Sept. 26, 2017—As a little girl, Margaret Bagley watched as her father uncovered a faded blue wooden chest from a shed he was cleaning out. Years later she would discover what treasures were hidden within.
The blue chest had belonged to her grandmother, accompanying her as she crossed the plains as a pioneer. Inside, Bagley found letters exchanged between her grandparents from 1883 to 1907. As she read and organized the letters, she found pieces of a family story that left her with unanswered questions.
“They detailed teenaged angst, early courtship, marriage in 1890 and eventually disillusionment,” Bagley said. “I questioned what motivations, events and activities led to the comments and questions they exchanged.”
The storyteller in Margaret wanted the whole picture, even if she had to make it up. She filled the gaps in with her own fictionalized account of the story to weave the letters into a logical and interesting series of events. She added plot twists and fictional characters as needed, but stayed as true to historical events as possible.
“I used real places, events and personalities who lived in Ogden at that time,” Bagley explained. “Opinions, sayings, and even slang from the letters authenticated that particular point in time. The research was more than I had planned at first, but it led to more believable results.”
Although she’s written many short stories, this is Bagley’s first novel. It has been such a satisfying journey that she now has a sequel in the works, imagining how the characters would be affected into the early part of the 20th century.
Once the E.L. Marker™ submissions staff got their hands on Bagley’s manuscript, they responded enthusiastically. Joseph Jones, submissions editor stated, “It’s interesting to see a Mormon pioneer story taking place in Ogden, rather than the more common settings of Nauvoo or Salt Lake City.”
Karen Gowen, WiDo’s managing editor, really connected with this cozy pioneer story, saying, “I like how Bagley describes her characters and everyday details so realistically. We’re glad for the opportunity to bring this family saga to our readers.”
When Bagley isn’t writing, she spends her time writing music, performing in a jazz trio, acting in community plays and visiting her three children across the country.
Margaret Bagley was born in Ogden, Utah. Her father was a lawyer, her mother a musician. Bagley graduated from the University of Utah and taught special ed in Maryland. Several years ago she was in a play for the first time and is now a board member of the 7th Street Playhouse. She has lived all over the U.S. from South Carolina to Arizona, currently living outside Washington, D.C., with her husband. Find out more about Margaret Bagley by following her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/margaret.bagley.501