Monday, 30 November 2009


When my friends ask me about the most interesting thing I have ever done, I can’t help smiling as I answer without hesitation, “Traveling.” I visited over fifty countries on vacation or business trips. Here are some of the fun things I enjoyed and included in scenes of my books:

• Toast with vodka in Russian countries. (See my contemporary romance TO LOVE A HERO)
• Exchange a romantic kiss with my husband on the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Rx IN FRENCH coming soon).
• Sleep in a chateau in the Loire Valley (See my romantic suspense FRENCH PERIL).
• Walk overdressed in a bathing suit along a nude beach in Greece
(still working on the scene in my work-in-progress, ISLAND OF PASSION)

But I experienced more exciting adventures that I plan to incorporate in future books:

Ride a camel in Egypt around the pyramids and sphinx; feed the turtle in Seychelles Islands; sail through the Norwegian Fjords; photograph the penguins in Chili; swim with baby sharks in Tahiti; smoke the narghile in Tunisia; and many more…

Traveling is not only about visiting monuments and palaces in foreign countries or snapping photos in front of famous landmarks. Traveling opens new horizons, exposes you to different cultures, and teaches you new words. Every time you travel you are indelibly marked by what you see, what you hear, even what you smell.

When I decided to start writing novels I already knew that my heroine would be an all-American gal, educated, assertive and independent. But I wanted my hero to be different from the men she meets everyday at work. I wanted to gift her with a SPECIAL man. During my numerous travels abroad, I observed the foreign male and study how he could attract my American heroine and be worthy of her love.

As a Director of an environmental laboratory I traveled to Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to refurbish laboratories. In Belarus, I dealt mostly with officers, handsome, reserved, aloof at first sight. While writing TO LOVE A HERO, I practically relived my fantastic trips to Belarus and kept a detailed journal. My story highlights the hospitality and warmth of the gorgeous and valiant Belarusian officers who sing, toast with vodka and make a woman feel like a goddess.

The Russian hero, such as the handsome Major General Sergei of
TO LOVE A HERO, is a perfect example of alpha hero: a patriotic officer, authoritative and chauvinistic but protective and gallant, honest and loyal.

The Greek hero is also an alpha hero. In ISLAND OF PASSION, Greek billionaire Stephanos is broody, passionate, athletic and valiant, in love with the sea, he listens more than he talks and has trouble trusting a woman or handing his heart.

In Mexico, Puerto Rico and South America, I was impressed by the joyful atmosphere. Large families with three or more children are the norm. People dine at late hours. They like music and dance. The father is respected as head of the family.

The Latino hero is romantic, more of a beta hero. Fun-loving, easy-going.
In BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, a sweet and spicy medical romance, Dr. Marc Suarez is adored by the female population of the hospital. He is said to collect sport trophies and nurses’ hearts. But a tragic accident changed him into a dedicated father to his orphan nephew.

In France, the old gallantry has survived and many Frenchmen would not hesitate to write a poem to their beloved.

The aristocratic male greets a woman by bowing over her hand for a kiss while the average Frenchman kisses her three times on the cheeks. That custom is not only used with relatives and friends but also with colleagues every day at work. Frenchmen love wine and will have un petit vin, a little wine, at lunch on a daily basis. At dinner, a whole bottle is a must for Count François in FRENCH PERIL and for Dr. Luc George in Rx FOR TRUST.

The French hero is a playboy and a womanizer, determined not to be entrapped, but also a generous and passionate lover who recognizes a perfume aroma, writes poems and kisses a woman to distraction.

FRENCH PERIL was inspired by a vacation in the Loire Valley. My husband and I spent two nights in a modernized chateau. I was so impressed by the magnificence of the French cháteaux and the wealth of history of that area, I visualized gallant aristocrats entertaining beautiful women in lavishly decorated galleries and plush gardens. Stories played in my mind. I upped the stakes with a missing statue and the murder of a professor to create a romantic suspense, FRENCH PERIL.

Rx FOR TRUST, the first book in the Doctor’s Order series, is a sweet and spicy medical romance that will make you smile, laugh and cry—the story of two psychiatrists with conflicting theories on how to treat their patients and tame their own emotions.

It will be released on Friday, December 4, 2009, by The Wild Rose Press and is already available in paperback at The story’s theme revolves around a famous saying by Walter Scott: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive.” Walter Scott.

Blurb: An American psychiatrist, with a troubled past and secrets by the bucket-load has built a successful career where love has no room. The French psychiatrist, she loved ten years ago, detests secrets and threatens to unravel the secrets of her thorny past. Can he win her trust and love before her inner fears destroy their second chance at happiness?

Mona Risk writes romantic suspense for Cerridwen Press: TO LOVE A HERO and FRENCH PERIL And medical romance in the genre of ER and Grey's Anatomy for The Wild Rose Press: BABIES IN THE BARGAIN and Rx FOR TRUST. All books are available at


LK Hunsaker said...

Mona, love the post and the way you incorporate your own adventures into your stories! I so agree that places you visit leave a permanent mark within.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Lovely post, Mona! You've been to some amazing, stella places and I love the way you use and share them in your novels!

Congratulations on all your releases and good luck with the forthcoming 'RX in French'.

What a romantic place to share a kiss with your husband!

Mona Risk said...

Hi Loraine, every place I visit immediately triggers a plot in my mind. Sometimes just looking at the way people dress or behave in restaurants and in the streets is so interesting.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Lindsay, thank you for having me at your blog. When I write my books I often relive the adventures I had in various countries.

Mary Ricksen said...

Mona, you are such a gentle and feminine lady, I cannot picture you doing those things, but I am impressed and amazed at what a versatile person you really are. You are one of the smartest women I have ever met and yet you are down to earth inside and very sensitive. You are as passionate as your stories.
You will have to tell me about the sharks and the turtle, Wow!
Your stories are great!

Keena Kincaid said...

You've made me sick for travel, Mona. Excellent post. I love how you incorporate your experience into the story. I do, too, but never in such a direct way.

Cheryl said...

Hi Mona,

You have been to so many wonderful places! And how neat to notice the differences in the MEN in the countries you've visited and incorporate them into your heroes in your books! I love that idea!

Savanna Kougar said...

Mona, what a treasure trove of experiences and ideas from all your wonderful travels.

I would love to have traveled like that. As it is I cherish all the times I did get to travel. It was always an incredible learning experience and adventurous. Other cultures have always fascinated me.

Congrats on your upcoming release.

Mary Marvella said...

I need to borrow some of your experiences. Fascinating!

Judy said...

I love how you mix your travel experiences into your novels. It makes it so much fun for your fans! Congratulations on all of them!

Scarlet Pumpernickel said...

Mona, I love seeing your photos and reading about your adventures. Like you, I love to travel and enjoy incorporating my adventures ito my books. Loved visiting the Greek Isles, Italy, France, Spain, Scicily and Austria. Fond memories of all those places. Didn't care for Athens! Too hot, dirty and crowded although seeing the Acropolis and Parthenon were spectular! I love the way you use your travels in your work.



P.L. Parker said...

Wonderful ideas, how I envy your chance to travel.

Mona Risk said...

Mary, you are such a dear friend. I will have to find pictures of baby sharks around us to show you. To be honest I wasn't very comfortable.

Mona Risk said...

Keena, did you notice I talked about the foreign male, not the female. LOL. Does it mean I paid too much attention to foreign men? Who me? Never. Except when they are handsome of course, as handsome as my heroes.

Mona Risk said...

Cheryl, I am starting to be sick of traveling and always say God Bless America when I return home. But I realize every place has something interesting to discover in addition to the official highlights of the area.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Savanna. I am dying to go to Brazil and Japan. And I wouldn't mind going back to the island of Malta. It's such a lovely place.

Mona Risk said...

Mary, borrow my experience anytime. I'll be honored to share it.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Judy. Reviewers told me that I take them to the best armchair traveling.

Mona Risk said...

Hey Scarlet, you and I have to get together for some serious discussion about foreign places.

Mona Risk said...

PL, I am ready to share my traveling experience and ideas any time. I am glad you enjoyed my post.

Francesca Prescott said...

Wonderful article, Mona. I love how you observe men all over the world to use in your writing! Best of luck with your new release.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you Francesca. I have so many funny stories that reveal characters and I try to incorporate them in various books.

StephB said...

Mona, I love your adventures and how you've worked them into your novels. They've given that added depth I enjoy as a reader. I love to travel and you've been to places I haven't. Thanks for bringing us romance - international style!