This is a question I get asked often. I can answer only for myself as I know writers differ greatly from one another on how quickly they can produce a finished book. Even for me it varies. One book a while ago took me a whole year to finish, but another many years back took two weeks! A few people asked on my Facebook page what my daily quota is. It is 2,000 words, and the length of my books is 100,000 words. If you are at all functional with multiplication, you may assume that it therefore takes me fifty days to write a whole book. Not so!

What happens is that, no matter how carefully I try to get to know my characters and their backstory before I begin writing, I discover once they start acting and reacting and talking and thinking on the page that I really don’t know them at all. They keep growing from within. They constantly surprise me. And their backstory, those events that shaped them and loaded them down with all the baggage they have to deal with in the course of the story before they are fully ready to love and be loved–all of that reveals itself and fills itself in with agonizing slowness. But discovering some small thing from the past can make all the difference to the story I am telling. In The Notorious Rake, for example, the heroine’s friend asks her close to the beginning of the book if she realizes that Edmond killed his mother and brother. I remember thinking, “Whoa!” when I saw those words appear on the screen before me. I had no idea she was going to say that. My immediate urge was to erase the words. But I didn’t and they were actually the key to the whole story and the very complex character of the notorious rake. Once these things reveal themselves, of course, I have to go back through the whole book making adjustments accordingly. I often compare getting to know my characters to peeling layers off an onion, but if I really consider that image, it is more the opposite that happens. I spend the whole book piling on the layers so that the reader can have the satisfaction of peeling them off. In other words, like all writers:

Image 3

On average, then, a book takes me about four months to write. There are exceptions. The two-week book was A Precious Jewel. The hero, Sir Gerald Stapleton, was a minor character in The Ideal Wife, friend of the hero. He was restless and depressed in that book because his long-time mistress, whom he had taken out of a brothel, had left him to marry someone else and he couldn’t forget her. I found myself haunted by their relationship and wondering if she would go through with her plans to marry someone else or return to him. I longed to write their love story. The trouble was that I was writing Regency romances and there was no way I was going to get away with having a prostitute as a heroine. I tried the idea out on a few writer friends and they gave a unanimous thumbs down. But I couldn’t NOT write the story and it finally poured out of me in a two-week period, after which I put the manuscript up on a shelf for two years because it was unpublishable. Then, on a whim, I sent it in and waited for the verdict. After a long wait, I called my editor to ask about it–and she told me the book was in copyediting!

It would be nice if all books could be written that quickly! Though maybe not. Part of the wonderful thrill of writing is the journey of discovery into two characters destined to love each other to the depths of their souls for long ages after the last page has been written. Although writing can be a painful process, I am not sure I would have it otherwise.



To one randomly chosen person who leaves a comment here before the end of next Tuesday, July 2, I will send a signed copy of either THE IDEAL WIFE or A PRECIOUS JEWEL or A COUNTERFEIT BETROTHAL/THE NOTORIOUS RAKE (winner’s choice). Last week’s winner was Mary T. Congratulations to her, and thank you to all who made comments. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them.


  1. One of the many reasons you captivate your readers is your insight into your characters. Thanks much for yours words and great entertainment!

  2. I am fascinated by the idea that the writer can be surprised at what one of her characters says. I expected that you would know it all before you write.

  3. It would take me the rest of my life to write a book. Thankfully, I can just enjoy the fruits of your labor! I absolutely loved A Precious Jewel. It was interesting to read the backstory on it. I have your new novella and book on pre-order. It will be like Christmas when they appear on my Kindle.

  4. It is always interesting to hear how ideas come to them. I dabbled in writing short stories, but never seriously was able to do it. You, however, are the queen of romance novels, and I love and appreciate all you do! Can’t wait for the new release to come out!


  6. I love it how your characters are in you just waiting for the right moment to be discovered! You are a true talent, Mary! I love your work

  7. I think if its part of a series, it may take a little less because you already have the groundwork laid…but then again ensuring no slip ups with the other characters lives may add time. 3-12 months? (Just for the initial write) I know its a big gap but some stories are longer and authors still have lives off the paper too, true? I know I appreciate each minute spent on the writing, I sure love them all!!!

  8. I’ve tried to write my own book, but the characters usually have their own ideas and I never get to write my story, they usually end up writing their own in their own words. It’s nice to know that it happens to the professionals too. 🙂

  9. I am amazed A Precious Jewel was written in only two weeks! I am currently reading “The Happiness Project” and plan (like the author) to spend one full month writing someday. I’m excited to just start and see how things flow!

  10. Mary do you have in mind the type of characters you want in your story before you start writing or do they just pop into your head? I thoroughly enjoy your books and enjoy reading your posts on facebook everyday. I always capture the pictures you post as well and repost on my wall for others to see.

    1. I do plan my characters before I start writing, Kim. Sometimes I am even convinced that I know them well. But I never do. They have to be living in the story before I start to really get to know them.

  11. I have always wanted to write a book, but I cannot seem to get my thoughts organized in order to do so! Perhaps I simply enjoy reading other people’s words more than my own, teehee. Mary, you nearly ALWAYS have at least one scene that will make my eyes well up with tears, if not outright make me cry. I get sooooo caught up in the story that I feel very intensely for the people in them. I think it’s neat that you have a goal of how many words to write per day, but don’t change a thing about the way you write!!! You are awesome!

  12. I usually stay away from writers who seem to have pumped out a hundred or more books. I would prefer a writer to take the time to live with the characters, walk with them on their journey. I am able to reread your books over and over, and it’s B-) because I love the characters, who are always fully fleshed out.

  13. I love your books. It is easy to forget that the characters are just characters in a book. You make them come to life. I start a book and cannot put it down until I have read the final words. You bring so much pleasure. I also love your posts on FB and love to share them with friends.

  14. Trying to figure out how to get that eNovella…and wondering if I need to wait to read it along with The Arrangement or ahead of it.

  15. I loved your Huxtable series, and Dark Angel is one of my favorites as well. I have been told by several friends and aquaintances that I should try writing a book, but to be honest I wouldn’t even know how to begin the process. I have several ideas, and even characters running through my head. I hope I will be able to call myself a writer one day, too.

  16. First, I want to thank you for the mini Vacations you give each of us! I have enjoyed your stories and have many of them in both paper and E-book! When a new book comes out, I grab the previous ones…re-read them, to be caught up again, then read the new one. It is interesting when you said that you were occasionally surprised by something a character says…I would love to be a fly onthe wall whenthat happens…LOL

  17. I love your books. I re-read them all the time. I often wondered how long it takes to write one. Thanks for the insight. I do enjoy your series. I like to hear of former character’s lives and children they have as the story continues.

  18. It does not matter to me how long it takes for you to come up with a new book, there are always your older books to re-read again while waiting. Although of course it would be nice if we could have new book from you every 2 weeks!
    BTW Mary, you said you were surprised at what some of your characters had said. Did you not plan it in your head what they were going to say before you wrote them on the screen, or were you in a sort of a “trance” where the words just flow out from your fingertips and onto the screen. So sorry, I am not a writer, it’s quite difficult to understand.

  19. Dear Mary: I love all your books and enjoyed reading your post so much. As a writer, your point about gaining deeper insight into your characters as they evolve during the writing process really resonated with me. I find also that the characters, especially secondary ones, can inspire certain twists and turns that I had not planned. Again, I appreciate your sharing your experience with us. 🙂

  20. I enjoy the books you write so much. Thank you for the wonderful stories. I always want to know more about the characters after the book ends. That’s the sign of a well written book.

  21. “A Precious Jewel” is one of my very favorite books, Mary. I read it for the first time last year and have already re-read it once again this year. The fact that you wrote it in only two weeks only reflects to me the time that you spent thinking about it and crafting it in your imagination. Once that was done, I’m sure that your talent just allowed it to flow from your pen.

  22. I think that is fascinating that the characters can surprise you with what they are going to say. The characters take on a life of their own and sometimes go down roads not anticipated. I always find it amazing that writers can think of a beginning, middle and end. I was at the beach and an idea came to me. I thought it was going to go in one direction and I tried to get it there, but the story wrote itself a different way. I like science fiction and so I tried to base a science fiction story on the idea, but the story went in the direction of romance and family values. It was the first time I had a beginning , middle and end. I realized then, there is more to writing than the beginning, middle and end. You were the first Romance writer I found and that was in the Christmas Regencies that came out. Every Christmas season it was like opening up a marvelous gift to read your Christmas story. I discovered Edith Layton in those books also. Those books introduced me to the Romance genre and I have since found many other authors. I love your stories, characters and plots. The Regency period is fascinating with the Lords, Dukes, Earls.

  23. Dear Mary, I have been collecting your books on line [Paperbackswap] and recently located a copy of Silent Melody. I especially loved it because I’m a retired teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. Keep up the wonderful work – i really enjoy all of your stories! Judy from Woodstock, IL

  24. I don’t care how long it takes for you to write as long as you keep putting out the books. Love your characters and all the baggage they have to wade through to find each other.

  25. A little of the muses must be involved, LOL!!!! I have talk to some writers (and I’m not one unless you count technical reports!) and they told me that depends on your inspiration and where the story goes…..if the story is lite or is dark and heavy, etc!

  26. This post reminds me of a artist who was asked, “How do you know when a painting is done?” If it’s a piece of work, whether a book or a painting, is there still room for improvement? Or do you quite while you still love it so you don’t get sick of it? I am not a writer, but I find it interesting to know the process and time authors put into their books. And I appreciate their willingness to share it with their readers.

    1. I probably read through a book a few hundred times while I am working on it, Susan, and I always find something to change. On the rare occasion when I read one of my published books, I always wish I could change a word here, a phrase there. But when a book is finished, I am happy to send it in and hope not too many revisions are called for.

  27. My first complete manuscript took sixteen months. The actual story was completed much sooner but the revision was killer. I needed to decrease my total word count and had to resist making any major changes that would require much more editing.

  28. Thank you Mary for all the time and talent that you put into your writing. I am an avid reader and enjoy most of the books that I read. So far I would say that 1 out of every 5000 that I have read I haven’t liked. Your books never fall into the don’t like category, so again thank you. Keep up the fantastic work and many more successes to you.

  29. I feel so badly when I have finished a book in 4-6 hours when I know that it has taken months to write. I devour books, and like a good meal it takes such a short time to eat and hours and days of preparation. I do appreciate the authors that give me those hours of pleasure. I love to read and so appreciate the fact that there are people who have the same great desires to write.
    Thank you for all of your efforts, they are truly appreciated.

  30. I love the knack you have for making your characters come to life on the page … it would take me forever to come up with a publishable story. I do enjoy the variety you have in the characters as well as the ability you have in making the time settings seem so real. I appreciate your talents!

  31. What a treat to read your comments about writing. For those of us who write, have written, or who want to write it is encouraging to discover what professionals do or don’t do. It is an amazing feeling when characters take over a story! Thank you, Mary.

  32. There must be a lot of processing going on in your subconscious! I wonder if you ever dream about your stories and wake up with an idea – perhaps how to solve some issue in the story that you’ve been struggling with. I haven’t written stories or books, but when I use to write papers or memos I liked to let them sit for a bit while thoughts percolated – I would often come up with something to clarify or add.

    1. I often think of writing as being a bit like doing a word puzzle, Diane. I love thinking hard, trying to find the right answer to a problem–because there always is one. It’s a conscious thing.

  33. I’ve often wondered about the psychology of what works in a romance novel. I remember realizing that the father from Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster series must have cheated on the mother (since there was an illegitimate son). When the author went back to tell the parent’s story, it was really hard for me to get into it – knowing that he would eventually cheat on her.

    It takes some creative and skilled plot-crafting to invent a scenario to ‘justify’ (not a good word for it – ‘make palatable’ perhaps?) an unpleasant situation like that. One reason the plot worked for me in A Precious Jewel was that it didn’t tie itself into unrealistic knots for damage-contol. The characters faced realistic consequences, and yet you feel like the sacrifice is worth it.

    It was nice to see the characters in a later story, and see that their love continues, and life looking up for them. A very brave plotline to attempt in the rose-colored world of romance!

  34. An interesting look into how a story and characters are created and developed as the writer goes along. Thank you.

  35. Really love your books. I’m attempting to write one, its taken 6 months two write 50,000 words, whilst trying to juggle work and family. I would love just to be able to write every day, all day.

  36. Do you ever get most/part of the way through and get stuck? For example realise that something isn’t quite right and not see how to fix it? If so, then do you beat it to death until it works or simply put it to one side until you can see it with fresh eyes? Or something else?

    Currently waiting for The Suitor to download….


    1. Yes, I often get stuck, Philip, and run against a brick wall. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a solution, but there always is. I rather enjoy that part of writing. As I said in reply to someone above, I sometimes think story writing is a bit like doing word puzzles (which I love). As long as you use your mind to puzzle over the problem long enough, you see the answer. It may mean going back through the whole story and making changes to accommodate the new direction the story is going to have to take, but then the story is going to be better. I never beat a story to death if it’s not working because everything I write from that moment on is going to be rubbish. I stop to find out what’s wrong and then fix it.

  37. I love your novels! Especially when they come in duos. Its 2 books for the price of one! (gotta love that) xD You’re style of writing is awesome. I read lots of historical romance (kinda my fav.) that sometimes one author and another can have a similar style. Its nice to read something from an author that has her own uniqueness. I’ve tossed the idea about writing short stories around in my head for some time now, and reading how you said it can take up to a year(maybe shorter for s.stories) to complete, omg, I would go insane! Lol I write poems and stuff, but I’ve been having a writers block here and there. It sucks because I’ll have a great feeling but once I get to typing it out, it’ll slowly fade and I am left with no inspirations. Anyway, thanks for sharing!!

  38. This was a very helpful post for me. I’m a fairly new author, and tend to be slow. Your 2000 word a day quota will be a good challenge for me. I’m about half of that. But I agree about the layers. I have found that I can set up a plot/structural skeleton, but if I give it much more detail than that to start with I stymie myself. I love to watch the layers emerge. I love to create people. I love the people you’ve created. You’re a definite idol of mine. Take care.

  39. I’m so glad you decided to send in a Precious Jewel on a whim. I found it when it was first released and have read that copy so many times it has now fallen apart. That book began my love of romance and of your stories. It was a captivating story.

  40. I love the stories you write. The characters are alive and real in my imagination. A long as you write, no matter if it’s quickly or slowly, I’ll continue to read.

  41. So. Basically. It takes as long as it takes. 🙂 I always love hearing about the writing processes of writers. Maybe all the differences reassure me that I can still do this too. 🙂 thank you for sharing all of this.
    (I keep getting an error message. It won’t post “maybe your message is too short? There are others much shorter. Hmmpfh.)

  42. My first book took about 9 months to write. But, unlike Mary, I did not set myself a schedule. I wrote when I wanted to. My stories are character driven. Although I have a basic idea in mind, those characters will do things that sometimes surprise even me. The second book in the series took only about 5 months. I would in NO way compare myself to Mary in the quality of my writing, but I can identify with so much of what she says. I had no real intention of writing about the other Rothwell siblings, but Harriet’s husband James intrigued me and so their story just about wrote itself. Now it is Jane’s turn and she is such a different type of Regency young woman that I wanted her to have her story told as well. Oddly, those differences make it a bit more tricky for me to tell her story. I have to stop sometimes. When I am ‘stuck’ I go back and re-read everything to recapture the ‘feel’ of what I want to say. And that tee shirt says it all—edit, edit, edit! I am almost glad I am self published and not contracted out to write. I don’t think I could stand the thought of a deadline, unless it was a very LONG one! But I did identify with just about everything Mary commented on!

  43. I am defintely not a writer. I can’t string 2 sentences together and make them sound good so I have a deep respect for writers! It would take me forever and by the time I kept removing and adding lines I might eventually have a 90 page novella. LOL I appreciate all you do to bring us great books!

    Wanda Barefoot

  44. I enjoy your books, and your facebook posts. It always surprises me to hear that an author doesn’t know what a character is going to do or say. I have heard that from others as well. I enjoy reading books that have characters that appear in other books, not always a series. I feel that I get to know them. Keep writing your wonderful books for us to enjoy!

  45. I love your books! Thanks for the insight into writing. I think most of us who are dedicated readers dream of writing someday. For myself, the ideas come, but they don’t spill
    out on paper. Thank you for letting the rest of us live vicariously through you!!

  46. I think it is amazing how your characters reach out and tell you what they want to do or say, etc. Your books are always amazing and I’m constantly passing them along to friends and family!!

  47. Hi Mary,
    First, I’ve been a fan or your stories for a long time. They always make me smile, and they never disappoint.

    I love hearing about the writing process of my favorite authors.
    I go back and forth between trying to outline and just writing and letting what happens happens. How much do you outline or develop backstory for your characers before you actually sit down to begin the story?

    1. I think it through pretty carefully, Bobbi. However, I do not spend a great deal of time planning the actual story because I know it will change pretty fast once I get going. My present book, for example, (Book 4 of the Survivors’ Club series) has the working title of THE PURSUIT. It was a title that made perfect sense when I started. It now has no relevance whatsoever to the story so will have to change.

  48. My first book wrote itself in about three months! It was astounding to me to read some of the unexpected things that my characters, who’s personalities and quirks I had yet to tap into, would end up doing or saying. Writing that first story was an extremely rewarding adventure. Although that was several years ago, I am currently back at it and am now working on book #6! Some of my most joyful moments have been during the process of creating and watching my characters and stories create themselves.

  49. I found it interesting that your characters talk to you! It is amazing to hear how your stories evolve and become our favorite books. I hope you keep writing for many more years because I never get tired of reading your books, and I read them over and over again.

  50. I write professional books and admire people who write fiction! My first book took 9 months to write and I felt like I was “delivering my first child” when I sent it to my publisher. I wrapped it up and put different colors of curling ribbon around it and felt like I should include confetti as a part of the celebration. The actual creation time for that first book was actually way longer than 9 months. It was based on lesson plans that I had developed over many years of teaching. My second book was on a more technical subject and also took about 9 months to write. It was also based on many years of research and practice.

  51. There is something very special about A Precious Jewel. I love all your books, but this one moves me like no other. Just the thought brings tears to my eyes. It is a beautiful, redeeming love story. It truly must have been an idea that you felt from the bottom of your soul. I love the title too. A beautiful title for a beautiful book.

  52. I enjoyed your answer to this question, which basically is that it depends. It gave me a little more insight into the process you use to produce the books I love so much. I also enjoyed the story of the genesis of The Precious Jewel, which I enjoyed reading so much.

  53. I loved the tidbits about A Precious Jewel! Thank you for sharing. I just finished A Counterfeit Betrothal and absolutely loved it… A favorite for sure.

  54. It is very interesting how you seem to allow a character to reveal him/herself as the story goes along. Do you ever find that a character resembles one from a previous story and so you find you must force changes in personality or circumstances?

  55. Yes, I do find similarities among characters. I don’t have to force changes, though, to keep them distinct. Just as with real people, everyone is different from everyone else. I can remember being really alarmed a few years ago when I suddenly realized that THE SECRET PEARL was being republished right after SIMPLY LOVE was published–and there is a strong similarity between the heroes. But I read through both books, realized that really they are very different, and actually wrote a Letter to the Reader to go at the front of THE SECRET PEARL to explain this very fact.

    1. I can’t quite decide, between THE SECRET PEARL and SLIGHTLY WICKED, which one is my fave. Although in completely different ways, they both began rather shockingly, Mary! The trick is, apparently, for ‘certain’ characters to be willing to change their opinions about other ‘certain’ characters – in a big way. I really admire and appreciate how human (especially) your heroes and heroines are, not only in appearances and imperfections, but also in your capturing their, invariably complex, thought processes so well and being able to relate them. However do you do it?! Ah, well, BRAVO to you!

  56. I find it fascinating when authors explain how characters just seem to evolve organically during the writing process. I have loved your books and your characters for a long time. I use the summer to reread some of my favorites. I’m currently reading More Than a Mistress. Love it!

  57. Actually, I’m surprised that you get them finished that quickly! Your books always have a depth and complexity that I admire. Too many in this genre have become formulaic.

    It’s interesting your characters talking to you. I’ve read many accounts of authors, musicians and artists, etc. “getting” their inspiration this way.

  58. So interesting! I too always thought your books took much longer because of their depth. The first one I read was Simply Love and it completely changed my attitude about romance novels. I think it was the first true romance I’d read, with such mature characters. I loved that you were unafraid to have a hero and heroine with scars inside and out. It’s still my favorite book of yours.

  59. Thanks for the insight on your creative process. When you write about your characters they sound like your friends or family members. You make them sound so REAL and thats what comes across in your books. I have read ALL of them and it is always a pleasure to re-visit them after meeting them in another book. I recently bought a kindle version of Slightly dangerous just because I met up with the Duke in the proposal. Thanks and keep the books coming.

  60. I find what you say absolutely fascinating. I have read all of your books, (chasing them down from used bookstore dealers) and find that I read “The Precious Jewel” three times w/in a year’s period of time. It certainly is not your most complex, or even, for me, your most interesting book, yet there was something in its simplicity that drew me to it. I’m particularly interested in what you say about characters getting ‘stuck’ in your head. I’m not a novelist, however I write poetry and search for grants since there’s NO money at all in the profession. My most successful poems have simply “plopped” out; it’s almost as if I’m writing in a dream. When I put the first draft aside and reread it perhaps eight hours or more later I almost don’t recognize what I’ve written. Then begins the tedious task of rewrite. But the kernel, the actual poem, often comes out in five to 60 minutes w/many scratch-outs as I go. Of course, a poem is not a book, so the time involved is comparatively short. But the process of ‘getting it down’ and out of one’s head/heart/gut/soul or wherever the things we write come from and actually transferring the words so the thought process makes sense on the page to a computer or a journal is not so very different. I love what you say about “The Notorious Rake” since it is quite true that often poem “write themselves” and it sounds like your book did that type of thing as well. I’m afraid I’m rambling here, have never responded to something like this before. I saw your note on FB and chased down your blog to see what you had said about the length of time it takes you to complete a book. It is nice to see that it varies, as do most things in life. Thank you, Mary Balogh, for your generosity in your writing. Your books are a delight. They are provocative and interesting as well as having quite fully-developed characters, and wonderful for someone like myself who is bogged down in the world of nonfiction and poetry to be able to read. I see on your FB page that you are quite the reader also–be it paper or electronic. I hope I don’t have an accident speeding when I hit that bookmark! (love it) Take good care, June

  61. I so enjoy reading your blogs and getting a little insight on my favorite author and little extras about my favorite books. I cannot imagine ever having the patience to write but I am very glad that you do!

  62. I have read all of your books. You create beloved characters and interesting plots. The series I most enjoyed has to be the Simply series. As an instructor, I liked to read about the adventures of the teachers at Miss Martin’s School for Girls. The two main characters in Simply Love were unforgettable. I have reread the books in this series many times. I own many of your books and have encouraged many others to read your stories.

  63. I love reading your books. I feel that I am witnessing the characters lives first hand. I love your quiet brooding heroes. I just found your books last year as I was wandering through the library and since then I have read everyone I can get my hands on.

  64. Once again, I am hoping for an autographed copy of a book by Mary Balogh. I would select THE IDEAL WIFE as it is one of my favorites.

  65. I thoroughly enjoy reading your books and just like watching a favorite movie many times I enjoy rereading your books. Still have a way to go to read them all but have a nice collection so far

  66. I just read The Counterfeit Betrothal (really loved it) on vacation last week and am now reading The Notorious Rake, so your comments were very current for me. I also like what you said about rereading and making changes while writing. As a 5th grade teacher of reading and writing, it is so hard for me to convince my students of the importance of revising. They want to be done with everything the first time they put it down on paper. I realize their age is one of the problems. Any tips?

  67. As a high school teacher I never discovered the answer to that one, Betty. I suspect there is none. True writers are few and far between.

    1. You must be right. I won’t feel too badly then. By the way, I loved the t-shirt with this topic. Any way to get one?

  68. I am a huge fan! I love the idea of courtship and wooing. And I simply adore how even the most unladylike of the characters seems to have a ladylike side, and vice versa. I hope you enjoy writing your novels as much as we all love enjoy reading them.

  69. I was reading your most post regarding how opposites attract….or don’t. This post brings to mind the opposite nature of a school principal and a romance author. I’m not sure how to reconcile the two.

  70. I am new to romance novels and didn’t know where to start reading. So I learned who are the best and started reading. Your books are so beautiful and well written I just stayed in your romance world till I read them all. To chose one to comment upon I would take The Proposal. I shared some passages with my grown daughters and my son – none who have married yet. Of course I wish for them to find true love! In The Proposal I found it so amazing how sometimes people find each other in the most random of ways. If the heroine didn’t take that walk she might never have met the hero…if she didn’t fall…..I have a friend who eventually married a man whose life paralled hers in that they were in almost all the same places – from high school on- but never met until later in life.

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