Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mr Right and Other Mongrels by Monique McDonell


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 building is quite literally ‘my building’. The shop is downstairs and I live upstairs. It’s the way it’s always been. Well, not always but since I was 16.
Most people look at shops and they know there is room above them but I guess they never really think about what is up there. Lots of people live above shops the world over and even in big cities like Sydney, it’s not really that uncommon, but most people I know think it’s a quirky choice.
I live in Manly, a beachside suburb that is a tourist hotspot. It’s full of back-packers and English tourists making the most of the strong pound.
The bookshop I run is down stairs and then the apartment is above. It’s not a huge apartment but it’s totally perfect for me. It has wonderful old sash windows and a little tiny Juliet balcony in the back that over-looks an alley…and at the front there is the big metal shopfront awning, which affords me a ton of privacy from the street below. I recently had it painted green because it was pretty scratched and it was reflecting way too much sun back into my bedroom. A girl needs to be able to sleep in, now doesn’t she?
My friends think I should move. You know how in the modern age everyone is very big on the separation of his or her home life and work life. Compartmentalising is the phrase they use. Otherwise apparently there can be a blurring of the boundaries.
I totally love the blurring of the boundaries. For example I have these fantastic traditional silk PJs that I got in Chinatown. So sometimes if I wake up with a bad hangover and I am expecting people in the shop for a delivery or to get a pick-up then I just pin a flower in my hair, slide on some cute shoes, gargle with Listerine and go down and open up with my cup of tea in hand. How perfect is that? That is a very positive blurring of boundaries.
I love that Mrs Tang from the clothing alteration shop starts to panic if the shop isn’t open at 10.15am. I love that Cherie from the Beauticians comes and does my nails if we are both having a slow Monday. I love that Joe from the coffee shop at the end of the arcade wanders by with treats and cups of coffee for me when he is feeling generous or flirty, or his wife Connie comes by with pictures of the grandkids, or the grandkids themselves. How nice is that to have such a great community around you?
The girls say it is a hangover from my hippy roots. That need for a community. I don’t think so. I think everyone has the same need deep down. I tell them often that they are just in high-powered denial.
It isn’t that I don’t get their point. Sometimes when I have tax stuff to do or business is a bit slow, well then I do wish I could walk out the front door and really and truly leave it all behind. Having said that I know my brain would be just as active wherever I was and the benefits so outweigh the negatives for me.


Welcome Monique! Thanks so much for stopping by and giving me this opportunity to badger you with some of my questions.  :)  To begin, tell us about a favorite character from a book.

My favourite character from a book is Jo March from Little Women. I connected with her as a child – I too had red hair and a strong personality. I felt like I tried hard and wanted to do things the right way always got it just a little bit wrong, just like Jo. I loved Jo so much I made Little Women the favourite book of Allegra the main character in Mr Right and Other Mongrels. 

Does travel play in the writing of your books?

Travel does play a bit in the writing of my books. My most recent release Hearts Afire has the characters head off to a tropical island on the edge of the Barrier Reef. I have been to a couple of islands like that and drew form my travels there quite heavily for that section in the book.

I’ve had lots of people ask me if I will be writing a sequel to Mr Right and Other Mongrels and I really feel in order to do that I need to go to LA to do some research so I’m hoping I can do that next year because I think when you right about a real place it needs to be authentic. In Mr Right and Other Mongrels I saw the city of Sydney as another character in the book so I would want treat L.A the same way. 

If you were to write a series of novels, what would it be about?

This is a great question I have a series of YA chicklit books set on an island principality the Mediterranean. It’s a story told through the eyes of the Ambassador’s daughter to the island. I have it mapped out I just need to find the time to write. I can see the island and houses and people. I’ve told my family the story and they think I should go for it so I will soon, I’m sure.

Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?

I have attended a High School reunion, two actually, and funny you should ask because I have one this coming Saturday. The first one I loved because I was one of those kids who caught the train to school with one group, was in different activities with different kids. I wasn’t cliquey but that makes it harder to keep up with people afterwards. It was lovely to see people who had maybe had a tough time at school so happy and successful.

I learnt that the people you like when you’re 12 you largely still like as an adult and the same can be said for those you didn’t like so much.

I also learnt that how we remember ourselves from that time isn’t always how other people remember us. I always felt a bit awkward and odd but others remember me as confident and outgoing so I guess I was a better actress than I gave myself credit for. Not sure what I’ll learn this time. 

What are the most important attributes for remaining sane as a writer?

I think to be sane as a writer you need a good ‘tribe’. By that I mean a group of like-minded people who encourage and support you but who are also honest with you when things aren’t working. I’ve been in awriting group for seven years now and they have kept me writing when I wanted to stop and been my cheer squad at every milestone along the way. My group is not genre specific and made up of people aged 40 to 75 and I feel amazingly lucky to have them.

Other things you need are the three ‘P’s – patience, persistence and perserverance. 

If you could exchange lives with any of your characters for a day which character would you choose and why?

That’s an easy one, I would swap lives with Allegra from Mr Right and Other Mongrels. She runs a second-hand bookshop, which she also lives above in Manly, a beachside suburb of Sydney. A whole day hanging out in a bookshop by the beach recommending books to people and having friends drop by, that would be absolute bliss to me.

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?

If you enjoy fun chicklit filled with characters you’d like to have as your friends then you will love Mr Right and Other Mongrels. I’ve been told it makes people laugh out loud, what can be better than laughter?

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

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1 comment:

Judy-Ree said...

Australia has always been one of my favorite accents. I haven't read many books set in Australia, but those I have, the accent totally plays in my head and just makes me smile. :)