Today I get to introduce you all to a very talented and down to earth Australian author, Monique McDonell. I meet Monique last year through mutual friends at the RWA conference in Melbourne, and let’s just say we had a ball.
I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction including chick lit and romance.
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 am the author of five stand alone novels including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on an Australian characters meeting and visiting US characters.
I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for ten 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. In 2015 had a piece on writing chicklit featured in the successful Australian non-fiction book Copyfight.
I live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter where I run a boutique PR consultancy.
What are you currently reading?
I just downloaded an older Kristan Higgins Book about 5 minutes ago.
What was the last book you bought?
The Kristan Higgins Book – All I Ever Wanted. Before that it was the latest in the Clover park series by Kylie Gilmour.
Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?
I largely read electronically these days. I’m a fast reader and I often read in bed (I like the light on the kindle) or in the car waiting for my daughter. An electronic device is just easier for me.
What does your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?
My bookshelves are a big old random mess. I do keep all my cookbooks together, and I do have a section for writing books but the fiction is all jumbled together.
How often do you read?
I would say I read five days a week. Some weeks I read every day and some weeks maybe only a couple but on average about five days.
Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?
What a great question? My dream book would have romance and a happy ending. I like books where the characters are a bit quirky and real. I love some humour in my books and well developed relationships between the minor and major characters. I’m usually good at picking the plot twist so I love a book that surprises me.
How do you choose what to read next?
I usually know if an author I like has a new book coming and that will probably be my first choice. I like a good personal recommendation so those books often get moved up the pile. I’m in a bookclub that focusses on more literary fiction, which is often kind of dark so I balance that with something lighter.
So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?
I used to always finish the book – always. Then I read an article in a magazine where they cited a study that said people who walked out of bad movies or away from books they didn’t like were happier and since then I tend to discard the book.
If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?
What is about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?
I love that feeling of escaping into a story. You know that glorious feeling when you’re in the middle of a good book and the real world fades away and the book within the world is all there is? It’s pure bliss. Books have always allowed me to enjoy places and people and experiences that I would never have had otherwise. I love how a good book can make you look at things through new eyes.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing style. Are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you prefer to write in 1st or 3rd person? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?
I write in first and third person. I enjoy the intimacy of first person but third is actually faster for me. When I write I usually get an idea about a character or premise and I write from there. I don’t really plot the way some people do – with thousands of plot points or beats – but I do have an idea of where the story will go and some of the main events. If I get stuck in the middle I might plot out the last half.
I work from home so I write around my client work. I now know which are my most productive times of the day for creativity and make sure I block some of that time for writing. I’m definitely not an early riser and I don’t tend to write late at night either. To be honest my family has almost no routine so I’ve had to learn to write when there is time.
Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?
Honestly, I wanted to be Jo from Little Women from an early age. (Well maybe minus the whole Civil War). I think her passion and what she sacrificed for her writing appealed to me. I think I always felt a little bit odd, that I was standing on the outside looking in, and so I could relate to her.
Do you have any advice to other writers out there?
I think the best advice you can give a writer is to write. Make time to write every day or every couple of days, even half an hour. It is so much easier to write when your head is in the story and you are connected to the characters. When you have a big break you almost have to get to know them all over again. To do that, writing regularly, you need to give yourself permission to write a draft that is far from perfect – you will repeat words and phrases, you will need to rewrite scenes and sentences but that is so much easier once the story is there.
And lastly, what are you currently working on?
I’ve just started writing a new series about a set of sisters from the NSW South Coast. There’s country music, fireman, beaches and a wacky family dynamic. So far it is a lot of fun to write and because books one and two have overlapping time lines I’m writing them simultaneously which is kind of a wacky experience for me.
To learn more about Monique McDonell and her writing, check out the following social media sites:
Any Way You Plan It | Amazon author page | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads