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Interview with Mary Balogh

Hi everyone! Here is an interview I had with Mary Balogh a while ago, and I thought I’d post it here to share with all of you.

Mary Balogh

Thanks for interviewing with me!

1. When/how did you know you wanted to write?

MB: I always wanted to write. When people asked me as a child what I wanted to do when I grew up and other girls around me were saying they wanted to be nurses or teachers or secretaries, I always said I wanted to be an author. I used to write long stories that sometimes filled whole notebooks. I even won a few competitions. I remember once at the age of ten winning a shoebox-sized pack of chocolate bars–a wonderful prize in those post-war days in Britain when any sort of candy was scarce.

2. How long did it take you to become published?

MB: I discovered when I grew up that I had to eat–alas! And so I became a high school English teacher and principal. I married and had three children. I was in my thirties when I was finally at leisure to write. I did it as a sort of hobby at the kitchen table after everything else had been dealt with by mid-evening. I wrote my first Regency between October and December of 1983. It was accepted for publication in April, 1984, and was published in April, 1985–A MASKED DECEPTION.

3. Who are some of your favorite authors?

MB: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Anne Perry, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Bernard Cornwell, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Julia Ross…

4. Who do you count as your literary influences?

MB: It is very hard to say. I have always read voraciously–anything and everything I could get my hands on. I had read most of the great classics by the time I reached the end of my teens. Everything I have ever read, combined with my own boundless imagination, has probably had some effect on my own writing.

5. How long does it usually take for you to research a book?

MB: Most of my 60+ books are set in the English Regency period. So although I still read anything new I can find about the period and am well aware that I don’t by any means know everything, really the amount of research I now do on individual books is minimal or nothing at all. When I do venture outside my period–to write about Wales in the 1830s, for example (in LONGING and TRULY)–I take a few months to read what I need to know. Research is very important. I hate sloppily researched books.

6. Many authors are doing strictly e-books, do you think this is just a trend, or does it spell the end of real books?

MB: At the moment at least I think there are too many people who like a physical book to hold in their hands for there to be any real danger that e-books will take over entirely. I don’t know what the future brings. E-books are enormously convenient and can help solve the horror of the way we are destroying our trees and therefore our planet.If the technology of their presentation can make them look and feel–and even smell!–like a printed book, I would be all in favor.

7. How long does it take for you to write books?

MB: Usually two to three months. I have written one in two weeks (A PRECIOUS JEWEL). The current book is taking me four months. But on the whole I like to write fast. It is the surest way of keeping the emotional intensity of the romance at a high peak.

8. Is there any character in your books that you can really relate to?

MB: Almost all of them. I would be alarmed if I couldn’t relate. I think an essential part of a writer’s gift is the ability to put herself into the shoes and mind and soul of almost any living person–to know exactly what it is like to be that sort of person in that sort of life situation. I don’t think I could create a character–particularly a hero or heroine–if I couldn’t convince myself as I am writing that I actually AM that person. I write from deep within my characters and see the whole story through their eyes and emotions.

9. Do you see yourself writing in the same genre in 10 years? If not then what?

MB: I don’t know. I love writing what I am writing. However, it becomes increasingly difficult to come up with something new each time. I can’t picture myself stopping writing altogether. I do have a scheme afoot for a series of books with my younger daughter. They would not be romances exactly, but they would be a cumulative love story. Sorry–I can’t give any more detail at the moment. But stay tuned…

10. What advice do you give to those who are just starting out or trying to become published?

MB: The best advice I can give is to ignore all advice and write your book. If you have the talent and the imagination and the will, you don’t need anything else except a computer or–failing that–a blank pad of paper and a pen and an old banger of a typewriter (the way I started!)

Interviewed by Sarah on 4/11/04.