Lisa Mondello - Writing Happily Ever Afters
New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author, Lisa Mondello, is back with another excellent book in her Dakota Hearts series. This collection of popular romance novels was inspired by an F3 tornado that came through her town and, as our author of the day, Mondella tells us more about it. She also gives us more insights in the characters of Her Dakota Man, her emotions during the writing process and talks about happily ever afters.
Please give us a short introduction to Her Dakota Man
Her Dakota Man, and the entire Dakota Hearts series, started out as a result of an F3 tornado that came through my Massachusetts town in 2011. Massachusetts isn't known for tornados, so this was quite a shock to most of us here. But I was amazed at the good will and support from people not just in our town but from all over the country. I wanted to write about that. That same year the Dakotas were experiencing bad weather with icing and flooding. So South Dakota was the perfect backdrop for a new series. I started writing Her Dakota Man and then the first five books just poured out of me.
Her Dakota Man takes place over a very short period of time. Was it a challenge to work within such a tight time frame and still have character development?
No. This is a reunion story. So I had a lot of backstory to weave in and the characters didn't have to spend a lot of time getting to know each other because they had a history.
What inspired you to base your tale around lost love and second chances?
I love reunion/second chance stories. It's great exploring the past and trying to work it out so the hero and heroine have a new start. Dealing with past stories brings out wounds and desires that connect characters in a reunion story. It's much different than a story where the two main characters don't know anything about each other. Those wounds and desires don't connect the characters the same way.
Logan’s wife, Kelly, did some pretty dishonorable things. Was it difficult to work this into the plot without readers turning against her, or wasn’t this a factor?
I really tried to make Kelly a sympathetic character. It's easy to hate her. What she did made a lot of readers' blood boil. Mine too. But this story is about how these lies were always going to be between Logan and Poppy if they didn't find a way to move past it. They had to forgive her in order to get their happily ever after. Kelly counted on Logan being an honorable man and in this instance, his honor worked against him. In this case, he was honorable to a fault. But the fact that he stuck it out and did the right thing is what makes so many readers fall in love with him. This happily ever after is hard fought, but it's so good! And then, of course, we finally see Logan and Poppy marry in Dakota Wedding.
Which actors would you imagine in the roles of Logan and Poppy, should Dakota Man ever get a big screen adaptation?
That's hard. I have an image of Logan McKinnon much like Joan Wilder had of her beloved Jesse in Romancing the Stone. So I wouldn't even venture a guess. I'd love to know what image comes to mind for readers, though.
Do you believe that love conquers all in real life?
Most of the time. But sometimes that isn't enough. Sometimes you can love someone but just not live with them or be good for each other.
How do you feel about writing love scenes? And does your heart break when you write about one-sided love stories?
I really love sweet romances because I don't have to write love scenes. But when the story unfolds in a way that the love scene comes naturally, then it's easy. I don't like putting in love scenes just to put in love scenes. When I wrote His Dakota Bride, Wade McKinnon's story, I cried through the entire love scene. I cry a lot while I'm writing, though. I really feel what my characters are feeling. Regarding one-sided love, I don't find it hard because in the back of my mind I'm always thinking of how I can get that character a happily ever after.
Your books feature dreamy guys. What would your advice be to single readers out there on how to meet a dreamy guy?
I have no advice. I met my husband at a wedding. You can meet a dreamy guy anywhere. I know someone who met her husband while working at McDonalds. So the how is you just do. It happens anywhere.
What are the top three things you think every good romance novel should have?
Emotion, humor and chemistry between the characters. If you can't figure out why the two characters are attracted to each other, you won't believe their romance.
Do you have any interesting writing habits, what's your average writing day like?
Not really. I'm always writing and can write anywhere. I need coffee and love to listen to music with the headphones on. But I don't think that is particularly interesting.
Once you finish a book, do your characters live on in your mind? Is it sometimes hard to let go of certain characters?
Absolutely. Some stories stay with me, just like they do for readers. But I'm always amazed when someone latches onto something about a story that I didn't think was a big deal. Everyone sees something different in a story. But yes, my characters stay with me. I love the Dakota Hearts series. I love Kate McKinnon, the matriarch of the McKinnon clan.
What type of books do you enjoy reading? Any favorite authors?
I have too many favorite authors to name. But I love reading romantic suspense. I write a lot of contemporary romance so I get to read it often. When I'm writing romantic suspense, which I will be doing more of this fall, I read contemporary romance. In between I read a bit of fantasy.
What's next for you?
I am finally continuing my Heroes of Providence series, which starts with the USA Today Bestseller MATERIAL WITNESS. This fall I will be releasing COLD HARBOR and SAFE HAVEN.