Mary Balogh’s book, The Escape, is out now. Today, Mary is telling us a little about her writing process and her unusual journey to publication…
I like to start writing as early in the morning as possible after I have dealt with breakfast, email, and Facebook. As far as the weather will allow, I like to work out on our screened sun porch, using a lap desk. I aim for 2,000 words a day or about half a chapter, though I do a lot of going back and rewriting. On average, a book takes four months to write – and I write seven days a week when there is a book on the go. I have usually finished my quota by about noon and then catch up with other work-related things, like this interview, during the afternoons. If I can't work outside, I write in my study surrounded by perfumed candles.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
No, I don't. I don't watch films made from books and I really don't believe I I would want to see any of my books made into films (well, maybe the BBC). I write purely from the imagination and I read from it too. I don't see real people when I create characters.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Oh, goodness, this is difficult. No matter what answer I give, I know that for the next few days I am going to be thinking of something else and wishing I had named that instead. I'll stick with the conventional, I think, and say Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre, if they qualify as women's fiction. I choose them for the same reason. The heroines are women of their time, but both manage to take charge of their lives even if doing so is going to lead to unhappiness and deprivation – as it does for both for a while. The fact that each manages to have her cake and eat it too is a very nice touch, but the happy endings are not the real point of either book.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
Well, I try to plan. I have a vague idea of the plot before I start and what I always think is a firm knowledge of the hero and heroine. But I might as well save myself the bother, because once I set the plot in motion and release the two main characters into it, they take over and they are never the people I think they were going to be. Fortunately, they always have much more complexity. It is only through dealing with the events of the story and, more important, with each other, that these complexities are revealed.