Thursday, May 19, 2011


I am the third child of Alabama sharecroppers and the first and only member of my family to finish high school. I never attended college or any writing classes. I taught myself how to write and started writing short stories around age four. I spent the first part of my life in Alabama and Ohio and moved to Richmond , California in 1973. I have lived in Oakland since 1984.

My first novel The Upper Room was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1985 and was widely reviewed throughout the U.S. and in Great Britain . I have thirteen novels in print now which includes God Don’t Like Ugly and several sequels.

I am divorced, I love to travel, I love to mingle with other authors, and I love to read anything by Ernest Gaines, Stephen King, Alice Walker, and James Patterson. I still write seven days a week and I get most of my ideas from current events, the people around me, but most of my material is autobiographical.
How did you start out your writing career?

How did you start out your writing career?

Answer: I started making up stories before I even started elementary school. I never took a writing course, but it was easy for me to teach myself how to write because I read everything that I could get my hands on.

What did you learn while writing this book?

This book, Mama Ruby, is the prequel (to The Upper Room). I learned that it is a lot of fun to do prequels and I plan to do a few more.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope to tie up a few loose ends to The Upper Room. In Mama Ruby I answer the questions
that people have been asking me for years: why was Mama Ruby so desperate to have a daughter and why was she was so violent and loving at the same time? The answers may surprise you...

Which character did you have the most fun writing about?

The most fun character was Maureen O'Leary, the old Irish madam that Mama Ruby and Othella worked for.

What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?

What surprises me is that a lot of my friends now think if I can get published, they can too (and they've never written anything before)...

What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?

I like the aspect of creating new characters and developing them. What I hate most of all is that sometimes
after one of my manuscripts is already gone to print, I come up with more ideas for the story!

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

I wish that I had known earlier how unsupportive people suddenly become "supportive" once you make it (so that I could have avoided them)

I wish that I had known how to structure my writing schedule in a better way so that I wouldn't have to scramble around to meet deadlines now.

I wish that I had been more careful with the money I made early in my career.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

Do read as much as you possibly can. Reading offers a lot of creative nourishment and you will need that to
develop and sustain your talent.

DO NOT let rejection letters destroy your dream. I used to receive so many that I almost gave up writing. These letters don't mean the end of your career. Instead of looking at them as rejections, look at them as detours.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

No matter what you write, you can't please every reader.

If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?

I would love to be Cinderella...

When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to watch old movies and game shows on TV, and I love to shop and travel.

What do you do to interact with your readers?

I do a lot of bookstore and library readings throughout the country and I always encourage a question and
answer session at each one. I also connect with my readers by e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook.

Our theme for this month is BOOK READERS. Give a shot out to five book clubs who have featured your books.

Here are the names of five clubs who have either featured my books or hosted parties for me: The Imani Bookclub in the Atlanta area; the Ladies of the Dove Bookclub in Hinesville, Georgia; the Bay Area Women of Color Bookclub. And my books have been featured by Sisters on the Same Page Bookclub, and the You Go Girl Bookclub.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

I know for sure that it was my destiny to be an author.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

After Mama Ruby, my next book will be God Don't Make No Mistakes, the sixth book in my God Don't
Like Ugly series. It will be released in 2012.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

My e-mail is (it's also included on the flap of all my books) and
my web address is I am also on Twitter and Facebook. They can also send regular
mail to me in care of my publisher, Kensington Publishing, 119 West 40th Street, NY NY 10018.

Mama Ruby

New York Times bestselling author Mary Monroe presents an unforgettable tale featuring Mama Ruby, the indomitable heroine of her acclaimed novel The Upper Room. Now readers will get a peek into Ruby’s early years, as she transforms from a spoiled small-town girl into one of the South’s most notorious and volatile women…

Growing up in Shreveport, Louisiana, Ruby Jean Upshaw is the kind of girl who knows what she wants and knows how to get it. By the time she’s fifteen, Ruby has developed a taste for fast men and cheap liquor, and not even her preacher daddy can set her straight. Most everyone in the neighborhood knows you don’t cross Ruby. Only Othella Mae Cartier, daughter of the town tramp, understands what makes Ruby tick.

When Ruby discovers she’s in the family way, she’s scared for the first time in her life. After hiding her growing belly with baggy dresses, Ruby secretly gives birth to a baby girl at Othella’s house. With few choices, Othella talks Ruby into giving the child away—and with the help of a shocking revelation, convinces Ruby to run off with her to New Orleans.

But nothing can erase Ruby’s memories of the child she lost—or quell her simmering rage at Othella for persuading her to let her precious baby go. If there’s a fine line between best friend and worst nightmare, Ruby is surely treading it. Because someday, there will be a reckoning. And when it comes, Othella will learn the hard way that no one knows how to exact revenge quite like Ruby Jean Upshaw…

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