In the Spotlight | Monique McDonell

About Monique McDonell

I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction, including chick lit and romance. 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 standalone novels, including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on 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, I had a piece on writing chick lit featured in the successful Australian non-fiction book Copyfight.

To learn more about my books, my writing, my caffeine obsession and my upcoming books please visit


About Monique as an author

What inspired you to write your first book?

I don’t actually remember the first book I wrote, it would have been back at college. After college, I wrote a few novels, but they were all literary and kind of depressing so I never quite finished them. Then I made a decision to write books with happy endings, and I wrote Mr Right and Other Mongrels, my first published novel. I based it on a popular Australian TV star. In my mind, the premise was what if you just started dating him and he got picked up by US TV, specifically Oprah. In a weird twist of fate that actually happened to the man I based Teddy on in the novel, after I was done.

What genre do you consider your book(s)?

I write Chick Lit and Romantic Comedy. Something of a Spark is definitely a Romantic Comedy.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I have been told that people really like the voice and dialogue in my books. My characters are pretty chatty. People say reading my books is like talking to a friend, which I think is kind of awesome.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I was always a reader. In Kindergarten, I borrowed a book a day from the school library. My mother kept, and recently gave me, all the writing I did as a child. It’s safe to say, it’s always been a part of my life.

What is your favorite scene that you’ve written?

There is no way I can answer that question. Something of a Spark will be my 15th published work so there are a lot of scenes I’ve loved. I do have a couple from Hearts Afire that stand out. I love writing the openings to new books because it feels like I’m heading off on an adventure.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

The best advice is for them to write regularly, and if possible, do it every day. If you stay in the story, it flows better. I run a Facebook group called #1000words a day. If you write even 300 of the 365 days in a year you’d have 300,000 words at the end of the year…

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I have the loveliest readers, they message me and email me. I’m always so grateful whenever someone writes to say they enjoyed a novel I wrote. I do a little happy dance around the room. So, I would just say thanks for the support.

How do you beat writer’s block?

That’s a hard one to answer. I’ve only had one really bad case in the past ten years…the best way to beat it is to avoid it by writing regularly and forming good habits. If I’m stuck in the middle of the book I write a list of scenes I know I need to write, then I just pick one and go. You can always edit it but you can’t, as they say, edit a blank page.

Are any of your characters are based on you?

All my standalone books have a bit of me in the characters for sure, a dog phobia in one, how I met my husband in another, a place I worked in another, and that was so fun to do. With my series, there’s hints of me but it is less obvious.


About Monique’s new release, SOMETHING OF A SPARK

How did you come up with the title?

Crazy as it seems, I find titles hard. I’m in a writing group, and we did some brainstorming, and my friend Terri actually came up with all the book titles for this series.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Something of a Spark is the first book in my new Jewel Sisters romance series. There’s a strong message about family and belonging in there. They’re a fun family, but sometimes family can be overwhelming, and that’s part of Saffy’s struggle in the book.

How much of the book is based on real life events?

The setting is realistic because it is set between Sydney (my home town) and the South Coast of New South Wales (the state Sydney is in) in a small coastal town on the Pacific Ocean. Beyond the setting, the story is pure fiction – my favourite kind.


About Monique as a reader

What books have most influenced your life most?

Well now, that is a tough one. I adore Little Women because I wanted to write like Jo, and I have red hair. When I think about it, that is a book about sisters, and here I am writing about sisters. I’ve always been drawn to books that have a happy ending – I read and across all genres. I appreciate beautiful literature, but it’s hard to go past a book that holds your attention until four in the morning.

What book are you reading now?

I’m about to start The Impossible Fortress: A Novel by Jason Rekulak. I’m told it is really funny.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I tend to binge read an author if they’re new to me. I don’t think I’ve found anyone new lately. I really like Erin Nicholas, Kylie Gilmore, Jill Shalvis for series right now.


Because Karan is random

Which question are you most sick of answering in interviews?

I’m kind of sick of the “how much of you is in your novel” question but as a reader, it’s one of the ones I enjoy knowing the answer to most, so I understand why it gets asked.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I hope readers enjoy this new series as much as I have enjoyed writing it. There’s nothing more fun than a big messy family to write about.