When Margie Keck Smith retired from being a speech language pathologist at 59, the 77-year-old Boistfort Valley resident had never written a book before. But Smith soon decided she wanted to write.
“I had a story to tell so I just started writing,” Smith said.
Smith based her first novel, “The Right Thing,” on her family’s story, including herself, her sister and her mother. While at first the story was supposed to be about her family, the book soon evolved into a novel.
“It was so much fun embellishing that it became a novel,” Smith told The Chronicle.
Her second book, “Frayed Edges,” is a mystery novel set in Olympia. The story follows six women who went to high school together and their relationship for the next 10 years, which, according to Smith, became “very sour, very frayed.”
“I’ve just always liked mysteries and thrillers and I really wanted to give a try at that,” Smith said.
The idea for “Frayed Edges” came from the family reunions Smith attends with her family every few years and watching the relationships between her family members change, though she says the relationships within her family don’t devolve like the relationships in her book.
She’s also almost finished the draft of a third novel, which will be a work of historical fiction. According to Smith, historical fiction is another type of book she enjoys reading.
“It’s completely different,” she said of historical fiction compared to the two other novels she’s written.
Her third novel will focus on three of her ancestors in the early 1900s. It takes place in Colorado near where she grew up.
“My mother wrote a lot about the women in her family, and my great-grandmother wrote a lot about her life growing up. So I’ve always had that material and I just decided I wanted to do something with it,” Smith said.
Originally from a small town in Colorado, Smith earned a bachelor's degree from Colorado State University and a master’s degree from the University of Oregon. After earning her degrees, Smith began working at a clinic for Group Health in Olympia.
“I worked with all kinds of disabilities,” Smith said.
She first moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1992 and met her husband while working in Olympia. Smith eventually moved to British Columbia to be closer to her daughter who was attending school in Victoria, remaining there for 20 years.
Smith eventually returned to Southwest Washington where she still lives. She said she was originally drawn to this part of the country because of the “greenness.”
While Smith has spent much of her retirement writing, she’s also kept busy with other activities, such as quilting and competing in triathlons. While she still quilts, Smith gave up triathlons, of which she did 13 in a seven-year period.
“Doing (triathlons) was really fun, (but) training was really time consuming,” Smith said. “Not even hard, just time consuming.”
Smith spent about five years writing “The Right Thing,” which came out in 2020. The next book, “Frayed Edges,” came out in November 2022 and took about three years to complete. She started writing it right after she finished her first book.
She’s not sure when her third book will come out. She told The Chronicle it could take five years to finish like her first book did.
“There’s so much research needed to capture the era,” Smith said.
Once she does finish her third book, Smith said she is interested in continuing her writing.
“I would be interested in writing another mystery, maybe a psychological thriller, maybe a sequel to Frayed Edges,” she said.
Asked if she had any advice for would-be authors, Smith told The Chronicle people shouldn’t be afraid to try new things.
“Don’t ever think you’re too old to try something. Or that people might think you’re weird to try to do it,” Smith said.
Those interested in purchasing The Right Thing or Frayed Edges can do so at Book ‘N’ Brush or on Amazon, where they are available as e-books. If purchasing on Amazon, the books can be found by searching Smith’s full name, Margie Keck Smith.