Monique McDonell

Good morning and welcome to JBR.  Today we have Monique McDonell with us.                                                                                                                                                                                         

First why don't you tell us a little about yourself?

I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.

I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)

When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.
I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia.

Newest release?

My newest release is A Fair Exchange.
Who hasn’t wondered about their first love? What happened? What went wrong? Where are they now?
What if you got a second chance?
Amelia Armstrong is about to find out. What a shame her long-lost love, Matt,  has returned  (looking way too good and acting way too sweet) when her life is a shambles and she has finally decided once and for all to put herself and not whichever man is currently in her life, first.
How do you balance that desire to recapture that loving feeling with the need to finally be the best version of yourself? What if this really is the one, how do you choose when to stand your ground and when to cut your losses?  Amelia takes a journey from Sydney to New York and back again trying to find the answers while negotiating with pop-divas, ex-lovers, crazy teenagers, a well-meaning cousin and the tabloids.
A Fair Exchange is a story about being a grown up when, maybe, you’d much rather be sixteen again.

What can we expect from your stories, action, drama, romance, sex, blood and guts?

My novels are a mix of chicklit and romantic comedy. There is definitely romance but there’s also laughter and friendship and usually some whacky relatives along for the ride as well.

Do you have a favorite character in your stories? Who? and Why?

In A Fair Exchange, Matt, the main male character is my favourite. He’s a nice hardworking guy who really tries to do the right thing but he’s been burned by love and women. He’s an optimist at heart and I really like that about him. Also he’s pretty cute.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:

Amelia the main character in A Fair Exchange was an exchange student from Australia to Massachusetts in her teens and that experience is one we share. I was lucky enough to spend a year living in America, going to a US High School and experiencing a very different way of life from mine in Sydney.

Has there been any other authors who have inspired your work or helped you out with your stories?

I have been really lucky to have lots of wonderful people support my writing efforts. I‘ve been in a writing group for eight years and some of the members are now published. Pamela Cook, who writes rural women’s fiction is one of my closest friends and reads all my work. Early on author Ber Carroll also gave me a lot of help and advice.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The best thing readers can do is leave positive reviews for authors. That’s an immediate thing they can do to help. I still don’t think there’s anything better than word of mouth and personal recommendation so tell a friend or tweet about the book, if that’s your thing.
Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

I think my advice for readers is to make the most of the whole digital age to try new authors and new genres and see if there are things out there you might not have known about that you’ll love. I think this is an exciting time for books because there are so many stories being published and so many fascinating genres and sub-genres available.
Do you have a favorite author? If yes, what draws you to that person’s work?

I really don’t have one favourite. I read lots of romance, chicklit and literary fiction. I do like books with a sense of humour so I like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series and books along those lines.  Life can be very serious so a touch of whimsy is nice. I will say covers are a big factor in book decisions for me, even if that makes me shallow, the eye is drawn to what it likes.

Can you remember one of the first things you wrote? What makes it memorable?

I wrote a poem about a kookaburra that got published in the children’s section of the Sunday paper when I was 10. It was my first published work so that makes it pretty special. They paid me $10.
Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your work?

It’s a funny thing but I always see the main character in my novel in the instance that becomes the opening of the book. It’s as if I have a vision of a new friend and then I write her story to learn all about her. It sounds a bit loopy but it works for me.

Do you have any other interesting hobbies, pets or stories you would like to share?

I love to cook and I have a cooking blog but it’s a bit neglected at the moment as I’ve been so busy with writing but I have promised myself April is the month I’ll get on that again. (http://mysydneykitchen.blogspot.com.au/) Travel is my hobby. I have an uncanny gift for getting great deals and finding great places. I actually help friends now, booking their trips and planning their itineraries. Apart from that I’m lucky that I live in a part of Sydney where I have many beaches within a few minutes from home so lots of my life focusses on beach activity. I love to write at beachside cafes with a nice cup of coffee.

Favorite places to travel or visit?

Travel, I love to travel. I have just come back from the Whitsundays (Great Barrier Reef) where I was cruising around on a boat with my husband. Very fun. Last year I was lucky enough to go to LA for a week where I visited friends and did some research for an upcoming novel, and then I met my family in Hawaii on the way home. A perfect vacation!

Thank you for visiting.  We look forward to hearing more tomorrow. 

Julie Ramsey & Theresa Needham Fehse 

And the Review team

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