WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?

I’m sure all writers recognize this as the question readers most commonly ask. I wonder if other writers find it as nearly impossible to answer as I do. Most of the time I really don’t know where the ideas come from. I often look back on a finished book, especially one I wrote a number of years ago, and wonder how on earth I came up with that particular plot. I do know, however, what sort of thing might inspire me to write. It can be almost anything that stirs some deep emotion and compels me to write a story from that inner place.

It can be a scene of extraordinary beauty–moonlight on water, perhaps, or giant trees in a rain forest, Or it can be a piece of music. Beethoven’s Violin Concerto can do it every time. So can Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World, And so can the final scene of The Phantom of the Opera after the phantom has allowed Christine to leave with Raoul. That final song just slays me, and every time I hear it I know I have to create a story that will stir such deep passion. Or sometimes it is a line of poetry or a quotation from some well-known person that strikes a chord in me, especially if it is combined with an evocative picture. Take this one, for example:

Image 11

I look at this picture and read the caption and want to dive right in to create a love story to bear out its message–people with a past, some of it shared, perhaps, though not necessarily, but people who can have a future together if they work hard enough to deal with all the baggage that holds them back from being able to love and be loved.

I suppose what I am saying is that my stories tend to originate with an emotion, with a desire to use it to tell a love story. The story itself, the plot, is immaterial. I never care too much what happens in a story. All the plot is needed for is to bring together two needy souls in the sort of love we often sense life should be all about. We can believe in the beauty of art in all its many forms. Let us believe in love too. I want to arouse that belief through my books. I do not tell stories, except in the way a musician may use a keyboard or a painter may use a canvas. I do not write romances. I certainly do not write sex romps. I write LOVE stories. Or at least, that is what I aim to do, and my ideas come from my most deeply felt emotions.

preciousjewel4 secretaffair-mass4s-lovever2-4

To one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, June 25, I will send a signed copy of either SIMPLY LOVE or A SECRET AFFAIR or A PRECIOUS JEWEL (winner’s choice), three of my most passionately felt books. The winner of the audio copy of A MATTER OF CLASS last week was Kathleen Smith.

147 thoughts on “WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR IDEAS?

    • I <3 that you write <3 stories. The random thoughts that come to you when you see a photograph and words …. evoke in you a story line to work on and create a lovely story for us to read. That to me is an amazing feat. Thank you for creating and giving us such wonderful "reads".

      • What a Wonderful World is a gorgeous song. It has always evoked such strong feelings in me! I couldn’t think of a better song for my final dance with my husband at our wedding reception. Perfection!

    • I really do like your writings, books, blog, whatever. I like the characters to be someone I like for whatever reasons. And I do like the love story to have a happy ending. My own love story has a happy middle. After 45 years together, I expect the ending to be just as happy as the beginning.

    • I have read all your writings and can’t decide which I like best – many have been read twice. Always looking forward to the next!

    • It’s wonderful to know that you have many sources for inspiration of your wonderful books! I have read many and have quite a few favorites and always look forward to reading new ones!

    • I know you don’t write “Christian” novels, per se, but what I have loved most about your books through the years is the attitude expressed about faith – about sacrificing for others, about a God of grace and not judgment, about people working through their hurts and disappointments to be authentic in their relationships – which is what I believe God hopes and asks of all of us. For me, that’s why the emotions “ring true” and have given me so much pleasure through the years. Thank you.

    • An interesting question, Jeanette. I have given it some thought, but I believe the answer is no. Each character had a purpose in his/her book, even if they were unpleasant people.

  1. I wonder if you also find things in your writing that refer to things you were doing or was happening around you were working?? I’ve found that sometimes in my writing and don’t remember doing it. 🙂 some people seem to know exactly where there ides come from, but I like how you say you find yours.

    • I don’t think I have consciously drawn ideas from what is happening around me, Pen. But of course, I write historicals.

  2. I find your books to be so well written that I feel like I’m part of the story. I am not a creative person, so I find that I stand in awe of people who can tell a fascinating story, like you. I love classical music. I can see why you would find inspiration in it. Keep up the good work and I’ll keep buying your books. 🙂

  3. Wherever you get your ideas, your stories are always wonderful to read. I also have to tell you that reading your books has vastly increased my vocabulary lol. On many occasions, my daughter has asked me about a type of clothing or social custom that you have used in one of your books, and she is always amazed that I know what it is! I tell her, “Reading romance novels does have it’s advantages.”

  4. When you are inspired, do you write that story immediately, or do you sometimes have to put it aside? Can you write more than one story at once, or do you have to sketch the extras out and hope they continue to develop as you work on the current one?

    • I can write only one story at a time, Corrina. Sometimes inspiration which comes while I am writing something else will wait for me. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I believe if a story really wants to be told, it will wait for me.

  5. “I do not write romances. I certainly do not write sex romps. I write LOVE stories.”
    There, Mary. Right there I think it is exactly what I love about what you write—what I think I’ve always loved about all your stories. They are love stories. Odd when I think about. I really don’t pick up a lot of “historical romance” books like I used to. Yours—all the time, every time. I know I will find a love story there, not a lot of historical background or political intrigue. Just a love story. That is enough for me. Thank you. Don’t stop. 🙂

  6. Emotion is such a hook. Its why I get so involved and stay up much too late. The closer I get to the end of the book, the slower I read. I hate it to come to an end.

  7. Do you ever get an idea from comments you hear from random people in public? Everyone once in a while, I’ll be walking around a grocery store or somewhere and hear part of someone’s conversation and add to them in my head, making up a situation that brings about the conversation I overheard.

  8. I am a writer stuck in a person with bad writing fingers. I daydream a lot, and sometimes i think up entire fantastic stories, for my own amusement, and those ideas come out of nowhere. Well, not exac
    tly nowhere, but one random comment or image can send me on a daydream and then one thought pulls another and when I notice, I have a story with characters and scenes in my head, and I can live in that world for days or weeks, but whenever I’ve tried putting them to paper I destroyed them. But I think the way you get your inspirations is entirely fitting to your stories, those love stories that I can pick up one morning and read it through the day untill I finish it with a big smile on my face and a warm feeling in my chest.

  9. I once read a book titled, “It Came from Schenectady.” It was the author’s answer to where he got his ideas. Where ever you get them as long as they keep coming I will be a happy reader.

  10. Two years ago, I was at Wal-Mart looking for a book to read. I never read historical romances before, but I couldn’t find another book on the shelf that I hadn’t read. Then I saw a display of several of your books. So I picked one up, it was in the “Simply” series. I read it in 3 days! Then I had to rush back to the store to get the rest of the series. Since then, I pick up evey book that you have written without having to read the back so see if I may enjoy it, I know I will!!!

  11. I can identify with you getting inspiration from emotions eliciting from the arts and within your soul. I am usually stimulated to write after reading an exceptional piece of prose that stimulates me to research a topic they presented further and sometimes it is from my dreams. But I always enjoy your series books, the characters I fall in love with easily and I wish I was part of the family, going to those lovely country estates.

  12. Hi Mary!

    I’m a reader and not a writer but I’ve often found that your wonderful stories often bring to mind a song I’ve heard at sometime in my life. One that often comes to my mind when I’m reading a memorable love story is from the Broadway Musical Man of la Mancha which I went to because my favorite book in High School was Man of la Mancha by Cervantes when I was in High School and fell in love with historical romance.

    Many times the words to that song will play in my mind when I’m reading your wonderful stories and for your readers who are not familiar with it I’d like to share the lyrics and I think they will agree!

    To dream … the impossible dream …
    To fight … the unbeatable foe …
    To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
    To run … where the brave dare not go …
    To right … the unrightable wrong …
    To love … pure and chaste from afar …
    To try … when your arms are too weary …
    To reach … the unreachable star …

    This is my quest, to follow that star …
    No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
    To fight for the right, without question or pause …
    To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause …

    And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
    That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
    when I’m laid to my rest …
    And the world will be better for this:
    That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
    Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
    To reach … the unreachable star …

  13. Your books make me feel like I am in the story watching first hand as the story unfolds. You have an amazing talent!

  14. I really like how you said that you write LOVE stories, not the stereotypical image that society has of “trashy” romance novels. Those who hold that opinion miss the point of the stories, or are reading the wrong authors. You are a right author, showing how troubled and flawed characters who are often surprised by their own capacity to love and bring joy to another human being.

    • I start at the beginning and work forward. I can’t jump to a scene later in the book because by the time I arrive there from the beginning the characters will have changed so much that they would no longer do that thing I planned for them to do.

  15. I know it would be weird to say this to a questioner (might sound conceited), but your ideas come from talent. 🙂 I love what inspires you to write and all of your stories to me bring the love across. <3

  16. I think that’s what I like about historical romance. I crave the love story. A lot of contemporaries are more about the sex than the live story. Historicals can be quite sexy, but that isn’t the focus of the story. There isn’t a book you’ve written that I haven’t fallen deeply on live with the characters and THEIR story.

  17. I love that each of your characters is so well fleshed out that their motivations and reactions seem uniquely individual and appropriate for them. And the humor. The humor is perfect, because the passion is so intense we need humor to balance it out. And I very much would have put A Summer To Remember as one of your most passionate books. I cry every single time I read the part where she finally reads her mother’s letters. And Kit is a pretty perfect hero. 🙂

    • I would have offered A SUMMER TO REMEMBER, Beth Ann, since it is one of my personal favorites, but I have no spare copies left!

    • Beth Ann- Thanks for sharing your love for “A Summer to Remember.” I’m going to get on Kindle right now. (I’ll probably be up all night reading.:)

  18. I have been reading your books since the 1980s; your name is always on my to-buy list. Your stories are always intense, and your leads battered to varied degrees. I must confess I have had to read light stories after yours sometimes, because yours left me sad-happy. But they are always worth the emotional commitment. One of your short stories is among my most favorite ever stories. I wish you many more years of writing!

  19. I find it interesting to know what inspired people to do the things they do. I don’t consider myself to be very creative. I sometimes think, “what if I just have one good idea and then I run out!?” I am pretty sure, though, that creativity feeds creativity, and it just keeps growing.

  20. Simply Love and A Secret Affair both make me cry every time I read them. I love how they not only deal with romantic love, but also love between brothers. They both also seem to redraw boundaries about how people think of love.

    Looking forward to reading A Precious Jewel soon.

  21. No matter what muse helps you to write your books, I just wanted to say thank you. Without your talented writing I would have many boring nights. Reading every night is my passion. I wish I had the talent to be a writer so that I could entertain readers as you do. Again thank you.

  22. Your post was very moving to me, and I feel as if I can relate. I feel this exact same way, when I see something particular or hear a certain song. Sometimes I will hear a song once, but feel nothing, and then hear it again years later, and suddenly, a thought is placed within my mind. Suddenly, the song inspires me. I love when that happens. 🙂 I was quite thrilled to hear which books you plan to send, because just recently, I finished the first four books of the Huxtable series, but I don’t own the fifth book, and I’ve been looking around for it. I was planning to order it from Amazon, when I was able, but more than anything, I would love a signed copy of A Secret Affair. Constantine fascinates me, and I would love to read his story as well as his lady’s. 🙂

  23. Harlan Ellison used to say when asked this question, that he got his ideas from a post office box in Poughkeepsie.

    I too have an emotional reaction to certain song lyrics, and I often find myself weaving a backstory for the people in the song. But with me it goes no further than that. Besides the idea, one needs the drive to write, and I don’t have that myself, which is why I value it so much in people who do.

    Looking forward very much to The Arrangement.

  24. I have wondered about the authors and how the ideas for a story come to them. It is a gift, and I’m thankful for their gift. Some authors, you for one, write in a way that makes me want to read everything they’ve ever written. Lynn Austin is another. I was delighted to learn recently that our library has a very good selection of your books for the Kindle, so I’m looking forward to reading them all. May God bless you as you bless your readers with your stories!

  25. I just have to say thank you for enriching our lives with your ‘stories’ and giving us all something to dream about. We should all be so lucky to see the emotion in the things around us.

  26. Does anyone really know what compels a person to get hooked on certain authors to the point where they will buy anything written by them? Just like a talented actor, I think a talented author can wrap you in a character and storyline that you don’t soon forget. You are lucky to be one of those authors.

  27. I believe that I have read all of your books. I have a number of them on my keeper shelf. Those stories where the characters offer each other freedom in one form or another are among my favorites. Love liberates!

  28. When I turn the final page of any Mary Balogh book, I am invariably consumed by the emotions it has invoked in me. There are no high concept plots or intricate sub plots, but a true love story that has taken two people and stripped them down to their most basic elements so that we share their every insecurity and vulnerability, and we feel their every emotion. It takes a special talent to elicit that type of response from a reader, and that is why a Mary Balogh book will always feature at the top of my wishlist.

  29. I love your books, however one of my ultimate faves is A Precious Jewel…..it was so sweet, so sad and so romantic. I couldn’t believe that the main character worked in a brothel but overcame this and fell in love…now Gerard hmm interesting character, he doesn’t like anything fancy but wants the human contact. He is very sweet but very naive too. He is the anti-hero in many ways yet he is still strong and protective…sigh. LOVE THIS BOOK. so poignant, best part of course it the ending!

  30. I love the way you write – believable love stories with characters that I can relate to. I admire your talent and the way you make your books come to life. Thanks

  31. What you’ve written really strikes a chord with me. Some of your works that are my most favorite are the short stories that you wrote for the Regency Christmas collections. Whether, for instance, the character was a Lord whose only interest was music who discovered a profound loneliness in his life or a widow who shared that feeling of loneliness along with a lack of control over her destiny or a young child’s innocent belief in the power of Christmas, those short stories of yours just resonated with the emotions of the scenes and the love between the characters.

  32. Mary I’ve been a fan of yours for many years. I believe your books are the ones that made me love Regency romance over other genres, it’s still my favorite reading. I believe that I may have discovered your books fairly early in your career and I intend to go back and see how many books you’ve written that I haven’t read yet so I can look for them and get caught up on them.

  33. I am not on topic but thinking about left-over characters. She is so left-over that I can’t remember her name. What are you going to do for the lovely lady who is now happily running Miss Martin’s school? Surely she deserves a happily ever after–maybe an academic sort who would help her run the school or even expand it.

    • Eleanor Thompson. I have never intended writing her story, Ruth. But so many people have asked for it that…well, who knows? Perhaps one day I will revisit her and give her a happily ever after of her own.

  34. I just finished The Proposal and I absolutely LOVED it. I have always wondered what it is about your books that draw me in and won’t let me go until I read the last page. And more often than not I turn right back to the first page and read each book again. After reading this post I think I know. It’s the emotion you infuse your characters with and the soul-deep response it evokes in those of us who read your stories. Your characters say and feel and think things most of us can completely relate to but often never express. We fall in love with your characters and for a time we are living the love story with them. Your books have gotten me through some tough times and I will always be grateful.

    And as a classically trained musician I understand the ability of music to evoke emotions and give a listener no choice but to express those emotions in creativity.

  35. Your books are filled with powerful emotions and vivid characters. I always wonder how you “live” with a book as you are writing it. Do you put the characters away for the night, or do they continue to tell their stories and play out their emotional lives during all your conscious hours? I know I often get lost in thinking what’s ahead for your characters at the end of the story.

    Thanks for all the pleasurable reads!
    Nanina

    • Oh, they never go away for the night, Nanina! I get to live with my characters throughout the writing of their book. Sometimes I get annoyed with them when they have marvellous conversations in my head which I cannot quite replicate when I get back to my laptop.

  36. My ideas come from emotion as well. A picture, a lyric, or even a daydream may catch me by surprise and I’ll feel the need to get a few opening paragraphs written down. Now off to read “A Summer to Remember.”

  37. If you don’t mind, I would love to quote you from this article to my classes this fall. The hardest thing for any student to do in writing is to simply get started. You will help them know that inspiration is all around them. Thank you.

  38. Your books are probably the only books I anxiously wait to hit the bookshelves in the store. Even my husband knows when a new Mary Balogh book is about to come into the house. My favorite series is the Slightly series with Slightly Dangerous the best. I also always liked Dancing with Clara. If I remember correctly I cried thru that book. I always know it’s a great book when I cry through it..

  39. I wish I could express how I feel while reading one of your books. No one can bring out the emotion in their characters/readers like you. And I love how you focus on the couple and not all the other things that you could write about. I think the blending of two souls is the greatest story ever.

  40. I guess I know what you mean, for when I look at the cover of your Simply Love, I think of the song “Time to Say Goodbye” by Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli. That song just makes me envision a couple on the edge of a cliff, at sunset, and in each others’ arms.

    P.s.–I just love your novels. Love them, love them! One of my favorites is At Last Comes Love.

  41. I remember the Harlan Ellison quote–it always makes me smile. I’ve never had problems with ideas. My characters tell me their stories. It’s up to me to get my butt in the chair and put the words on the page. That is my weakness, though. I admire your productivity and the longevity of your career. I also admire that you are able to write linearly. I worked today on the story of the daughter of one of my first characters.
    On the issue of characters that aren’t, shall we say, pleasant, I do agree that you have to make them human and with at least some redeeming values. I have a couple of characters that I don’t particularly like. Do you find them harder to write?
    Love your stories. It would be a thrill to have an autographed copy!

    • Villains can be harder to write, Julee, only because the temptation is to make them caricatures, the embodiment of evil. I have probably given in to that temptation a few times, but mostly I try to remember that even villains are persons who feel justified in what they do, probably because there is pain inside them. I love redeeming villains and making them heroes.

  42. I am thankful you give love words and that two people, no matter how painful the circumstances, can recognize that love for one another. I agree with you; we must believe that love is possible.

  43. Using emotion as a basis for your ideas makes your books so special. From the very first page, the characters spring to life and the reader is entranced. We have to know what happens to them – how they overcome obstacles and find their happily-ever-after.

  44. I am glad you get the ideas. I tried to write a book once. I was definitely not committed enough. I am also impressed that you can write so many. Especially the series.

  45. Hi, Mary!

    I love your novels, but as yet, have not read all of them. However, that is my yummy goal. I’m glad to hear that you are moved by music as well. When I listen to any of Andre Rieu’s violin concertos, my imagination goes everywhere and I literally feel it touching my soul. Another piece that opens my heart and mind is “Amazing Grace” played by bagpipes. These are examples of music that make me see certain scenarios in my mind. Are you too “taken somewhere” when you hear certain pieces of music?

  46. I have to say Mary your books are a true inspiration to what romance can aspire to be. In a world that focuses solely on either the sex or the violence in life I have come to love and cherish the moments when I curl up with one of your books. When the day comes that I take all the stories that have formed in my mind and put them on paper I would like you to know that you have been an inspiration for me.

  47. A talented writer (which I most indubitably find you to be) are always filled with ideas for story lines and may write more than one story simultaneously. I’ve often wondered if some of my favorite authors ever suffer from writers’ block. If they do, it must be only temporary because all of you keep churning them out anywhere from 2-4 books each year. Your Simply series kept me enthralled. It really doesn’t matter where your ideas come from it is the end result that matters.

  48. And that is why I love your books. I’ve read so many that I wish I’d written down each title or not shared or passed them on. At least twice I’ve bought a book I’ve already read. Your books capture me. I don’t want them to end. After reading your recent post, I can understand. Thank you.
    Elaine

  49. Whatever your inspirations, here’s hoping they keep coming for many years. Love your books and the emotions I feel when reading them.

  50. Everything comes from love and with that as the core of your wonderful stories its no wonder that you draw me in every time! I get lost every time in the story, I cry, laugh & fall in love right along with the characters. It also brings me back and means that I enjoy your books again and again. Whatever it is that brings you such inspiration and emotion I look forward to enjoying the fruits!!

  51. Thank you for many hours of entertainment, I love audio books and yours are a joy to listen to, thanks again.

  52. I have often wondered where writers get their ideas but was always too shy to ask. My husband was a writer of Westerns, and I know that he often got his ideas from pictures by artists like Charles Russell. I love the fact that your ideas come from other works of art that stir you deeply.

  53. I found you on Facebook a year ago. I have since bought almost all of your books and read books of authors that you recommended. I want to be friends with the characters in your novels. You write them so completely. Thank you!

  54. I was very interested in your writing process. I do think that someday an author will just say, “I contact Plots Inc. for my story lines” after they’ve been asked that question for the 100th time.

  55. Do you ever feel emotionally drained after you have finished writing a book? Do you dig so deep that you need a little time to recuperate?

  56. I’m not surprised that an emotional response to music or words inspires your writing. I always settle in for an emotional read with one of your books. I really enjoy emotion being the core of the story, as opposed to tricky plot twists or unsolved crimes, etc. Then again, that’s probably why I read romance one thousand times more often than mysteries or thrillers!

  57. I have recently started collecting your books! One of my favorite hobbies is haunting thrift stores in hopes of discovering a first edition!

  58. Dear Mary: For most of my adult life I have been reading mostly mysteries but had not gotten into “romance” novels of any kind until just recently. Luckily, your books were the first ones that a friend of mine recommended as she told me that they were really LOVE stories more than anything, and that is exactly what you say too. I have read quite a few of your books now and have absolutely loved each one of them. I honestly get the feeling that you “know” these people in person, just by the way you show their qualities and their character and it is soooooo nice to have that feeling of “warmth” with your characters and stories. I imagine that while you are writing each and every book, that it does seem as through these characters are personal friends of yours, in another time period obviously.
    You do such a great job with these stories, Mary and I am so glad to have found your books.

    I know that when I buy one of your novels that it is never going to disappoint me, and that is saying something, believe me. You are one of the best if not THE best writer of love stories!!!

    Keep up the wonderful writing; all of us readers need you in our lives to make us happy and to make us smile.

    Sincerely,
    Cynthia

  59. I love that you weave characters throughout the books. The Bedwyn series is one of my favorites. I just re read it, and then had to re read the Simply series, and THEN One Night for Love and A Summer to Remember. I remember reading that when you were starting the Bedwyn series, you asked “who wants to be first” and Aidan stepped forward. When you are contemplating a book or series, do you have to make yourself (or meditate) to that place where the characters speak to you? Or is it more or less a constant state? I’ve heard other authors say the characters speak to them, too. Just wondering.

    • I have to “think” my way into a story every day I sit down to write it, Peg–it is a sort of meditative state, I suppose. And I am not sure the characters speak to me. That would imply that they were there and I am here. It is more a case of my becoming the characters and being right there with them.

    • Aidan’s story was wonderful – a true man of honor. Even though he was described as not being particularly hansome with his hook nose, he quickly became hansome through his actions. Thank you for reminding me about him, Peg!

  60. I think it would be easy to find inspiration, but to come up with story after story, each one unique and engaging, is what I find so amazing. I love your stories and the way I feel kind of lost when one is over. I love laughing or crying with the characters and feeling like a really know them. I’m ready for the next one!!

  61. Mary, I particularly like that you portray characters of “honor” who believe in doing right according to their inner code.

    • I agree and your comment reminded me of the Richard Lovelace poem with the line:

      I could not love thee, Dear, so much,
      Loved I not honor more.

  62. I am moved by many pieces of music, and art and nature’s beauty. And I think for your readers, we are moved by your writing which is art in finest form.

  63. Is it funny that every time i read a book i think that i could have easily thought about that one myself. but then i always like to have my own endings. i love your books and love how they take me to another world all the time. thanks for that.

  64. Why am I not surprised that you are inspired by the final lair scene in Phantom of the Opera? It was Phantom of the Opera which brought me to you and to your books. Years ago, I edited fan fics for a POTO writer who kept recommending your books. I had never read romance books before, thinking them all bodice rippers filled with purple prose. She was very persistent and finally got me to read The Secret Pearl because of the POTO tie in. Now I have all of your books (except two), and several both on Kindle and in hard copy.

    This was a very beautiful and inspiring post, Mary.

  65. i love your books and i cant wait to read the newest ones, i love how books can take me to another place & time where i get lost in the story and i always want the hero & his lady to find true love ( which they always do ) and all the struggles they go through and the obstacles they have to overcome to find each other. I hope you continue to bring us such heartfelt stories for many years to come!

  66. I love how your characters are always sincerely informed by their pasts and act accordingly. As readers we have a deep understanding of their point-of-view, and it makes for a more immersive reading experience.

    Thank you for the great love stories!

  67. I am moving and need to choose what books to take with me. You are the one author with whom I will not part. I am re-reading your Huxtable family series and realized that I read them every three years or so. AND love them every time. All “keepers”. Thank you for sharing your talents. Jane

  68. I’ve recently read “A Summer To Remember”, one of the only three books available in Portugal, and i loved it. I was overwhelmed by the story, specially by the main characters because i could easily see myself in Lauren, the similarity between our personalities we’re so obvious that i was shocked. Her story allowed me to travel to another world and made me understand a few things about myself. Since then i’ve read the entire Bedwyn saga (in english, there is only one book of the series available in portuguese) and i’m planing to start reading the simple quartet soon. Is there any particular reason why you chose the 19th century for your stories?

    • I fell in love with world created by Georgette Heyer, Ines. And I felt such a love for Regency England that I felt almost as if I must have lived there happily in a former life.

  69. I love all three of the ones you’re offerring, but Simply Love is my very favorite. Your writing makes me feel the characters and their emotions. I was so happy when Sydnam found his happy ending, and Anne of course. A Matter of Class was the first of your books that I read, and then I went searching for more – happy to find they were longer. Each one holds me completely to the end, and then I find myself wishing there was more story. I love the series: the Simply, Slightly, and Huxtable series because they let me keep somewhat in touch with previous characters. In the Huxtable series, when did you know you were going to make Constantine a hero? I always felt him hovering in the background and was never sure about him. I loved his story though, especially the secrets that were revealed. I have shared your books with several friends and they were hooked too. Thank you, Mary, for writing wonderful love stories!

  70. I knew I was going to write Constantine’s story right from the first page of FIRST COMES MARRIAGE, Betty!

  71. I love hearing more of what you think. I feel like it makes me love your books more. It is true, you do write love stories. I think it’s fascinating that you write simply from an emotion. I would have thought the plot would be more central. I love that you and other authors can write so many love stories, but always make them seem fresh and new! 🙂

  72. I read four to seven novels a week- and can’t possibly keep them all- but I do keep every one of yours. Thank you for the many escapes into time and into the worlds of others you bring to life.

  73. mary, i think the secret of your success to me and your other loyal readers is that you truly write love stories.and you still put your heart and soul into every one. so many authors try to combine the love story with a mystery or a historical period or give up and make the story all about sex as if sex on every other page makes a love story!!NOT!!!! and to think you’re still writing after all these years and continue to write amazing love stories! you are a gift to all of us. so often i love an author and find she’s stopped writing…or a previously excellent writer gets sloppy and writes awful stuff or starts depending on sex scenes instead of telling a truly good love story. you are a treasure, mary…truly a treasure to all of your readers.

  74. I recently went to a writers academy with author Jodi Thomas and rising star Tim Lewis. A question erupted. What is the difference between a romance and a love story. Jodi said a romance has to have a happy ending and Tim says that a live story tells the story of a love but the characters don’t always end up together. I believe you’ve made your own genre. There’s more emotion and baggage in your stories than in most romances. I love that about your stories! I can’t imagine the characters not building their life together. That’s the real test of love. Being able to be passionate about each other through the grind of everyday life.

  75. I appreciate that you write love stories with beta men in them, Mary. Right now it’s fashionable to have highly erotic novels with alpha males in them. Which, may have their place. But the other is much more real and inspiring for me.
    I’ve always yearned to write and wrote quite a bit when I was younger. I love that you shared your refreshing ways that you come up with your ideas. For me, it would be the joy of writing, of creating! Thank you, so appreciate your blog.

  76. Mary, Interesting post. A Survivors’ Club is a great idea for a series– I love the characters already and I haven’t met them all yet! Enjoyed The Proposal and am eagerly awaiting The Arrangement.

  77. It is curious that I love all of the music you mentioned. I also have a particularly strong reaction to the last song in Phantom of the Opera. I watch the DVD at least once a year. It is an unusually good translation of a stage musical to film.

  78. I have enjoyed your books for years. I enjoy your Facebook posts and pictures. As for where an author gets ideas: I have never wondered because the world is so large and so wondrous, that I wonder how to trim down the ideas, how to pick and choose.
    Thank you for the opportunity to give feed back and to have a bit of conversation.

  79. I find a lot of inspiration visiting stately homes, country parks and old villages. Walking in the grounds of any of the beautiful estates in the UK I can get transported back centuries, and characters pop into my head. I’m lucky enough to be living in Hampshire, and if I drive 30 minutes in one direction I can be standing outside Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton, 20 minutes down the motorway I have Winchester, and 15 minutes up the road is Stratfield Saye, the estate given to the Duke of Wellington after the battle of Waterloo. Then there are all the charming villages in between, I’m never stuck for places to visit and never stuck for inspiration. Maybe that’s why I have so many ideas written up, but so few stories actually finished.

  80. I find that I’m not so much interested in where you get your inspiration from as what you produce from that inspiration.

    Since I retired I read at least two romance novels per week. I’m in the middle of one right now by another author) that I just cannot finish. The characters are so thin that they seem like paper dolls. I just cannot find enough interest in these people to finish the darn thing!

    YOUR BOOKS HAVE SPOILED ME!! Several of your books (Secret Affair and Slightly Dangerous) are the high water marks that I find myself judging all novels (including your own) by. The plots in your books aren’t that much different than others of the regency genre, but the characters you create are so rich and full that I find myself caring about them even after I’ve finished the book. I think that is why series are so popular. Character you have met previously reappear (if only briefly) and it is like seeing old friends.

    So regardless of where you get the inspiration from, keep up the excellent work!

  81. I love complete love stories with likable characters, emotions, and the chance of love or the realization of love. Without emotion characters are one dimensional and unbelievable. Thank you for creating complete/comprehensive stories.

  82. “I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit.”
    – John Steinbeck
    Mary,

    I have been a teacher for ten years and I believe these special words from Steinbeck to be true. After working a tough week, dealing with a neglectful parent or an inept administrator I love to read one of your lovely stories to replenish my soul and spirit. I have many favorites but enjoy reading Cassandra and Stephen’s story in Seducing an Angel over and over. I love Aidan and Eve in Slightly Married and Web of Love truly touched my heart. Thank you for your wonderful writing!

  83. I have read almost all your recent books but not most of the older ones because mostly they are out of print. Have you ever written about an unrequited love (on the part of the heroine)? Which of course would still have a happy ending. I would love to know the title.

  84. It’s interesting to me to read about the ways authors find their inspiration. I am not a writer. I’ve tried many times but I can never get past the first chapter. Maybe I’m just not finding inspiration in the right place…or I’d just rather read someone else’s book. I like that yours comes from music. I know some people can just look at something in nature or a picture and they have a billion scenes running through their heads. I feel like music holds so much more emotion than anything else. I can see why you’d get such great inspiration from it.

  85. I just reread Simply Love and it was every bit as satisfying as the first time. I am grateful for your talent, Mary, as you do write wonderful love stories. I also just finished Slightly Scandalous, Freya and Joshua’s story and I wanted to say I appreciate how you made Prudence a human in her own right. Thank You! And when I started the book, I didn’t really like either hero or heroine but as the story proceeded, I started liking both more and more as you characterized them so eloquently.

    I was at a used book sale, Mary, last week, and finding your books were like finding hen’s teeth! I know you are a popular author but I think people that buy your books tend to keep them! I did manage to find four and I bought them all with intention to keep them forever too. Please don’t stop being inspired to write and keep us all your fans in anticipation of your next book.

  86. I love your books. I have owned most of them at one time or another. I have shared with friends and now I’m missing quite a few. I’ve had a hard time finding other historical romance authors I like as much as you….so I end up re-reading many of my favorites sometimes more than once or twice over the last 20 years. My other favorite author in the past was Georgette Heyer. I re-read Ms. Heyer’s books over and over when I was a teenager. Both your books and Ms. Heyer’s have held me together during bad times in my life. The books take my mind off my problems and I know that no matter what happens the heroine always overcomes all obstacles and finds love. I am an avid reader of many different books for entertainment but for comfort I need and read your books. That said I wasn’t sure how to provide input to an earlier post you had on the selection of the cover of your books. So I ended up here. I just ordered “The Proposal” and hate the cover. It is embarrassing and says all the wrong things about the content of the book. If I was not familiar with your work I would not buy this book….I wouldn’t even pick it up to read the back. I would not read it out in public, and at my bedside (where I read most of your work because it is so relaxing and comforting) I’d be embarrassed to have my kids come in an see me reading it. I doubt I would lend it out to a friend. It’s not vulgar…the guy is attractive, and I’m all for sex but it sure doesn’t say one thing good about your story. I mean…even “Shades of Grey” has a classy cover. That said, please keep writing more books, I can always rip the covers off the paperbacks or take them off the hardcovers or finally convert to electronic reading so I won’t see the cover.

    Thank you for many many years enjoyment!

  87. My aunt introduced me to your books a few years ago. What a gift she gave me and you gave the world. Thank you for writing – you have a faithful fan who will eventually share them with my girls. Though at 8 & 6 I think I shall wait a bit.

  88. I was reading “A Summer To Remember” yesterday and I was thinking this same thing, where does she get her ideas? 🙂

  89. The ideas you come up with have enthralled me immensely the last few years. My daughter and husband have already known for some time if they ever want to get me a gift to go straight to your website and pick a title. It’s getting harder and harder as I have pretty much all the last few years that you have printed. And I greatly appreciate that as an author you continue even in a few sentences the lives of characters of past books that has always made me enjoy it more. Seeing how their stories never really do end but have a glimpse of how they continued or how their journeys help another character. Amazing job and I can’t wait for the next collection.

  90. I am in awe of authors. No matter how many times I read how an author gets his/her ideas/inspiration, and they make sense, I still can’t imagine the ability it takes to turn those ideas into such wonderful stories.
    I love being able to benefit from it though. I loved that you called your stories love stories. That is how I look at many of the books I read – beautiful love stories.

  91. I’ve been reading your books for years. Thanks for your unflagging attention to the quality of the craft.

  92. Mary I think a Precious Jewel one of the most moving books I’ve ever read. That the flawed, not very smart, endearing and sweet however, hero could love a heroine working as a prostitute out of desperation showed both characters as human beings, flawed and beautiful. I like how you said you start at the beginning….much simpler, isn’t it? Allowing characters to grow naturally makes sense! Your books occupy a great deal of space on my keeper shelf!

  93. Awesome series of Historical Romances! I first read One Night for Love… Then I was hooked. I just finished the Huxable Series. Wow, I just loved the characters, plots, settings, history, time period…… I’m starting another series, today.

  94. Mary, I hope that you have many more male fans who love your writing as much as I do. You are one of the finest novelists that I have ever read, and I’ve been “absorbing” the re-releases of your early Regencies as soon as they come out (not having been able to find them in my local library system). You do “great story,” and I’m a dedicated fan.

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