Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of 27 books, including the Beach House series. Her latest book in the series, The Summer of Lost and Found, available May 11, 2021. Monroe’s debut middle grade fiction series, The Islanders, will be released June 15, 2021.
Monroe’s bestselling novel The Beach House is also a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, starring Andie McDowell, Minka Kelly, and Chad Michael Murray. She is the co-creator and co-host of the weekly web show and podcast Friends & Fiction, which features five dear friends and bestselling authors. She lives on in Isle of Palms, South Carolina, which is a source of inspiration for many of her books.
She was recently featured in the May 2021 issue of Welcome Home and has generously answered a few questions!
1. Why did you become a writer?
I have my third- grade teacher, Mrs. Crawford, to thank for planting the idea that I could be a writer. When I was eight years old, I had written my first story, “Willy the Wishful Whale,” complete with a painted cover, all stapled together. I was quite proud of it. Mrs. Crawford came to me and said, “Mary Alice, did you ever think you might want to be a writer when you grow up?” I remember being stunned because I did not even know that was a job! I'm grateful for my teacher helping me name what I wanted to be when I grew up. My life journey eventually led me to write my first novel when I was on bed rest with my third child. I like to say that I gave birth to a baby and a book! That was over thirty years ago. Today, 27 books later, I have a rewarding career—thanks to my third- grade teacher!
2. What inspired your current book?
I wanted to examine the phenomenon we were all living in--not about the COVID-19 virus, but family dynamics of forced isolation, economic strain, and around the clock togetherness. From that examination emerged two main themes-- letting go and living in the present. Though there were frustrations, delays, and hardships in 2020, there were also unexpected joys and new patterns and habits developed that we wish to continue. Oftentimes, one discovers treasures in life that one had not realized during the busyness and demands of daily life.
3. What is next for you?
I am called to write stories against the backdrop of the nature-- whether at the beach, in the mountains, or wherever Mother Nature leads me. My current work in progress is pulling me away from the shores of my beach and calling me to the sultry, mysterious wetlands.
While I work on this new book, I'm also writing the second in a series of chapter books for middle grade children. It's been a long held dream to write for this age group and I am proud to announce the publication of the first in the series, The Islanders. Written with Angela May, it is available nationwide June 15th. This adventure brings together three kids--all strangers to each other--to a barrier island that has no roads, no restaurants, and no WiFi. What appears to be the worst summer ever turns out to be a wild adventure of courage, discovery, and friendship.
I write fiction that brings readers into my story world. I hope readers become aware of the beauty of wildlife and nature and the issues facing them. Because when they care, they will take care of this fragile blue planet we share. Now I especially pleased to continue this mission with our next generation. We are all passing the torch!