Day 14 Mary Robinette Kowal – True Love Equals Marriage

The Wedding is Just the Beginning

Without a Summer by Mary Robinette KowalI have been married for eleven years. During that time, my husband and I continue to be romantically involved. I know that sounds like a strange thing to say, but I suspect many marriages founder on a bed of familiarity. We have made a conscious effort to be involved with each other, and to be romantic with each other.

Which is why, when I read sequels in a romantic series that drive the couple apart, in order to bring them back together, I despair a little. It’s why I write about a happily married couple, who are totally hot for each other. Romance does not end with marriage. Every time we write that, we reinforce that model for our readers.

What I love about romance is that it can provide inspiration for what true love can look like. And true love keeps going after marriage. It can be quiet or boisterous. It can show itself in backrubs by a sink full of dirty dishes, or by a pan of brownies waiting on the counter with a love letter, or by just taking out the trash when it isn’t your day for the chore.

Romance is about finding the person who completes you, right? So to me a married couple is one of the most romantic things out there.

Take my parents. They’re having their fiftieth wedding anniversary next year. They met at a ballroom dancing class and to this day, still dance together. How romantic is that?

Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette KowalThis isn’t to say that everything must be all roses and puppy dogs in a married romance. Even the best matched couple is going to have conflict, because they are two independent people. But– and this is key. They’ll talk to each other. They’ll sort things out. That, right there, is a fight worth watching. That’s a fight worth writing. The ones where one character just says, “You don’t understand!” and then huffs offstage, without trying to explain….Those don’t interest me as a reader or a writer.

One of my favorite series is Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombies, in a large part because the characters actually talk out why the relationship isn’t working and then take steps to try to fix it. It’s a more interesting fight. It’s a more believable conflict.

I think my love for romances with married couples comes from Nick and Nora. If you haven’t read Dashiel Hammet’s The Thin Man, you might be familiar with the movie of the same name. And if you aren’t, go rent it. Now. I’ll wait. This is a married couple who solves mysteries, together, and are desperately in love with each other. (Also, their dog Asta is fantastic.) The romantic tension comes not from them fighting, but from the fact that it is clear that all they want to do is retire to the bedroom, if only they didn’t have this pesky mystery to solve.

So please. Give me more love stories that don’t end at the altar. That’s just the beginning of the romance.


Questions for Mary:

What is the craziest or ugliest object in your house, and why do you keep it?

The ugliest object would be my childhood toy lamb, Lassie. She was made of a brightly flowered washcloth, stuffed with pantyhose, by a friend of my mother. Over the years, the fabric wore away and was patched so many times that she looks a) quilted and b) like a mutant dog. She is sitting on my writing desk. I keep her because my name is Mary, right? Everywhere that Mary went…

If there was a movie made about your life, what would it be called? (And just for fun, who would play you?)

Complete with Strings and Meryl Streep would play me.

What is the best non-monetary gift you ever received?

There was a point in my life when I was flat broke. I’d gone to my voice lesson, which I could still do because I bartered for them by dog-sitting. My voice teacher spotted that something was wrong — the voice, you know? Total giveaway. I broke down, telling her about how a client hadn’t paid me and I was out of groceries, and let all of the sad and frustration of being a freelancer come out. She let me cry, there-there’d me, and then helped me use the lesson to put myself back together.

That night, my doorbell rang. When I went downstairs to answer it, no one was there. But there was a bag of groceries, a bottle of wine, and a gift certificate to the grocery store down the street.

If you had to pick one romantic scene or couple to recommend to a first-time reader of YOUR books, which would it be? (Any picks for romance novels in general?)

Page 170 of Without a Summer starts my favorite romantic scene with Jane and Vincent. Now, you have to actually read the chapters leading up to it, for context, but it is one of my favorites because… Well, I’ve mentioned my fondness for romances with married couples, right? This is the scene in which the strength of their marriage is clearest.


Mary is generously donating two copies of Without A Summer. No international sorry. To enter the domestic contest, either leave a comment here or enter the weekly drawing on the contest page. Or both.  (Only one entry per commenter per post, though – multiple comments on one essay does not give you more chances.)  Comment entries must be posted by 11:59pm EST Aug 14 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Mary Robinette KowalMary Robinette Kowal is the author of Shades of Milk and Honey (Tor, 2010) and Glamour in Glass (Tor, 2012). In 2008 she received the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and in 2011, her short story “For Want of a Nail” won the Hugo Award for Short Story. Her work has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor, recording fiction for authors such as Elizabeth Bear, Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi. She lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit

Buy Mary’s Books on Amazon


  • Nancy Huddleston


  • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

    Hmm, I’ve rarely read books about married couples. You are one that I will try now. Glad to see you write about them, I’m always drawn to singles who eventually end at the altar, not past it. You’ll be my new addition at the lair.

    • Hi, Lorelei – I loved Without A Summer so much! Everything about it is wonderful. xoxo

      • Lorelei’s Lit Lair

        I’ll be sure to check it out then, thanks and great job on this RAR event! I see many I know and love discovering new ones!

  • Laurie W G

    Hi Mary,

    You are a new author for me. I do agree with you that the romance shouldn’t end with the marriage. 36 years later my husband and I are still best friends and lovers. Neither of us regret our decision to marry. I feel that trust is essential to any relationship.

    • I asked Mary to participate because I loved Vincent and Jane, and I loved Without A Summer. I hope you have a chance to check it out!

  • Kathy Nye

    I agree with your comments above and just wanted to tell you that Without a Summer is one of my favorite books of the year. Thank you.

  • Polly

    Mary looks like she will be a new author for me, too. After 43 years of happy marriage, I agree that it takes love, commitment conversation, and starting with the right partner! Looking forward to reading some of her work.

  • Jen C

    I agree! I really enjoy reading about how couples are after they get married. 🙂

    • Without A Summer is a great book – highly recommend! xoxo

  • Sue G.

    I agree that romance doesn’t end at marriage. My hubby and I have been together 31 years, 24 of them married and I would say each day gets better. We are “seeing the light at the end of tunnel” where now 2 kids are off to college and one more will be there in 2 years. Both of us look forward to being empty nesters and getting back to where everything revolves around us instead of them! 😉

    • So sweet! xoxo And I hope you read about Jane & Vincent, too. xoxo

  • Kim Cornwell

    Love meeting new authors! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Melanie Backus

    I love romance through and through and for it to last a lifetime in a marriage is the way it should be. Thanks!

  • Meredith Richardson

    Hey Mary 🙂 You are a new author for me but I’m looking forward to checking out your books. It’s nice to know that there are authors out there that write about happy married life. It gives us single girls something to look forward to 😀

    • Jane & Vincent are awesome characters, too. xoxo

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I look forward to reading your books. I believe in keeping the romance in marriage. 🙂

  • Joanne Ozment

    I am definately going to try one of your books. I like romance with married couples.

  • Karin Anderson

    Wow, three Meryl Streeps in one day. 😀

    I haven’t read any of your books, but based on your post I definitely will! I hate the couples who are just SO intractable that they cannot talk. It is one of my romance pet peeves. I’d love a story where the characters talk it out.

    • Karin, Mary’s books are wonderful. xoxo

  • tonda hargett

    I love your essay, so true to life and very inspiring! Thank you!

  • Ann Mettert

    I love Nick & Nora. 🙂

  • Britney Adams

    Love this essay! Marriage should be the beginning of the romance and not the end!!

  • Kareni

    What a lovely post. I look forward to reading one of your books, Mary!

  • BookLady

    Congratulations to you and your parents for keeping the romance alive in your marriage. Thanks for sharing.

  • Brenda Rumsey

    You are a new author to me, and I was touched by the story of your best gift. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and congrats on 11 years of “involved” marriage. My husband and I will be celebrating our 40th anniversary in October and just being near him still brings a tingle. Would love to read your books.

  • jcp

    I like reading about married couples

  • christinejensen

    Yeah for marriage 🙂

  • rebecca moe

    What an awesome post! I love finding new authors…now I just need more time! (Bobbi, any ideas where to get some? I’m blaming you!)

  • Stephanie M.

    Your story is inspiring, thank you.

  • claritygolden

    I enjoy stories about married couples too! You just don’t see many of them out there.

  • Tia

    Hi Mary,

    I love romances about married couples, but I didn’t know that there were dedicated authors out there who wrote romances on married couples! Clearly, I didn’t know about you. Will surely look out for your books.

  • Michelle Fidler

    Sounds like a good book. I have heard of these before. The library had the second one in the series under Sci Fi. One other author’s post said she’d like Meryl Streep to play her, too!

  • TrishJ

    I love the Thin Man series. Both books and movies. I actually have 2 grandchildren named Nick and Nora because my son LOVED the movies. Now if they get a dog named Asta I might start to worry. Most books end with a HEA, but it is the end of the book. I will definately check out your books.

  • Robin Ray

    My husband and I have been married for 28 years and a number of people when they hear how long we’ve been married are amazed because “We don’t act like it”. Not sure what that’s suppose to mean but we tell them its because we’re Newlyweds. Usually they attempt to correct us to which we respond its a Frame of Mind not a Number of Years.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    The Thin Man films are still among my favorite movies. It was inspired for you to use them as a focus on your very valid POV that Romance does not end with marriage. Brava!

  • JenM

    I love this post. It’s a great reminder to pay attention to your own relationship and to take time to appreciate the things that drew you to your partner in the first place.

  • Beth Re

    Well I’ve been married to my husband for 27 years. Lately some of those years have been tough. We went to counseling and one of things we are now doing is weekly dates. Yes dates. I would recomend that you keep dating

  • M Kuxhaus

    I am often disappointed when a story ends with the wedding. There’s so much more to explore!

  • Marcia Berbeza

    More than anything, I hate the way certain unnamed TV shows will build up to a romance and then tear it all apart after the characters consummate it because it just isn’t interesting without that “spark” that comes from courting. Apparently marriage kills romance. That has always really irritated me! Keep up the great work!

  • Pamby50

    I love when you get the whole picture. The ups the downs. Marriage is always a work in progress. Looking forward to reading one of your books.

  • Sandi in OH

    I loved The Thin Man, both the book and the movie. I own all the Thin Man movies. I really don’t like the books where the H/h don’t talk about their problems, etc. Of course, I have been married 45 years.

  • MooMoo Cake

    I love stories that go beyond the altar, too! I love the development of a relationship, but I do wish that more stories went beyond the “HEA” of a wedding and a successful pregnancy. That’s probably why I enjoy series that continue to describe the same characters.

    • My goal with these is to write three 5 book cycles with Jane and Vincent. The first are the beginning of the marriage. The next five would be with them firmly in middle age, and the last five are with them as an elderly couple. Love, you know? It’s not owned by the young.

  • Glenda

    Communication is the key for ANY successful relationship! I wish more people would write about how relationships — especially marriages — thrive when we communicate with each other! Thanks for being one of the authors who does. 🙂

    • Glenda – Could you please send me a message at bobbwrites at att dot net? Thank you, hope to hear from you soon. xoxo

  • Marjorie morris

    Wow! Loved your essay as it pointed out marriage can be engaging and interesting.

  • Ann

    Romance is what you make it – as you pointed out the trash, the dishes, brownies, all are romantic!

  • brhill2010

    In romance I always looked the relationship of the boyfriend/girlfriend and how they evolved with each other. Never thinking past the marriage part. But I guess you have a point that in order to keep a marriage together you have to work at it like anything else. Thank you for being a romance writer and wanting to show past the relationship which dives into a whole another world for me!!

  • Melissa Sullivan

    Lovely post. Nick and Nora! I love the “Thin Man” series. Proof that some of the best movies ever made doesn’t have to be in color and full of special effects.

  • Kim

    Very nice essay. Love is always a journey.

  • QuenKne M

    Congratulations on 11 yrs married & I think it’s awesome you keep romance alive everyday. What most people forget about love and romance is that it takes hard work!! And although there will be highs and lows the priority must be put on the relationship, first and foremost.

  • Genny Moore

    Love your idea of romance!

  • Ruth

    Oh, Mary, you’re new to me, and you are definitely going on my list! I love what you say about romance after marriage. Yes! I’m with you about stories that drive the couple apart, in order to bring them back together. I want to believe that marriage is the beginning. Not a fait accompli. A happily married couple hot for each other. Absolutely! I want to believe that’s what true love looks like!

  • Ketta Peters

    The title of your post said it all for me. Thanks for a great article.

  • leah g

    Thank you for sharing your post. I am single, my mother (and father) are happily married for close to 50 years now. One of the things my mom and I always end up discussing when I have major life decisions or hurdle, ie buying a car, getting laid off, buying a house, is how grateful she is to always have a partner. Their marriage hasn’t always been sunshine and light but at the end of the day they made a commitment to never give up and always be there for each other. I love that about my parents and have always admired their marriage.

  • Really special essay! Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  • Barbara E.

    Awww, the story of the best non-monetary gift was wonderful. I always try to keep in mind that doing things for someone who is really in need but not asking for help is so rewarding, I’d like to do that more. I’m sure it made that person’s day to do such a nice thing knowing that it would mean so much to you.

  • Kathryn Trask

    JD Robb’s In Death series and Marie Force’s Fatal series come to mind when I read your post as both have fantastic married couples. International reader so not entering giveaway.

  • Kim

    I really enjoy reading about married couples. It’s rewarding to see couples trying to stay together through the ups and downs.

  • Rachel Daven Skinner

    Mary, I love your approach to marriage in romance books!! And from the 70+ comment replies to your post thus far, it’s clearly something readers want to see more of. I think women really do need more positive role models of the marriage variety. I’ve not read anything by you yet, but I’m definitely adding you to my list!

    Rachel Daven Skinner
    Freelance Editor