Day 22 Mary Kay Andrews – Romance and Reinvention

When Love Becomes Possible Again

Mary Kay Andrews Ladies NightEarlier this year a reader emailed to tell me that one of my books had gotten her through a very tough time in her life. Her mother was terminally ill, in hospice care, and this reader spent most nights sitting by her mother’s bedside, the room lit only by the blinking, buzzing monitors that were measuring out the patient’s last hours. I think the fan was reading SPRING FEVER, and she told me she had come to savor those hours of reading because they took her to a happy place, a place of lightness, where love and renewal and friendship—and most importantly—laughter, were possible.

So this is why romance matters. I try to create stories with believable, three-dimensional characters. They don’t live in a French chateau or on a far-away planet. They live in a funky beat-up motel on Tybee Island, Georgia (SAVANNAH BREEZE) or in an apartment above a beach bar on Anna Maria Island, Florida (LADIES’ NIGHT) or in a falling-down antebellum plantation house in a failing textile town in Middle Georgia (THE FIXER-UPPER).

My characters are like real people—they make bad choices. They choose the wrong man, get betrayed, lose jobs and loves. But they pick themselves up and start all over again, because for them, the only way is up.I never think of my books as straight romance, because for my characters finding a man is actually secondary to their story arc. What my characters are searching for is something elusive—home, happiness, fulfillment—revenge!!! Along the way, as they reinvent themselves, they find—to their amazement, that love becomes possible again.

Mary Kay Andrews Christmas BlissIn my most recent book, LADIES’ NIGHT, the protagonist is ordered to attend divorce recovery therapy—along with a handful of bitter, vengeful women who’ve also been betrayed by their spouses. It’s the last place you’d expect to find love, right? But Grace meets Wyatt, the only male member of the therapy group, and eventually they find themselves drawn together, not by their common experience of divorce—but through the act of reinvention, and forgiveness. Once they find hope, they find happiness—and love.
I have no illusions that my books are literary fiction. I can’t cure cancer, or make Republicans and Democrats work together in Congress, or come up with a way to lose weight in my sleep. (I wish!)

But what I can do is make a pact with my readers. I promise to create stories with characters they will root for and identify with, and a love story that will give them hope. And always, always, I promise to deliver a happy ending. No vampires. No zombies. No cyborgs. Just real people, finding real love, in ways they never expected.

Recommendations: I think fans of MKA novels would also enjoy my friend Patti Callahan Henry’s books. They are deeply heart-felt novels with sensitive characters all set in the South. Her most recent novel is And Then I Found You. (St. Martin’s Publishing)


Questions for Mary Kay:

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

A badly-done painting of my daughter Katie as a child, painted by a deceased relative. It makes her look freakish, but the sentiment behind the portrait is so sweet, I can’t bear to get rid of it. So it’s down in the basement, where Katie doesn’t have to see it!

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

Can I re-use a title? Maybe Funny Girl? Starring my favorite wise-cracking golden-age movie star Rosalind Russell.

What is the best non-monetary gift you’ve ever been given?

My aunt Alice’s old pink 1950s-era Philco refrigerator. It has an aqua interior and a dent in the door from where my cousin Art ran into it in her garage. I named it Phil. It still runs and has a place of honor at the porch of our beach house on Tybee Island.

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?)

I’m partial to the shower scene between Ellis and Ty in SUMMER RENTAL. For romance scenes in general, I’d choose anything by the masterful Jennifer Crusie—maybe one in Tell Me Lies?


You are reading this essay at ReadARomanceMonth.com. Be sure to visit the About Read-A-Romance Month to learn more, or the Authors & Contributors page to see a list of all the great romance writers who are participating in celebrating the romance genre during the month of August.  Also visit the Awesome Contests page to see how you can register each week to win “A Month of Romance” (31 books), e-readers, and even the Grand Central Grand Prize, an iPad mini. If you love romance, then this is the place to be!

Mary Kay is generously donating three copies of  LADIES NIGHT to give away (U.S. only, apologies to international readers).  U.S. readers, to enter, 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 22 to be eligible, though winners will be announced the following week.


Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of 20 novels, including LADIES’ NIGHT, SPRING FEVER, SUMMER RENTAL, THE FIXER-UPPER, HISSY FIT and SAVANNAH BREEZE. A former journalist who worked for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mary Kay divides her time between her 1925 Craftsman bungalow in Atlanta and a vacation home on Tybee Island, Georgia. Both homes are filled with vintage treasures collected over a lifetime of shopping estate sales, junk shops and thrift stores. When she’s not junking, she’s looking for another old house to fix up—and fill with more junk.

Married for 37 years to her high school sweetheart Tom, Mary Kay is the mother of two grown children and two of the world’s most delightful grandchildren. She babysits, but doesn’t do daycare. A frequent lecturer and teacher at writing workshops and book festivals, she is a sought-after speaker known for her sparkling wit and approachable warmth.

In October, St. Martin’s Press will publish her newest novel, CHRISTMAS BLISS, the fourth installment of her Savannah series. She can be found online at marykayandrews.com.

 

Find Mary Kay’s Books Online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

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  • Nancy Huddleston

    Thank you for happy endings.

  • TrishJ

    That’s why I read romance, I am assured of a HEA with all kinds of good stuff along the way.

  • Britney Adams

    Oh, how I love Mary Kay Andrews and Patti Callahan Henry! They are two of the best!!!!

  • mariannewestrich

    Love the fact that you offer southern reads! Thanks!

  • Jen C

    I’m so intrigued by authors’ takes on characters. Thanks for the interesting post!

  • Kim Cornwell

    I have found another great author! I will be putting you on my new authors to check out list! Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  • Mary McCoy

    Long may Phil run! Thank you for your stories, and I will check out Patti’s books.

  • cynditefft

    “I promise to create stories with characters they will root for and identify with, and a love story that will give them hope.” We can’t ask for anything more than that!

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I love your books and characters. Summer Rental was one of my favorites.

  • Ann Mettert

    Most times that is what I look for, real characters who get get into real situations…and then find their way out better than I ever would. 🙂

  • Rochelle

    Just finished reading Ladies’ Night and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  • Joy Pelloquin

    Love Mary Kay Andrews books. Being from the Atlanta area, I really feel connected to the stories as everything is so familiar. Hissy Fit is probably my favorite.

  • Jess Clever McQuaid

    I could not put down The Fixer-Upper! Thank you for such wonderful, hilarious stories!

  • PJ Ausdenmore

    I adore your books! I discovered you with the release of SAVANNAH BLUES and never looked back. If you write it, I buy it. Your characters always make me laugh and always leave me with hope. That’s not a skill. It’s a gift.

  • Anne

    Thank you for the wonderful essay. I enjoy books that have characters that reflect real problems. Thank you for writing.

  • Valerie

    love funny girl!

  • Kathleen O

    I am think your books sound wonderful… I will be putting them on my tbr list…

  • christinejensen

    I love when characters are fun and have problems either like mine, or not at all like mine but comical and real all the same 🙂

  • Kareni

    Your books sound intriguing; I’ll be on the lookout for one soon. Thanks for your fun post.

  • glittergirl54

    I’ve never read your books but your post resonates with me. I’m stuck after the death of both my parents this holiday season. I cared for them for years and now I’m having to start over or catch up with the life I left behind. Thanks for sharing your vision with us readers and for the giveaway!

  • Martha Lawton

    I like how your characters are real and feel like people I know. Thank you

  • Tonda Galloway Hargett

    I’m with you, I absolutely love “vintage treasures”! Hunting for and finding them is such fun. But not as much fun as reading a romance!

  • Michelle Fidler

    I have one of your books. I think it’s Savannah Blues, which I got from the Mystery Guild years ago.

  • Patty Vasquez

    I really appreciate the fact that you write stories about real people making bad choices, starting over again, and finding love unexpectedly on the journey toward something new. My own life experience followed that path. It’s validating and reaffirming to read love stories that are similar.

  • rebecca moe

    If you do figure out that losing weight while you sleep thing, please share! (At the very least, hide it in one of your books for us ;))

  • Melanie Backus

    I am thrilled when I see a Mary Kay Andrews book. Thank you for the great job you do.

  • Cyndee Martin

    hurray for real people! The zombies and vampires are extreemely over done right now! I used to raise an eyebrow when a story included these but now I avoid them like a plauge!

  • Becky Rabalais

    Just finished Ladies’ Night this week. Another great story with characters that I would like to have as friends.

  • Lisa Whitney McMullen

    I absolutely love your books – each year I can’t wait for the next one to come out! I have gotten my older sister hooked on your books and when she finishes reading the book then she passes it on to her friends to read.

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your essay. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your books, yet. They are now on my TBR list.

  • Larena Hubble

    You have made your books sound very interesting. I am going to have to check them out.

  • MaryC

    Have Ladies’ Night on my TBR list – just have to find the time.

  • Gina Burgos

    Would love to win a copy of Ladies’ Night. Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Meredith Richardson

    Love your books

  • Beth Re

    Mary kay I haven’t read anything by you yet but I like what you say about your writing its real people picking them selves up and dusting off and moving on.
    I’ll have to check some of you work out!

  • Pamby50

    I am looking forward to reading one of your books. Love that you have a pink refrigerator with a teal interior. Does the handle still work or do you need a knife to open the door?

  • Laura Randall

    Rosalind Russell was an amazing actress.

  • Flora Segura-Buchler

    Thank You for sharing the letter from a fan, Mary Kay. It’s a wonderful example of how Romance can help us cope with tragedy and even every day life.
    PS. Love your Phil!

  • Ann

    Your characters are the best!

  • Marcy Shuler

    I haven’t read one of your books yet, but I’ll be sure to check out your website. They sound interesting.

  • Bernadette Long

    I will be looking for your books to read. I love the Southern settings since my daughter lived in Atlanta.

  • Glenda

    Aww, your post made me want to visit the GA coast again. It’s been almost 25 years since I’ve been down to Tybee, St Simons, amd Savannah. Oh and it would take a miracle to get Dems and Reps to work together….. A loose weight while sleeping formula is more likely. 🙂

  • Ketta Peters

    Ladies’ Night sounds great, I live near Anna Maria Island. ;D

  • That’s what it’s all about. 🙂 Having an escape!

  • Karin Anderson

    Oooh. I love shower scenes. Another book added to my TBR pile. 😀

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I like books about people you can identify with, with real issues. I also like the HEA that is guaranteed in romance novels!

  • Laura Z

    Ladies night sounds good, would love to win a copy.

  • BookLady

    Your books sound wonderful and I have added them to my wishlist. Thanks for sharing.

  • leah g

    I haven’t read your books, but they sound very interesting. Plus I live in GA so I always like reading stories set here. I will have to add them to my list.

  • M Kuxhaus

    I’ve always wanted a portrait of myself done, but I’m pretty sure it would turn out freakish…I guess I’ll stick with photos. 🙂

  • Brenda E

    I haven’t read your books yet, but love your idea of making the main character more real, with real problems.

  • Kim

    Great recommendations! My TBR list is growing!

  • girlygirlhoosier52

    I’m loving this month!! Thanks for all the great reading recommendations!!

  • Jenny Martin

    Love meeting all these authors–found another new one!

  • Jennifer Huelsebusch

    I would love to read this book!