Friday, February 14, 2014


Mary is the author of sixty books, all but one of them novels. She writes historical romance for Mills & Boon and longer sagas for Allison and Busby, alternating them to give her a change of genre.
Escape by Moonlight is the story of two girls, Elizabeth de Lacey and Lucy Storey, from a Norfolk village, the one wealthy and privileged and the other the daughter of the local stationmaster, linked by war and the men they love.
What gave you the idea for your book and how long did it take to write?

I read a lot of World War 2 books because it is an era that fascinates me and one I can remember. It is a mine of good plots. Once I had established the main premise of how war brings together people who would not normally associate, like Topsy, Escape by Moonlight sort of grew. It took me about six months to write the first draft and perhaps a month more checking and polishing.
Escape by Moonlight is a lovely title. How do you decide on titles for your books?
With difficulty! Very often the first title I choose is not the one we go with and I spend an inordinate amount of time agonising and writing lists and sending them to my publisher. Together we somehow manage to hit the right one. 
How did you carry out your research?
Reading, reading and more reading. For every book I write I usually need about a dozen reference books. I read them straight through at first without taking notes, just to get the 'feel', then a second time making notes of the bits I am going to need. I also ask questions of experts (including RNA members, who are a knowledgeable lot) and I have found people very helpful, over questions of fact. Sometimes I'll visit a place but I find that places change so dramatically over the years, it isn't much help for a historical novel. Maps, pictures and contemporary descriptions are more useful.
You set your novels in East Anglia. How important is that to you?
East Anglia is where my roots are and Norfolk is where I spent my most formative years during World War 2. I think where you were happy as a child sticks with you throughout your life and is easy to recall. I live in Cambridgeshire now, where the fens are as flat as a pancake and the skies are glorious. With the weather we've been having lately I am beginning to think the landscape is returning to what it was before the fens were drained in the 17th century!  
What do you do to relax when you aren’t writing?
Believe it or not, I read and I do crosswords, word puzzles and sudoku, anything to keep my ageing brain active. Until a couple of years ago I played golf but have given that up now and exercise and walk instead. When I have time, that is!
What is next in your writing life?
I have a new book for Allison and Busby, A Different World, coming out in hardback on February 20th, the same day as the paperback of Escape by Moonlight, I have a new Mills & Boon book coming out in April and I am three quarters of the way through my next Allison and Busby book. After that another Mills & Boon.
Amazon UK:  Escape by Moonlight
My blog can be found on my website.
Thank you for joining us today, Mary. 
Compiled by Natalie and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas
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Louise Allen said...

I love the sense of place you get in your novels, Mary. This one sounds fantastic

Jill Barry said...

Whoever chose this title, it's a great choice, Mary. I very much enjoy your books.

Gilli Allan said...

I am in awe of your productivity and your dedication to your craft, Mary. You're a role model to us all.

Atb, Gilli

Mary said...

Thanks to everyone. I enjoyed writing the book and doing the interview.

Jenny Haddon said...

Goodness, Mary, you are a model of industry. I remember your Moonlight cover. It is so beautiful. I agree with Louise, you have an unforgettable atmosphere of place (and time) in your books.

Do look forward to reading these.