Rebecca Brown at Work and Play

How she gave wings to “Flying at Night”

By Laura Anne Bird | Photographed by Hillary Schave

Rebecca Brown, whose novel “Flying at Night” was published in April, finds untold inspiration in everyday life.

She lives with her husband, three boys (ages 16, 12 and 10), and two rescue dogs in her renovated 100-year-old home on Monroe Street.

“I’m a creative hoarder,” Brown says. “I love arts and crafts. The glue gun is always out, and there are books everywhere.” Her favorites? Literary fiction, memoirs, essays and humor—especially written by women.

When Rebecca Brown finishes her day job of teaching 20 4-year-olds each morning, she attempts to write until her sons get home from school. She sits at a desk in her bedroom, overlooking the trees. “I tried coffee shops, but that didn’t work because I was eating a lot of scones,” she laughs. “Then, I started chewing gum to avoid eating, but my jaw got sore. So I stick to Diet Coke.”

Brown says music motivates her, too. “I have a soundtrack for every book I write. When I was working on ‘Flying at Night,’ it was cheesy 70s music. For a new novel I’m working on, it’s what my family calls ‘sad lady music.’”

Brown grew up in suburban Milwaukee and moved to Madison in 1994 to attend UW-Madison and major in elementary education. She embraces the city’s friendliness and cosmopolitan feel, noting it’s easy for her to carve out a perfect day: “I just walk down the street.” She hits Madison Chocolate Company, Jacs Dining and Tap House, Mystery to Me, Orange Tree Imports, and—of course—Bloom Bake Shop. “I’ll make any excuse for cake.”

Brown has been a member of multiple local writing groups, which provide encouragement and input on her projects. “They give me an honest look at what I write. Without them, I only see it through my eyes.”

Her creative and social outlets are a balm for Brown, whose oldest son is on the autism spectrum. His diagnosis—which spurred her to write “Flying at Night”—has ultimately taught her the value of self-care. “It’s so important to get out of the house, spend time with adults and have a tribe of your own.”

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