Friday, September 2, 2011


Monarch takes you on a wild ride from the jungles of Brazil to the isolated Monarch Inn in West Virginia.

Nick is a CIA spy hot on the trail of elusive drug lord, Matheus Ferreira. But, Nick's mission turns terribly wrong, and he's forced to run for his life. Keeping his daughters safe while trying to clear his name leads him back to Lillian Love and the Monarch Inn.

Like the monarchs for which the inn was named, each character undergoes their own metamorphosis. Only time will tell if their transformation will be beautiful or not.

If you are a fan of thrillers, and don't mind some adult language and situations, then this is the novel for you.

Michelle has a great talent for writing. Although I didn't love everything in her novel (I am one who "minds adult language and situations"), I very much appreciated her talent for telling a story. Monarch has great character development, and just the right amount of detail. I was captivated and not overloaded by unimportant drivel.

I received an advanced reader copy of Monarch from Rhemalda Publishing, and another copy is up for grabs to one of my readers. Enter to win on the Monarch Giveaway post.

Michelle Davidson Argyle was gracious enough to let me ask her a few questions about Monarch and writing.

Q: What was your inspiration for Monarch?

A: Monarch was inspired by a few things, but not all at once. I first gleaned the idea from reading Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek where she has a section about monarch butterflies. It struck such a chord in me that I knew I had to write a story based on butterflies one day.

Q: Who is your favorite character, and why?

A: It's difficult to choose a favorite character, but I'd have to say that Catarina is a solid favorite of mine aside from a few others. I think she's my favorite because her story is the most dynamic for me - even though none of the story is told from her point of view. Her story comes full circle, and despite her being such an evil character, I greatly admire her strength and the decisions she makes at the end of the book.

Q: Your reader guide mentions symbolism. What is the most important symbolism in the book that you wouldn't want readers to misunderstand?

A: I'd have to say the monarch butterflies, of course. I don't want them misinterpreted as a way to get across some political view about their endangerment. I hope every reader can look at the butterfly cycle and see a similar cycle in each of the main characters.

Q: What do you hope that readers will take from Monarch?

A: I hope readers understand by the end of the story that we are all flawed in pretty drastic ways, but that there is always hope to overcome those flaws, especially if we allow others to help us see those flaws and fix them - and sometimes simply accept them and live with them depending on what they are. For instance, Nick is a very flawed character and is extremely selfish in a lot of ways, but I think even the reader might not see that at first, and neither does he. By the end of the book he begins to emerge from his cocoon, so to speak, in order to see the world in a different light. I hope we can all do that throughout our lives in different stages.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be an author?

A: That's easy. I was literally thinking up stories and loving language from the moment I knew the alphabet. I distinctly remember learning the letter "O" in kindergarten and dreaming about the ocean and what happened on those choppy waves.

Q: Do you pattern any of your characters or locations after people/places you know?

A: People, no. Places, sometimes. In Monarch, however, I don't remember patterning any of the locations or people after anything I knew specifically.

Q: Did you have to do a lot of research about the CIA, Brazil, and West Virginia for Monarch?

A: I did! Just try researching the CIA, though. It's kind of tricky! Brazil I didn't quite get right, and I was lucky that my publisher had lived there for awhile and could help me fix some details. West Virginia I researched pretty heavily to get the feel right since I've never been there. I also talked to some friends who have lived there before.