AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: MONIQUE MCDONELL
The character of Allegra, in Mr. Right and Other Mongrels appeared to me in a couple of different situations – the first being the opening scene of the book when she is chased by a dog and the next in her second hand bookshop and the story just came together from there.
When you start writing, do you already have the story plotted out or do you let the characters dictate what will happen?
The characters usually appear to me in a moment of crisis and that’s where I start the story and then I write about a third of the novel and ‘get to know’ the characters before plotting the rest.
What inspired you to write in your genre? Is this the genre you started writing in or have you morphed to this one?
I used to write darker stories, and my short stories tend to be quite somber and more literary but I really wanted to write books that made me happy and other people happy. I think chick lit does that.
Do you have a favorite character you have written?
I really love Allegra in Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and I like Jack from Hearts Afire (my next book), he’s my favorite male character so far.
Who was the toughest character for you to “get right” that you have written so far?
I think Moonbeam was my toughest character from Mr. Right and Other Mongrels. She’s a fairly narcissistic hippy and I don’t have much experience of alternative lifestyles so I did quite a bit of research for her character.
Do you draw inspiration for your characters from real life? Any fun stories you could share?
Allegra’s character in Mr. Right and Other Mongrels has a dog-phobia and so do I, because of that, lots of people think the character is based on me, but that’s about the only thing we have in common. Well, we also both love books. The Justin character in the book is also based on a friend of mine who lives overseas now. Writing his character was a way of spending time with my friend at least in my imagination.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
The hardest parts for me are finding the time to write and the self-discipline to make the most of that time when I have it. I can be quite the procrastinator.
Name one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you.
They may be surprised to know that despite my own dog phobia we do have a pet dog. Somehow my daughter’s love of dogs is as large as my own fear.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Hmmm…coffee and red wine are my guilty pleasures these days.
What TV Shows are you addicted to?
I am loving a new Australian show called House Husbands. From America I really like GCB, Castle, and Bones.
What do you need before you start writing? Anything that is just a must have or the creative juice don’t flow?
Not really. I like to have a cup of tea or coffee with me but really I just need to know I have a small block of uninterrupted time.
If your story was optioned for a movie, who would play your characters?
I think Rose Byrne (she’s an Australian actress who was in Bridesmaids and is in Damages) would make a lovely Allegra. Teddy’s character is harder, maybe Hugh Jackman.
Where were you when you got your first contract? Who did you tell first?
Well I’m an indie author so that hasn’t happened for me as yet.
How old were you when you read your first romance book?
Gosh I can’t even remember. I’m a voracious reader and was even more so as a child so I think it was about 11 or 12, unless you count fairy tales.
What author causes you to “go fan girl”/ squeal over/anticipate upcoming books?
Oh I look forward to every new Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum book and I love Meg Cabot’s books as well. I look forward to those.
If you still have one of those pesky non writing jobs what is it?
I do indeed. I run a boutique PR consultancy with one of my very best friends. Mostly I write for my day job as well as we do lots of web copy, intranet stories and newsletters.
Do you have a favorite movie you have seen in the last few months and/or an all time favorite?
There is a new Australian movie out called The Sapphires which is wonderful. My all time favorites include The American President, Steel Magnolias and When Harry Met Sally.
What are you currently working on, and what else is in the wings?
My third book Alphabet Dating will be out before Christmas so I’m working on final re-writes for it. I hope to have a fourth book Building Attraction out in February.
If you could co-write with another author who would it be?
I’m going to choose Meg Cabot because she seems like a person I would have lots in common with.
How do you pick your characters names?
Honestly the names just appear to me – or rather the characters appear and they arrive already named. It’s a bit weird actually.
Do you prefer the love at first sight approach or a steady growth throughout?
I like that spark at the start and then I like it to grow steadily. I’m less of a fan of characters who dislike each other at first and end up in love.
Where can readers find you?
And for the silly side – What is your favorite type of chocolate?
I love Turkish Delight covered in chocolate or Cherry Ripe bars.