Angel Donovan limped home to Ordinary, Montana, on her wounded Honda Gold Wing, pulling to a stop on the side of the highway a couple of miles shy of town.
Out of gas.
She tugged off her helmet and, with one strong swing of her arm, heaved it into the closest field where it rolled across dry soil beneath yellow wheat, its red gloss disappearing under the dirt it picked up.
She unhooked her saddlebags and took out a can of lighter fluid she’d bought in Bozeman and sprinkled it over the bike. It glowed golden in the horizontal rays of the setting sun, its chemical scent a counterpoint to the dry, earthy aroma of the fields.
Striking a match on the denim across her thigh, she threw it onto the bike where the lighter fluid ignited with a satisfying whoosh.
So begins Angel’s ignominious return home. Her attempts to outrun her past have failed. Back home, she feels the weight of who she used to be looming. But there’s one person who sees beyond her former wild-child self—Timm Franck. Too bad he’s also the one person she’s wary of…with good reason. Thanks to his journalistic skills, the private details of her scandalous upbringing are a matter of public record.
GET TO KNOW MARY SULLIVAN
MAUREEN: Which of your characters would you most like to invite to dinner, and why?
MARY: Definitely, Janey Wilson from A COWBOY’S PLAN. She’s a young Goth woman who’s had to deal with too much adversity in her young life, including a rape at fourteen and then delivering and keeping the child conceived from that rape, then losing her little girl six years later to a car accident. No twenty-two-year-old should have to experience so much so early. And yet…despite the maelstrom of emotions this all engendered in her, and the tough attitude she cultivated to survive, she lives a life of hope. She falls in love with a whimsical candy shop in small-town Ordinary, Montana, while she also falls for the shop’s owner (a preacher’s son), dishing out sweets while wearing shovel loads of black mascara, plenty of face and body piercings, and big black Goth boots. A study in contrasts, she’s strong, but also achingly vulnerable. I LOVED writing her character. Apparently, readers must have, too, because this book won the 2011 Booksellers Best award for Long Contemporary.
MAUREEN: What soundtrack or playlist do you recommend for your current release?
MARY: Both Shawn Colvin’s and Alison Krauss and Robert Plant’s versions of Roly Salley’s Killing the Blues, one of the most beautiful songs ever written, in my opinion. Every day before working on Beyond Ordinary, I used it to put me into the mood for writing, but then had to turn it off while I wrote. I can’t chew gum and write…I mean, listen to music and write at the same time. Too distracting. Guess I’m not much of a multi-tasker!
MAUREEN: What’s your favorite movie of all time?
MARY: Out of Africa.
MAUREEN: What’s your favorite book of all time?
MARY: Mrs. Mike, a novel by Benedict and Nancy Mars Freedman set in the Canadian wilderness in the early 1900s. I read it first as a young teenager and have re-read it many times since. It’s based on a true story of a young woman who travels from Boston to visit her uncle in Canada, falls in love with and marries a Mountie, and travels with him by dogsled to northern Canada. The details of how tough life was in the far north at that time are fascinating.
MAUREEN: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
MARY: You mean besides the fabulous wealth and jet-setting around the world to private parties in Rome and Paris? And the multi-billion dollar movie deals? Sorry, got carried away in my daydreams…
I wanted people to read one of my books, finish it, sigh and say, “That was a really good story.” Judging by feedback, that’s how some readers feel when they finish my stories and that warms my heart.
MAUREEN: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?
MARY: Underdogs who triumph by the end of the book.
MAUREEN: What was the first story you remember writing?
MARY: When I decided I wanted to be a writer, the first book I wrote was about a pretty widow with two children who travels to northern Ontario in the early 1900s to cook for a bunch of men in a lumber camp. Hmmm. Sounds like I might have been influenced by Mrs. Mike’s story. Anyway, she falls in love with the camp foreman instead of a Mountie.
MAUREEN: What’s next for you as an author?
MARY: Harlequin just bought three more of my Superromances. Sigh. Lovely. More writing. More stories to invent. I’m in heaven.
MAUREEN'S GOTTA ASK, MARY'S GOTTA ANSWER
MAUREEN: Why do you think cowboys appeal to so many readers?
MARY: Hmmm. What can I say about cowboys? Most of them adhere to a set of values and principles that makes them solid and responsible and dependable. They work hard in tough conditions, in any weather. And those cowboy hats make them all look great!
Learn more about Mary Sullivan at
Mary will give away a signed copy of Beyond Ordinary to one of today's commenters. Be sure to come back tomorrow to get to know Vicki Essex.