Mary Alice Monroe – Romance, Naturally

Hi friends!

Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month 2016!

If you’re a new visitor to RARM, I hope you’ll come back every day in August to read all the wonderful pro-romance posts this year. Check out the full calendar here. You can also find links to the last three years’ posts from the boxes in the sidebar, and if you’d like, you can follow RARM on Facebook. Enjoy August!

#LoveRomance

Nature & Romance

Romance is always in the air in all of nature and wildlife. It’s all about the birds and the  bees, after all.  In A Lowcountry Wedding_front covermuch of nature, mating is serious business.  Yet, the act of attracting and luring a mate can be both fascinating and surprising…. even shocking.  We all know about the elaborate rituals male birds go through to attract a female.  The more striking and colorful a male’s plumage and the better nest provider he is, the better chance he has to win a female.  Is that so different from what happens with humans?

In the insect world, too, male butterflies have mating rituals.  I love to watch the delicate yellow sulphurs delicately circle upward in an aerial dance on a summer afternoon.  In some species of butterflies, a courting male will deliver his pheromone onto the female to prevent other males from mating with her. Thus, he marks her as “his girl.” Monarchs, however, the “king” of butterflies and my favorite, can be downright brutal when it comes to mating. I am in awe of the monarchs’ ability to travel thousands of miles like a bird or a whale to migrate south to Mexico in the winter, then migrate back across the states to Canada in the spring. The only insect to do so.  In my human mind, it’s hard to reconcile how so noble a creature can be so ruthless when it comes to mating.  Males have pheromone sacs but choose not to woo the female.  Instead, a male monarch will knock the female out of the sky and mate with her on the ground.  He’ll even carry her off to another location…literally!

Dolphins—our fellow mammals—can also be rogues when it comes to courtship.  These clever males form A Lowcountry Christmasalliances with other males to herd a female. The female, however, is not always willing.  But no matter, she is coerced by fairly brutal teamwork that includes slapping and scratching.  Female dolphins also can band together to thwart male aggression.  They sometimes chase down a group of males who have stolen away one of their friends to rescue her.  Don’t get the wrong idea about dolphins, however. Nature is not always kind to a human’s way of thinking.  Generally, dolphins are a social, sensual group.  Bottlenose dolphins, the species we’re most familiar with (think Flipper), can spend hours nuzzling each other and serenading with squeaks, whistles and clicks. Family and community bonds are very strong.

I’m especially enamored with species that mate for life. It takes a particular dedication for some species who might separate at the end of breeding season to return again a year later to their breeding ground to meet up with his/her mate year after year.  Too, the father will help raise the young.  There’s a pair of ospreys near my home on Isle of Palms, SC that return every year, usually right around Valentine’s Day, to nest and raise another brood. Usually the female arrives to their nest first and she welcomes the male home…again and again.

I’m always fascinated and sometimes amused by the variety of mating rituals in nature.  When writing about the birds and the bees in our stories, look to nature to find ideas that may spark ideas for your romances! Summer'sEnd

Mary Alice recommends:

Kim Boykin     kimboykin.com     (at Amazon)

Fellow southern author of beautiful, heart-felt romances.

Her titles include: Echoes of Mercy, The Wisdon of Hair, A Peach of a Pair.

Patti Callahan Henry    patticallahanhenry.com    (at Amazon)

Soulmate of a writer of southern fiction.

Her titles include: The Idea of Love, The Stories We Tell, Where the River Runs, Driftwood Summer, Between the Tides


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you felt romance surrounding you.

I travelled to the mountains of Mexico following the migration of the monarch butterfly.  My husband joined me on this adventure.  I’d told him it would be romantic. (and he believed me!).  We journeyed with a small band of travelers (teachers, researchers) to central Mexico where the monarch butterfly sanctuaries are located.  At one sanctuary we left our bus below to ride skinny horses for an hour’s upward climb to 11,000 feet.  The air grew thin, the mist thick and the monarchs more plentiful.  At the top we looked out over the mountaintops and as far as the eye could see there were large gray sacks, like termite bags, hanging from the giant oyamel fir trees. Then the sun broke through and in that instant millions—not thousands, millions!—of monarch butterflies took flight! It was an explosion of orange against a brilliant blue sky as the monarchs danced and mated over and around us.  I was surrounded in a cloud of butterflies, so many their beating wings sounded like wind, and I wept for joy.  This was a magnificent aerial dance of love and joy.   

Tell us about someone special in your life (other than your partner) with whom you share romance.

I will always be indebted to—and in awe of—the great Nora Roberts. She is the queen of romance.  But she is also the best and most supportive of friends.  When I was a newbie author I learned from the best. She is thoughtful and generous to her readers and fellow writers alike, dependable, hard -working, and doesn’t tolerate laziness when it comes to craft.  I needed a quote for my first book and she gave it willingly.  This means the world to a new author and I’ll always be grateful to her for each quote she has given me. And for her wise advice and many kindnesses.

 Do you have a place in the world or a sound that you equate with romance?

When I’m in the mood for romance, I always go to the water.  My first kiss was by a lake.  Science supports that humans feel better by water—oceans, lakes, ponds…even bathtubs! I’m drawn to the water.  Being near it relaxes me.  The sound of the sea is mesmerizing. Moonlight on a lake intoxicating.  Soaking in a fragrant bath nourishing. This is the mood for romance.

Who is your (or a) favorite romantic couple?Tracy Hepburn

Tough one…  there are so many for so many different reasons.  I enjoy most Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn.  Both their witty and wise on-screen performances and their private, loyal love story are inspiring.

Tell us about your dream date. 

My dream date was the one I described in The Beach House. I met up for coffee with the owner/operator of Barrier Island Echo Tours on Isle of Palms, SC.  When this Viking of a man walked into Acme Cantina I almost choked on my coffee.  He could have been the model for any romance cover.  And more, he embodied the hero for my story with his rugged good looks and his love for wildlife.  We talked for a long time as I dug into his mind for inspiration for my hero.  When, towards the end, I idly asked, “What would you consider a good date?” he told me how he would take his date on a boat to a small, wild island.  He would have to carry her on his back from the boat to shore through the pluff mud because a gentleman doesn’t let his lady get her feet dirty. He collected oysters, lit a fire…  Listening, I almost swooned.  I took notes like crazy, raced home and wrote my favorite date scene.  Through my story I was able to take my dream date!

 

Mary Alice is generously giving away a print set of The Lowcountry Series: The Summer Girls, The Summer’s End, The Summer Wind and A Lowcountry Wedding to one lucky US friend and an electronic set of the series to an international reader.

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below or on the *Facebook post you’ll find here (or both – Share the Love!) ;o) by 11:59 pm PST August 28, 2016.  Good luck! ***International friends, be sure to include your country in your comment so we know to include you in the international drawing.  Good luck!

(*You don’t have to like the FB page, but we do recommend it. It’s easier to contact you if you win. Also consider joining the Read-A-Romance Book Club page, where we discuss romance of all kinds and will have drawings and events throughout the year.)

#LoveRomance  #HappyReading


MA MonroeMary Alice Monroe is author of twenty books–novels, children’s books and non-fiction. She has achieved many lists, including the New York Times and USA Today–and numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing; the 2014 South Carolina Book Festival Award for Literary Excellence; the 2015 Florida Distinguished Author Award; the RT Lifetime Achievement Award; and the International Book Award for Green Fiction.

Her new novel, A Lowcountry Christmas, will be released October 25th. It is the fifth installment of her nationally bestselling Lowcountry Summer series.

Her novel, The Beach House, is currently being made into a film for Hallmark. Mary Alice is an active conservationist and serves on the Board of the South Carolina Aquarium, The Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy.  Her books are set in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where she lives.

Learn more:

maryalicemonroe.com      |     Facebook     |     Twitter @maryalicemonroe

 

Buy Mary Alice’s books:

availableon-amazon       availableon-nook    availableon-kobo

*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and many text links connect to a Read-A-Romance Month affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!

  • Ann Mettert

    Enjoyed your post. Also enjoyed your inspiration for a dream date. 😉

  • cheryl c.

    I enjoyed reading this. It’s fascinating to hear more of the mating rituals in nature.

  • Molly

    I love your inspiration for a dream date. Thanks for sharing

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      True story. He is a friend still. If ever you go to Isle of Palms, take the Barrier Island Eco tour!

  • catslady

    Always fun to hear about new-to-me authors!

  • Debbie Fuller

    This is why I love romance so much, you learn about all kinds of things while reading a happy-ever-after. Thank you for you post and I’m looking forward to reading your books as you a new author to me.

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      Thank you Debbie. I hope you enjoy them! xo

  • Julie Nieves

    Thank you for your post! I read A Lowcountry Wedding this summer and loved it! I haven’t read the other books in the series so I would be thrilled to win. Thanks so much for the chance!

  • Sue G.

    Who knew there were such mating rituals for animals! Very interesting!

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      Isn’t nature amazing?

  • Linda Henderson

    The butterflies sound beautiful. What a magnificent sight. I didn’t realize their courtship was so rough though so that was very interesting information. I haven’t read any of your books yet but I love series stories so I’ve put them on my wish list.

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      Thank you Linda! The Lowcountry series is set against dolphins. the Beach House is set against sea turtles. Those are my two series. xoxoxo

  • Kareni

    Thanks for sharing about the birds and the bees (and the butterflies and the dolphins). Your Mexico trip sounds wondrous! Happy writing.

  • Pamby50

    The description of the monarch butterfly coming to life in the early morning was amazing. I could almost see it. New author for me. Looking forward to reading your books.

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      Thank you Pam. I’m inspired by nature to write the books and hope that passion reaches you, too. xo

  • Eileen Aberman Wells

    The butterfly trip sounds amazing!! I can picture what you were sharing from your words. I’ve learned about you a bit from Kim Boykin as I’ve read a couple of her books. I look forward to reading your books as I make a dent in my tbr pile. Thank you for sharing your post.

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      Thank you Eileen. I hope you enjoy them. xoxo

  • “I’m especially enamored with species that mate for life”: me too! From the movie Lady Hawke, I think…
    Thank you for your interesting post!
    Marinella from Italy

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      Yes! I loved that movie!!

    • Ada H

      Hi Marinella, you have been chosen as Mary Alice Monroe’s winner. Please send a message with your email address to me at ada@readaromancemonth.com and we’ll put Mary Alice in touch with you. Thanks and Congrats!

      • Thank you so much! I’m very happy to have won a book from this wonderful author!

  • mariannewestrich

    My husband and I love the Isle of Palms. We spent a week there and went into Charleston. One of our most romantic trips!

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      There’s nothing quite like the moonlight on the water for romance!

  • Diane Sallans

    I’ve vacationed on the Isle of Palms, SC many times so I’m always drawn to stories set there!

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      I hope my books make you feel welcome.

  • Dee Clark

    Love learning from all your posts! This post was so informative! Loved reading about your travels to Mexico and the monarch butterfly! After doing some research as to what plants attract the monarch, I just planted a butterfly garden hoping to help and attract this beautiful insect. Yes, I did remember to plant the milkweed also! Thank you again for being such an inspiration to me!

    • Mary Alice Monroe

      Your post made my heart sing. So glad you planted a butterfly garden!!

      • Dee Clark

        With Wayne’s help, we dug up twelve Day Lilly plants (that the deer eat as soon as they bloom and I can’t enjoy their beauty) and planted the butterfly garden. Hopefully I can help this beautiful insect!

  • Connie Saunders

    I have always loved Spencer & Katharine as a couple! Thanks for this post and AWESOME giveaway!

  • rebecca moe

    My grandmother was a huge Katherine Hepburn fan, and I always think of her when her name comes up. I really need to watch more of her movies, especially those with Spencer.

    Interesting post–thank you for sharing!

  • Gail Hupke

    I’m glad I decided to read your interview. I’m familiar with your name, but haven’t read your books yet. Now I will!

  • Mary McCoy

    Wow that monarch story is something else!

  • Ellen

    I always liked the banter between Hepburn and Tracy in their movies. Love that same banter in romance novels.