Today I have the pleasure of talking to fellow Avalon author, Mona Ingram, who recently released her fifth book with Avalon, The Gift. Brush with Destiny, But Not For Me, The Reluctant Rockstar, and The Shell Game are also available.
Sparks fly between business analyst Quentin Callahan and single mother Julie Chapmen, but the growing attraction is put to the test when Julie learns the true reason for Quentin's sudden re-appearance in her life. – The Gift, Mona Ingram
Q Congratulations on your upcoming February release! The Gift is your fifth romance novel with Avalon. Tell us what it’s about.
The Gift is a story about Julie Chapman, a determined single mother who has inherited the family houseboat rental business. She loves the business and wants to expand, but there’s no more land available along ‘houseboat row’. When her brother’s old school friend shows up for a month, she allows him to stay on one of the older, smaller houseboats in exchange for his assistance. Quentin specializes in corporate takeovers of large companies, so she never dreams that he’s been sent here by her competition to look for flaws in her small business. The growing attraction between the two is soon put to the test when she learns his true agenda.
Q That’s an intersting conflict. What is your favorite scene in The Gift?
That would have to be where Quentin and Julie’s son Nick go swimming, and sit on the float together. I can feel the sun on their backs, and see Nick’s teeth chattering, even though he claims he’s not cold.
Q Are any experiences in The Gift based on events in your own life?
Yes, sadly. The scene where Quentin goes to visit his father in the assisted care home reminds me of the home where my father spent his last days. Fortunately, Dad didn’t have severe dementia, but I volunteered at the home, and got to know a lot of people who were in grim shape. But it’s part of the story, and part of life.
Q It sounds like readers of The Gift are in for a touching story. What about setting? Several of your novels take place on the west coast of British Columbia. What inspires you about that location?
British Columbia itself is an inspiration; we have such variety. There I go, sounding like the tourism board. As for the west coast, there’s something about taking a ferry trip over to Vancouver Island that’s very calming. You can’t rush it, and by the time you arrive, you’re usually looking through fresh eyes. If you live near the water, it’s rare to go for more than a day without seeing a bald eagle. Whales and orcas are not unusual in season, and seals, sea lions and large flocks of migrating seabirds are common sights. Need I say more?
Q I think I may have to add BC to my bucket list. Your Avalon biography says you enjoy reading in your spare time. Which authors would you say have influenced you the most?
Wow. I’m one of those people who always has a book on the go. I read my faves over and over. I read all women’s fiction authors, and I especially enjoy Susan Elizabeth Phillips as well as Susan Wiggs. My all-time favorite author is Bryce Courtenay but close to the top of my list are Wilbur Smith, Michael Connelly and Maeve Binchy.
Q Great list! How did you get started in a career writing romance?
Can I be honest? With my non-stop reading, I came across many books that were, quite frankly, poorly written and I said ‘I can do better than that’. That wasn’t necessarily true, but it did goad me into trying.
Q What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Before you start, invest some time reading “how-to” books. There are lots at the libraries. Some are better than others, but they all have something to say. Write what you know, write with feeling, and don’t spend more than a day or two moping around when you’re rejected. Oh, and take Steven King’s advice from his excellent book On Writing. Don’t be in too much of a rush to send your manuscript off the moment it’s finished. Put it away for at least six weeks, then bring it out and give it a critical read. The changes you make at that point are bound to improve it and trust me, six weeks is not a long time in the world of romance publishing.
Q Well said. So, what’s your current or next project?
I’ve been working on my new book for about a month now. It’s about a Canadian nurse who worked at the Role 3 Military Field Hospital on Kandahar Airfield. The book takes place a few years ago, when Canada ran the hospital with vital help from coalition medical specialists. Hospital management has since been turned over to the Americans. She becomes friends with a medevac pilot. They’re from neighboring towns on Vancouver Island, and he entrusts her with his grandmother’s ring to take back to Canada. He is killed, she takes the ring back home, and meets his brother, a surgeon who doesn’t agree with Canada’s role in Afghanistan and didn’t want his brother to volunteer.
Thanks for your time, Mona, and congratulations again. Blog readers, if you’d like to check out The Gift or other Avalon books, visit your local library, BN.com, Amazon.com, or Borders.com. You can also order directly from Avalon Books.
About the author
Mona lives on Vancouver Island with her husband of twenty-seven years. When she’s not writing she enjoys reading, travelling, and bird watching. Many of her stories are inspired by travels around Canada with her husband.