Sunday, May 27, 2012

Author Interview with Marie-Thérèse Browne

Marie-Therese Browne
A Daughter's Tale

About Marie-Thérèse Browne

‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’ is my first book and was written as a result of genealogical research into my mother’s past, her family and their history and culture. What I discovered filled me with such admiration for my mother, I wanted future generations of my family to know about her.  That’s why I wrote ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’.

Written in the form of diary entries and letters, Olga – A Daughter’s Tale is based on a true story about cruelty, revenge and jealousy inflicted on an innocent young woman and about moral courage, dignity, resilience and, in particular, love.  It is the  story of a remarkable woman, who because of circumstances, made a choice, which resulted in her losing contact with her beloved family in Jamaica, until nearly half a century later, when her past caught up with her.

Reader's Haven: Marie, welcome to our Haven. We're glad to be able to share you with our readers this week. Tell us a bit about yourself?

Marie:  I was born in London during the war and grew up in a town called Brighton on the south-east coast of England where I lived on and off most of my life. I’ve two sons, one of whom lives in Boston in the US and the other lives in Sydney, Australia.  After the death of my mother five years ago I emigrated to Sydney.  Olga – A Daughter’s Tale is my first book and although I’ve always enjoyed writing I never seriously considered writing until my mother nearly died in 1994. 

Reader's Haven: What made you want to become a writer?

Marie: I realised that had my mother died in 1994 so to would the chance for me to find out about her family in Jamaica and who my father was, information she had refused to tell me whenever I asked so I decided to find out for myself.   What I found out filled me with such admiration for her that I decided to write a book about my discoveries so that future generations of our family would know about her.  And then a couple of years later I wanted everyone to know about her!

Reader's Haven: Do you write under a pen name?

Marie: I was christened Marie-Thérèse Browne and, although my married name is Campbell, my book is such a personal account about my mother it felt right to pen it under the name she christened me with, so I did.   

Reader's Haven:  Olga: A Daughter's Tale is based on your mother's life and family history.  How did she feel about you writing this?

Marie: Initially, Mum wasn’t happy about the idea of me writing her story.  In fact she was horrified, particularly since she’d spent so many years avoiding telling me anything about her past.  Once I’d made contact with her family she became more open about her life and childhood in Jamaica.  Also what happened to her in London during the war. I think she realised it was very important to me to know about my heritage and that’s why she finally relented.  Mum never actually saw a copy of the book – she died just before I finished it and in a way I’m glad she didn’t read it because I think it would have made her very sad and resurrected bad memories.  

Reader's Haven: How long did it take you to research your mother's life?  What was the most interesting thing you learned during your research?

Marie: Once I’d traced Mum’s sisters in Jamaica, which was very quick, I went to visit them in Jamaica.  Unfortunately, by that time my Mum had a serious heart condition and her doctor wouldn’t let her travel. It was such a memorable meeting, not only for me but for them too I believe. They gave me lots of information about their lives and their relationships with each other as well as telling me about my grandmother, Becky and Aunt Lucy.  Once I was back home I got more information from Mum and I thought the story cried out to be written.  So I decided to research the history of Jamaica and it’s culture – and that was a revelation to me!

The most interesting thing I learned about was how much obeah, which is a form of witchcraft, was practiced in Jamaica by everyone - white, coloured and black Jamaicans, even though it was illegal, including my family! 

Reader's Haven: What do you feel was the easiest part of writing Olga: A Daughter's Tale?  What was the most difficult?

Marie: Because I’d researched the history of Jamaica, her folklore and culture and spoken to Mum’s sisters, I had quite a lot of information.  I’d found the voice - the diaries and letters, so it was easy.  The most difficult part for me was being confronted with a piece of my history that I had knew nothing about.  I don’t want to sound enigmatic, but I also don’t want to have to be specific here as I’d like the readers to discover for themselves what I’m referring to.

Reader's Haven: How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?
Marie: Once the research was done, the writing and editing only took about six months.  The research took the longest time.
Reader's Haven: What's one piece of advice you would give aspiring authors?

Marie: Discipline!  I devised a timetable for writing and stuck to it because when I didn’t I found getting back into the habit difficult.

Reader's Haven: What do you hope your readers come away after reading your book?

Marie: I’d like them to come away with the thought that ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’ was a great human interest story and have a certain admiration for Olga.  Particularly since it emanated as the result of researching my family’s history and culture, something that we all have.  I hope it will encourage others to delve into their family history - let’s face it – every family has a story!  

Reader's Haven: Do you plan to write and/or publish any more books?

Marie: Yes. The plan is that the second book will take up the story from where ‘Olga – A Daughter’s Tale’ finished.  I have  in fact just started to write it but, because I work full time, I don’t expect that it will be finished until the end of the year. 

Readers can find me on the following sites:

CONTEST:  One signed copy of my book (posted to USA, Europe or UK only) and 2 e-copies for two runners up! Leave a comment to let me know you stopped by along with your email address, so we can easily contact the winners.

Reader's Haven:  Marie, thank you for visiting with us this week! 

Olga – A Daughter’s Tale
by Marie-Thérèse Browne

In 1994, my mother, Carmen Browne, was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, seriously ill.  As she slowly recovered, I realized that, had she died, so too would the chance of my finding out about her past, her family in Jamaica and, of particular importance to me, who my father was, information she had resolutely refused to share with me.  So, I decided to find out for myself.

My first discovery was that my mother’s real name was Olga Browney, born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica and one of eleven children from a close-knit, coloured Catholic family.  A kind, naïve and gentle girl, my mother arrived in London in 1939, to stay with a malevolent, alcoholic aunt and intending to stay for only six months.  However, world events, personal tragedy and malicious intent all combined to prevent her from returning home to Kingston.                

Olga - A Daughter's Tale is about the cruelty, revenge and jealousy inflicted on an innocent young woman as well as moral courage, dignity, resilience and in particular, love.  It is the story of a remarkable woman, who because of circumstances, made a choice which resulted in her losing contact with her beloved family in Jamaica.  Until nearly half a century later when her past caught up with her.

Be sure to leave a comment to be in the drawing!

Thank you for stopping in to read!


  1. Hi Marie! Olga sounds intriguing and it's amazing what you find when researching your family. Thank you for visiting with us this week! ~Louise

  2. Sounds like a great story. Thank you for sharing. I love books like this, because you never know what you are going to find.