THE INSIDE STORY

Someone mentioned Slightly Scandalous in a private message at my Facebook page last week and I wrote back with a brief account of the difficulty I had writing that book. It occurred to me that perhaps more people would enjoy reading the inside story behind the writing of certain books. My aim as a writer is always to make the finished book seem seamless and effortless, a smooth read that is difficult to put down once it is started. I want to give the impression that it was smooth and easy to write. Rarely is that so.  Sometimes a book can be a perfect beast to write! And one of the worst was Slightly Scandalous, Book 3 of the Bedwyn series, Freyja Bedwyn’s story.

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You will have to know a number of my books to appreciate this story. I had to choose a hero for the moody, haughty, fiery Freyja. Believe it or not, I decided to pair her up with Sydnam Butler, the tortured and horribly maimed younger brother of Kit Butler in A Summer to Remember. I thought the pairing would be an interesting challenge. Freyja had once been betrothed to the eldest brother. Then, after his death, she expected to marry Kit, the middle brother. Let her end up with Sydnam, then, I thought. I wrote one third of their story and got stuck. There is nothing too unusual about that. I thought long and hard about what was wrong, solved the problem with major changes, and started all over again. I wrote a third of the story and…got stuck. Irretrievably! I had invested a few months of time and energy but had to make the rare and painful decision to abandon the book. Freyja and Sydnam just did not belong together. I imagine that a number of you might have told me that from the start! After all, Sydnam’s future love was waiting to be created right in the middle of Freyja’s story, though I did not know it when she first appeared! Anne Jewell’s love story with Sydnam is told in Simply Love, a favorite with many readers.

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So…I needed to write a love story for poor Freyja, who was upset and humiliated (and very bad-tempered) over Kit’s marriage to Lauren Edgeworth and the birth of their first child. But I had no hero for her. Trust her to be such a problem! That was when Joshua Moore, Marquess of Hallmere, stepped into my imagination and offered to take Freyja on. Her story with Sydnam had been developing along angsty lines. Her story with Joshua was quite different–fire and brimstone and two strong wills pitted against each other–not to mention Wulfric putting in his two cents’ worth. Finally THAT story was relatively easy to write and oh, so much fun! Obviously those two belonged together.

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To one person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, August 6, I will send a signed copy of one of the two books mentioned above or THE PROPOSAL–winner’s choice. I would love to hear some personal experiences from the writers among you. And I always love reading all your comments. Last week’s winner was Cathy Stout.

 

130 thoughts on “THE INSIDE STORY

  1. I always like to here about other writers processes. You could’ve just given up. Think this will never work. Instead, you turned it around and got TWO books. 🙂

    • I am so hooked on these novels although I stared reading them out of order. Now, I just finished re-reading Simply Love to capture and but a final spin on the SLIGHTLY Series!

  2. Though I am sure you would have somehow made it work, I can’t really imagine Freya and Sydnam together. One thing about Freya, I never could picture what she looked like.

  3. I had no idea about the thought process behind the stories. The finished products are so perfectly enchanting that you are right, it does seem easy. Thank you for sharing that information. I would have so much trouble keeping track of everyone, especially since you have characters that cross over in different series! I wish I had the imagination to write, but I do really enjoy reading!

  4. Isn’t it funny how sometimes it’s the characters themselves who keep trying to tell you something just isn’t going to work? You start out matchmaking and they start out fighting and/or stonewalling? You make me smile, Mary. I feel like there is hope for me . . . and a few characters of my acquaintance.

  5. There is no way Freya and Sydnam could live together under the same roof! Joshua is her perfect match, and who else but Syd could save Anne? These are two of my favorite books!

  6. I love that your characters have a life of their own and that you listen to them enough to know when something isn’t working. I also have to mention that while Freja was a bit hard to like at first just because she is so strong-willed and clearly didn’t care if I liked her or not, she was much easier to like when she met someone who complimented her so well.

  7. I absolutely loved the “Simply” books. Since I donated all my “real” books when we moved, I will now have to download them all onto my kindle…it is definitely time to re-read them all again!!

  8. I, too can never imagine Freyja’s face. I have more than one image in my mind of her. I agree that she and Sydnam wouldn’t have worked out since they are so very different. She needed someone to match her fiery personality while injecting some much needed humor into her life. I think hers is one great love story but I have yet to read one of your love stories that do not ring true and leave me wishing for more. The way you tie them into each other makes me feel part of a vast family, part of the society in which they live. Thank you for all of your books.

  9. I’ve often wondered how you arrive at the heroes and heroines of each story and their actual “story” as well. I had a preconceived notion that you suddenly had an idea for a story, complete with plot, hero, heroine, happily ever after and everything in between and then just put pen to paper; however, with all the authors I read, it would seem that a spark of idea starts and the story actually develops as it goes along. I read one author’s comment that she never knew where a story was going to take her until she got there! Who knew! In view of that fact, I guess it’s completely understandable that Freyja and Sydnam “didn’t work” once pen was put to paper and I totally get that Anne was the better choice, and maybe that’s how we get yet another story to read!

  10. I’m so glad you realized that Freyja and Sydnam just didn’t belong together! Freyja needed a man who was already strong and willing to put up with her! Sydnam wasn’t ready yet and probably would never have been able to not be bowled over by her. I understand that writers often make major edits – cutting out some material and rewording others. But to totally drop a story and start completely over must have been hard – at least at first until you realized that the correct match-up had been made.

  11. Slightly Scandalous was my favorite out of that series, for sure. Freyja is just so different from the typical heroine. One of my favorites of all of yours, really! (Silent Melody is another one I never get tired of.)

  12. Now see, I always pictured Freyja as a bit like Frida Kahlo, but with regency attire and grooming. Probably because the names remind me of each other.
    I love your sharing the failed attempts and your process. Thanks so much for the insight.

  13. I can’t write at all, but I love to read good stories. And I always enjoy your books.
    Freyja was a favorite of mine. I loved that she had such a strong personality.
    I think that with Freyja, what makes you different, makes you beautiful. And Joshua thought so too, Darlin’ . Hmmm … guess I’ll have to read the series again.
    Aiden (sigh), here I come

  14. I love hearing your thoughts on the books that you write. I feel like the next time that I read these books this article will color my reading of it, in a good way! I do agree, Syd was meant for Anne, they needed to save each other. Joshua is PERFECT for Freyja. I love the Bedwyn series so much, and the Simply Series. I think I know what I will reread next!

  15. If you want to discuss how books work or characters take over some more, this is a good topic. Freyja is tough to like so she needed someone really confident.That she so clearly loved all her brothers even Wulfric, also made her interesting. So many women in books are so indifferent to or put upon by their brothers. As a woman with 5 brothers, I am glad to see good vibes between siblings.
    Please chose another book and tell us the back story. I loved Christmas Bride and how you took a woman we hated from Precious Jewel and gave her a story and a hero just right. It makes me cry every time I reread.

  16. Out of all the Bedwyn stories Freyja & Wulfric were my favorites! It’s great getting to learn more about her (& the Bedwyns) & I actually just finished rereading the series (which I gave to my friend to read) & have begun rereading the Simply series now! As I was reading how you struggled with her I couldn’t but giggle a little bit (sorry! :D) because that seemed to be Freyja being her typical quarrelsome self! I loved how Joshua would react to her, especially when she would loose her temper! Thank you for sharing your struggle with her, it actually made me love her (along with everyone else within the Bedwyn sphere) even more! 🙂

  17. Other than Wulfric, Freyja is my favorite Bedwyn. Her character is very complex. She IS very feisty, but she has a lot of insecurities. She hates her fears and sees them as weaknesses to be overcome ( I thought of her as I tried to overcome my fear of heights and walked the Golden Gate last month). She feels that she is jinxed in love. I think Sydnam would have been someone she might have gravitated to as a friend as she could see his hurt too, but I do not think I could have seen them work–despite the fact that Sydnam is NOT a weak man ( he just had his own fights to win).
    I think Josh worked because he did not take himself too seriously and could laugh at life in a way that Freyja could not.
    I think that matching characters is why I could never write a romance. I have tried a couple of times. It is certainly not as easy as it looks and there are books that I have read that I say, ” I can’t see them together”. I do recognize when it works, however, and Freyja and Josh work very well.
    I am glad you waited to find love for Syd. He is another favorite of mine. He suffered in a way that few would understand. Anne also suffered a torture. Anne could see past Sydnam’s disfigurement. His suffering helps him understand hers. I also like how Anne’s son has a hand in helping push both characters towards coming to terms with past pain…he and Syd’s love grows slowly too. This was my favorite “Simply” story.

  18. I have just started reading your book aftermmanynyears of reading only Georgette Heyer regencies. Like you, she has some feisty but believable women characters. I am looking forward to reading more of your books – so far I have read just two in the Huxtable series. Do you have any recommendations on where I should start?

    • I usually recommend A SUMMER TO REMEMBER, Sarah. It is one of my best books, I think, and it also introduces the Bedwyn family and so leads on to the six SLIGHTLY books and then the four SIMPLY books. And ONE NIGHT FOR LOVE comes before it and THE PROPOSAL completes it–and that book is part of the ongoing seven-part Survivors’ Club series!

  19. First time I read Freya’s story was like hitting a roadblock because I didn’t really like her, even though I sort of empathized with her. But then it worked out. You helped Freya work things out to become a wonderful wife and mother, and a good friend. Class acts all around.
    I have encountered the same problem in writing where the character will just not do what I think she/he should do. I am always totally fascinated with what they do. I’ve been working several years on one that should happen but it won’t. I am almost afraid to let this one go on it’s merry way.

  20. I love Gretna because of her emotional complexity. It was amazing to read about your process of working through who she belonged with.

  21. I love hearing about the process of creating your books. In many ways it’s like real life, isn’t it? You may invest time and energy into a relationship with someone, only to realize that as much as you want things to work out, the chemistry simply isn’t there. And, as a reader, I can see how some combinations would have been…if not a disaster…at least something without the requisite magic to make a relationship possible!

  22. Abandoning something when it’s been going wrong is such a hard choice to make! Sometimes I can’t bear to give it up entirely and I make it into a dream that one of the characters has about what might have been. And even if I can’t share it with anyone, for whatever reason, I still save it. Who knows when I might like to use some element of it later? 🙂

    (While I’ve read all the Bedwyn books, I haven’t yet read the Simply series… which is great, because it means I have something to look forward to reading!)

  23. How interesting to read the story behind Freyja’s book. I really love all your books, but especially the Bedwyns, and my favorite of all is Freyja. I’m not sure what it is about her, but somehow it seems in character that she wouldn’t accept your first choice for her.

  24. Wow-thanks so much for the tidbit Mary! My first reading of Slightly Scandalous left me wondering about Freyja and if she would have been happy with Kit. I’ve come to the conclusion several times after re-reads that no that she wouldn’t have been. Lauren and Kit are a perfect match especially in temperament. Now that you’ve mentioned that Sydnam was a contender…Freyja would have stepped all over him and worn the pants in that relationship. No, Joshua was right to come along when he did.

  25. Freyja’s story is the book that turned me on both to you as a writer and to regency romance as a whole. I’m quite literally shocked that you had such a hard time writing it and I’m so glad that you found her the right fit and created that story as it stands today. I can’t imagine where I’d be if I hadn’t read that book!

  26. I have not read Slightly Scandalous but now find it at the top of my list after reading your Inside Story! I have read and enjoyed Simply Love and wouldn’t change a thing. Reading your thoughts on the different romance for these characters just makes them even more realistic.

  27. I love the Bedwyn series … just wouldn’t have guessed that you had difficulty in putting the right people together since I’m not a writer. I do love all your series and characters – wonderful talent making them all come to life and finding the perfect match.

  28. I find it very interesting to read your blogs about creating characters and storylines. The Slightly series books are my favorite Regencies, and Freyja and Josh are among my favorite characters. After reading Slightly Scandalous, it’s difficult to imagine either of them with someone else, especially Freyja with Sydnam! Thanks for all the time you take to share your craft with your readers.

  29. I think there is a lot of hard work to writing a book. I write poems and sometimes I just get stuck and it seems like with the easiest ones too. I love reading any historical romance book and I especially love hearing about how the Author comes up with their stories.

    Thank you for sharing your insight on how you came up with Freyja’s story.

  30. Slightly Scandalous is my favorite story out of the Bedwyn series. (along with Slightly Dangerous 🙂 I felt an immediate connection to Frejya as I know what it is like to live in a society where being woman who is as strong willed as a man is frown upon. (phew that was long 😉 I loved reading and reliving over and over Freyja and Joshua love story. This book inspires me to continue to believe in love. (I bought the whole series!) Sydnam would not have worked for her because for all her feistiness Freyja is insecure about herself. Sydnam is also a person a bit lost and insecure with himself he wouldn’t complement Freyja. Whereas Joshua is confident in his looks and is therefore care free about what the world thinks of him. He offers Freyja the support she needs to overcome her insecurities. Thank you and please continue to write such amazing stories!

  31. I can only imagine how difficult it was to create a hero to match with a heroine as complex and polarizing as Freja. Her loyalty, compassion, and capacity for deep love is so well guarded behind her facade of harsh and stiff pride, like her brother Wulfric or Claudia Martin. It is no surprise that Freja is so inspired and challenged by Claudia, another strong, sometimes harshly proud, but compassionate woman. In both cases you chose to match these kindredly linked women them with men, Joshua and Joseph who have an abundance of charm and surface lightness which brings out the heroines’ unguarded feminine nature. It is no surprise that Freja and Claudia are my favorites!

  32. Thank you for sharing that. I can’t imagine Freyja with anyone but Joshua, but it was interesting to see where the initial story was headed. I wasn’t sure I would like Freyja after Summer to Remember but her story is one of my favorites.

  33. I’m glad you listened to your instincts, mostly because we got two great books out of it, instead of one great book. Now the next time I re-read those books I’ll think about what might have been. One of the things I love most about Free’s book is the horrible bittersweet backstory with Prue. We would have missed out on that. Thank you for your amazing books.

  34. One of my favorite books is Slightly Dangerous. How you wrote Wulfric still amazes me. Thank you for putting Sydnam with Anne in a Simply Love, another one of my all time Favorites.

  35. I have come to truly appreciate how hard authors work to turn out books that seem to just flow from their imaginations. I’ve read enough author blogs to realize that I probably don’t have that ability but, lately, I’ve wanted to see if I could (don’t worry, I’ll never be a threat to anyone anywhere). Imagine being a third of the way through and then having to re-do it all!

  36. I enjoy your blogs so much. I do like knowing the inside story of your books, or any books.It’s so fascinating.

  37. I love that Freya is not beautiful. She’s feisty, cantankerous, opinionated and fiercely loyal while unwillingly generous (to Miss Martin.) Thanks for letting her expand by pairing her with Joshua. I thoroughly enjoy and reread your novels.

  38. Thanks for sharing! I love the picture you posted on facebook. My first thought when I skimmed the posting and looked at the picture, “That cannot be a Bedwyn. Any Bedwyn. Not with that nose.”
    haha I love the entire series. It is my favorite historical series. I love them all. Really, the whole family and then Wulfrics story. Really. An amazing series, start to finish.

  39. I love Lauren (A Summer to Remember) so much that I can’t bring myself to like Freyja… and Lily too (of One night for Love). Because of Lauren’s story I hate the two so much I can’t even bring myself to read their stories. Those are the two books that I have not bought yet. I really don’t want to know their stories, for now anyway.

    • Oddly enough, I can somewhat relate… but only somewhat. I believe I was resistant to Lily while I was absorbed in A SUMMER TO REMEMBER but it did not take long at all for me to discover yet another of Mary’s wonderful personalities in her (and in her background, etc.). And, as for getting to know Freyja… well… after all… she is a Bedwyn! How could you not? Need I say more?

    • I read One Night for Love before A Summer to Remember and I’m sure it made all the difference. Give it a try, and I know you will have compassion for Lily and love her happy ending. After all, Kit was wating for Lauren.

  40. I love that Freya is not beautiful. Instead she is feisty, cantankerous, opinionated, fiercely loyal and grudgingly generous, especially to Miss Martin and the wounded young women. Thank you for letting her discover and pair with Joshua. Sydnam would never have complemented her. Best regards & thanks.

    • Sorry for two postings. I didn’t realize the first one posted because of the way my name etc. reappeared. Cheers.

  41. I could not imagine Freyja and Sydnam together, it doesn’t register in my brain. While my favorite Bedwyn is still Wulfric, I really like Freyja because she is never describe as beautiful, so she is not your typical heroine and I like that, it made her more real in my eyes. Atypical heroines is one of the reason I love to read Jennifer Crusie contemporary romance.

  42. I love, love, love your Effington series!!! I have never read any of the Bedwyns. New books to add to my “To Buy” list. Thanks!!

  43. I first started reading Regency Romance via Mary Balogh. I never thought of writing a book as my forte was writing/editing medical-legal briefs. I envisioned Ms. Balogh sitting down to her computer, after reviewing her story board and outline, and writing without interruption. Her stories are so flawless to me, she is such a seasoned professional. I fell in love with the Bedwyn’s and I visit them often.
    As far as Freyja, the independent and free soul I know Syndham was not up to the challenge of a life with her. She needed an intellectual equal with the soul of a gypsy.
    I relax and enjoy Ms. Balogh’s books and now we can enjoy more personal repartee with her on this blog and her Facebook page…a friend we can say hello to everyday.

  44. I love your Slightly series! I have read each book more than once, and while my absolute favorite is Wulfric’s story, Freya is my 2nd favorite of the siblings. She is a memorable character who earns your respect and admiration over the course of the book, after seeming initially hard to like. 🙂 Thank you for sharing the behind-the-scenes story. I am a first-time visitor to your blog, but will be back for more!

  45. I’m not surprised that Freyja’s story gave you as much trouble as the character gives other people in the other books! Finding heroes who are strong enough to deal with feisty heroines but are not also overbearing is a tricky balance – I think that _Bath Tangle_ is one of the few unsuccessful Heyer novels for that reason: although the headstrong heroine needs a strong partner, mostly all that we see of the hero, Rotherham, is that he is arrogant and imperious, with no vulnerability or real back story.

    BTW, since you mentioned _Simply Love_, I thought I would take the opportunity to ask you about one aspect of its plot that has always been a real sticking point for me: I find it virtually impossible to believe that a woman of that era who had suffered the social stigma of having a child out of wedlock would ever consider having relations with someone else out of wedlock.

    • I think the understanding was that if there were consequences they would marry. And the first time was rape. I think she wanted the experience of consensual sex with someone for whom she cared.

      • I can believe she wanted that experience but not that she’d want it without a ring beforehand, even with a promise from someone as noble as Sydnam :-> Thanks for the response.

  46. Well, I am glad you finally came to your senses with Freyja! Joshua Moore was the perfect foil for her brash – act before you think – behavior. The Slightly series is my go-to for reading over and over and over again. My mother first introduced me to your books when I came back “home” to care for her in her declining years. When she passed away a couple of years ago, I got all of the “Mary Balogh books” so I could revisit them when the need arises.

  47. So glad your first draft didn’t work out! Sydnam and Ann’s story is an all time favourite and Freya deserved a hero like Joshua. The whole series is one to read and read again. Thank you Mary xx

  48. In some (probably many) ways, Freyja was a difficult heroine to like. So I can imagine she was difficult to write.

  49. I’m not sure what to say other than, I am glad you write books that my fiancee enjoys so much, they seem to make her very happy. I was searching online for a signed book as a little wedding present for her, we’re getting married in September. Also, strangely enough, she has considered a Freyja tattoo, because she enjoys the mythology of newly wed women getting a new kitten to teach them to be a good future wife/mother, especially if they turn into cats strong enough to pull a sleigh! Very interesting choice for a name.

  50. Thank you for being tenacious and continuing to unravel their stories… love all of your books in this series!

  51. I like Frejya – she’s strong but not anachronistic. And I think she definitely ended up with the right one. She’s one of my favorite of your heroines – though Wulf’s story is my favorite in this series.

  52. How interesting. Seems an odd combination but if anyone could have made it work it would be you. However, I’m so glad you invented Hallmere for Freyja … he was so right for her. And of course, the story also introduced Anne Jewell, who turned out to be so right for Sydman Butler.

    Freyja’s story was the first one of the Slightly books that I read. You were a fairly new author to me at the time and although she was not a typical heroine, the story grabbed me right away and I finished the book in record time because I just didn’t want to put it down.

    You have such a gift for character development.

  53. Funnily enough the story I’m currently writing has been one of those tricky ones where I get so far and then grind to a halt. I’ve put it aside a few times and thought – this time, I’ll finish it. Yet again, maybe two chapters further in, I’ve ground to a halt again. Part of my problem is the number of characters I have to introduce fairly early on. The other problem is that the story requires a little world building. I really want to make it work. My only other difficult one was where I actually changed who got the girl based on beta-reader feedback. That was quite a rewrite and then I had to do another book to give the forlorn hero his own love interest. But I’ve never regretted the change, even though some readers still think Will should have got the girl!

  54. Wulfric is my probably my favorite of the family but the whole series is great.as other readers mention it took me a few books to like Freyja but she did finally make sense for me

  55. I was fascinated to read your reflections on “what might have been” in your struggles to write Freya’s story. As the reader, it is hard to imagine either story, any other way. Almost tragic to imagine the mismatch which almost occurred, but was averted when the characters would not co-operate with you. I write two reflections each week, one a “musing” on life, any topic, sometimes randomly picked out of the air, it seems – because of a deadline, and yet I am always amazed when people say that is exactly what I needed to hear. The other is more structured, and has background, and scholarship to pour through, but still at some point – it must too, take on a life of it’s own. Perhaps that is the essence of writing, when we let go of ourselves, and the let the words or characters find their life. Freya remains one of my favorite characters, for all her pride, and fierce independence – it was good to see her matched to the one person, who could look into her heart and say in essence, you don’t have to do everything alone. It is perhaps, I think, a part of the profound message you create – in each of your books – that knowledge that we each hold a secret place within us that longs for someone to see us as we really – and love us anyway. Thank you for reminding us of this need in such an entertaining way.

  56. Any chance you’d be willing to put those two 1/3 books available as ‘extras’ or ‘outtakes’ on the site? I’d love to read that. 🙂 No need to enter me, I already own all the books on offer this week.

  57. Love all your books-I was the owner of all of them until I had to downsize last year-my sweet daughter took over the task of ridding my home of too much stuff. Among other things , she put my hundreds of favorite books up for sale, by the time-I got back to the house I was able to rescue many of them-but not all. ( I really do not have room here for all of them anyway)- I cannot remember Fredja’s story-must go to lending library to get it. But I did save one of my favorites and I have reread it a number of times. A SECRET AFFAIR starring Hannah and Constantine-. Their lives so compelling and both had such special goals. I feel so proud of them both . Those Huxtables all had great stories. Is this the end of them? What is coming up next? Will they be E-books.? I have a Nook, but nothing beats holding a real book..Your greatest fan.

  58. Sorry, Freyja, spelled your name wrong-such an unusual name-where does it originate?

  59. For me, Freyja was hard to like. But, her affection for Wulfric who needed that so badly made up for everything else. And I am glad you found a good and strong man who could love her and she could love in return.

    • Just had to answer you. I found Freyja to be absolutely wonderful. Tho it didn’t show on the outside, she was very kind, compassionate and loveable as shown in Scandalous. She also funded Claudia’s school with out her knowledge.

      Seems funny to be defending a fictional character but she touched my heart.

      Regards,
      Bob C

  60. Thank you for sharing the backstory to Freyja’s book. I didn’t initially like her too much in any of the prequels and sequels and even at the beginning of her book, was not crazy for her. And I did think Joshua was an airhead until further on in the book. Somehow, both were a perfect foil for each other and now I cannot imagine seeing her with Sydnam. I am sure it was agonizing to lose months of work but in the end, you listened to your characters and it worked out better. I left Wulfric’s story to the end when reading the series and my favourite part was all the speculation by all the siblings and I lived for rereading Slightly Dangerous. I finally read Simply Perfect and really appreciated Freyja’s kindness to Miss Martin and it endeared me to Freyja at last.

    I am sure you hear this all the time, Mary, but you are a beloved author and we, your loyal fans adore all your books and look forward with eager anticipation to every new book. Now, my only wish is for some of your out of print work to tide us over until new books are published (please?? ).

  61. Oh, I am so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has struggled with plots and changed spouses! I have too many abandoned novels, and hearing that sometimes you just need to start over is both inspiring and daunting. 🙂

  62. I love all of your characters…Love your style,..Love your twists and turns…and I am always looking forward to the next character for me to add to my own personal friends list in the back of my rambling brain. Thanks for the fun .

  63. Your stories always seem so effortless. They are beautiful in that your characters are always simply complex. (If that is a phrase.) Freyja is a wonderful heroine. Joshua is exactly the person she needed — someone who laughs and teases, but is able to take on her very strong-willed nature. I enjoyed it very much.

    I am an author as well. My first book comes out in September. I rewrote this book three times. It went through many changes, the main one being that my heroine ultimately is forced to betray the man she loves. I would have to say that writing can sometimes feel like I am bleeding from my soul. Which is why I can’t get enough of it, I suppose!

  64. I just love your books, period. (I reread them all the time.) My favorite is Slightly Dangerous because Christine’s struggles hit very close to home, and Wulfric is such a special man. Although Freyja has a minor role in this story, her reaction to Wulfric’s dive was priceless.

    Back in the early 1990’s, I worked on a four-book series and wrote the first two. However, the timing wasn’t right and they ended up in the drawer. I returned to the classroom and self-published a non-fiction book. If I ever take them out again, the first novel would have to be completely re-written (much like Slightly Scandalous) and become the second book. What is so neat is that the second novel, much like Slightly Dangerous, hits very close to home in my personal life (unknown to me when I first wrote it). If I end up writing the series, that book (Love’s Fire) would be the lead book.

    Right now, I am thinking about a second non-fiction book (How It All Works Together: Essays on Faith). I am at the beginning of putting together a book proposal. And, Mary, you are my favorite writer.

  65. I love the Bedwyn series! So many emotions and facets of the human experience of love are shown in these stories. I am glad she didn’t end up with Syndam. It would have been an awkward match. They are both so full of pride and pain. Freyja needed someone to give her a run for her money! Miss Martin did it and earned Freyja’s respect. Hallmere did it and earned her love.

  66. I so enjoyed that series, I seriously need to re-read it.. I felt so sorry for Freyja when she was dumped. And yet, I loved it when she found her HEA!! Being publicly humiliated is so awful to bear, even if you aren’t a ‘proud’ person!

  67. Hi Mary! Freyja’s story it’s one of my favourites. I have read all the books you have published in spanish so of course
    Sydnam`s story too.. I’m glad that you have changed your mind. I think that Freyja needed a man who can make her laugh and Sydnam it’s not that kind of man.. I just love Joshua. One girl has to be very lucky to be loved by a man like Joshua. He brings joy in one’s life

  68. Making anything seem effortless is an art and you are definitely an artist in your own right, Mary! One of my pet peeves about reading books is the story has to flow or I will just lose interest. Reading a novel should be effortless and fun. Who wants to struggle through a story? Not me! I love your novels because the stories flow and you always keep my interest. I am a particular fan of your book series because I never want the stories to end!

  69. Thanks much for sharing your insights on writing…and the angst! I would never have guessed that you didn’t have the entire Bedwyn series all lined up and organized just ready to put on paper. Can you tell I’m not a writer? ha! Freyja is not one of my favorite characters. I do seem to like her better every time I read her book so maybe in ten or so years I will love her! I imagine out of thus series that her book and character was harder to write than the others. Leave it to Freyja! Like others I can’t get a clear picture of her in my mind. That’s sort of interesting that others feel the same. Thanks again Mary for all your books!

  70. Painted yourself in a corner, you say. Indeed I have.
    I’m writing a contemporary romance that has chugged along to Chapter five or six, and then stopped.
    Twice.
    Finally I realized there was too much backstory, and if I didn’t like writing it, who would want to read it? So, like you I had to step back, figure out what was needed to kick start this sorry mess and finish the darn book.
    Nothing is more frustrating than when your characters stop talking because you’re trying to lead them down a path they do NOT want to go.
    Good post, Mary and I wish you continued success.

  71. I am currently writing a 4 part series about a family of Regency era siblings. The first book is out, the second one was easy to write but the third is more difficult because of the heroine. She is the third sibling and second daughter. If she lived today she might be considered slightly ADHD. She did not mature as quickly as most girls of that era and has a paragon of an older sister whom she loves and would like to emulate but cannot. She is vivacious and unfashionably outspoken to the chagrin of her family. I love her because she desperately wants to behave acceptably but sometimes she just cannot. The trick was to find a hero who would love her for who and what she was, not for some standard to which she could not hold. This is a difficult book to write because of this particular heroine (whom I really do like!). I think that is why Freyja was hard to write about. She is certainly atypical of a Regency heroine. She has a strong personality, but there is a vulnerability that she keeps under tight control. She is not conventionally beautiful, but there is an honesty about her that, while unfashionable, is most appealing. She is not perfect. I love that! But I can see how her story might be difficult to tell.

  72. It’s great to hear about your writing struggles, especially when you do indeed make it all seem so easy and seamless. I’ll have to re-read for the third or fourth time all the Bedwyn and Simply series. Will probably do all your other books as well but it will be late Aug. or Sept before I get through my TBR pile. Think I have all of them on hand. Although at some point I’ll have to start emptying my shelves. I’m at the point in life where less is better. I often able to read 2-3 books a day; I’m retired. It’s always interesting to hear the story behind the story. Thank you for many hours of enjoyment.

  73. Thank you for sharing. I love all your books. I’m beginning to write a novel in between all my mom duties and love reading information from authors themselves about their processes. Thanks again! Can’t wait until your next book arrives.

  74. You know, Mary, reading your blog is always exciting and insightful.
    Not only do you invite us into your personal space, you also give us wannabe (published) authors a chance to breathe a sigh of relief; that we’re not alone, and validation of good reasons to pat ourselves on the back. Thank you for that.
    Thanks, too, for allowing us to see each other’s varied comments. Like so many other readers, I am always anxious for your next book to hit the shelves! And, of course, I already knew that I couldn’t be the only one who found the SLIGHTLY series (among others) so captivating as to read and reread and re… well, you catch my drift. I have yet to find one of your books that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. You always find new ways (particularly in Freyja’s case, I believe) to surprise us with your opposites-attract, against-all-odds or ‘not-in-this-lifetime’ type matches, not to mention the never ending supply of imaginative storylines you come up with to throw them into.
    Keep up the good work! We love you!

  75. Mary, Another interesting and insightful post! Thanks for taking the time to blog. Who would have ever guessed that Slightly Scandalous started out so rocky? And it’s funny, because Cecilia Grant recently mentioned on her blog how hard it was for her to write *her* latest book (which, BTW, I read and thought was terrific).

    I suppose the closest I can get to picturing Freyja would be the actress Alex Kingston (remember her from ER?), only a little more severe.

  76. As a budding fiction writer, I found this blog post very interesting. I’m always amazed where characters enter a writer’s life and what the writer does with the character once he/she is on stage.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this!

  77. Loved the Simply series..all of them! I think Simply Unforgettabe was the first book I read by Mary Balogh..and many, many books later, I’m now anxiously waiting for the release of The Arrangement.(I already have my pre-order in at amazon!)

  78. After reading Slightly Scandalout, I would never have believed Freyja’s story was so hard to write, because she and Joshua just melded so perfectly. Chalk and cheese so to speak. And Sydnam was always too gentle for Freyja.

    I have an English friend of long standing (I am Australian) who has very blond curly hair and black eyebrows, so I have always “known” what Freyja looked like.

    I love all your books, and every now and then I have to re-read them. I need my fix!

  79. Slightly Scandalous holds a special place in my heart. I knew from the moment I met Freyja Bedwyn that we were kindred spirits. I grew up around brothers for 12 years before I even had a sister, and we go into as many scrapes as the rest of the Bedwyns. I loved Joshua for her because he knew how to handle her–and it was not by bludgeoning her with rules and demands and wifely duties. He was so charming and affable that no one could help but give him his way. I read this story for the third time last year and each time I come back to it, I smile and laugh even though I know what will happen. Thank you Mary for not putting Freyja with Sydnam! They would have made each other miserable!

  80. I thought at one time that I wanted to be a writer and for several reasons did not pursue it and know how hard it is I know now that I wouldn’t have been patient enough, so I certainly appreciate all of you that write such beautiful stories. I can always lose myself in a wonderful love story and the stories always give me hope for my trials in life. So thank you for all your struggles and hard work.

  81. No matter how hard, it was a labor of love (at least for me). You know how much I love that book and I don’t really know what you want as a comment but I do know I have to go back and make a comment to one respondent who said it was hard to like Freyja. She was feisty, strong, compassionate and kind. How could anyone not love her.

    I find your books riddled with kindness, love and compassion. Freyja is not the only character who has come to life for me. There is Joseph and Claudia, Eva, Christina and on and on. The only one I had a little trouble liking was Wulfric for obvious reasons but even he showed a life when he declared he was “also a man”. You made me bleed a little for him

    I guess I have to admit to loving you a little as you gave birth to some of my favorite literary characters.
    I have a hard time realizing that they’re not real.

    Thanks for everything, and I look forward to reading more Balogh!

    Regards,
    Bob Calhoun

  82. Amazing to read the back story on Slightly Scandalous. I have read most of all of your books and the Slightly and the Simply series are my favorites. Frejya was not my favorite Bedwyn but you wove a most wonderful story for her and of course her hero Joshua was a wonderful character full of verve, confidence and humor. Just the person who could handle a heroine like Frejya. Wulfric and Christine are my favorites and I have read it many many times.

    Would love to hear your back stories on the characters. I cannot imagine writing a novel a third of the way and discarding it. But then again I an not a writer!!

    Wishing you many many stories to tell and for us to enjoy!!

  83. I love that you had a plan, just like a matchmaker, of who you wanted the heroine to be with and even though you were writing their story it didn’t work. It just proves that the characters you write are so real that their personalities can’t be forced and you have to follow their lead. Glad you shared that with us.

  84. Wow, the very thought of Freyja and Sydnam together is staggering. They both definitely ended up with the right partners.

    Now finding Christine for Wulfric was sheer genius. That is one of my go to stories when I want to smile. Almost as perfect as Claudia and Joseph together. Now that was perfect. 😉

    Wisty

  85. I loved the Proposal! I have two older unmarried children (in their 30) and I see how hard it is for them to meet someone special. I loved the random meeting of the hero and the heroine in the Proposal. She even thinks about the fact that if her companion didnt drive her crazy, she wouldnt have taken a walk, fallen and then met the hero. Mary, can you write me a happy romantic ending for my children! Ha!

  86. I am so glad Freyja and Sydnam ended up with the right partners. I agree that Sydnam would not have worked, but not for the reasons others have posted. I always saw Sydnam as strong – he had to be to go through the torture and then make a life for himself. However, he was strong and silent, not wanting pity. Freyja was just too loud for him. He and Anne were meant for each other. Thank you for making it happen as that is one of my favorite books. Never would have guessed it started out differently.

  87. I am a big fan of the Slightly series. I read all the books in my local library. I truly loved Freya’s story the best. Joshua was just…. what can I say, Utterly scrumptious. It has been years so I don’t recall everything about the basic plot. I do recall a very vivid love scene though. It stuck in my memory all these years later. It was truly hot.

  88. Slightly Scandalous was the first book of yours that I read. I was hooked! Thank you for not giving up! I have read and own many more of your books since. I love Freyja story -I need to read it again! I have been rereading books I really love lately. Thank you again for keeping on!

  89. I greatly enjoyed learning the backstory to Freya’s book. For some reason it made me envision a giant genealogy board of all your past characters connected with strings of colored yarn spread out on a wall in your basement – LOL!! I hope the Survivors Club stories are causing you less stress – Can’t wait for The Arrangement to be available.

  90. I wrote “professionally” when I was in broadcasting and loved the challenge of telling a story in a short time span and in a tight deadline situation. Now my job involves a lot more of adlibbing and while that’s fun—the discipline isn’t quite the same.

    So I do dabble in fiction and fan fiction plus I read tons of fiction (thanks Mary for so many books I can back to again and again) and tons of fan fiction. I hate when people stop in the midst of a story, that’s different than stopping in the midst of creating a story.

    Like our favorite author, sometimes characters, lines and situations do just pop into your head taking their rightful place in a piece of fiction. I can totally see how Frejya would have been a challenge to send off to true love’s path.

  91. Maybe Freya was difficult to write because she is relatively unusual as a heroine in romantic fiction. She is not quiet or even nice (although she is kind). Sometimes she leads with her fists.

    Some women commented on the Amazon romance discussion groups that they really didn’t like Freya. But she is one of my favorite Mary Balogh characters, maybe in part because she is so unique. I think all of your work on her novel was worth it.

  92. What a fascinating post! And if you’d give us the background and process of each of your novels, you’d never again have to ponder what to blog about. 😉

    I doubt it’s a coincidence that this post about Freyja follows your post last week about “feisty heroines”. Freyja is what those writers of annoying and obnoxious heroines aspire to.

  93. I have not read Freyjas story yet, but am glad to know a little behind the story. I’m enjoying reading your backlist and look forward to more two for one novels published as well as the release of The Arrangement!

  94. Having read Simply Love and Slightly Scandalous, I can see why it hadn’t worked out (it would have been hard for Sydnam). But it is interesting to read that you wanted to pair Freya with him. Lucky you got stuck otherwise there wouldn’t have been Slimply Love which is one of my favourite stories.
    Thanks, Christine

  95. I had read the Simply series 2 years ago and now I was ready to start the Slightly series. I saw that I needed to read the Bedwyn prequels before starting them. I am starting One Night for Love Tonight and will pick up A Summer to Remember at the library tomorrow so I’ll be going from one book to the other with ease. I loved the Simply and Huxtables series so I am anxious to start the Bedwyn prequels and series. I love to hear how stories come about. Thanks for sharing your gift.

    • You will love these books! It’s one of my favorite series, and you will be glad you started with One Night for Love. I read the Huxtable series and then sought out more of Mary’s series. They are all wondeful!

  96. I always loved writing stories and to the point that it always leaves me frustrated to know that I am not that good. Maybe because my vocabulary is not good enough or my grammar. Anyway I will have to agree to the part that as a writer you really want to make a smooth story well also to have that impact on the reader to never stop reading till the end.Honestly, I really want to be able to write like that but I’ve got as long way to go. I have read and searched a lot of you books Miss Balogh (even got to point of going to different bookstores in search of your books and going on for hours searching :)) and I had just notice a common characteristic in them is that when i start reading it , I never stop. it seems like i am missing a lot when I put it down and i seem to always finish it in one sitting hahaah:) continue writing more beautiful books and thank you for being such an inspiration!!! (I’ll will really try my best and practice more!)

  97. What fascinated me most about this blog post was the concept that Freyja/Sydnam, as a story, moved along angsty lines, and it was just too much, as Freyja is such a strong-willed and dramatic character. I think the final result achieves balance, a classic ying/yang between Freyja and Joshua. And when you think about it, I bet most of us would say there’s something of that balance in our real-life relationships: your partner often has an asset you lack, and vice versa. How nice to see that reflected in your romance writing as well, Mary!

  98. I absolutely love hearing about your writing process, because having such imagination, such discipline to write a book–so *many* books!–is beyond my own pale imagination.
    I love that you keep your characters true to themselves, and Freya is one of my favorites of all your wonderful heroines. I love that she is not beautiful, but never feels less important because of it, never feels like she must apologize for not having been given something as superficial “beauty.” Freya is bold, fearless, yet terribly human.
    I’m so glad to hear the story between her and Sydnam did not work. She definitely needed her own man and to forge a path towards marriage on her *own* terms. Your resulting story was perfect, Mary. Thank you!

  99. Would you believe, that I just read you accientally. The very first book I have read was Freyja’s story. I got hooked and made me curious about the rest of the siblings. And then, I read Wulfric’s story. I just loved Wulfric and Christine so much. You made me desire dreaming on visiting England because of your novels. Anyway, I have read all your novels, except the new ones.

    Hoping that you visit Philippines so that you could sign an authograph for me. And sign all your books that I have with me. (haha…and that’s a lot)

  100. Freyja is a tough nut to crack. I think Joshua is much better for her, as opposed to Sydnam. He can handle her outbursts of emotion. Besides, I loooove Anne and Sydnam together. They complement each other in every way. Looking forward to the next book!

  101. I always wondered if some books were just more difficult to write than others. I just assumed (gasp!) that you just got into writing it and it flowed out lol! Nice to know even favorite authors are human and have trouble sometimes. Though I don’t wish any struggles for you 🙂

  102. Isn’t it funny how it is never too late to discover our dreams. I always wanted to teach. However in the 70’s everyone told me I should become a scientist. I dutifully did that, but my dream was always to teach. When I had my children, I decided to stay at home and be a mommy. When I wanted to go back into the workforce, I knew I had to get a masters so I got a teaching degree instead. I love teaching children to read, write, do math and YES! science.
    I think about some of your characters. Sometimes they think they are too old for a new life (well the life that was offered to Regency women–marriage/motherhood). Christine, Daisy, Claudia…they all thought they were too old to find their happiness. They decided to go for it as well.
    Glad you stuck to your dream of writing.We love your stories!
    I write–although mostly for my students an children. My second dream is to write science and history books suitable for young readers when I retire. I have lots of ideas and starts. We shall see where it leads.

  103. I could not possibly pick a favorite character or a favorite line. But I have to say A Summer to remember would have to be my favorite book. Now I will tell you why.
    I was on one of my great journeys to the book store ( closest bookstore is 25 min away). I was never a huge reader but my husband is he convinced me that it would help pass the time while my for children are at school. So I decided to go romance partly bc we just returned from the Biltmore. I found your book 4 years ago and have not put them since. I personally own 27 of your books and cherish every one of them. Thank you for the wounderfull gift.

  104. I was surprised for your words… I never thought that Sydnam and Freyja as a couple, and of course it would have been the icing on the cake for the Bedwyn prequels, but I completely agree with you: Sydnam was waiting for Anne. And yes, Simply love was maybe my favourite of all your books, if I had to choose only one.

  105. I’ll bet there’s some kind of spread sheet set up that you could use for characters, titles, manor houses, etc. It would be a great project for an intern at a nearby university who is majoring in literature, Regency history or something similiar.

    Count me in as one of those who thought of the Cosby show from the Huxtables quintet. That’s okay, family is family.

    Appreciate the amount of sharing you do, it’s all interesting and enlightening.

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