I’m delighted to welcome long-standing member Mary Nichols to the RNA Blog today. Mary began her writing career with articles and short stories before turning to novels. After writing ten for Robert Hale, she went on to write historical romance for Mills & Boon (38 to date) and family sagas, first for Orion and more recently for Allison and Busby.
I congratulate you Mary on your book THE KIRILOV STAR being short-listed in the RoNas. Do tell us the secret of your success, and who you would like to thank.
I do not know that there is any particular secret apart from determination and hard work. A friend, referring to the numerous rejections I had in the early years, once said to me,: ‘Mary, your trouble is, you don’t know when you’re beat.’ I took that as a compliment. I am grateful to Allison and Busby for their faith in me and to the RNA. I like to think all its members are my friends but there are a very special few (they know who they are) who have supported me and listened to my woes with infinite patience and good fellowship. I owe them a lot.
I believe you joined the RNA back in the 1960s, so do you think the media is less dismissive of romance now than it was then, or is this a cross we will always have to bear?
I suppose there will always be some people who look down their noses at our books. That is their loss, but I do think our image is improving. That is largely down to the hard work succeeding members of the RNA Committees have done over the years, not to mention the rank and file who were, and are, not afraid to stand up and be counted.
What do you enjoy most about your particular genre?
I like to imagine life as it was once lived by ordinary people and enjoy bringing the past back to life. I like doing the research and fitting the real history into the lives of my characters or, more properly, the other way about; the story should fit the history.
Which particular period do you most like to write about and why?
It depends which books I am writing. I like the Georgian and Regency periods for Mills and Boon, because of the richness, the manners and costumes, and working out how people travelled. I wrote one book, The Last Gamble, that consisted entirely of hero and heroine travelling by stage from London to Glasgow which gave them plenty of time to fall in love. For the sagas I like to write about the second world war, because I was there and I remember so much about it. It amuses me that it is now considered history. I suppose I must consider myself a historical character now!
I know that you also write for Harlequin Mills & Boon which are not as easy to write as people imagine. In what way does your approach differ in writing these books?
The Mills and Boon books focus entirely on the developing relationship between the hero and heroine and that is what I bear in mind, although there has to be a good story behind it. The sagas can take place over a longer time and I can explore other aspects and side issues as the plot develops. I use different points of view which have a bearing on the story. You can tell from this that I think the story is the most important element and there are no hard and fast rules. If there are, I seem to break them.
How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing?
Spending time with my family, reading, walking, playing golf, but I haven’t done the latter for a little while, owing to domestic circumstances which meant for a time I was tied to the house. Life is a little easier now, so maybe I’ll take it up again. I like doing crosswords and seeing how far I can get before I have to resort to the crossword solver.
Are you a lark or an owl? When is your best time to write?
I write at any time during the day, but rarely after 6 o’clock in the evening and I try not to write at weekends, but sometimes I am so fired up I can’t leave it alone; my characters demand attention.
So what next? Can you tell us a little about your work in progress?
I am three quarters of the way through my next book for Allison and Busby. I won’t say much about it, except that it is set in World War Two in England and Poland and, as usual, I am putting my characters through the mill before the story’s resolution. I have also just finished the last edit of a new Mills and Boon book, In the Commodore’s Hands which is due out in September. And I’m putting some of my out-of-print books on Amazon for the Kindle with the help of my lovely daughter-in-law, Elaine. The Latest, TO WIN THE LADY, can be found at:
Buy here at Amazon
Thank you, Mary, for sparing time to talk to us today. We wish you continuing success with your books.
Best wishes, Freda
ESCAPE BY MOONLIGHT, just out in hardback and on Kindle, is the story of Elizabeth de Lacey and Lucy Storey, both from a Norfolk village, the one wealthy and privileged, the other the daughter of the local stationmaster, poles apart but linked by war. Lucy stays at home to cope with an increasingly bad tempered father. Elizabeth, who is holidaying with her maternal grandparents when World War Two breaks out, stays there and becomes involved with the French Resistance. For both of them it is a time of risk and danger, for secrets and betrayal, and for finding love in the most unexpected places.
Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: email@example.com