This month, we welcome author Meghan P. Browne to our Member Interview Series. Look for her recently published picture book, INDELIBLE ANN: THE LARGER-THAN-LIFE STORY OF GOVERNOR ANN RICHARDS (Random House Studio, June 2021) and the forthcoming DOROTHY THE BRAVE (Viking, March 2022) as well as THE BEES OF NOTRE DAME (Random House Studio, Fall 2023).
Where did you grow up, and how did that place (or those places) shape your work?
I was born and raised here in Austin, Texas which is a town full up to the brim with storytellers. There are folks singing stories on the street corners and in little hole in the wall joints. They’re writing stories in the local papers, speaking stories from podiums at the Capitol and places of worship. They’re dancing out stories in the parks and on the stage, painting stories on the sides of buildings and on canvases, and playing stories through their drums and tubas for children in waterfront amphitheaters. Growing up in a town of storytellers has always made me feel a little like it’s a part of who I am, and I’m grateful to be a part of that rich tapestry.
Did you always want to be an author, or did that come later?
I think I always wanted to be a writer, even if I didn’t know if I had it in me to be an author. When my oldest kid was in Kindergarten I caught her writing in her journal, and I asked her what she was up to. She told me she was practicing writing because she was going to be a writer when she grew up. Her little voice reminded me that life was passing me by, and that I needed to get back to the page if I wanted to achieve my goals. Thank goodness for that sweet little reminder.
If someone were to follow you around for 24 hours, what would they see?
They’d probably see someone who talks to herself a lot! I catch myself dialoguing out loud all the time, and it makes me wonder sometimes about myself!
How does your everyday life feed your work?
I love being outside and with my family, so learning alongside them is probably the biggest inspiration for all of my work.
Tell us about some accomplishments that make you proud.
My husband Greg and I have taken care of a garden on top of the Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge in downtown Austin since 2009, and I’m really proud of that. We took everything out and planted it full of roses all those years ago. Our kids have grown up in that garden, and I love taking care of it with our family. I feel like the garden’s health is a good barometer of how we are doing as a family and what kind of life events we have going on. We love meeting folks on the bridge and talking about life in Austin with everyone.
What surprises you about the creative life?
I think the most surprising thing to me about writing for children is how incredibly supportive the writer community is. I’ve never met a kinder, more generous bunch in my life.
When a reader discovers your work, what do you hope they find?
I hope readers find an engaging story, inspiration for their own journey, and a thirst to know more about the world and the people around them.
Would you rather buzz with the bees or bloom with the bluebonnets?
Bees, most definitely. I like to stay busy, and bees can fly!
In your childhood, who or what left an indelible impression upon you?
Definitely the first governor of my childhood memory, Ann Richards, left an indelible impression on me. I’m so grateful for all the ways Governor Richards made Texas a more equitable place for so many folks.
Most valuable Vermont College MFA take-away?
Oh, gosh, that’s a tough one. Vermont taught me so much about craft, heart, other people, and myself. I will never be the same for having studied there, in large part because of the relationships I made, and I know that being in the program forced me to learn more and work harder than I would have on my own – especially during the trials of the last two years of my life.
Would you rather chat with the chickens or talk with the tree-frogs?
Bock-Bock-Bukawk! I chat with my chickens every darn day, so I think that’s a given.