Interview & #Giveaway with Monique McDonell, author of Mr Right and Other Mongrels!

Please help me welcome author Monique McDonell to Reading with Holly to talk about her book Mr Right and Other Mongrels! :)

Holly: Hi Monique! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Monique McDonell: I’m an author who lives near the beach in Sydney, Australia. When I’m not writing I run a boutique PR business with a friend. I’m married with one daughter. My favourite things to do are read, entertain friends and travel to exotic locations where I can one day maybe set a book.

Holly: Can you tell us a little bit about your book Mr Right and Other Mongrels?

Monique McDonell: This is Allegra’s story really. She had a tough childhood where she was raised by her narcissistic mother, Moonbeam and now as an adult she has found security and stability. Her life has become very safe. Then she meets Teddy, who is a huge TV star, and it all gets turned upside again and she has to decide whether to embrace that change or hide from it.

Holly: Which came first for you, the characters or the plot?

Monique McDonell: Whenever I write a story I get an image of the main character. In the case of Mr Right and Other Mongrels I had two clear images of Allegra, the main character. The first was of her being chased by a big dog, which is how the book opens and the next was of her in a bookshop, which is how she came to own a second hand bookshop in the novel.

Holly: Can we expect more novels from you in 2012?

Monique McDonell: I have two more novels to release this year. The first Hearts Afire will be out late August or maybe early September and it’s more of a contemporary romance than chick lit. A Fair Exchange which is pure chick lit I plan to have ready to go in December.

Holly: How much of you or people you know do you think make it into the characters in your novel(s)?

Monique McDonell: I don’t think there is much of me in this novel, although the main character and I do both have dog phobias, but people who have read the book who know me say they can definitely hear my voice. The character of Justin in Mr Right and the Mongrels is loosely based on a good friend of mine who moved to London. I missed him so I wrote his personality, not his life, into the novel.

Holly: Do you think you will have a follow up book to this novel or is it just a stand-alone novel?

Monique McDonell: A few people who have read the novel have asked me what happens next to Allegra and Teddy. I can see myself writing a sequel though it would require quite a bit of travel for research, but that’s not a bad thing!

Holly: Can you tell us a little about what attracted you to this genre?

Monique McDonell: I write short stories as well as novels and my short stories are much darker but when I began writing darker novels I found that mid-way through the characters depressed me and  I wanted to get away from them. I decided to write a book filled with people who I would like to spend time with (even if the exasperated me a bit). The voice and style of chick lit suits me and my personality and I enjoy reading them so chick lit was the obvious choice.

Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?

Monique McDonell: I wrote Mr Right and Other Mongrels as a fun light hearted read. I hope people get to the end and feel the way they do after a visit with a fun girlfriend. When I started to write I really wanted to writes stories that bring people a little joy.

Holly: What is your take on editing your work (pre-edits I suppose before it gets passed to an editor)—do you hate it? Is it a strong point for you?

Monique McDonell: I really don’t like editing but it is such a big step important step that you do just have to put on your big girl panties and do it. I much, much prefer building a world than cleaning it up but that’s how I am in life as well…I may have thrown a few things out to avoid washing them from time to time. That’s not really an option with a book; you have to do the tidying up.

Random Quickies!

Holly: Witches or Zombies?

Monique McDonell: Witches

Holly: Favorite color?

Monique McDonell: Yellow

Holly: Pepsi or Coke?

Monique McDonell: Coke

Holly: Favorite movie?

Monique McDonell: When Harry Met Sally

Holly: Swimming pool or ocean/lake?

Monique McDonell: Ocean

Title: Mr. Right and Other Mongrels
Author: Monique McDonell
Publisher: Redfish Publishing
Length: 280 pages/70,000 words
Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre Contemporary Romance
Sub-Category: Comedy
Heat Level: Sweet (Clean romance/no sex scenes or graphic language)

Available at:

Blissfully happy in her own universe Allegra (Ally) Johnson is the sweet best friend everyone wants to have. Quietly and independently wealthy she runs a charming second-hand bookshop in beachside Manly. Heck, sometimes she even goes downstairs from her flat to run the shop in her Chinese silk pyjamas. It sounds like bliss. But is it enough?

When dog-phobic Allegra is rescued from an exuberant canine by the chivalrous Teddy Green, Australia’s hottest TV celebrity and garden make-over guru, her life begins to change. Dramatically!

Unaware of Teddy’s fame Allegra finds herself falling for him, despite her best attempts to resist his charm. Supported by her eccentric family and her fabulous gay friend Justin, Allegra embarks on an on-again off-again romance with Teddy, complicated by his jealous ex-girlfriend, fashionista Louisa and her own narcissistic hippy mother Moonbeam.

Will Ally be able to overcome her insecurities and find happiness with this possible Mr Right or will Teddy’s celebrity lifestyle prove to be too much? Mr Right and Other Mongrels is a light-hearted story about how one chance encounter can change your life.

My mother however was going nowhere. Worse than that she kept leering at Teddy, which simply made me uncomfortable.

I really didn’t know what was going on with Teddy and me but I surely didn’t want anything going on between Teddy and Moonbeam.

“Teddy, do you want to help me get some dinner together?”

“No Allegra, he can stay and keep me company.” She was good.

“How about we both help Ally out.” What a guy.

So we piled into my small kitchen with her standing a bit too close to Teddy for my liking.

“So what are we having?”

“Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and a salad.”

“Cool, what can I do?’

I had already cooked the potatoes so I put Teddy to work mashing them. And I pulled down a jar of sauce I had made from organic tomatoes earlier in the summer and put it on to simmer.

Teddy looked at me quizzically “You jar your own sauce?”

“Uhmm yes”. I was always kind of embarrassed by my love of cooking. It makes me seem like a possessed potential housewife or something. I mean I know you don’t go to a club and discuss organic cooking; it doesn’t get the men flocking. Ultimately though I just like to cook and eat well.

“Well, Allegra, that being the case I may have to marry you.” He winked just so I’d know he wasn’t serious. “I’ll grow the veggies and you can make the sauce.”

I noticed Moonbeams dark eyes got a tad darker and flashed a bit wilder.

“I don’t know that there is room for a veggie patch in my flat or your designer terrace either for that matter,” I laughed.

“Well, we’ll just have to move to the country.”

“Sorry can’t leave the shop.”

“I’m heartbroken,” he feigned distress as he mashed. “I offer to give up my lucrative TV career and to grow veggies and marry you and you won’t leave the bookshop!”

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 began a year-long writing course at the NSW Writers Centre and (thank goodness) its members morphed into a writing group known as The Writer's Dozen. We published a highly successful anthology, Better than Chocolate, in 2008.

In 2008 I was also selected for the QWC/Hachette Livre Manuscript Development Course for my novel Mr Right and Other Mongrels. In 2009 I received a Highly Commended in the Romance Writers of Australia's Valerie Parv Awards for my novel Hearts Afire.

These are the first two books I will be e-publishing in 2012 along with a third novel, A Fair Exchange. I'm not really like the characters in my books at all although I do share something in common with each of them - Allegra (Mr Right and Other Mongrels) has a dog phobia like me, Cassie (Hearts Afire) falls in love on a tropical island and I met my husband that way and Amelia (A Fair Exchange) was an exchange student who is now all grown up.

Twitter: or @MoniqueMcDonell

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