Mari Donne talks The Boys and the Bees ~ Retro Reads Author Spotlight, Interview, Local Giveaway

Prism Book Alliance would like to thank Mari Donne for taking the time to talk with us today about their retro title from Dreamspinner Press, The Boys and the Bees. Prism recently reviewed The Boys and the Bees. You can find the review here.



1. We are here today to talk about The Boys and the Bees. What can you tell us about it?

Mark and Jamie knew each other slightly in high school, and when they meet again each is facing a domestic crisis, but the circumstances are as different as their families.

At first, Mark’s closeted status proves less of a barrier to romance than Jamie’s quirks, which include refusing to own or even call a cell phone because he fears they may cause bees to go extinct.

2. Tell us more about Mark and Jamie?

Mark suffers from what I call Good Child Syndrome. Always the one who stayed away from trouble and who pulled his siblings out of scrapes, he’s been consistently praised for putting other people’s needs before his own. That makes it especially difficult for him to shatter his parents’ expectations.

Jamie, as the baby of his large family, has always been encouraged to be himself. His boundless energy is spent trying to save the world by political and environmental action, so enthusiastically that he may fall short through lack of focus.

Some couples work because they are similar in personality and habits. Others work because they are different, but their strengths and weaknesses fit together like jigsaw pieces. Mark and Jamie are the second kind.

3. What about The Boys and the Bees makes you the most proud?

A friend once told me that a strength of my writing is that I can make good people interesting. That disappointed me a little, because I’d like to write thrilling villains, but I consciously tried to work to that strength in this book. Good people deserve good writing as much as the bad guys do.

4. If you could change one thing in The Boys and the Bees what would it be and why?

I’d try to move the focus away from Mark’s family and its toxic religiosity. But people like them intrigue me, because their attitudes are so different from what I experienced growing up. Although I’m not religious, most of my family is, but that doesn’t present a barrier to their being LGBT allies.

I encounter a lot of people whose faith seems to depend on finding themselves superior to others. Unlike the extreme activists, who obsess about LGBT people, many are simply smug and egotistical. I’ve had self-identified Christians say they have a lot of sympathy for me because I’m going to hell for not sharing their beliefs, as they smile and invite me over for dinner. Then they’re annoyed when I refuse. I have to wonder about the psyche of people like that.

5. Can you talk a little about the inspiration for The Boys and the Bees and specifically Mark and Jamie?

I hope I made them individuals, but Mark and Jamie also represent two types of people I admire. Jamie is outwardly focused, trying to save the world, whereas Mark tends the people close to him. But neither is interested in the spotlight. They’re the kinds of people every political movement, charity, and family depends on for survival, and they don’t usually get the praise they deserve.

6. Will we be hearing more from Mark and Jamie in the future?

I hope so. I’ve almost finished the first draft of a story in which they are minor characters. I could post some snippets that include them if anyone is interested.

7. Anything else you want to tell us about The Boys and the Bees?

I like writing about Iowa and all the little things that make Flatland interesting to me. I find that in addition to being endearing, annoying, or even downright evil, people’s quirks and obsessions can also be amusing.

8. Tell us about some of your other titles.

So far, I’ve published only “The Boys and the Bees,” two short stories (in the anthologies “Snow on the Roof” and “Closet Capers”) and “A Small Miracle Happened.” The last is an M/M Hanukkah novella, which is about as niche a genre as you can find. I wrote it because there aren’t a lot of Hanukkah stories out there, and it’s a holiday my family enjoys.

For some boring Real Life reasons, I wrote very little this past year, but that should change soon.

9. Rapid Fire Time

  • Love Story or Thriller? Isn’t love thrilling? Seriously, I like stories that have both aspects.
  • Fire or Ice? I agree with Frost. “From what I’ve tasted of desire, I hold with those who favor fire.”
  • Steak or Pizza? Pizza is nature’s perfect food.
  • Train or Plane? Train! If only for the leg space.
  • Any Tattoos or piercings? Just pierced ears. Very boring, really.
  • Music or TV/Movies? It changes over time, but right now, I’m all about music, mostly jazz. Also Springsteen. (I started life as a Jersey Girl.) And Clearance Clearwater Revival for some reason.
  • Salty or Sugary? Definitely a sweet tooth.
  • Porsche or Prius? I could never justify the expense of a Porsche, but I drive an Impreza WRX, which my daughter dubbed the “zoom-zoom car,” so you know where my fancy lies.

10. What are you working on? What is next?

I have a bad habit of writing more than one thing at a time, and I hope to get some off to publication this year. I’m working on a mystery novella and my first attempt at a fantasy story, as well as “In the Pink,” the novel in which Mark and Jamie appear.


Title: The Boys and the Bees
Author: Mari Donne
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford
Publication Date: 11/28/2012
Genre/Sub-Genre: Contemporary, M/M Romance


The only interesting thing about Why Yell, Iowa, is its name, so when Mark Johansen left for college, he didn’t plan to return. But his family has other ideas: his father manipulates him into a job he hates and his mother uses him as a patch for coping with his siblings’ problems.

When Mark runs into Jamie Novotny after a particularly bad day at work, he’s surprised to find the quirky kid he knew in high school has grown into a driven ecowarrior. But the shock of finding Jamie working in the local co-op pales compared to his astonishment when Jamie confesses he’s had a crush on Mark for years.

Their first night together leaves Mark happy but disoriented, but their second leaves him bereft. He’s unable to find Jamie because he refuses to use cell phones, fearing their environmental impact. Mark’s usual stoicism splinters, and he can’t stop himself from tracking Jamie down. When their lives collide, Mark makes room in his heart and his house for Jamie—but what Jamie really wants is for Mark to man up.

About the Author:

Mari’s first love was the library. Her second was writing, because none of the stories on the shelves said exactly what she need a book to tell her.

Mari Donne was born and raised in New Jersey, but after more than twenty years in the Midwest has finally learned to relax and enjoy the slower pace of life. Although the appeal of tractor pulls still escapes her, she loves many other things about her adopted state of Iowa, not least that it is the first in flyover country to legalize same-sex marriage.

Fascinated by books and stories from an early age, Mari always wanted to be a novelist, but fell victim to the dreaded demon of Practicality. She worried that years of producing mundane, reality-based prose in an office environment would make it impossible to go back to fiction writing. But when she finally tried, she found it immensely liberating to be allowed to just make stuff up. Even more thrilling was the discovery that fantasizing about hot men was actually part of the job description instead of just a way to survive boring meetings.

Mari and her husband have two grown children and are empty-nesting happily together.

Visit Mari on her website:, on Facebook:, or on Twitter: @MariDonne42 or e-mail her at

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
iTunes / iBooks
All Romance eBooks
Barnes & Noble


Mari Donne has kindly offered a signed paperback copy of The Boys and the Bees

Locally held contests will end 7 days from original posting date at 8pm CST. Must be 18 or older to enter, void where prohibited.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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14 thoughts on “Mari Donne talks The Boys and the Bees ~ Retro Reads Author Spotlight, Interview, Local Giveaway

  1. Loved the interview. I really enjoyed reading about the inspiration behind the characters. Thanks for the chance to win.

    Waxapplelover (at) gmail (dot) com

  2. Thanks for the interview and linked review. I always enjoy the rapid fire portion. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  3. Enjoyed the interview! Book sounds like a great story and am looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the chance to win!

  4. I loved The Boys and the Bees and recommend it every chance I get. I especially like Mark’s voice as narrator. I’m so glad to hear that Mari Donne has more stories in the works.

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