Friday, August 13, 2010

Mary Balogh Interview

1) Why were you inspired to write about this theme?

Romances, do you mean? Or specifically historical romances set in Regency England? I write romance because I want to create stories that will both entertain and warm the hearts of my readers. I want them to see the power of love and to be able to relax in the knowledge that the book will ultimately end happily. I write Regencies because the Regency (1811-1820) was such a gloriously romantic period of English society. I write about the upper classes--and the sort of homes they lived in and the carriages they rode in and the clothes they wore are a dream to write about.

2) How do you come up with your ideas for writing your story?

That is the million dollar question, and the blunt answer is that I don't know! However, I do know that I was born with a powerful imagination. It is one of my gifts (we all have them). I told and wrote long stories from a very early age. I can always reach into my mind and pull out a story idea within a few minutes. Where that idea comes from is another matter--and I simply don't know. Sometimes I use the what-if questions to generate ideas--what if this type of man met this type of woman under this type of circumstance.

3) Are you planning to write any new books in the future?

I am always planning to write new books! I have just finished one--THE SECRET MISTRESS, a prequel to MORE THAN A MISTRESS (2000) and NO MAN'S MISTRESS (2001) and am already planning my next book, which will be about Gwen, Lady Muir, a character who has already appeared in a number of my books but has been begging for one of her own.

4) How old were you when you began to write stories?

Probably five or six. I know I won a prize for a lengthy story I wrote when I was ten. The prize was a box full of Cadbury chocolate bars. They might as well have been gold bars--this was not long after World War II in Britain, when such things as chocolate were still rationed.

5) Have you ever noticed any similarities between you and other authors?

There are many other authors of historical romance and of Regency-era romance. We all want to be unique, though, and ARE unique whether we want to be or not. We all have our own specific voice. I don't read romance, or very little of it anyway. One reason is that it is too much like what I do every day for a living to be entertaining to me. The other reason is that I don't want to be influenced by what other people are doing. I want to write my own stories my own way.

6) Of the books that you have written, which is your favorite?

It's a little like asking a mother who is her favorite child! However, I suppose there are some books that stand out in my mind as ones I like a little better than others. Some favorites are THE NOTORIOUS RAKE, LONGING, MORE THAN A MISTRESS, A SUMMER TO REMEMBER, SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS, SIMPLY LOVE, A SECRET AFFAIR. For the rest of today now I will be thinking of other books I ought to have added to that list!

7) What do you do on your spare time when you’re not writing?

I read. I knit. I sing--in a church choir and as a cantor (I sing the psalm in church as a solo). I clean house, I cook...

8) How long does it take you to write a book?

On average three or four months.

9) Can you describe your writing process on how to create a book (novel)?

I start with what I think is a firm idea for a plot and the two main characters. I don't waste time trying to flesh out either the basic idea or the characters--they always change anyway once I start writing. I am very disciplined in the sense that I write every day in the quiet environment of my study. Characters grow and plot develops as I write, and I must always feel emotionally involved in what I am writing. If I am not, if I am just going through the motions of advancing the plot, I know something is wrong, and I must stop and go back through everything to find out what it is. This is how characters grow and deepen and plot develops complexity and consistency.

10) What do you like reading on your spare time?

Mostly mysteries--I like Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Richard Stevenson, Reginald Hill, Ruth Rendell among others. I love all of Alexander McCall Smith's books and Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove and Blossom Street series. My rule of thumb is that I will read anything that can hold my interest through the first 50 pages.

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