WALKING A MILE IN ANOTHER’S SHOES

This was Barbara Jackson‘s question: “Your experience as an English teacher must have something to do with your ability to write such cohesive books with such interesting characters–ones that the reader can relate to as if they were real people. Therefore, my question is: Do you feel this way as well, or do you have another explanation?”

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Having been an English major and an English teacher and a lifelong reader has certainly helped me as a writer. The English language is something I love and understand can use with relative ease. I am not a speed reader. Indeed, according to an on-line test I did a few days ago, I read 13% more slowly than the average reader. I am not surprised. Although there are certainly books that grab me and have me racing for the end just so that I can find out what happens, in the main I read to savor the story and the characterization and the style and the author’s voice. As I writer, I use language and style to create all the elements that I hope will draw readers in and keep them in.

However, my main focus as a writer is always character and the development of a love story. And it is in the understanding of character and the ability to identify with all kinds of people that I believe I have been specially gifted. Perhaps it comes of being an introvert or preferring to watch people than to occupy center stage myself, but I do have the ability to put myself into other people’s skin, to understand who they are, to know what it is like to BE them. I used to assume that everyone can do this, but I know from my experiences as a teacher of literature that it is not so. I do my character creation almost entirely from imagination and very little from research. I put myself inside the character and live the story from the inside out. It is always a relief to hear from readers that I have got a particular type of character just right. I heard from a blind lady recently. She asked me how I had got the blind Vincent’s character so right in THE ARRANGEMENT. When I wrote my deaf heroine in SILENT MELODY, I did not know that my editor at the time had a deaf daughter. She was able to tell me that I had got the character right. I do not know any blind or deaf people, but I know instinctively what it must feel like. I do not look for the handicap, the disability, though. I look for the particular ability that is different from the norm.

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The secret to writing compelling characters, though, I think, is not just to get the details right, but to get deep into the soul. And to do that, once I feel I know everything there is to know about the character, I usually ask the same question: where is his/her pain? There is pain in all of us. Often finding it is the key to understanding. And once I have the key, then I can unlock all the carefully repressed secrets and set about finding a way for the character to be healed so that he/she can be whole and able both to love and to be loved–and (in many ways most important) can love him/herself.

The character understanding and development and the love story are all one and the same in my books. I LOVE that Hafiz quotation above. I love uncovering the darkness at the depth (and sometimes not so deep) of my characters and bringing them into the light of wholeness and happiness and love.

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To one person who leaves a comment below before the end of Friday, February 21, I will send a copy of SIMPLY LOVE, which has two of my most wounded characters. It will have to be the British edition of the book–I don’t have a picture of that specific cover, I’m afraid. The winner of my post two weeks ago is Kathy Gearin. Congratulations to her, and thanks to all of you who left a comment.

120 thoughts on “WALKING A MILE IN ANOTHER’S SHOES

  1. I have been on a Regency kick lately and have been trying out various writers. The more of them I read the better your books become to me. Some of them are poorly written and highly improbable and nothing more than an excuse to write detailed sex scenes. You have highly developed characters with good plotlines. Keep up the good work. I can’t wait to read the rest of the survivors series.

  2. I love all books and I first fell in love with Historical Romances from Georgette Heyer. I am so glad that I discovered your books. I love your new Survivor series, can’t wait till the next one comes out.

  3. Oh I would love an autographed copy of what is one my most favourite books. Truly, your ability to dig deep into a character’s soul and illuminate what it must be like to live with these sorts of difficulties is quite astonishing. Something that has always stuck with me is a scene in Slightly Married where Aiden speaks about being a killer and I couldn’t help but think you probably had more closely described what a person must feel than any of a number of new authors who deal with wounded warriors in their writing. Your characters are what keep me enthralled with your books – and why I so love to see my favourites reappear from time to time.

  4. Hi Mary!

    I loved finding out more about how you write the characters in your stories and how you try “finding a way for the character to be healed so that he/she can be whole and able both to love and to be loved–and (in many ways most important) can love him/herself”.

    What I love about your approach is because I think deep-down that is the same way I do things in my own life and not only with the people I love but also with people I know at work and those I come in contact with in all different circumstances.

    When you wrote that it also made me think back to my childhood and the time a very wise family member told me to “judge not that ye be not judged”! Your book often remind me of that very wise lesson in life. That without really knowing someone and walking in their shoes that you should always help others to, as you said, ” both to love and to be loved–and (in many ways most important) can love him/herself”..

  5. Your books are both thoughtful and thought provoking. I appreciate the work you give in forming your characters. They are REAL to me…at least in my mind.

  6. I love the “Simply” books…well, actually, all of your books. Always interested to see another one released. I wanted to be an author, but discovered that I cannot flesh out characters or to fill out my stories, so I am in awe of authors who can pull me in, and make me live their stories,and make me feel as though I know their characters.

  7. Simply Love is one of my all-time favorites. I think it’s the most realistic fiction book I’ve read when it comes to how a rape survivor handles intimacy.

  8. This is such a wonderful, wonderful book. It is one of my very favorites of yours which is saying a great deal. After reading this post I think I understand a bit better how your characters seem so very real to me. You have the ability to get inside their hearts and souls and show us what it is to be truly human.

  9. How did you manage to turn a badly wounded and badly disfigured character into a handsome and a dream hero…! He is even macho, in my imagination.

  10. Hi, I am a fan of your flawed characters with their simple perfect love. Sometimes, I do believe love is not just a spark of passion, but an enduring emotion that can stand the test of time.

  11. Nowonder I have troouble writing fiction – I am too turned inward to understand people. I just don’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t like exploring them through an author’s eyes, just that I don’t see it myself. And I have been reading you from your early regency days. Tops.

  12. I have always been enchanted by your ability to lead a reader to empathize so easily with your characters. My favorite romance novel of all time just happens to be Simply Love. This is due to the heart-wrenching accuracy you portrayed both Sydnam’s and Anne’s PTSD. His injuries aside, he still struggled with his inner deamons. And no matter how she tried to put on a brave front, she was indelibly marked by both rape and abandonment. You wove their story together so beautifully.

  13. Hello, my name is Karla and I am from Mexico, I love your books, characters, their only way to reach happiness and love. The way you say to understand each character, Judith reminded me when any character she played when she did, until I imagined seeing it or she still acting, love him.

    Sorry if this poorly written somewhere my English is not very good.

  14. I am finding your books now, many times long after they were written, and enjoying them. I have not read Simply Love yet, so I will have to look for it. One of the reasons I love reading so much is that I, as a disabled person, get to enjoy experiences I can never have in person. Climbing mountains or even running across a meadow are things I can only do through the words of someone who has done them. Thank you for sharing simple things with me.

  15. I’m Heather from North Carolina. I love to read your books, and Simply Love was my first book given to me by my aunt to read. I’m so glad I did; it is still my favorite.

  16. I just finished reading The Arrangement and was surprised to learn that Vincent had been blinded in battle so the experience of being blind was still new to him. I think you did a great job with his character, making him realize he had to become independent of his womenfolk yet able to function in his role as Viscount. I have not read SIMPLY LOVE so I would love to win a copy!

  17. This is my most favorite of all your books. As a painter, I always cheer Sydnam on, each time I read it – Just try with your left arm!!! Just try! He and Anne are brave characters who truly work through so much to reach their happy ending.

  18. I have not read the Vicar’s story but I always think about what things I would miss if I lived before the 20th century. But I am ordering it now. Blindness is probably impossible to cure no matter when, though I always wonder if the writer will find a plausible happy ending in a cure for the blindness or accept the problem of blindness and accept it as part of the their happy ending. My ability to see is 20/400 or about that and an optometrist said that in comparison I can see at 20 feet what someone else, with good vision, can see at 400 feet. Always a problem at night when I remove my contacts. I truly enjoy your stories and look forward to this and the ones I have not yet read.

  19. I came to your books about 15 years ago and I am so glad I did. My favourites include Aidan’s story. And yes when he says he is a Killer, “I kill for a living” it really strikes home. My son is currently serving – enough said. And then there is Ann and Sydnam, both favourites. Now I enjoying your latest series, and feel they are reasonably relevant today as they would have been in the Regency. So many of our young men have volunteered and end up in trouble when they return home. At least today the authorities are aware of the problems they are returning with, unlike past conflicts. You manage to get it just right.

    My other comment is that after I have finished reading one of your books, I have a tendency to continue the book in my imagination. I wonder what they may be up to next week, next month or next year. Keeps me happy.

    Please keep writing.

  20. Aha! As another introvert, I people watch all the time. Simply Love was the first book of yours that I read on my computer (before kindle), I downloaded it from Net Library ( which, sadly, no longer exists). Thank you for writing so many different believable characters.

  21. Simply Love is simply my favorite book of yours. I love the story and the tale of how such wounded people can find happiness. I have reread this over and over. I love all your books, but this is by far my favorite of yours. Maybe my favorite of all time. And that is really saying something. Thank you for doing what you do!!

  22. The characters are better when they’re created from imaginaton. I like to read about a character who has something just a little bit different from the next, everyone knows someone who is like that and that is what makes them warm your heart and live in your memory. Like my 93 year old grandmother who always loved to wear purple, break into a dance in the spur of the moment, was lucky in finding money or winning things and never ate chicken but made the most mouth watering fried chicken ever.

  23. Having read your blog on a very cold, wet and windy morning, a little down from this long soggy winter, makes me feel thoroughly uplifted. You are a beautiful writer and it seems that the beauty comes from unlocking the pain. Much to think about not only with regard your books but about life in general.

  24. My mother is currently reading the Bedwyn series – every time I go and visit, I have to take her another set. My book shelf is getting kind of bare because she won’t give them back to me!!
    I love all your books Mary but Simply Love is my favourite of them all.

  25. I just want to thank you for all the blissful hours of reading your books have given me. I have loved all of your books that I have read. You are one of the few authors that i make sure to get your books so they can be on my shelf. I have reread everyone of them multiple times. You are an amazing writer!!!

  26. Your ability to write compelling characters has almost ruined my ability to read other writers of historical romance! Your books are keepers. Don’t stop! I look forward to your next publication. Best wishes.

  27. The entire series is fabulous. I love the range of emotions you encounter in one of your stories. The laughter, the belly clenching fear something won’t work out, the sassy wit and sad events.
    Such a huge fan. Continue to read & share… Total <3. Thanks for all you do and do so well.

  28. As an English teacher, I always appreciate writers who take the time to “get it right”. People do not always understand how much research goes in to writing a period book (phrases, terms of address, manners, names for certain items, et al); however, those writers who do the research become trusted friends in our reading. I have enjoyed your books over the years and always look forward to a new release. Thank you for writing and transporting me (and my cup of Constant Comment) back to the Regency Period. Your characters have become good friends!

  29. Love your “Slightly” series and the one where you tricked us at the end. Can’t remember the title but I own the book. I’m going to have to read it again for the umpteenth time. Loved it!!! Some people have comfort foods. I have comfort books!

  30. I read your today’s post and then I noticed I did not read last two, so I read them, too. I enjoy when you answer questions, because some of them are exactly what I would have asked. The way you create characters make them believable (most important part to get me interested in their story), the way your stories flow make me speed read them to the end and then go back and savor them (I’m notorious for rereading the books I love: I buy only the books I already read and know I will reread many times again or the books from the writers that never disappointed me in the past), but that once you finish the story you never go back to those characters is not so good for me as a reader. I want to know what happened after! You don’t have to write their story-part 2, but the second epilogue after a while would be most appreciated (think Julia Quinn “Bridgerton – Happily Ever After”). When you think about it, when you write a series you mention the characters from the previous books in the next ones and we can see how they get along, how many children they had and how they cope with problems or even tragedies in their everyday life. I love that because you make them real people (this is not “I see dead people”!) and they become friends, almost a family! Thank you for the characters and their stories – I’m looking forward to the next of your books: I know I will meet new friends there.

  31. All I can say is thank you. However you write your novels, you certainly have a gift. Your books keep me riveted and so happy that they make the sorrow and pain go away.

  32. I delight in all of your stories, Mary. I am 69 so I have read countless books of all types and even after so many and so many years yours still hold my interest with depth and feeling. Thank you.

  33. I love your writing style. I’ve never read any other author that can move me like you do. I feel like I’m actually in the story, in the time and interacting with the characters in your books. Thank you for giving me untold hours of enjoyment. I have a collection of a large portion of your books that are my “keepers” and I’ve read them over and over many times.

  34. I’ve always thought that along with the Golden Rule, attempting to walk a mile in another man’s shoes is a good philosophy to live by.

  35. I love your books. I am a big reader, I love all kinds of books but my favorite type is Regency Romance. I could read those books all the time. I sometimes wish I could go to that period of time and get to see what it was truly like. Your stories help to bring it to life and I get caught up in the moment so many times. Thanks.

  36. Theses, along with the rest of your books, are favorites. That is slight praise because it doesn’t give anyone a good idea of your work. I reread your books so many times in complete series order, grabbing one book out because some thing brought that one to mind, that always leads to reading another. Consequently, they are never off my list, luckily, you have a large backlist for me. I repurchased Simply Perfect when I lost it from a reading program, which tells you Something! I need this book too. I’ll rebuy it should I not win. So no worries, I would however Cherish a signed copy from you. Thank You, and You should be writing, right now. Lol

  37. What do you mean by the “British edition of SIMPLY LOVE”? Are they written differently for each country?

    I really appreciate that you put your books on Kindle.

    • When books are published in another country, Natalie, it is by a different publisher, and that publisher will put its own cover on it. The book within the covers is exactly the same. The British publisher has given SIMPLY LOVE two covers. I think the first one was so ghastly that they replaced it with a lovely one. Unfortunately, it is only the ghastly version that I have left to offer!

  38. Mary, I have not read this book, but I want to. I love your books and I follow you on facebook and my daughter and granddaughter are book crazy, we all read all the time. I re-post all your stuff from facebook and share with all my friends your libraries, your seating areas your animals. I just love your facebook stuff. Would love to win this book, had a knee replacement and need books to read while I recover. Thanks for all the wonderful stuff you post.

  39. I think you are so right about getting the soul right and the discovery of “their pain.” If there is no pain, then there can be no real appreciation of the joy and peace that comes when the pain has been relieved, can there? Thanks for all the joy you have given to so many–it is Simply wonderful!

  40. No wonder your characters seem real. You inhabit them not view them from the outside. That is of course the pleasure of reading, to live in some other life for a while. That’s why I reread yours frequently. I own this in hardcover so no need to win just wanted to comment.

  41. Simply love is my favorite of the series. The characters of Sydnam and Anne have both been scarred–Syd by war and Anne by rape and her family’s response.I shared this book with an older friend of mine and discovered that she and her husband were not so different from Syd and Anne. He suffered horrors of war (although not disfigured) and she had been raped by a neighbor while her fiance was fighting in WWII and found herself alone and with child. She was amazed at how well you got this story right and shared some of their trials and how they overcame them. She and her beloved are both gone now, having had over 60 years together. When I recently re-read Simply Love I pictured Syd and Anne as the lovely couple in the picture that hung in her front room.
    You have a gift for writing, but your gift to imagine how a person will react to a situation/impairment is a far greater gift and makes for characters of great depth.

  42. I just finished this book last week! I was so glad to see Sydnam find someone. I often thought of him after reading the Slightly series. Thanks so much for your wonderful work. You have become one of my favorites..

  43. Love all your Simply books and want you to know that you do have a way with making the reader feel exactly what your characters are feeling at any given moment. When I read your books, I feel like I have been picked up and transported right smack dab into the story I am reading, which is something I love. You are one of the few authors I read that gives me that feeling so I never miss any of your books and they are all on my TBR again (and again) list.

  44. Simply Love is a perfect example of what you are saying. Romance for actual grownups must have the kind of deep emotional satisfaction you manage to convey in your writing. I admire it greatly.

  45. I too think about how it would be to be blind or deaf. I thought I was the only one to feel like I am inside people and try to understand them and their story. I can see both sides of things. Anyway… Thanks for the chance to win one of your wonderful books.

  46. I have loved each book of yours that has come my way and look forward to each new possibility to escape into another of your tales and characters! Thank you for sharing your gift and love of words with me!

  47. I met your works first through Audible’s editions of your Mistress series. I have since enjoyed your works in audio versions, print and e-books, and I have loved every moment of it.

    You make your characters three-dimensional which is always a joy, since two-dimensional characters are not at all engaging. Being a teacher myself, I can relate to the focus in reading on the language. I do the same, and yes, I too am a fairly slow reader, since I take the time to relish the language as the story unfolds.

    I would love to win a print edition og Simply Love. Keep writing and I will keep reading. 🙂

  48. One of your other readers (Samantha Small) referred to your books as comfort reading and that is what they are – food for the spirit.

    What I love about your books is that the characters are so varied. So many different types and personalities. I read a lot of historical romance books and many authors (even some that I like a lot) seem to write the same characters over and over again.

    The second book that I read by you was SLIGHTLY SCANDALOUS and I was immediately intrigued by a heroine who is handsome (rather than pretty) aggresive and assertive and a hero who is prettier than the heroine and who seems to be no more than a good natured playboy. But even though I was intrigued I almost put the book down because I didn’t think I could get invested in these two characters. So glad I didn’t though, because as the story progresses and you come to know the characters better you realize that Freyja’s assertiveness masks a deep streak of vulnerability, and Hallmere due to his life experiences is so much more that just a lighthearted, hansome rogue. Well done!

    As I’m writing this I’m wondering if you have favorites among the characters you create. Do you and would you admit it? Most parents would never admit to having a favorite child. Maybe that is not a fair comparison.

    Anyway, comfort food – anything pasta. Comfort book – anything Mary Balogh.

    • When people ask this question, Mary, I sometimes throw off a few names of characters I think may be my favorites. But afterward I always think of so many more that I realize it can’t be done. As I am writing a book, the hero and the heroine have to be my favorites ever–or I can’t write a story for them.

  49. I would love to win this book. I have not read it yet. I was surprised to learn you are an introvert. Your knowledge of people really is so right on. I enjoy your posts on FB so much.

  50. The character development is one of the biggest reason I fell in love reading your books. As I have went through just the rudimentary of writing I find it very hard to develop the things that I write. I have never consider myself any good at it at all. In reading books I want to be able to understand the people that there and how they feel it makes it seem real. I have always enjoyed this about your books. I usually feel like a privileged on looker to the life of the people that I am reading. You have a way with the people in your books to make them seem like these could have really happened and it never feels forced. I look forward to the coming books, I have not been disappointed in anything that you have written.

  51. I love your books because the people are actually people. You do not create “a typical”. You know, typical rake, typical good girl, typical villain etc.

    I am a people watcher too. And I love being able to create tiny stories of people I see in different places. So, I have a small idea of how you create your characters.

    I think that you are so well loved as an author because you give us windows into the lives of people we would like to know. I have read nearly all your books, and you have only created one heroine who I did not like. So, however you do it, please continue to do it until you no longer love doing it. And thank you very much.

  52. I have not read your novel yet, but I would love to. From reading your replies to questions, I am sure I am going to enjoy and love reading your novels since your words flow very nicely.
    I do wish to win this novel.

    Best regards from Indonesia

  53. I have never heard the Hafiz quote before, but must memorize it. I’m a fairly new reader of your books and am amazed with your writing. I’ve borrowed two boxes of your books from a friend and am “catching up” – and enjoying every minute of it! It’s so hard to pick a favorite . . .

  54. I found it hard to believe that you did not know a blind person when you wrote about Vincent. Having had a few blind friends, I learned they are human beings first & foremost with the same dreams & desires of everyone else. What is important is to find the “inner spirit” of a person, regardless of their limitations, & use that to figure out what will motivate them. Working in the business world for many years, I got to know what works for many of us. On occasion, I learned the most when I was open to who that person really was & what they wanted to make them feel valued & secure in their jobs. I do have a hard time putting myself in someone else’s shoes but I do emphasize with those who are struggling with pain & problems.

  55. All I know is you’re the best historical romance writer around. And we’re all very fortunate that you continue to write. Am so looking forward to The Escape!

  56. I have read your Slighly and Simply series but I do not remember Simply Love. I must have missed that one being passed around. There are 8 of us that read your books and pass them to each other. I somehow end up with the books but that is ok as I like to end up with the books and read them again. Is there a big difference in the British version than the US version? I see you have 3 other books that I have not gotten to read yet.. best get to them…

    • The ONLY difference, Tina, is the cover. The British cover is rather ghastly, I’m afraid. But I hope the contents more than make up for that fact.

  57. You truly do have a gift, Mary, to be able to imagine your characters, their trials, and their feelings. Everything I’ve read of yours shows an intuitive understanding of human nature. Your focus on the pain and working through it is probably one of the things that make your characters so three dimensional and enduring. Having read the Notorious Rake last fall, I was particularly moved by the understanding of Edmond Waite and his actions. But then, this is so true in most of your books I have read – the Survivor series, Constantine and Duncan from the Huxtables, Joseph in Simply Perfect, Aidan, and then of course Sydnam and Anne.

    I, too, am a slow reader, and I think it is because of what you said – I love to focus on the language and voice, become immersed in the setting description, as well as learn so much about the historical time periods of my favorite genre. As a 5th grade reading and writing teacher, I am always rereading sentences from read alouds to my students to get them to hear the beauty of the language. Whereas it is not a talent I have, I know this will make them become better writers.

    For the many who have not read Simply Love, you have a treat in store! I do own this book, but of course would treasure an autographed copy. Certainly don’t want to be selfish in winning something I already have, though. I have noted your upcoming appearances and wish one would be close enough to me. Do you ever plan to come anywhere close to Virginia Beach? D.C. would not be too far to reach. Would love to meet you and bring my favorite books for signing!

    Thanks, also, for your many valuable quotes. I will remember this one from Hafiz!

  58. Mary, I feel that you wrote about two people who show us the many facets of character that make up a human being–not just the typical “opposites,” like wounded and whole. Thank you for the many characters who populate your books and populate my memories.

  59. The character development in your books is what makes the love stories sooooo interesting. And Simply Love is the book by which I measure all other romances. It is an intense look at two complicated characters and an emotional heart wrenching tale.. and I LOVE it!

  60. I love all your stories and your characters. I really enjoyed the Simple series.Your stories often bring out several emotions while I’m reading.

  61. Your comment about finding your character’s pain gave me a new understanding of why I enjoy your books so much. I just re-read “The Surprise Party” last night and was moved all over again. Thank you.

  62. I’m still resonating about your comments about English. I read slowly too. I’m a school librarian at a bilingual elementary school. English is a difficult language because it is such a polyglot of other languages. We struggle to teach a language that is not uniform. It is amazing to me that it is as prevalent in the world as it is!!

  63. I buy books, then trade in/re-sell, except for my Mary Balogh.. I keep every one of them…the best author, by far…

  64. The Simply series is one of my favorites and is out on my bookshelves as one of the ‘go to’ series to read when I’m in need of a great story. I only wish there were more of these characters 😀

  65. When I started to read Simply Love I wondered if I could relate to a hero who was so physically disfigured. At first, his pain made me feel uncomfortable. Because of your sensitive writing, I soon found myself forgetting about his disabilities and concentrating on his humanity. It has turned out to be one of my favorite love stories.

  66. I love that you are able to put yourself inside your characters. I’ve been amazed at the depth of many of these characters, especially the men.

  67. I think that walking in someone’s shoes is pretty much impossible but reading a well written book with characters that are emotional and developed in depth gives me an understanding what someone else might feel when put in a certain situation. I may well sympathize with what they are going through or maybe recognize myself in them (to a certain degree). I love to step out of my own shoes sometimes just to forget the issues that bother me in my daily life. I might even adopt a philosophy to cope with things better. I love to read your books, Mary.

  68. I like this thoughtful blog post very much. I think that what I love most about your books is that the stories do come down to the main characters discovering and understanding the other person’s pain. I think this is what love is all about–knowing and loving people for who they are.
    It really struck me when you mentioned being an introvert. I wonder how many writers are introverts… I would be interested to know. As an introvert, I can totally identify to observing life and soaking in all the details without needing to be in all the action. It’s just our nature.

  69. In June 2014, I retired from teaching after 40 years in the classroom. Some of those years I also spent as an education media specialist. (That’s a fancy name for a high school librarian.) Some of my students could never understand the nuances of the literary characters we studied. They had a hard time “living” in any era but their own. They were dismayed when I told them that some of them would never understand symbolism. I pointed out to them that I would never understand quantum physics either. Not everyone can see beyond the words. Some of the things that I brought to the table were my double major in history (world and American), with an emphasis on English and ancient history. My minor was actually English. I have always tried to get into the characters in the books by thinking in my head in their accents; putting myself in their time frames; and wondering what I would do in their situations. To me, good authors have always made characters come alive and convinced me that these people were real. That is why I see The Scarlet Letter as a New England soap opera; why I still cry at the end of Romeo and Juliet; why I still laugh hysterically at Tom Sawyer; why I’m glad Emma Bovary bit the dust; why I want to sleep with a rosary and garlic when I read Dracula; and why I get hot and bothered when Mr. Darcy enters any room in Pride and Prejudice. I try to live the plots with the characters. Their life experiences are so interesting that I want to relive some novels over and over again. Mary’s characters, time frame of the Regency, and attention to detail and believable plots help me escape from the dull life I lead. It is a joy to “get lost” in my own mind with a time in which I would have liked to live. Thanks to all the authors who can carry us readers away and make us think beyond our own physical boundaries and limitations. They make life bearable. Thanks, as well, to those actors who can bring some of those same characters to the screen and make everything even more wonderful.

  70. So many people say you can’t know how something feels unless you’ve experienced it yourself. I’ve never believed that myself, and I’m glad you’ve shared this quality about yourself. Your characters are very real to us readers, it’s obvious you know them all very well.

  71. “The secret to writing compelling characters, though, I think, is not just to get the details right, but to get deep into the soul.”

    Romance is the journey that takes place in the heads of the h/h, I always say 🙂 Or you may call it soul, or heart. But still very, very internal.

  72. Doesn’t every reader walk in both the h/H’s shoes when the story enfolds and the journey begins? As an avid Regency junkie, I think I sometimes get too involved with the characters and their lives. Usually, I am happy with the outcome of the story, but sometimes, I like to imagine another ending. Not enough time for reading throughout the day!

  73. Am currently reading The Arrangement – my birthday present to myself to enjoy! and am amazed again how Mary can convey how Sophie and Vince think and feel. I am moved by their stories just as with all of Mary’s beautifully crafted characters. They are real to me, as I am reading them.

  74. I have read all your books but if I won a new one I would share one of my older ones with someone else– maybe. I so agreed with your post about writing a new book about characters from an older series. I like to revisit with them but I do not want a new story for them. Of course I would feel compelled to read it, but I would not be happy about it. I especially hate when a new story tells you that the characters have died from an earlier happy ending love story. I know they will die eventually, but I don’t want to think about that. I like my happy endings.

  75. Simply Love is one of my favourites, ghastly cover or no. 🙂 I particularly love novels where the main characters aren’t “perfect”, and Anne and Sydenham fit that bill “perfectly”!

    I like what you said about getting inside the character’s soul and finding out where her pain is. As a writer of fantasy romance, I try to do this–perhaps one day (after about seventy more novels), I’ll be as good at it as you are!

  76. Thank you for all your books! I love them all.
    Finding the pain, I’ve seen, works in real life as well… if one can stand the process of getting there, it never fails to heal.

  77. Good day! I’ve been a fan of yours for years (you might remember me as that Creative Writing student that interviewed you for a paper a few months ago). I’m also following your tips on how to write up characters and plots, and they’ve been very helpful. Thank you very much for your advice!

    And also, if you don’t mind, I would like again to request another e-mail interview, this time it’s for an expanded version of that paper last time.

    More power to you and your craftsmanship as a writer!

    P.S. When is the release of The Escape? 😀

  78. When I was pregnant with my twins in 2011, and was put on total bedrest at 24 weeks, all of your books brought me so much pleasure. For awhile I could escape into another world and not sit worrying that I was going to miscarry my twiins. I fell in love with your books during that time. Thank you for writing such well written books, and for helping me through a very difficult time. I still love to read your books over several times, they never get old.

  79. “I love you without knowing how, or when,or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this, in which there is no I or you, so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand, so intimate that when I fall asleep your eyes close.”
    ― Pablo Neruda

  80. I love all your books. Simply Love is a great one, but my favorite is A Summer to Remember.
    I can hardly wait for the next book of the Survivors Club, WAITING is so hard…

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