Interview: Mary Monroe

I found Mary Monroe‘s background so inspirational, I knew she’d be a wonderful interview for the Working Writers blog. What writer can’t relate to rejection? Ms. Monroe got plenty of rejection, but guess what? She pressed on because writing is what she was born to do, and she knew it from the time she was very young. Now, she has a dozen novels with more planned. Want to hear more? You know you do! Enjoy this interview.


Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

I was born to write. I am originally from a small rural town in Alabama and I have been writing as far back as I can remember. I had to work in the fields with the rest of my family and one way I tolerated the boredom and drudgery was by making up stories and entertaining myself and the other kids.

You were given the gift of the written word from a very young age. What kind of stories were you writing as a kid?

I made up stories about the people around me and myself. During my teens I wrote lurid stories for the women’s “confession” magazines. I also attempted to write non-fiction pieces for Readers Digest and other more prestigious publications. However, the only stories I was able to sell back then were the confession stories.

You had success early with The Upper Room“>The Upper Room and then it took 15 years until your second novel, God Don’t Like Ugly was published. Your story is one many writers can learn from: never give up! What kept you going during those years?

Well, as depressing as it was to collect five or six rejection letters a week for those fifteen years (and HUNDREDS more before my first novel got published), I knew that the only way I was going to get published again was to keep trying. Having a day job from hell at the time provided a lot of motivation! Had I given up, I would have been doomed to spend many more years at that job…

Tell us about your latest book. What do you hope readers take away from it?

My latest book, God Ain’t Blind, is the fourth book in my God Don’t Like Ugly series. I write about provocative but universal subjects with grim, gritty characters that a lot of people can relate to. I hope that after reading this book, my readers will feel enlightened as well as entertained.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

I don’t set goals for myself. My writing seems to have a life of its own. I guess you could say that my “goal” is to meet the deadlines my publishers sets for me and to keep my readers wanting more! My next book God Ain’t Through Yet, will be released June 2010 and will be the follow up to God Ain’t Blind. The one that I am currently working on and really looking forward to because so many people asked me to write it, is Mama Ruby, the prequel to The Upper Room (there will also be a sequel).

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

It’s a tie between The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines and The Color Purple by Alice Walker.

Favorite authors?

Stephen King, James Baldwin, James Patterson, E. Lynn Harris, and Alice Walker.

Book you’re currently reading?

I am currently reading The Eleventh Victim by Nancy Grace.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

The only ritual I have is that I write something every single day. Some days it’s just a few sentences. On other days it’s up to several chapters.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?

To this day, I have never experienced writer’s block. If anything I have too many things to write about!

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

I don’t define or measure success by how much money I make or how popular I am. I am still working on being successful because I feel that I have so much more to share with readers. However, I feel “successful” when my readers tell me how much they enjoy my work.

Advice for other writers?

Learn as much as you can about the business. Then read, read, read! Anything and everything–books, newspapers, magazines, even the tabloids! This is important because it provides the creative nourishment you will need to be able to tell a good story.

Where can we learn more about you?

Readers can email me at and I will respond personally. Readers can also visit my Web site at

Anything else you’d like to add?

Everybody: read, read, read, read!

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