Interview & Contest: Monique O’Connor James

Jen: Today we welcome YA author, Monique O’Connor James to Romancing the Book.  Monique, will you please share a short bio with us? 

Monique: Monique is the mother of two beautiful children and lives in a small community outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She currently works full time as an insurance agent, but her favorite jobs are mother, wife, and author.

On her eighth birthday, her mother bought her a journal and said “write whatever you want, just write.” And so, a love affair with words was born. She wrote poetry and short stories in high school and college, until 1993 when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After her mother’s death in 1998, deep in depression, she found herself unable to write. Nine years passed, and only on rare occasion did she attempt to write, with no luck.

Finally, in 2007, under the urging of friends, she sat down and pecked out her first novel. It was raw and unpolished, but the process had been unquestionably cathartic. The next three years were spent filling her hard drive with seven complete manuscripts.

At the beginning of 2011, Monique decided it was time to edit the work and share it with the world. She hopes you enjoy the ramblings of a deeply southern girl raised in a state rich with heritage and love.

Jen: Tell us about The Keepers and where is can be purchased.

Monique: The Keepers is the story of a girl who loses her mother to breast cancer and along with her, any faith she had. She moves to New Orleans to try to forget the pain she’s endured and meets Justin…an Angel who hates humans.

Jen: At what age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.

Monique: I was eight when my mom gave me a journal for my birthday and told me to write. From that moment on I was in love. When where you first published? The Keepers is actually the first book I’ve gotten published and it released in June of 2011.  I was actually going through a bad time. I was really sick and just feeling kind of down when I got an email from Astraea Press offering a contract. I ran outside with my Blackberry and made my husband read the email because I was crying so hard!

Jen: Describe your writing in three words.

Monique: Dark, emotional, uplifting (weird combo I know)

Jen: How do you approach your writing? Do you plot or go with the flow?

Monique: Wow, well this is an interesting question for me, because I was always a go with the flow kind of gal. I like to let my characters write the story through what they tell me. However, recently, I’ve started using a notebook to loosely plot out characters and ideas for the plot. I don’t think I’ll ever be the type of person who uses notecards to plot out the entire novel, but I have enjoyed having some of my ideas down before I get started. I know a few writers who are die hard plotters and swear that flying by the seat of your pants is crazy! I guess I’d like to find a happy medium.

Jen: What are your biggest motivations to write? What keeps you going?

Monique: I have to tell you, when I first started writing The Keepers, my son told my best friend that he didn’t think I would ever get it published. He wasn’t being ugly he just thought I was writing for fun. But, when he made that statement it really made me realize that if I got it published then I could show him and my daughter that you can do anything you put your mind to if you try hard enough. That and my dad. My daddy bought me a subscription to Reader’s Digest when I was in fifth grade. He’s an avid reader and my mom liked to write. So, it has always been my dream to hand him a copy of my novel, and just a couple of days ago that dream was realized – shortly after his 70th birthday.

Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there a genre you’ll probably stay away from? Why?

Monique: I’m pretty much open to anything. I like paranormal, psychological thriller type stuff. I can’t see myself writing Erotica. Mostly because I have difficulty writing a sex scene let alone an entire book about it.

Jen: How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories? Have you ever written yourself into a story?

Monique: I wouldn’t say that I wrote myself into a story, but my dad called me Jess for several weeks after he read The Keepers. Jess and I are not one in the same, but she has a lot of me in her. If any of my stories have a lot of personal stories in them, it’s this one. I guess since I was grieving my own mother, and this was the first time I sat down to write, a lot of the pain and emotion came out in the story.

Jen: If you could travel back in time for one year, what time and place would you choose? If you could only take 3 things with you, what would they be?

Monique: If I could travel back in time I would go back to 1992. My mom was alive and well and I would give anything to spend just an hour in her space telling her about my life since she died. I would take my husband, and two kids. I would want her to know them and see how happy we are.

Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?

Monique: I recently read a book by an indie author named Penelope King called A Demon Made Me Do It. I love it. That’s the last thing I read, I’ve been snowed under. But, I love so many of the new authors out right now. Kristine Cheney has a great pair of novels called The Spartan Heart Saga that is fantastic.

Jen: What do you do in your free time?

Monique: I write. I actually have a full time job, and momma and wife, and any free time I get goes to writing, editing, and marketing. I love the beach though and of course, love to read when I can!

Jen: What’s next for you?

Monique: In September Jamais Vu is coming out! I’m so excited about this novel. It’s about a girl who is playing with a gun and “accidentally” shoots herself. She has a near-death experience and then she can see the eminent deaths of some of the people around her. Her journey is splendid!

Jen: Where can you be found on the web?

Monique: www.moniqueoconnorjames.com,
Twitter: mjames13
WordPress: www.moniquejames.wordpress.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=511255176
Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Monique-OConnor-James-Author/151581321573144
Buy Links: http://www.astraeapress.com/#ecwid:category=662245&mode=product&product=4435578

Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?

Monique: If you had the power to control time would you extend your life?

Contest details:

  • The prize is a pdf copy of The Keepers.
  • The contest is open to everyone.
  • You must leave a meaningful comment for entry.  This means your comment needs to be more than “please enter me in the contest”.
  • A valid email address needs to be included in your comment.  If you’re worried about spam, please modify your address, such as admin.bookblog AT gmail.com.  You can also send a message to this email after your comment has been posted.
  • While following the blog isn’t required, it is appreciated.
  • The contest ends on Friday, September 16.
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