This is part two of Mary Balogh's interview with Miranda Owen. To read the
first half, click here.
I’m in a few online book groups, and there is always a discussion about what we,
as readers, drives us crazy about the genre we love – whether it’s technical
inconsistencies, or issues with a specific type of character. What are some pet
peeves you have about historical romance, or other types of romances?
Mary Balogh: I think one thing that bothers me about many
historical romances is their disregard for history, particularly in regard to
how characters speak and behave. I don't like characters of the English Regency
era, for example, talking like 21st century Americans. And this applies both to
the actual words they use and to the sorts of things they talk about and the
attitudes they take to various topics and life in general. If a writer wants a
feisty, cursing heroine, then put her into a contemporary romance. If she is a
Regency heroine, then she must speak and behave and even think like a lady who
actually lived in that era. That does not mean she has to be a lisping airhead.
Think Elizabeth Bennett. She was a contemporary heroine when Jane Austen created
her. She is strong and has great dignity and integrity, but she is entirely a
woman of her time. There are certain things she can do (refusing two
advantageous marriage offers, for example) and certain things she would not
dream of doing (openly criticizing or defying her horribly vulgar mother, for
example). Our characters can be strong. They can even be rebels. But the
rebellion must be believable for their historical time.
Miranda Owen: I know it might be extremely difficult to choose, but
which are your favorite books that you’ve written?
Mary Balogh: LONGING, SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS, THE NOTORIOUS RAKE, ONLY A KISS, MORE THAN A MISTRESS, A PRECIOUS JEWEL, SIMPLY LOVE, A MATTER OF CLASS, a few
Miranda Owen: Are there any supporting characters that you wish you
would’ve been able to devote a book of their own to, or to expand on?
Mary Balogh: I could probably go back through my books and haul
out a number of minor characters to make into heroes and heroine of their own
stories. In the main, however, I think I have done just that. The only
outstanding one I can think of is Horatia Eckart (I’m not even sure I have
spelled her name correctly) whose sad story is hinted at in INDISCREET. That book was
the first of a trilogy, which was meant to be a quartet, even a quintet of
books. But I was leaving my publisher and did not think I would have a chance to
complete the set, so I combined two stories into one in book three, IRRESISTIBLE, and the other
story, which would have been Horatia's, was never written. Maybe one of these days…
Miranda Owen: Can you name one of your older books that is either
overlooked, or just might be unfamiliar to new fans and explain why it’s worth
Mary Balogh: Perhaps LONGING, which is a little different from
my other books but has always been one of my favorites. It is set in a
coal-mining valley of Wales in the 1830s and deals with actual historical events
surrounding the upheavals of the Chartist movement, pitting the Welsh workers
against the wealthy English owners. The hero and heroine are on opposite sides,
and their love story is one of my most passionate and deeply felt. I am Welsh,
and all my fierce love for my own country and its people came out in the writing
of that book.
Miranda Owen: Right after reading AT LAST COMES LOVE, the second book of
yours that I read was THE DEVIL’S WEB – and it drove me crazy because of how
tempestuous the relationship between the hero and heroine was. Some readers
really love a romance with a lot of verbal sparring and rocky romance
throughout. I usually prefer when the hero and heroine are on the same page and
working together against some villain or difficult circumstance. Which do you
prefer to write?
Mary Balogh: Oh, I am more or less with you on that. James and
Madeline's story just worked out that way, and I had to stay true to their
characters. But to be perfectly honest, that is not one of my favorite stories.
I prefer to write a story in which the hero and heroine are perfectly open and
honest with each other as they work their way through the conflict that keeps
them apart or at least not fully committed to each other until the end.
Miranda Owen: What are you working on right now? Will Elizabeth get a
book or novella of her own? Can you say how many more books you plan on writing
in the Westcott series?
Mary Balogh: The Westcott series should be eight books
long—stories for Anna, Camille, Alexander (those three are already written),
Viola, Abigail, Elizabeth, Jessica, and Harry. The last five will not
necessarily be written in that order. I don't know who will come after Viola.
Hers in the book that is currently germinating in my mind.
Mary Balogh grew up in Wales. Before she was ten, she was writing
long, long stories about children having spectacular adventures and always
emerging victorious. For one of her stories she won a large box filled with
Cadbury's chocolate bars, a far more gratifying prize than any trophy to a
ten-year-old, especially in post-World War II Britain.
Many years passed
before she became a published author. All those pesky things like school and
university and a teaching career and marriage and motherhood to three children
got in the way of what seemed like a mere dream. Oh, and the move to Canada,
which was supposed to be for two years but turned out to be permanent. But it
happened eventually--the publication of that first book, A MASKED DECEPTION, a
Regency romance, in 1985, and a two-book contract.
Twenty-seven years and
five grandchildren and one great-grandchild later, Mary has almost one hundred
published novels and novellas to her credit, all of them historical romances,
most of them set in the Regency era in England. She has won numerous awards and,
to date, has had nineteen books on the New York Times bestselling list. She
lives in Saskatchewan, Canada, with her husband of forty-three years. They
divide their time between the rural town of Kipling (summers) and the capital
city of Regina (winters).
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