Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is very happy to shine our Friday spotlight on Historical Romance Author Mary Balogh, the bestselling author of upward of 100 novels and novellas mostly set in Regency Britain. I asked her to tell us a bit about herself and her writing, and this was her response:
I grew up in Wales and have lived in Saskatchewan, Canada, for longer than fifty years. I have been a published author for thirty-five years, with upward of a hundred novels and novellas, more than thirty of which have been New York Times bestsellers. I write historical romance. Most of my books are set in Regency Britain (1811-1820). My newest books are part of a family series, the Westcott family series. They are all love stories. The first of them is SOMEONE TO LOVE. The most recent (number 7) was a novella, SOMEONE TO REMEMBER. The next one, SOMEONE TO ROMANCE, is due to be published at the end of August. There are also frequent republications of my oldest, out-of-print books as Class Ebooks. The next one, TRULY, due out on April 7, is also one of my best books, I believe. It is set in 19th century Wales.
Mary, Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)
Normally my books should be available in any bookstore or in most drugstores or retail stores like Walmart. In times like the present (and in normal times too) you should be able to find them at any book selling outlet online—amazon, for example. At my web site, there are several “Buy” links for each of my books.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you write? What do you think draws readers to these kinds of books?
Historical fiction takes us to a different time and place. Depending on the particular time and place, this can be a comforting thing or disturbing. In my case, I set stories mainly in Regency Britain—the early 19th century. It was an age that was visually appealing—stately country homes, elegant carriages and horses, Grecian-style dresses for the women, form-fitting pantaloons and Hessian boots for the men with elegant coats and waistcoats and elaborate cravats and neckcloths. It was an age, for the upper classes at least, of balls and routs and masquerade and drives in Hyde Park in London. It was a simpler age with strict rules of behavior and etiquette. Men were gentlemen and women were ladies. There was a strong moral code without society being stuffy or over-pious about it. These are generalizations, of course, and more or less apply only to the upper classes. Even so, love stories in such a setting are very appealing to both writers and readers. They help us relax and disappear at least for a few hours into a world that was both ordered and glamorous and very romantic. I want to spend my life making people happier for having encountered me, and I choose to do this largely through my books.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
My usual advice to new writers is not to listen to advice. Okay, that sounds a bit nonsensical, but I will explain what I mean. I talk to many would-be writers who never really get down to the business of actually writing. They feel they have to learn how first. They read how-to books. They go to conferences and workshops and listen to the “experts,” who quite likely are giving conflicting advice. They feel they have to complete all sorts of writing exercises before they can start on the real thing. And I have spoken with a number of people who, even when they do start writing, feel they have to stop frequently to show what they have done to a critiquing group and then rewrite it according to the suggestions and advice they are given. The only thing I feel comfortable telling writers to do is write. If you want to do it, if you feel you have a story in you, if you think you are capable of telling it, then go for it. Do it. Write your story. Keep it to yourself until it is done. Let others read it and listen to their suggestions only afterward if you want, but not before you have finished. A writer’s voice and the flow of creativity that come from her imagination and her sub-conscious are precious but fragile. It is wise not to do anything that might interrupt that flow and perhaps corrupt it. To be a writer you must write. If writing is your gift, you must give it—from your heart, from everything that is you. Don’t listen to anyone until you are finished.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
When I started writing the Westcott family series, I planned for eight books. I am already writing the ninth book—SOMEONE TO CHERISH, Harry’s story. And I will not be finished when it is done. There are two characters—twins, a man and a woman, who are not Westcotts by birth but are crying out for their stories to be told anyway. They are the children of a Marcel, Marquess of Dorchester, who married into the family when he wed Viola, formerly Viola Westcott, Countess of Riverdale. Then there is a young woman, Winifred, adopted daughter of Camille Cunninghman, née Westcott. Her story is also wanting to be told. And then there is Adrian Sawyer, son of Viscount Dirkson, who married Matilda Westcott. And who knows who else? Stay tuned. In the meanwhile, Class Ebooks is busy e-publishing all my oldest, out-of-print books, and there are many of them. During the rest of 2020 watch for TRULY in April, THE OBEDIENT BRIDE in June, and TANGLED in December.
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I think the answer must be silence. I love the idea of writing to soft easy-listening or light classical music. I have tried it. I tried putting on a CD (I am dating myself here) and settling down to writing. For a few minutes I enjoyed the combination. And then I came my myself to realize I was working in silence. I looked at the clock to discover that three or four hours had passed. The CD must have ended a couple of hours or so before that and I didn’t even noticed. So…
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing career?
I think most of all to stay the course. I mean two things by this. Firstly, I have always written historical romance mostly set in Regency-era Britain. It is what I love writing, it’s where I feel comfortable, and it is what best suits my writer voice. I am of British background, and I was an English teacher. Over the years some people have tried to persuade me to try something different. A few times I have been warned that historicals are becoming less popular while some other type of romance is gaining appeal. I have always refused to try jumping on any bandwagon. I have kept to what I feel I do best and what I really want to do. Secondly, I write regularly, seven days a week when I am working on a book. The temptation to skip a day here and there or a week or to claim writers’ block is constant. I never give in to it. I have a regular writing routine and a regular daily goal, and I stick with them.
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, Mary!