Fern Michaels

The All-Genre Author

Fern Michaels had her hand in everything: bodice rippers, straight historical romances, Silhouette category romances, epic contemporaries, “Women’s” and general fiction, mysteries, and thrillers.

Fern Michael’s Life

As Fern Michaels says on her website, Fern Michaels is not a person but an occupation. At least for the last thirty or so years, the real person behind that name is Mary Ruth Kuczkir. She was once the duo of Roberta Anderson and Mary Ruth Kuczkir, but that was way back when. After they parted ways, Mary Ruth took over.

On April 9, 1933, Mary Ruth Kuczkir was born. After graduating from high school, Mary Ruth got married in 1952. She and her husband had five children together. Kuczkir was a full-time stay-at-home mother until her youngest began kindergarten. Then her husband told her that she needed to find “real work.”

The Original Duo

Mary Ruth had always had a great imagination and enjoyed writing, so she decided to try her hand at being an author. While her husband was unsupportive of her plans, Kuczkir started her first manuscript with the help of Anderson, whom she had met while working a part-time job doing market research.

Although their first attempt at writing a book was met with rejection, they kept at it and produced a second manuscript. A publishing house accepted this next endeavor, and from that moment on, Fern Michaels was officially a writer.

Fern Michaels the Writer

Pride and Passion, that second manuscript they wrote, was published in 1975 by Ballantine Books.

They hit the jackpot with their third romance, Captive Passions, an all-time bodice ripper classic about a Spanish noblewoman, Sirena Cortez, who disguises herself as a pirate and plunders her Dutch husband Regan van der Rhys’s trading vessels. The sequel to it, Captive Embraces, also sold very well. In that one, Sirena is deserted by her husband after a tragedy and travels across the world, determined to get him back. There would be two other sequels in the Captive series.

Valentina, a medieval romance, was yet another hit for Fern.

Fern decided to spread her wings. In 1980, she turned to writing contemporary category romances for Silhouette. Then in 1985, her first mainstream blockbuster hit, Texas Rich, was published.

Mary Kuczkir and Roberta Anderson wrote 26 novels together, about half of which were historical romance. However, 1989 was a year of changes for Kuczkir, as she divorced her husband, split with Roberta, and won the legal rights to the Fern Michaels name.

Fern on Her Own

After that, even more changes followed. Kuczkir left Ballantine Books, sold her New Jersey home that she had lived in for many years, and in 1993 moved to South Carolina to live in a big, old mansion with her many dogs.

Fern Michaels is a publishing phenom. In total, she has written 156 books, a staggering 146 of which were New York Times or USA Today Best Sellers. Almost 200 MILLION of her books are in print. In addition, she has done much charitable work, including starting The Fern Michaels® Foundation, which gives scholarships to young students in need.

Although she no longer writes historical romances, her roots in that genre remain. As a result, she will always be considered one of the “original ladies of historical romance.” While that may seem a minor milestone for someone who has gained such enormous success, it is something bodice ripper and historical romance lovers will not forget.

Historical Romance Backlist:

  • Pride and Passion, Ballantine 1975
  • Vixen in Velvet, Ballantine, 1976
  • Captive Passions, Ballantine, 1977
  • Valentina, Ballantine, 1978.
  • Captive Embraces, Ballantine, 1979
  • Captive Splendors, Ballantine, 1980
  • Captive Innocence, Ballantine , 1981
  • Wild Honey, Pocket Books, 1982
  • Tender Warrior, Ballantine, 1983
  • Cinders to Satin, Ballantine, 1984
  • To Taste the Wine, Ballantine, 1987
  • Captive Secrets, Ballantine, 1991
  • White Fire (released under the pseudonym Iris Summers) Ballantine, 1978

Book Reviews

Tender Warrior

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