WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW


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That’s probably a familiar phrase to any would-be writer or to anyone who has ever been in a creative writing class. Write what you know! It is what I used to tell my high school students. It could be painful to read stories about gangsters in Detroit, written by teenagers who had never stepped outside rural Saskatchewan, Canada. I used to tell them they could write far more convincingly and entertainingly about teenagers living on the prairies. However, it would be pretty confining for writers if they really could not write about anything beyond their own narrow horizon, even if it worked very well for someone like Jane Austen. What if one lives on the prairies but wants to set a story in Detroit?

The outlook is not as gloomy as it might seem when one remembers that there are many ways of knowing. We can know something by experiencing it, by living it, or at least by living the sort of life we invent for our characters. But we can know other things from traveling and from reading and from doing research. Thank heaven for that or I would not have written more than a hundred novels and novellas, almost all of them set among the upper classes of Regency England.

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When I wrote A Masked Deception, my first book, I had read all of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as well as numerous contemporary authors who were writing the small Regencies. I had read numerous history books and had done my best to find out as much as I could about things like clothing and vehicles and food and manners and etiquette and all those important things that are not so easy to find. At least, they were not easy to find at the time. There was no internet in those days. I had grown up in Britain and still had a British “voice” even after a number of years in Canada. And so I started–in 1983, writing longhand at the kitchen table during the evenings after my school classes had been prepared and all the marking was done. I was not sure I knew enough (I’m still not sure) but I did my best and kept learning and kept correcting mistakes I had made in earlier books. If one is going to write something about which one has no direct experience, then one really ought to get it right, to make it as authentic as one possibly can. Do the homework! When I setΒ Beyond the Sunrise in Spain and Portugal during the Napoleonic Wars, for example, I read exhaustively about every battle that had been fought Β and every shot that had been fired during those battles–even though the actual book used only a fraction of the knowledge.

There is another type of knowing in addition to experience and research, though, and I think perhaps it is most important of all. It is imagination, the ability to identify. It is important to know what it feels like to be inside the skin of one’s characters, to know their lives from the soul out, to know how they think and speak and behave. It is important to know what it is like to be in a certain place or in a certain situation. If the characters go to Vauxhall Gardens in London for an evening of pleasure, for example, it is important to know about the gardens, of course. It is equally important, though, to know how it feels to be there and to be able to convey that feeling to the reader. And if a character is deaf or blind or maimed or very plain or unusually beautiful, it is important to know what that feels like and what difference it makes to that particular person. Being deaf in the early 19th century, for example, meant something very different from what it means today. Most deaf mutes ended up in insane asylums. And much of this type of knowing has to come from the imagination, from that in-built ability to identify.

So–write what you know, certainly. There is no better advice for a would-be writer. But remember that knowing is a much broader thing than it seems at first glance. There is much to know, but effort has to be put into acquiring the knowledge.

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I have discovered on my shelves an old (though pristine and unused) hardcover, large-print edition of my very first and long-out-of-print book, A MASKED DECEPTION. I will sign it and send it to one randomly-chosen person who leaves a comment before the end of next Tuesday, September 17. Last week’s winner was Danielle Smoot. Thank you to all who left a comment.

154 thoughts on “WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW

  1. I think it’s great you do thorough research for writing your books. I’m a history major at university and I like to write in my spare time. Though that time is sparse.. between my school, kids school and their extra curricular activities but someday I will have a finished product πŸ™‚
    I love your books Mary <3 Keep up the great work πŸ™‚

    • I have many of your books and still working on my list. I have enjoyed the Survivors Club series and have been reading everything I can find to see when the rest of the stories will be available. I have not been able to locate this. Do you have a release of books for 2013 and 2014 list? I would like to be sure to get the new stories once available. Please let me know. Thank you.

  2. I have read so many of your books! I enjoy them because the characters seem so real, all the ‘background’ seems quite authentic and the story line catches my interest. You also write with a sense of humor and I like that too. So, it is obvious, you’ve done the research; thank you for that. I’ll not attempt to write fiction but, when writing letters to family and friends, the words just roll out because I know, in depth, what I am writing about. The person who wins ‘Masked Deception’ is indeed fortunate.

  3. Would love to win this copy. What great birthday gift to me if I won my birthday! You are one a few author whose books I collect.

  4. I tell my first graders to write what they know as well. They always think it is going to be interested to write about teenagers (;-) One thing they like to do is write about themselves in other places– six year olds who have never left Vermont have trouble with this as well. But one thing I have learned is that people are people. I always like stories of people out of place— a bright intelligent woman in the Regency period is ahead of her time…she does not fit in. Lily in One Night for Love was also someone out of place. It is always a challenge to make the characters believable in that time without losing who they are. In addition, the love interest of such women also had to be ahead of their time—willing to accept a woman who did not fit the norm. I also like reading stories of people who are differently abled, in a time when there were not the opportunities there are now. It must be hard to picture a blind or deaf person’s hardships.
    While we do want to write about we know, trying to learn about or imagine other world’s , other personalities, or other times, adds to the challenge and fun of writing.

  5. I’m one of those people who loves research of all kinds! There’s nothing I love better than getting lost online researching a topic to learn more. When I read, my tendency to research gets worse. When I come across something I’m not familiar with or am unsure of, I dive right into finding out all I can about it! Thanks for the enjoyable read Mary, love your work!

  6. I just read my first of your books – The Arrangement, and loved it. I would really enjoy reading your first book too! I would have to think authors must enjoy research since it is so important to the craft.

  7. I’ve been having fun tracking down your earlier books, the ones that are not available on Kindle. My recent find was the very funny ‘Lady With A Black Umbrella’. I laughed out loud many times! The humour is so much broader than I was used to from your books, but I loved it!

  8. Somethings you learn from your own life experience and others you have to study and research. I would hope that writers do that research to be at least fairly accurate on items that they include in their books, especially historical facts. I know I’ve learned more about history thru books and movies than I ever did in school.

  9. Thank you for your research. I always feel that your characters belong in the regency period rather than a modern character in a period piece.

  10. I noticed the cover of your book and it looks like my kind of read. I was going to look for it because I love classic romances. I saw that you were holding a contest and thought I’d put my name in but I’m not so good with contests.

    I like the one with the yellow cover too. I want to know if they both are with Amazon. I’m a dyslexic but I was taught to read and write. It was like learning a foreign language. I read very slowly but I’m an addicted reader and my genre is Romance. I never leave my house without a book for fear I’ll get caught out with nothing to read.

    I’m retired and since I have no particular schedule, I devote my time to reading and I have my own library. I have books as old as 200 years; classics and first additions. They belonged to my father who started me on this journey. I am not a spring chicken, and I want to find a home for my library before I die. What would you do with such treasures? I am the last in my family alive and I look at my books as sacred. I just them to end up in the hands of someone who will treasure them, please forgive me, sometimes I just get carried away.

  11. I love that you mentioned Vauxhall Gardens. You’ve written about it in such a way that I feel I’ve been there. I believe it was Slightly Tempted that had that scene that I found so vivid. Love, love, love those books. I’ve read them many times and look forward to doing so again. Oh and a signed book would be pretty nice too! πŸ™‚

  12. As an avid fan, thank you for all the effort you put in to your books – your research makes our reading so much enjoyable!

  13. Is it just me or does the second cover image remind anyone of Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle from BBCs Pride and Prejudice?

    Love your books! I’m currently reading The Arrangement and am more than a little annoyed that work keeps getting in the way… ;0)

  14. I wish you would have been one of my writing teachers! I like how you expand on “write what you know”. I always dreaded hearing that statement from my instructors because I felt like I didn’t “know” anything that was incredibly interesting or had a very exciting life to draw from but I could research something that I might be incredibly interested in and write about it especially if it was a subject I felt passionate about.
    I really enjoy your blog and insights that you share!!

  15. I think moving to England at such a young age (I was nine years old.) and living in a small English village for three years combined with my reading all of Austen and Heyer while there left me hopelessly addicted to Regency England. And as an avid student of British history my addiction has only strengthened. Regency England is the place I go when the world becomes a bit more than I can handle. And I am continually amazed at the things I learn from my own research and from reading novels set in the period, fascinating little odds and ends about life in nineteenth century England. It’s my refuge, my education and my recreation. Thanks for writing so many books that have allowed me to escape to my favorite place in the world.

  16. What I know, Is many odd things. But the one thing I do know, is the love of reading, and the written word. While taking and English class, I have learned I do not know English,as I thought I did as a teenager. Now at fifty years young. I am more engulfed in knowing and learning more written words then ever before. One day, and maybe sooner then I expect. I would like to write a novel of my own.

    I thank you so very much, for your lovely novels, which keep me inspired to learn, live, and love written words.

    Thank you,

    Sincerely Debra Oldfield

  17. My husband and I went to the Waterloo battlefield while travelling through Europe a few years ago. While we were there, I managed to impress him with how much I new about the battle and some of the events. He asked me how I knew so much about the battle, since I am not a fan of reading war stories, and I told him that everything I knew about the battle of Waterloo I learnt reading Regency romances. The people around us laughed, but, it is true.

    • i have read and bought a number of your novels and i have loved each and every one of them. your first books are the hardest to find and i would love to see how your writing first started out, i understand over time and tons of research writing patterns change for an author.

  18. Every time I hear that phrase, I think of Anne Shirley. πŸ˜‰

    Ironically, I used to use historical romances to pass history class. I would try to read books set in whatever time period we were studying. It worked too. History was my best class. Though I used to have to hide the covers from the nuns. I went to an all girl catholic high school and the nuns were not too happy about my choice of bodice ripper reading material. I love covers like this one because I didn’t have to hide them.

  19. Good day. I would absolutely be over the moon to receive a copy of your book a masked deception! I tried to find a copy a while back but no luck. In fact I’d like to find all your older books that I missed reading the first time around. I truly enjoy reading your stories and meeting your characters. You had me hooked with the first book I read (the secret pearl) and I immediately went online and ordered everything I could get my hands on! And have been reading you ever since. Thanks for all the many hours of enjoyment!

  20. I have always wondered why fiction writers were told “write what you know,” and nonfiction writers are taught to dig, delve, and LEARN all they can for an article or book???? πŸ™‚
    I would love to win this book. πŸ™‚

  21. It’s such fun to see the old cover. I think writing what you know is so smart, it must be why I don’t write. Your books are so wonderful and have given me so many hours of enjoyment. Thank you.

  22. What you write feels so real – like opening one of your books is taking a step back in time. Now I know why. Keep up the hard work – the details count!

  23. Hello
    I have read quite a few of ur books and enjoyed them thoroughly.
    Hope u keep writing more of these entertaining books.
    Good luck

  24. I love your description of how you get to “know” your characters, it really inspires me to trust my imagination and trust that I am really feeling what is like to be my characters that I write about. I am ready to be brave and really dive into the experience of getting to know them even better. I do know that I very much enjoy getting to know your characters and am enjoying your newest now! Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  25. Interesting blog. Love the book. It’s new forever home would be next to other Mary Balogh books in my glass front bookcase.

    • There are more coming, Denise, some of them in paper as well as e-book, some in e-book only. Keep an eye on my web site for updates, coming soon.

  26. I can’t believe that it has been so long since I first started reading your books. In 1985 I was 35 years old I am now 63 and I still enjoy your books. All I need to see it your name and I know I have hours of reading enjoyment before me.

  27. I always enjoy reading about your writing process. It is the ULTIMATE testimony to your greatness as a writer that your blog entries are much better reading than so many of the books available today. I finished THE ARRANGEMENT today, and as usual, loved it. And, as usual, can hardly wait for the next Survivors story…bring on BEN!

  28. I am leaving a comment because I would love to have the book. I have a lot of your books because I read them over and over. I will randomly start thinking about a character or character trait of someone in your books because of people I meet or situations I am either in or I hear about. Then I just have to go back and read the book again to make sure I remember the story correctly. I am just glad I saw how to really pronounce your name so when I am telling someone about your books, I can at least say your name correctly. Love your story lines and characters. Amazing! Please keep it up.

  29. I would love to have this book. I never tire of reading your books, over and over again. The characters are old friends! Learning about the Regency period from your books is a wonderful history lesson, one I would never know about otherwise.

  30. Oh. My. Gosh. If this is the book I think it is, it is the very first romance novel I ever read. It came in a box set of Aviance perfume. Is that right?? Is that possible?? I would LOVE to read it again after all these years!! I still remember it so well, after many & many another book has blurred past recognition in my memory!

    Like you, I write what I love rather than what I “know.” But I do try to know as much as I can. And when in doubt, I set my novels in Georgette Heyer’s Regency rather than the real one!

  31. I’v just finished reading “The Arrangement.” I liked it very much. One thing I liked the most was that Vincent and Sophia were such likeable people. I always have something to read with me.

  32. I love all your books. Especially the stories of the Huxtables and The proposal. As a fan of historical romance, your books always leave me in a happy place.

  33. Mary, I have all of your Signet Regencies and they are my treasured possessions.

    It is a very interesting topic. I don’t know whether my stories would travel beyond the spaces of the Pacific Northwest. It’s what I know. I know the smells, the different kinds of light, the people, the feeling….

    I used to dream of writing like Victoria Holt or Mary Stewart. All that intrigue going on in Europe was very appealing to me. Regencies have always appealed to me as well. I commend you for doing your homework and transporting me to that world.

  34. A friend of mine recently read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for the first time (post 40 years of age). When she didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, I tried to explain, as you said, that it is as much a novel for entertainment as it is a glimpse into history (though you said it much better). I enjoy your books very much, and even when I had to “downsize” my personal paperback library, I could not send The Duke of Bewcastle packing. ‘Slightly Dangerous’ is a permanent resident. Thanks for the wonderful stories.

  35. I completely agree. Writing what you know makes your characters and situations authentic. It is a must for making your story believable. Research, although exhausting at times, has become one of my favourite aspects of writing. I love learning in depth about something previously unknown to me. I really enjoy your fiction Mary.

  36. I do so enjoy your books! And I must say that your research has been enviable!! I would love to know how many research books you have collected over the years!!

  37. I think you’ve done very well with all the historical info…regency period England is one of my favorite time periods to read and your books portray it very well! Would love to win that book!

  38. I must tell you, as you mention Vauxhall Gardens, that I am not a person who desires travel. I much prefer my own bed at night. However, if I had the ability to be any place at any time, I would love to see Vauxhall Gardens, London, or any number of the estates you describe so beautifully.

  39. Since it does not seem likely I’ll ever be able to set foot in Great Britain, I enjoy becoming familiar with it – and its history – through your books. Well, I like the romance aspect too – another elusive thing in my life πŸ™‚ I do become quite attached to your characters.
    Thanks for all the great entertainment (and vicarious living).

  40. Your research and your imagination shine through your books. I eagerly anticipate each new release, and I have been re-reading series with delight. Just finished ‘Slightly’, headed for ‘Simply’.

  41. One of the many pleasures of my 2 trips to London was the experience of seeing what i had only read about. A day trip to Bath that included the Assembly rooms and the Pump room had similar joys. you had taken me there many times before. I don’t think I had the scale right in my head though. I had thought the rooms would be bigger. Love your books of course.

  42. I seem to be the odd one out! Β I must admit to having never read one of your books, Mary. Shocking, I know! πŸ˜‰

    I do enjoy historical reads though, romantic or otherwise. I have often thought about the amount of research that must go into writing one. Β Thank you for writing about that process.

    I have put pencil to paper several times. Β This began early in junior high when an escape from real life was desperately needed! Β However, I have never finished a project. Β For me, early Junior high was 24 years ago – a lot of unfinished projects!

    I would love a signed copy of A MASKED DECEPTION to introduce me to you writing.

    Have a great day! πŸ™‚

  43. I thought that I at least knew of all your books, but somehow I have never heard A Masked Deception. I love your books and would love to win!! Thank you so much for all the wonderful hours that I have spent in the worlds your words have created!!

  44. #1. Imagination
    #2. Knowledge
    #3. Ability
    Or so the list of ‘writer’s tools’ seems to me. Imagination for me… no problem! Knowledge… well, this one can be a stumper for me since, although I love historical info, I have some serious memory issues. The same applies to the ability part, I suppose (along with often being too analytical and anal about that whole grammatical perfection thing!). I do my best writing when I can simply let it flow from my fingertips to my computer. When I get hung up on the exact where, when and how from a particular place or era, I become temporarily stymied. So, I think that for me the #4 rule must be memory… or would that be #2.5? Hmm… πŸ˜‰

  45. I bought all of your print books over the years, especially the early ones, but unfortunately I had to sell them all when we had some financial issues with a sick daughter and had to help her husband and children while she was in the hospital and we needed the money. Fortunately, I got quite a lot of money for your books on eBay, and also thankfully, my daughter is now healthy again.

    I really wish I had my books back, I miss them on my bookshelf, but thankfully my daughter is still here (and yes, it was that bad, the doctors told us she should have died 3x over the year she fought for her life, but she’s a strong girl). I’m still buying your books, but now as ebooks (I’m reading “The Arrangement” right now, and loving it!) I look forward to every new release and buy it the day it comes available. Thank you for all the enjoyment I receive from reading one of your books.

  46. I picked up one of your books several yrs ago on a whim. Because I liked the cover. I have since become a big fan and pick up your latest releases whenever money permits. It’s always nice to go back and re-read your books. Some of them make me laugh. Some of them make me cry. But they are always enjoyable.

  47. I loved reading your thoughts on the concept of writing what you know. Since historical fiction is one of my favorite genres, most of the writers that I read are writing from the sort of knowing that comes from exhaustive research and immersion into information from their preferred time period. The work that you all put into recreating those historical periods and places, makes all of the difference to a reader like myself. I can always tell when a writer has done their homework and is driven by the same sort of interest that drives me to read their work. Many writers can do this sort of work and I appreciate their effort, but the emotional knowing of which is you write, that is a much more difficult element. That is what makes your writing stand out.

  48. I worked as a writer for a incentive travel company and had to write about all types of exotic locales. I probably loved the research as much as the writing. I used store-bought books and library books — and was able to be as convincing as if I had been there – but only in my mind. πŸ™‚

  49. I absolutely adore your books. You create such vivid, amazing characters that I find myself wishing they were real so I could meet them. And you tell stories that make me laugh and cry. Thank you.

  50. I love the way you write … it does make me feel like I’m right there! Great advice about writing what you know; authors seem to get better over time as they experience more and more of life.

    This book looks intriguing – I have so many of yours (including The Suitor just purchased last night as one of my first Kindle non-free books!) but haven’t seen/read this one before. Thanks!

  51. I’ve been a fan for years, and am always excited when a new book comes out! I love that you have made this opportunity for one of us to win this out of print book!

  52. I love your books and appreciate how much you know about how to write your books. some times I read authors and spend more time searching to see if a phrase or term is more modern than in the time frame it is written. With your books this is not a problem and I love watching other authors ask for your advice and wisdom πŸ™‚
    I have a lot of catching up on your books to do but loving every minute!

  53. I absolutely love every one of your books. They are some of my prized possessions and have a place of honor on my book shelves (they take up more than one). It would be difficult to pick a favorite although I think I have read “The Secret Pearl” the most times. The only problem with your books is that they make me long for a time that no longer exists. I want to wear ball gowns and sprigged muslin! I have not read your first book and “would love it above all things”!!

  54. This is such fascinating insight! I’ve always wondered how much research it takes to write historical novels, and what your sources of information are when doing so. In fact, just as recently as last week I was considering sending you a FB message (since you’re so prompt about responding to those) to ask you that specific question. I’m so glad you pre-empted me with this wonderful post. Thank you!

  55. I wanted to be a writer when I was younger, I still yarn to have the ability, but I have found that I’m unable to keep it interesting and keep the characters straight. I’m also not very good at coming up with names. I have stuck to poetry.

  56. Thank you for letting us know our blunder by posting on facebook instead of here! Of course, reading your blog is the fun part, not the leaving a comment. As I posted on FB, if I were to win this novel you are offering, I would give it to my daughter as she introduced you to me, and, she is one of your biggest fans. She collects your novels and re-reads them as well. I like how active you are in the public arena. Makes you feel so “accessible” as an author to your fans. Thanks again and happy posting!

  57. I usually read ebooks, but I’ve been buying out of print copies of some of your older books and have enjoyed them very much. I read Irresistable which as far as I know is the only one of the Four Horsemen series that’s in ebook format. When I found out that there were two more before that, I had to read them. I loved both Unforgiven and Indiscreet!
    BTW- I wish more of your books were in audiobook format. I’ve loved listening to the Huxtable series but really wish the all of the Simply (only one out of the four is on audio) and the Slightly series were all in audiobook format, too. Get on your publisher, please!

  58. I can only imagine the time it took to research things in the mid 80’s! Now we have such wonderful technology to help in researching just about everything you could ever want to! I think that is the part I find the most daunting, wanting to write and not knowing where to start with researching the various aspects of the subject.
    Thanks for letting us in to see the way you have done things!!

  59. I LOVED this book and would treasure a signed copy of it. What I wouldn’t give to find a Mary Balogh book that I have NOT read…**sigh**…

    I have tried to collect and keep all of the Mary Balogh Signet Regencies and Super Regencies that I can. Missing those lovely Signet monthly regency publications very much…

  60. Mary, I have been a fan of yours for years and I would LOVE to win the signed copy of your book. I’m a romantic at heart and your books always leave me with that warm feeling that all is well with the world. That’s not such a bad thing.

  61. I would love to have an autographed copy of this book. However, I want to talk about “The Proposal” and “The Arrangement.” When I received “The Arrangement,” I reread “The Proposal” before starting it. I adored Sophia, and Vincent was an incredible character. Sophia was such a precious person who had been treated badly by her family. Vincent was so strong and courageous that I wanted to stand and cheer for him. I’m looking forward to future stories about The Survivors’ Club. They are all such solid characters I feel like I know them already.

  62. Mary you certainly make me believe that I am a young, upper class woman in Regency England when I am reading your books. So thank you for knowing enough to make the fantasy so real.

  63. June 17, 2011: The day I finished reading “First Comes Marriage”, my very first Balogh book. Needless to say I was hooked. Since then i’ve read 51books/19 novellas! I’ve sort of become obsessed with reading/having every one of your books. I’m always searching book stores, estate sales, yard sales, etc looking for your out of print books. If there’s a stack of books, i’m on it. I love everything about your writing. I always feel like i’m right there in the moment. So much feeling goes into your words. I laugh, I cry, I swoon with every book. Thanks for sharing your life, love and imagination with us.

  64. I also commented on the FB link on this subject.

    Keeping in mind that writing what you know is more than relaying the bare facts. You can “know” things emotionally that transcend genre’s, time periods or cultures. It’s all about making the story real on the emotional level that cause a story to ring true. I like to think of it as emotional integrity and it makes the difference in how much the reader can invest in the characters and story in my opinion.

    You do that very well.

  65. I absolutely love when historical fiction writers put so much effort into researching for the book they are writing. I think it’s so important to have everything be accurate because it helps place the reader right where they need to be in the story. Not only that, but it’s so interesting. London during the 1800’s is one of my favorite times/places in history. Everything is just so exciting and there’s so much happening. I would love to own this book since historical romances are my favorite! They have their own bookcase!

  66. It was interesting to read your blog this week. I introduced your books to one of my best friends and she and I were discussing THE ARRANGEMENT and how you seem to “get inside” your characters in such a way that we feel their pain and anguish. Especially with Vincent’s blindness. I almost felt myself panicking and gasping for breath with him in the carriage scene. It is evident that you have spent untold hours researching your craft. I find myself disappointed many times when I read other regency authors who don’t stay true to the era. Thanks for hours of wonderful entertainment.

  67. I think that is why I have an issue with so much of what passes today for science fiction. So many of them lack even a basic underlying scienctific basis that I can’t stand reading them because I become distracted by the inaccuracies. Whereas authors like James Rollins and Steve Berry who base their fiction on real life historical and scientific concepts are a joy to me, because the whole premise of their work is to say “what if this were true” and to go from there…so they imagine what it would be like to have electronic sensors embedded in a character’s fingertips and how that changes the way he perceives the world.

  68. Hi Mary: I have read almost all of your books and very much enjoy your stories, characters and worlds. I haven’t read “Masked Deception” and would love to read it. Thank you for this giveaway!

  69. It truly would be an honor to win one of your very own first books published. I read as much as I can and you are among my favorite authors and I would love to win your autographed book. My book club friends would be so envious too. πŸ™‚ thank you so much for this great giveaway.

  70. I would love to own that book. Back in the day when you wrote for Signet, I used to check the book store every month, hoping that you’d have a new book out. (At that point I had no idea how hard it was to write, or how long it took for a book to come to print.) Still, there I was, always hoping, spinning the wire rack, scanning for your name. Times have passed, but our one-sided relationship remains strong. You are, and probably always will be, my comfort read. Thanks for Anne, and a Duke with a whizzing glass, and for soiled doves who find a better life. Thanks for wit, and heart-tugs, and the couples who live forever happily in my imagination.

  71. I love all of your books, and have been picking all of the older ones in estate sales. Thank you for writing such wonderful stories, and giving us memorable and loving characters

  72. I have all your books on my keeper shelf. You are the ONLY author I will spend money to buy a Hardcover. When I set out to see if I could write a romance, I had a vague idea of the story I wanted to write, but the first thing I thought was, “Write what I know” and I did. Love his blog!
    Thank you for SO many wonderful hours of reading joy, getting lost in you wonderful stories and falling in love every time with your characters!

  73. All of your books are like time machines. You open the cover and transported to a wonderful world where you fall in love, your heart gets broken, and fall in love again. And when you close the back cover, being jolted back to the future, you swear you can still hear the sounds of swishing silk and boots on hallway floors.

  74. I have spoken to a few writers and the first tip they gave me was the same thing, write what you know, and I know romance. Regency, Highland, Medieval,Western. I have been reading these books for 35 years. My mother gave me my first book at the age of 13. That first book is still my #1 favorite book today. I never considered writing until a few months after my mother passed away. I feel like my mother is with me often, helping me with my writing. I currently have over 700 paperbacks in my home, and another 1100 on my kindle.

    After my mother passed away, I would wake up with this one particular regency scene on my mind several times. I laid there for awhile and allowed my imagination to run with the scene and before I knew it I had my first book mapped out, and I am now currently working on writing it. I had thought about dedicating my first book to my mother, but my adult son, came up with the brilliant idea that instead of dedicating one book to her, why not honor her memory with her own Western (her favorite genre) romance novel where the heroine is named after my mother. Before I knew what hit me, I had mapped out my second book (once again while laying on the bed relaxing). I fell in love with the second book so much, I wanted to stop writing the first one and jump into the second one right away. I work nights so I usually get a few hours of writing in while I’m at work, then I try to get in a few more hours after I get home (after taking care of the kids) before I passs out. I’m still writing the first book, but I know once its finished I’ll be jumping into my mother’s story right away.

  75. I commented on Facebook, then saw that I needed to comment here. Thanks for telling us that! I really want to win this book – I’ve decided that you’re my favorite author. It’s a tough choice, of course, but I picked you because your books are ALWAYS excellent and so appealing. I’ll stay up all night to finish one of your books, to give you an idea… I bought The Arrangement today in the grocery store, even though I really don’t buy books anymore (can’t afford it) – I go to the library. I had just picked up about 8 books from the library before I bought this one, but I set aside what I was reading and I’m going to read The Arrangement. YAY!

  76. The topic brought me back down memory lane to my first descriptive writing. The funny thing it was an exam paper. The title of the essay was my mother. It was very emotional for me as the essay allows me to describe what a wonderful mum she is and all the wonderful moments even all her shortcomings. That essay taught me that good writing will bring life to the write up. in the said writing i belief i was able to describe my mother vividly that the reader would know her as if she was their siblings or friends. My writing is not as good as yours Mary, your books always allows me to enter an era where we could only dream off. Thank you.

  77. When I discovered your books I had to read every single one I could get my hands on in the bookstore and then through amazon to get the older almost out of print books. I’ve loved every single one I’ve read and will continue to enjoy all the new ones. Thanks, Mary, for all the hard work and love and care that goes into every story!

  78. My very dear Mary Balogh,

    I am so grateful for every book you have ever written but I have to admit I do have favorites. The Bedwyn Family are my best favorites (The “Slightly” Series). I can’t tell you how many of my family and friends I have gotten “hooked” on those books. We are all so very grateful. Thank you again!

    Elizabeth Herndl

  79. I think it is obvious when historical writers write from research and when they write from reading other historical writers. How many times have we read about the bad punch at and warped floors of Almacks? Your research gives your books the details on which to hang your imagination. Thank you for what you do.

  80. I love,love,love your books. I would be honored and thrilled to receive your very first book, especially in large print, since I am 67 and somewhat visually challenged. Please keep writing!!!!!!!

  81. I think you are correct to put so much physical research in your books to set a scene or a particular mood. More importantly, you give us insight into your characters’ lives and motives through their thoughts and actions. Knowing your characters is even more important than knowing what should be on somebody’s hat and whether its in style in 1806. How your characters ever find themselves in the same emotional place at the same time does take a bit of slight of hand. When we say we like or dislike a particular character you have developed that is because you give us plenty of reason to form the opinion and hope for an outcome.

  82. I am adding very few hardcover books to my massive collection recently, but I would love to have this one. I haven’t read it, but I’d sure like to!

  83. I love the cover of this book. It is the way covers should be and it tells a story in and of itself. I love all of your books and I just bought the Arrangement on my nook!

  84. I just got through reading a book of yours I received at RT2013, a dual “A Counterfeit Betrothal” and “The Notorious Rake.” I enjoyed them both; I especially like the way “A Counterfeit Betrothal” was written and how the hero was seeing his future in leg shackles more and more each day and took it with a grain of salt.

  85. Wow!!! An oldie but goodie??? I loved The Arrangement!!! I am not a writer but I definitely LOVE to read and I have some your books Mary, that are older I mean, ex. The Obedient Wife which I loved.I can’t wait for you to bring out some more.

  86. Thanks for all your hard work. I really enjoy your books. I just finished The Arrangement for the second time. I speed read the first time because I was so anxious to know the story. Then I went back and started over, reading slowly, savoring every word. Can’t wait for the next one.

  87. Pick me! Seriously, though, I love your older books every bit as much as your more recent books. What a treasure it would be to have this book in my collection.

  88. I would agree that writing simply what one knows would not only get boring for the reader but would eventually make writing tedious. I would think a writer could get caught up in the details and lose a natural flow if they only stuck to what they personally experienced. Do you find doing the research and learning new things is half the excitement to starting a new book?

    • It’s always exciting to learn something new, Kristin, or to discover a relevant book or article or web site I have not seen before.

  89. Ms. Balogh, I am such a fan. You truly do make the reader feel as though they are in the gardens or the park…I feel like not only do I get swept away in your stories, but I also learn history as well. Your research shows. I like “write what you know.” I often wonder how hard it would be to actually write the dialogue between the characters. I think that is a gift in itself. You really do have to immerse yourself as the character in order to just write out the conversation…I just admire what you do.

  90. Have recently found your books and I love them. A Secret Affair made me cry, twice!
    Would love to win one of your books. Hugs & Aloha.

  91. Writing about what you know is great, I am always grateful when an author does research. I HATE it when an author is inauthentic, when the regency heroine speaks with 20th Century attitudes & voice. I read very few period pieces for that reason (except, of course, yours). Thank you for all the effort you put into your work.

  92. I think it would be helpful for one to write what one knows, but you’re correct in that travelling, reading and indepth research are all ways to broaden one’s “experiences.”
    A copy of A Masked Deception would be an awesome addition to the “Balogh Section” of my personal library, that I continue to build. (I currently have 35 books, of which 5 are duplicates and 3 are multi-author compilations.)

  93. I’ve often wondered about the “write what you know” advice, if that was the case Jules Vern would have had precious little to write about. But it is certainly true that if an author cannot make the reader feel that it’s real, it just won’t work.

  94. I want to say that I think you definitely accomplish the second knowing, of how it feels to be in a person’s skin and that is why I love every single one of your books. I looked everywhere for Masked Deception and finally found it at the local library when visiting my sister in Ithaca, NY. I was so excited, I sat down and read it then and there. Thank you for writing such engaging books!

  95. Certainly the Internet has helped in regards to research for writers. However, there is a pleasure to be had from going to a library. I find myself going to the library even though I have at least ten unread books on my kindle. I love the smell of books. It is better when reading a story that the author gets the facts straight. When I discover an interesting tidbit, I always research to find out if it’s really true. I am always delighted to find out it is! I am thankful of the work put into research by the author, because I live precariously through their books. Thank you.

  96. I am so thankful when authors do extensive research to make their novels more plausible. It makes the reading experience that much richer. Thank you Mary!

  97. Your work really shows. Through your writing I have visited Regency England, gone to balls and battles, loved, lost and lived happily ever after. I thank you for all you do to share those characters with the rest of us!

  98. I love reading your books. Thank you for your through research and great imagination. I’m looking forward to your next book. πŸ™‚

  99. I have just discovered Mary Balogh books. I am now searching the local libraries for all of your books to read. I really like that they are basically happy, feel-good books that always end in a very lovely way. I get such a peaceful enjoyment out of reading them, which is what I always want when I’m reading a book.

  100. I find it intriguing that at the beginning of your latest blog entry, September 10th, the cover of “A Masked Deception” looks to be set in the Georgian era, but at the end, the hardcover copy of “A Masked Deception” depicts a beautiful Regency scene. Both are breathtaking, as is your enchanting writing style! Great advice in this entry of your blog as well!

  101. What a great blog! Historical fiction is my favorite genre because I love learning about other places and times. I have traveled to Egypt with Cleopatra, the Crusades, Italy, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, and of course England. Reading historical fiction often sends me to the internet to learn a little bit more. I particularly like your thought of “knowing” about something through research – interesting concept that is right on. Of course my favorite time period is Regency England as you have helped me picture Vauxhall Gardens, Hyde Park, Gunter’s, Bath, and many other places so well that I feel I have been there. Thanks for your many wonderful books. Just reread The Proposal, then The Suitor, and am now enjoying The Arangement. Can’t wait for the others in this series!

  102. Hi there –

    I’ve been a fan for years – your books are all “keepers” for me. πŸ™‚ Thanks for the wonderful stories and all the excellent research you do.

  103. I really enjoy reading your books. I wish I had found your books sooner since some aren’t available right now. Though I had a happy surprise today in finding a copy of Truly in my mom’s book boxes in the basement.

  104. Mary,

    I’m really enjoying this weekly blog that you have started. I like to read what other people think about your books and the topics you have introduced in the latest blog. I was lucky enough to meet you once when I had just purchased almost all your books on ebay (hope I bought one from Pat Amundson) as a treat to myself. This book would definitely be a treasure to add to my collection and I marvel at how generous you are about gifting your fans with autographed books from your own home. Thank you again for all the wonderfully researched and “knowing” stories that you have written and shared with all of us.

  105. I enjoy reading your blog because it gives so much insight to my favorite author. I’m always glad to learn more about you and your history with some of my favorite books. Would love to win a copy of Masked Deception!

  106. I started reading you’re books in 8th grade and almost ten years later I still enjoy them a lot. Well researched Historical Romance novels are hard to find and I’m glad that there are authors who take their time and do the research.

  107. Thank you so much for the effort you put into your books. The characters are so vivid that I really get caught up in their stories and what they must be feeling. I just found your books a few years ago, and I try to space them out (although sometimes it is too tempting to not just read through a series) so I will still have something to look forward to reading that I know will be wonderful. I imagine I will be re-reading them in years to come as well! Please keep on writing–you are terrific!

  108. Your books are fantastic! I enjoy reading and rereading them. I’ve just finished several of Georgette Heyer’s books and can appreciate that you used her as a guide. Georgette was fabulous. She painted such a vivid picture and was so detailed with the civility of the time, you felt like you were dropped right into her stories. When I picked up one of your books for the first time, it felt very much like reading a Georgette Heyer but with a different style. Looking forward to reading “The Arrangement: soon. Thank you for continuing to write! πŸ™‚

  109. I appreciate this blog so much! I don’t know how else to say it. I love research. I know that I cannot be in time and place but books allow me to go where I could not physically go. In my mind. And that is that great gift of imagination, as stated, the ability to identify. I have found it liberating, hope filling, inspiring, freeing in endless ways. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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