Books with Buzz: Mary Balogh Interview and Giveaway (Contest Closed)

45021247It’s always a treat to feature Mary Balogh here at AAR and today we have a double one:  A short interview with the author about A Matter of Class, her upcoming release and a chance for a lucky reader to win a signed copy of the book direct from the author.  To enter for your chance to win, all you need to do is comment to this post by 11:59 pm eastern time on December 17th.  The winner will be announced here on Friday morning.

The usual caveats apply.  This contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only and, since the goal is to get a book into the hands of a reader who wouldn’t otherwise have early access, if you review for another site or blog, please don’t enter.

But, first, let’s hear from Mary!

Mary, thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few of my questions – and for giving one of our lucky readers a signed copy of A Matter of Class, due out on December 29th.   Could you tell our readers a bit about the book?

Absolutely. It is set in Regency England (no surprise there!) and has a classic plot—a forced marriage between a wealthy man of the lower classes and an impoverished woman of the upper classes. Reggie Mason, educated as a gentleman even though he is the son of a coal merchant, has been living extravagantly, and his father conceives the notion that marriage to a suitable woman will settle him down. Reggie is offered an alternative, but it is an unattractive one—all his funds will be cut off. Lady Annabelle Ashton, has just disgraced herself by trying to avoid marriage to an undesirable nobleman by running away with her father’s coachman. She is now unmarriageable—unless she accepts the unexpected offer from Reggie Mason. Her father, whose poverty persuades him into accepting a course he would normally abhor, does give her an alternative to accepting the proposal—she may be cast into the outer darkness of one of his remote estates for the rest of her life. And so Annabelle and Reggie, most unwillingly, find themselves betrothed. But this, of course, is a well-worn theme in historical romance. Any author worth her salt must breathe something fresh into it if the story is not to be a huge yawn. I think I have succeeded. The story will, I hope, both surprise and delight readers.

It’s been a busy year for you with the reprint of A Precious Jewel, plus the consecutive release of the four books of your Huxtable series.  Readers love the experience of not having to wait for months to read books in a series, but I’m certain it must be a challenge for a writer.  How did you manage to accomplish it and, secondly, do you see yourself taking on such a massive project again?

It certainly is a challenge to produce four books in time for them to be brought out in four successive months. It meant writing almost non-stop for two years. The advantage was that I got so immersed in the lives and loves of the Huxtables that I never got out of the groove, so to speak. The disadvantage was that at the end of it all I felt like a damp firecracker! When one indignant reader demanded to know WHY she was being made to wait a whole year for book number five, I told her I had to be allowed time to write it. I used to be known by one fellow-writer as “Mary of the smoking fingers,” but there are limits even to my endurance! I hasten to add that the idea of bringing out the Huxtable books one after the other was mine, not that of a whip-wielding publisher. Sometimes I have a tendency to masochism! Will I do it again? Who knows? I certainly don’t. But there is a group of three or four or five rambunctious brothers starting to rattle around in the back of my head…

One thing I’ve been happy about lately is the reprinting of classic Mary Balogh titles.  Will that continue in 2010?  And, because we’re nothing if not impatient for more and more from you, what’s upcoming on the new book front?

There are quite a number of the “old” books upcoming. Bantam Dell seem committed to bringing my backlist back especially as all of the old books that have been reprinted so far ( six of them) have gone onto the New York Times list. Not bad for books that were little Signet Regencies in their previous incarnation. Here is what is scheduled, most in 2-in-1 editions: Dark Angel/Lord Carew’s Bride at the end of February, 2010; A Christmas Promise in November, 2010; The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet and Christmas Bride/Christmas Beau in 2011; A Promise of Spring/The Temporary Wife and  The Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake in 2012. Watch my Web site for more definite scheduling.

On the new front, Seducing an Angel (Stephen’s story) will be out in paperback at the end of April, 2010; A Secret Affair (Constantine’s story) will be out in hardcover at the end of May, 2010; and Bespelling Jane, a Harlequin anthology of paranormal stories based on Jane Austen novels, will be out in October, 2010 (with Susna Krinard, Janet Mullany, and Colleen Gleason).

This season seemed to see more Christmas-themed anthologies than I’d seen in years past, including your own entry in The Heart of Christmas.  Your Christmas stories are reader favorites at AAR and you said when you last talked with AAR in 2007 that you didn’t think there was the same level of publisher interest in Regency-set Christmas stories that there once was. Based on my own anecdotal impressions it seems to me that perhaps publishers are recognizing that we all need a little Christmas more these days. Is your perspective any different in 2009?

I don’t remember my comments in 2007. But what I probably meant was that no one is doing the anthologies of traditional Regency Christmas stories any longer because there are no more trad. Regency lines. Christmas stories are always popular and I have always loved writing them. Give me Christmas, a pair lovers, and preferably a child or two, and I’ll weave you a love story. In mine, Christmas is always almost a character. That is, the story happens just because it’s Christmas. Christmas is never just any old setting for the story but central to the whole thing. Bantam Dell are bringing out my old Signet Regency novel A Christmas Promise again next year and a 2-in-1, Christmas Beau and A Christmas Bride the year after.

Have any of your favorites amongst your backlist changed since our last talk?  Back then you told us that Slightly Dangerous was your favorite book and the incredible Wulfric of that same book your favorite hero.  An AAR reader recently started a thread on our message board titled “Is There Anyone Not in Love with Wulfric?” which I thought was both funny and oh so true!

Well, that is funny and also nice to know. Slightly Dangerous is still probably my all-time favorite. But all my books are my favorite as I write them.  If I had to pick a few more that I think are among my best, they would be The Notorious Rake, The Temporary Wife, Longing, A Summer to Remember, Simply Perfect, A Secret Affair (the last of the Huxtable books, Constantine’s story). Of course, as soon as I send this, I’ll think of other books I should have added to the list.

Lastly, Mary, with my tongue slightly in my cheek:  Did you know when you created the character of Vanessa Huxtable in First Comes Marriage that many readers would find themselves humming the theme to The Cosby Show?  (Well, okay, I did, anyway.)

I never did watch the Cosby show and so had no idea what I was walking into. It seems no one at my publishing house could have realized it either. Not to worry. Maybe when people watch reruns of the show in future, they will find themselves visualizing the covers of the Mary Balogh books while the credits roll by on the screen. Anyway, by the start of my series, the former Vanessa Huxtable is Vanessa Dew (okay, that admittedly sounds like an abject mumble-grumble).

To enter for your chance to win a signed copy of A Matter of Class, simply comment to this post by 11:59 p.m., Thursday December 17th.  Good luck!

- Sandy AAR

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163 Responses to “Books with Buzz: Mary Balogh Interview and Giveaway (Contest Closed)”

  1. Cindy G says:

    I am really looking forward to A Matter of Class. The excerpt had me riveted. To me, Mary is one of the most consistently good authors still publishing. I have been reading her since I was 13 and my favorites include A Notorious Rake, Slightly Dangerous and A Summer to Remember.

    Thank You, Mary!

  2. Cheryl says:

    I always look forward to a new Mary Balogh. Merry Christmas everyone!

  3. Sara says:

    Anything by Mary Balogh is always top notch. I can’t wait for this one!

  4. Tamera says:

    I just finished the Huxtable series and can’t wait for Con’s story. Also love the witty exerpt from A Matter of Class.

  5. cynthia morrison says:

    Mary Balogh was the first author I’ve ever read in English (I am originally from Argentina now leaving in Canada). I picked Slightly Married in the library and was hooked!! Since then, I have read the Slightly series, the Simply series, the Huxtable and all of her older books that I can get. I loved it so much that I continue daring to read in English, without feeling the barrier of the language: she speaks to the heart and the heart is with what I read her books…!
    Thank you, Mary, for many hours of joy, emotions and happiness! I can’t wait for A Matter of Class…!

  6. Seema Shirali says:

    I enjoyed reading this blog. It is always a pleasure reading and rereading Mary’s books.

  7. SueG says:

    Nice–an interview with my favorite author. I have almost all of her books (including the older ones I was able to buy at a UBS). She is a wonderful writer. And, yes, I love Wulfric also. SueG

  8. celeste williams says:

    Looking foward to any new Balogh

  9. JessW says:

    Can’t wait for Constantine’s story next year! Love that the backlist is being released. Thank you, Mary Balogh.

  10. Theresa says:

    I’ve enjoyed so many of your novels and imagine my surprise and pleasure when one of the staff of my local library branch asked me about your books. This young woman is a romance reader and proud to proclaim it.
    It’s wonderful that Con’s story will be in our hands soon.

  11. Leigh McKenzie says:

    I enjoyed reading the interview and hope to win a Matter of Class! I believe I have read all of Mary’s books — they are keepers. My favorite is “The Secret Pearl.”

  12. socalgal51 says:

    Wow. What a wonderful interview with a terrific author. Mary is one of my favorites….a joy to read/re-read and share. I’m looking forward to each of her new books. And hooray for Bantam Dell reprints!

  13. HankW says:

    I was just saying to my wife a few days ago “I wonder if/when we will get to read Con’s story?”

    {lease enter me in the contest.

  14. Virginia C says:

    Merry Christmas, Mary!

    A Matter of Class sound delightful! Your holiday stories are wonderful, a real treat.

  15. Vera A Smith says:

    Your books are the best and I thank you. Wait eagerly for each new one and love rereading the old ones, have them all. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  16. TrishMc says:

    What a great Christmas treat – a new book from a long time favorite author. I had the pleasure of meeting Mary many years ago – and a word in the new book title sums Ms. Balogh up very neatly – she is a very classy woman.

  17. MarchRose says:

    Merry Xmas Mary, and congrats for your new release! Can’t wait to put my hands on it, is there any better way to celebrate holidays?

  18. Carla Alcorn says:

    Mary’s books have given me many pleasurable afternoons and relaxing evenings. Her characters are riveting and realistic. Thanks Mary for the many hours of joy!

  19. Millie Ewald says:

    Mary, you are definitely one of my all time favorite authors. Your descriptions of people and places make me feel as if I’m there in the book with the characters. I’ve read as many of your books that I could get my hands on. I’m always thrilled when I find out you’ve written another book and I have to say that Slightly Dangerous is one of my all time favorites too, although I loved the whole series. Keep writing, Mary!!

  20. dorothaholloway says:

    I am happy to see that there are still a few authors allowed to write regencys. I got started reading them at age 8 (way, way back) Georgette Heyer, (still read them). Mary you have provided me with several hrs. of great reading enjoyment, Now I tend to listen to your audiobooks when I’m on the pc. Thks, & Merry Christmas

  21. Gwen says:

    I’m so glad Stephen’s story will be out in April! My mom and I have been very anxious! I’m also thrilled that Constantine will get a story! Yea! For all your wonderful stories with characters we truly care about, Mary, thank you!

  22. Shannon says:

    I like her books. can’t wait to read “A Matter of Class”

  23. Ashley says:

    Love Love Love Mary Balogh! I can’t wait until Constantine’s story and the reprints of the others. I can’t choose a favorite book from her because they are all so good! Merry Christmas.

  24. Mary Frances Graham says:

    I would never give up any of my Mary Balogh collection, except by my Last Will and Testament (ha). I re-read my favorite Christmas short stories every year. I can’t name a favorite, but the image in The Wassail Bowl of her pouring that huge container of cold, wet, sticky punch over his stubborn head in front of all his dignified guests is very satisfying to me.

    I can hardly wait for Con’s story. I prefer audio book format where possible, so it has been great to listen to the Huxtable stories. Sure would be nice if all Mary Balogh’s books were put in audio format.

  25. Janet S says:

    Wonderful interview, thanks. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

  26. Maxine says:

    Slightly Dangerous is definitely one of my favorites!

    Can’t wait for this new one!

  27. Calila says:

    A Matter Of Class sounds great! I love “marriage of convenience” stories. Really looking forward A Secret Affair, love Con!

  28. Mary Balogh says:

    I think it’s time I jumped in here again to assure you all that I am still reading all your comments. Thank you so much for taking the time to make them. And to Sue S., my grocery list this morning consisted of toilet tissue, pickles, French beans, grapefruit, and bacon. Is that as satisfying as one of my books? (Heaven help me if the answer is yes!) Good luck to everyone on the draw!

  29. Rebecca E. says:

    Today, December 16, is the birthday of Jane Austen. I am sure all Regency fans would like to raise a toast to her and her novels.

    I certainly look forward to “A Matter of Class”–as I do for all of Mary’s books.

  30. Sue Brandes says:

    Can’t wait to read. Sounds delightful. Happy Holidays.

  31. Micheline Geoffroy says:

    I’m looking forward to reading “A Matter of Class”. Merry Christmas!

  32. Nancy Welshman says:

    Dear Mary,

    I have just finished re-reading “Simply Love” for the umteenth time. I think that I practically have sections of it memorized, and it is my absolute favorite of all your books. I am a lucky one who owns ALL of the books and the anthologies, and Sydnam and Anne remain my favorite hero and heroine. I have enjoyed learning about the Huxtable family and am naturally waiting with great anticipation for Constantine’s story.

    Thank you for so many hours of reading pleasure,
    Nancy

  33. Jeanne Davis says:

    I love to read Mary Balogh’s books, and I always look forward to her new and re-releases.

  34. Ranurgis says:

    A Mary Balogh book is always a treasure. I’d definitely love to win this new one.

    Merry Christmas, everyone!

  35. jeanne sheats says:

    I don’t know where I’ve been but I’m afraid I haven’t read any of Mary’s books but I’d love to remedy that situation :) Thanks for a chance at a great book.

    catslady5(at)aol.com

  36. Barbara Porter says:

    Would I miss any of Mary’s new books? Not on your life. She is the best. Looking forward to the new book as she has a wonderful way in developing her stories. Barbara

  37. DanielleO says:

    Please enter me in the contest! I’ve been a longtime fan of Mary Balogh’s and join many others in anticipating Con’s story.

  38. Kathleen says:

    Mary I love your books, and your Huxtable series is been a joy to read. I cannot wait for Constatine’s book to come out. Ihave marked my calender.. And I look forward to reading A Matter of Class. I just love these regancy stories..
    Best of luck and Merry Christmas

  39. Jane A says:

    Loved the excerpt to A Matter of Class. Sign me up for the contest!

  40. Vivian Ogino says:

    I too love all of Mary’s books. Two of my all time favourites are An Unacceptable Offer and The Ungrateful Governess, I reread these a couple of times a year. Looking forward to Con’s story (I think it should still have Devil in the title) and also Matter of Class. Merry Christmas and all the best for 2010.

  41. mingqi says:

    i would love to enter into the giveaway. I’ve enjoyed Mary Balogh’s books and have no doubt that I would enjoy this one too (and i’m a sucker for arranged marriage stories). I love the cover and the title!

  42. Pam Hager says:

    Hoping i win. Would love to read the book.

  43. PhyllisC says:

    I enjoyed the interview. I love Mary’s books, she is an auto-buy for me. I love all her series and getting to catch up on the families as the series progresses. Thanks Mary – keep the stories coming.

  44. DebbieB says:

    There are more Mary Balough books on my kindle than anything else; I am so excited for the new ones! I know it must be hard work, but I appreciate reading a series as closely in succession as possible.

  45. Tomoko says:

    Looking forward to reading “A Matter of Class”.

  46. Anna Sarkissian says:

    Mary is one of the best Romance writers/ I would rather call them love stories of the 20/21 century! Love her books. She reminds me of Georgette Heyer one of my favorite authors.

    Can’t wait for the book to come out!

    God bless you Mary.

  47. Issy says:

    Can’t wait for the book to be out. Looking forward to reading it.

  48. Dalila Gordon says:

    I can’t wait for the release of A Matter Of Class, Mary Balogh is always on my must buy list.
    She is one of a select few of my favorite authors that I really enjoy.
    I enjoyed the interview, very good!

    To any one who has not read any of her books, you must start!!

    Merry Christmas and the best for 2010!!

  49. Amanda J says:

    Can’t wait to read the book.

  50. Donna H. says:

    The first of Mary’s stories that I read was her short story The Star of Bethlehem. I loved it and searched out all of her short stories that I could find. I consider her to be one of the best short story writers ever!! It is not easy to catch a reader’s interest, tell a great story and leave that reader satisfied in a few short chapters. I know…I’ve tried. I have read several of her full length novels, Slightly Married, Simply Love and The Famous Heroine are favorites…and yes, I too am very, very fond of Wulfric!! I’m delighted her early Regencies are being re-issued…I like them better than the longer historicals. Mary is the master of less is more….I hope she will never stop writing her Christmas short stories. I reread them all each December. I hope I win the book.