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Lisa Jackson

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Mary Balogh
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Mary Balogh
How is my name pronounced? It is the question I am asked most often, apart from "Where do you get your ideas?" Balogh is a Hungarian name. The a is short, the h best ignored. My husband tells people to rhyme our name with Kellogg's Corn Flakes. I tell them that as long as people are saying my name, I don't much care how they pronounce it!

Growing Up in Wales
I grew up in post-war Wales as Mary Jenkins. It was in many ways an idyllic childhood even though Swansea, my home town, had been heavily bombed during the war, rationing was still on, and material possessions were few. If anyone knew how to stretch a penny to do the work of two, it was my mother.

Settling in Canada
I had a very good education thanks to parents who emphasized the importance of school and career at a time when many people were still saying that education was wasted on girls. I was fortunate to be young at a time when there was employment in almost any field I might have chosen. I wanted to teach and travel, and came to Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada, on a two-year teaching contract. But at the end of the first year I had a blind date with a man named Robert Balogh and found a tall, sharply dressed, blue-eyed Adonis standing in my landlady's kitchen when I came down from my room on the fateful evening. We were married a little over a year later.

Making Dreams Come True
Wanting to be an author is a dream; wanting to be a teacher is an practical goal. The goal I could and did work toward. I knew that if ever I wrote, it was that romantic world of Regency England that I wanted to recreate. And so A Masked Deception got written in longhand at the kitchen table while home and family functioned around me after the supper dishes were done. Finally, at the end of 1983, three months after I had started it, the manuscript was ready to be submitted. But where? And how? I knew nothing about the publishing world and nothing about any writers' organizations. To say I was a greenhorn would be to flatter me. I picked out the publisher I thought did the best job of Regencies, found a Canadian address inside the cover of one of the Signet books, and sent my manuscript there with a brief covering letter. The Mississauga address was a mere distribution centre! But incredibly someone there read the manuscript, liked, it, wrote to tell me so, and sent it on to New York. Two weeks later I had a call from Hilary Ross, offering me a two-book contract. Sometimes it pays not to have a clue what one is doing!

And so the dream became reality. A Masked Deception was published in 1985 and I won the Romantic Times Award for best new Regency writer that year.

Finally, in 1988, I was able to retire from teaching after twenty years in order to devote myself to my dream career. And as the children grew up and left home and empty bedrooms behind them, I was able to set up my own study and surround myself with all my books and finest treasures.

Let no one ever say that dreams cannot come true. They can with vision and effort and a little luck--well, perhaps a great deal of luck.

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Photo: Mary Balogh
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