Dixie: No music. What I try always to do is launch the next scene when I quit for the day, so that when I come back to it, I'll have a definite direction. Something to react to instead of staring at the blank screen.
Jacqui: Almost every author at some point or another, suffers from writer's block. Have you ever had that problem? How do you deal with it?
Dixie: Never had it. I try to take a week off between books, and there's always something that interrupts my schedule, but I actually feel fidgety when I'm not working. It's as if I have to prove to myself that it's not a fluke--that I can actually write a story. Same thing happened to me as a painter--the constant need to prove to myself that I could do it.
Jacqui: What is the best advice you have ever received in regard to your writing/career?
Dixie: I started before there was an RWA. Never had any writing instruction, didn't know any other writers. I simply read voraciously until I learned the perameters, caught the rhythem of the genre, then started to work. As my first two books, as well as almost all of them since, have been published, the method can obviously work if you trust it and trust yourself. Read critically, though. If you don't like a book, ask yourself why. If you love it, again, ask yourself why.
Jacqui: Have you seen an evolution in your writing? How or when did it come about?
Dixie: Oh, my yes! Society changes, even the language changes. I grow older, more observant, perhaps, and it's reflected in my books. Go back and read books that were written only forty years ago--watch movies from that era. Your reaction will tell you how much you've evolved.
Jacqui: What is your most favorite part of being a writer? The least favorite?
Dixie: The favorite part is finishing a book, re-reading it and thinking, hey! That's a great story! Hearing from fans is wonderfully reassuring. The least favorite part is waiting weeks, months, to hear from my editor. Did she get the manuscript? Has anyone read it? Did anyone like it?
Jacqui: How do you handle life's interruptions?
Dixie: The only way anyone can. You accept them and deal with them. As some sage once said--or maybe I read it on a T-shirt--Life's what happens when you're busy making plans.
Jacqui: What quality do you most admire in a person?
Dixie: Give me two: integrity and a sense of humor. If you have those two qualities, then kindness is a given.
Jacqui: If you weren't a writer, what would you be?
Dixie: A painter (again) And archeologist. A geologist. An anthropologist. A sloth...
Jacqui: What is the most romantic city or place for you?
Dixie: Home. My small, handmade house on Indian Ridge, on the island where my family has lived since the seventeenth century. Sheltered under ancient live oak trees, it overlooks the Pamlico Sound. After spending years on the mainland, I've come back home with my lover and best friend of the past 50 years.
Jacqui: What do you believe are the three most essential ingredients in writing a Romance novel?
Dixie: The gift of story-telling, a love for romances, and the ability to hone your craft until it becomes an art.
Jacqui: What are some of your hobbies and do you ever incorporate them into your characters' lives? Dixie: Oh, my yes. I was a painter and an art teacher most of my life until writing took over. I've hunted rocks, cut and polished them and made them into jewelry--I've fished--once spent a summer working on my father's shrimp boat. I tried throwing pots, but the harder I tried, the worse I got. I love politics and baseball and gardening and being close to my children and grandchildren. And yes, most of this mess finds its way into my books. What else can we write about but what we know?
Jacqui: Do you have a website? If so, what is the url?
Dixie: My website is at www.dixiebrowning.com . Y'all come!
Jacqui: How can fans get in touch with you?
Dixie: My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My mailing address is P. O. Box 1389, Buxton, NC 27920.
Jacqui: Dixie, it's been a pleasure interviewing you. I'm looking forward to reading more of your wonderful stories. Keep them coming!
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