This week on the blog I welcome the lovely Monique McDonell, my long time writing partner and a prolific author of contemporary women’s fiction. Monique has written five stand-alone romantic comedies and three books in the Upper Crust Series: Any Way You Slice It, Any Way You Dream It and Any Way You Fight It, her most recent release.
Any Way You Fight It
Matchmaking came easily for Cherie . . . unless she was matching herself. A successful realtor, Cherie could sell a piece of property with ease, she could match up her friends with their perfect mates, but she couldn’t seem to find love for herself. Heck, even her seventy-five-year-old Nona was dating again! Cherie had the perfect love once, or so she had thought. But that was a long time ago, and yet, Luke was the standard by which she measured all potential mates.
After matching her two best friends and watching them live their happily ever afters, Cherie decides it’s time to make a change and get back in the game. Now all she needs to do is balance what she wants (a Luke-alike) with the demands of her crazy Italian family (a good, Catholic Italian boy).
Just when she is ready to shake off her past and move forward, her past walks through the door of her favorite local pub with her best friends. Luke is back, looks better than ever, and still has eyes for Cherie. And Cherie can’t control the heat she still has for him. But as with most long-lost loves, he has a past as well, and that past just might prevent Cherie from finding her happiness despite what her Nona’s visions predict.
Can Cherie and Luke make peace with their pasts and look forward to a new life together? Or will this be the final good-bye?
You can read an excerpt from Any Way You Fight It, after this interview with Monique where she tells us about her creative inspirations.
What – or who – first inspired you to write?
I’ve always written, always as a child. I was a voracious reader and I wrote lots of what I am sure were rather appalling poems. I remember reading Little Women and falling in love with Jo and her quest to get published definitely hit a nerve with me. As an adult I wrote on and off but I got serious about it again about twelve years ago. I made a decision at that time to write more upbeat stories because that was what I was reading as a mother of a small child and that’s been my focus ever since.
Is there a place and time of day when you feel most inspired?
I really do like going down to the beach to write. I probably don’t do it enough but I enjoying it. In reality I have a pretty good routine where I know if I get at least an hour or so done between 10-12 in the morning I know I’ll have a productive day.
When you’re feeling uninspired what sort of creative activities help you get your writing mojo back?
I find reading helps me to get inspired. It reconnects me with story telling and gets my mind going again. I think my brain gets a little stuck sometimes and needs a reboot. I do like to walk on the beach or go visit places I think my characters might go as well that can be inspiring.
Can you tell us about one of your characters (current or past) who has been inspired by a real person or a situation in one of your stories that was inspired by a real life event?
Most of my stand-alone novels have a little bit of my own life experience in them for example – I met my husband on a tropical island and Cassie and Jack meet properly on a tropical island in Hearts Afire, I was an exchange student like Amelia in A Fair Exchange and the PR agency in Building Attraction is like one I worked at back in the day.
In my Upper Crust Series there is a lot less of that but I do draw on experiences and feelings from my own female friendships for the circle of friends in the novels.
What was the inspiration for your current book?
Any Way You Fight It is Book 3 in the Upper Crust Series. Cherie who the book is focused around played a big role matchmaking others in the first two novels and I thought she needed her own story. She’s one of those women who only lets the world see one side of her and I wanted to show the readers the other facets to her personality.
To learn more about Monique McDonell and her upcoming books please visit her at www.moniquemcdonellauthor.com
Excerpt from Any Way You Fight It
Lucy called me the next day. I was unlocking the door to my office. I was juggling keys, a folder, a latte, and an open house sign but I still managed to take the call.
“What’s up, buttercup?” I said.
“Not much . . .” I could visualize her on the other end in kitchen whites and a hairnet trying to come up with a witty reply. “You sound perky today. Piper said you were exhausted last night.”
“I was. Still am, actually.” That wasn’t a lie. I barely slept, tossing and turning all night with sexy and angry thoughts about Luke. “Your call perked me right up. Oh yeah, and I’m about to down my third coffee.”
“Oh, I hope you’re okay.”
“I’ll be fine. What’s happening there?”
“Well, you met the hottie corporate sent to help us with branding.”
“Don’t you have a fiancé already?” I tried not to let jealousy seep in. Keep it light, Cherie.
“A girl can look. Anyway, you don’t have a fiancé . . .”
“Yeah, well, I don’t want a fiancé, and even if I did, I wouldn’t want that guy.”
“He seems pretty cool.”
“Not my type.” I needed to shut this down. “Anyway, he’s probably married. How long is your new eye candy in town anyway?”
“He’s not, married I mean. A week or two, but he’ll be back and forth.” Great. “Maybe you two could . . .”
“Thanks for pimping out your new colleague, but if I wanted a guy, I could find my own.” I tried to sound haughty. “Anyway, Lucy, I have to run. I have about a million calls to return. ”
I dropped my bundle, minus the coffee of course, on the office sofa and turned at the sound of the bell above my front door tinkling. There in resplendent glory -today in chinos and a white shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows, offsetting a killer tan- was Luke.
“Not your type, huh?” he said, closing the space between us a little.
“First of all, don’t you know it is rude to eavesdrop and second, definitely not.”
“I used to be,” he said, one hand shoved in his pocket and the other gesticulating.
“Well, we all used to be different, didn’t we?”
“I bet we’re not all that different, you know.”
“That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for either of us.” I leaned back against the edge of my desk, using it to balance me, and took a long sip of my latte. Some days there just wasn’t enough coffee in the world.
“I don’t know, I thought we were decent kids back then . . .”
“Until at least one of us wasn’t.”
“And which one was that?” he asked as if he didn’t know. The bastard.
“What brings you here, Luke? I kind of have a lot to get done today.”
“I wanted to see you.”
“You’ve seen me.” I sounded like such a cold bitch. He would have no doubt that I had changed by the end of this conversation. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be that sweet young girl again, but he’d changed me and anyway, I was not her. I was an independent thirty-year-old woman.
“And I wanted to say obviously I had no idea you had any connection to Piper, and I’m sorry we were both blindsided that way last night.”
“It’s okay. Small world and all that.” I tried to take another sip of my coffee but, sadly, the well was dry.
“It was really nice to see you, Cherie. I’ve often wondered how you were, what you did . . .” his voice trailed away.
I wanted to say, Dude, you could have called or written or maybe not just vanished back then, but I didn’t.
“You’re obviously keeping well.”
“Can’t complain.” He shoved his second hand in his pocket. “So, do you want to still act like we don’t know each other? These are your friends; this is your life . . .”
That was nice at least. “I kind of assumed yes. Then again, I don’t like lying to them . . .”
“How about I say that I realized I recognized you from the neighborhood? Nothing more.”
“Okay, but they’re pretty nosy, so if they wise up or it feels weird for me, I’ll tell them, and I’ll let you know. Lucy and Piper can keep a secret.”
“I don’t suppose you want to have dinner or a donut for old-time’s sake?”
“You know what, I really don’t. It’s nice to see you’re happy and doing well, but . . .”
“Okay.” He turned to leave. “As you wish.”
He did not just quote the Princess Bride to me. Oh yes, he freaking did!