Today I’m delighted to welcome New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh to Darkest Sins!
Would you tell the readers how your writing career has started?
I always wanted to be a writer. As a child I used to write long stories. As an adult I started writing (longhand at the kitchen table) back in the 1980s, when I was still teaching English and my children had grown past the stage of needing constant attention during the evenings. I sold my first Regency romance (A MASKED DECEPTION) to NAL in New York and was offered a two-book contract. Since then I have never been without a multi-book contract. I have been well blessed.
I know you have a thing for Welsh music. What is it that makes it so magical and special?
That’s a hard one to answer. Because I grew up in Wales, music was always a part of me. I never questioned why that was so or why I found it magical. Perhaps it was that everyone was expected to make music, with a musical instrument if possible but always with the voice. And one was expected to sing with other people and in four-part harmony. Singing in unison always seemed boring. The Welsh harp is hauntingly beautiful, as is the Welsh language. And Wales is known for its male voice choirs, which may have originated with coalminers but certainly was made famous (and poignant) by them. Listening to a male voice choir sing smites me straight to the heart. The Welsh make music from the heart. It is full of the passion of love of country and culture.
I must say, you know how to enchant the reader with beautiful descriptions of some wonderful lands and backgrounds. How much of your imagination you put into those, and how research influences your imaginary in the end?
I know the British countryside, and I have seen many stately homes. For a number of years in a row I spent a few days in Bath. It is about my favourite place in the world. But apart from real places, like London and Bath, my homes and landscapes are imaginary. The same is true of my characters. Certain basic research is necessary if an historical novel is to seem authentic, but as a writer of fiction I consider my imagination by far my most important asset.
Each and every couple in The Survivors’ Club series is emotionally involving, but which story would you say is the one that personally got you involved the most so far?
Well, you see, they are equal. When I am writing any book, I have to be totally immersed in the characters and their story. I have to be passionately involved in the development of their love story. I could not allow myself to write any other way. I could take any of the six Survivors whose stories I have told so far (they have not all been published yet) and tell you why I was personally involved in them, but I could not say that one sucked me in more than the others.
Have you ever had a character give you a hard time while writing?
Let me see. I have written about a hundred novels and novellas. That means there are about one hundred heroes and one hundred heroines who have given me a hard time while writing. They all do! And I would not have it any other way. I have to know my characters soul deep if I am to write convincing love stories for them. It is not easy to know anyone that well. They do not give up their secrets easily. Many times I don’t know a key fact about a character until I am almost at the end of the book. Then I have to go back through, making all the necessary adjustments. Actually, that is what I am constantly doing with every book.
You have planned seven books in The Survivors’ Club series and the fourth, Only Enchanting, has been recently released. Did you know it was going to be that way from the beginning?
Not really. Hugo went first because he was the hero I wanted for Gwen, Lady Muir, a leftover character from previous books (ONE NIGHT FOR LOVE, A SUMMER TO REMEMBER, and a few others). I knew that the Duke of Stanbrook would have to go last because he is the leader of the group, the one who held them all together when they were recovering from their war wounds. And because Imogen is the only woman in the group, I knew she would come next to last. But the other four—Vincent, Ben, Flavian, and Ralph) sort of decided among themselves in what order they would go.
What is the best memory you cherish of your career?
Early in 1984 I was home sick from my teaching job. I had a bad migraine headache and had staggered out of bed to make a drink. After drinking it, I was staggering back to bed when the phone rang. It was an editor from NAL in New York. She told me she had read my book, liked it, and wanted to offer me a two-book contract. That was better medicine than Tylenol any day!
Any tips you feel like giving to those who are about to embark on their writing journey?
Yes, two things:
(1) Don’t listen to advice. All writers are different. No one is an expert. Do your own thing.
(2) Write. Don’t dream of writing, don’t talk about writing, don’t plan to write, don’t say you will write when . . . (fill in the blank). Just WRITE.
2015 is going to be a pretty full year for you with new publications and also a few re-publications of your older books. What are we to expect exactly?
Well, two of my older books will be out in trade paperback editions in February and March—BEYOND THE SUNRISE and LONGING (my favourite Welsh book). These two may be available only in North America. I am not quite sure about that. My next new book, ONLY A PROMISE (Ralph’s story) will be out in June. In July and August there will be two more trade paperback republications—HEARTLESS and SILENT MELODY. The next new book, ONLY A KISS (Imogen’s story) will be out in September (I think!) or possibly in November. And four of my oldest books will be out some time in 2015 as e-books available worldwide, though I don’t have a definite date yet. The four books are LADY WITH A BLACK UMBRELLA, AN UNLIKELY DUCHESS, A CERTAIN MAGIC, and RED ROSE.
Mary Balogh is the New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, including the acclaimed Slightly and Simply novels, the Mistress trilogy, and the five titles in her Huxtable series: First Comes Marriage, Then Comes Seduction, At Last Comes Love, Seducing an Angel, and A Secret Affair. A former teacher, she grew up in Wales and now lives in Canada.