Meet Monique Mulligan, Author of Wherever You Go.

Its a pleasure to welcome Monique Mulligan, author of Wherever You Go to the Chatting with Authors Page.

Monique Mulligan is an author, freelance editor & marketing officer at Koorliny Arts Centre.

Monique is known for her love of words, of cooking, and of cats.

Monique Mulligan, who also writes for children as Monique Alexandra.

What is the book about?

Wherever You Go is about a marriage in crisis after a life-shattering tragedy. Desperate to save their foundering marriage, chef Amy Bennet and her husband Matt move to the small town of Blackwood in the south-west of Western Australia. In denial from guilt and grief, Amy opens a café and starts an Around the World Supper Club and soon finds herself becoming part of a community, but is blind to Matt’s accelerating struggle with incomplete grief. It’s a story of grief and loss, of friendship and community, of renewal and redemption, and the healing power of food.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️“Monique Mulligan has written a heartwarming tale to make you laugh, cry and gasp in surprise.” SheSociety

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ “This debut novel is beautiful in its execution, raw and powerful.” – The Book Muse

Such great reviews, so tell us what inspired the book?

I was inspired by a number of things – a real-life event, my love of food and cooking, the beautiful countryside of Bridgetown, and my interest in relationships and how challenges affect them differently.

We will chat about the book and your writing later.

First, some quick fire questions.

Late nights or early mornings? Early mornings.

What’s for breakfast? Yoghurt, homemade granola and berries.

Night out or Netflix? Netflix.

G &T or Tea/coffee? Definitely not G&T – I think it’s the tonic water I don’t like. Love a good coffee (not instant) or herbal tea, especially peppermint.

Perfect weekend? Reading, writing, cooking, seeing family.

What did you want to be when you grew up? A journalist. In Year 12 I wanted to be the next Jana Wendt (A Current Affair). My career took me full circle into journalism (print, not TV) in my mid-thirties and the skills I learnt were invaluable.

Can you cook? I know the answer to that one!

What is for dinner tonight? Tuna steaks and green veg.

Ha ha, yes I can and I love to cook. Right now, a lemon poppy seed tea cake is cooling on the stove.

Have you always loved cooking, are you self-taught or did you learn as child? I am self-taught but loved to practice when I had the opportunity as a child. Mum wasn’t a big fan of letting us kids use the kitchen though, so the opportunities were few and far between until I married and had my own kitchen to cook in. One of the ways I show people I care for them is through cooking – soups, cakes … feasts!

Favourite meal?

A Monique feast.

Too hard! I love Middle Eastern and Mediterranean foods. Maybe a chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood. Cat videos! Patting my cat. Walking on the beach. So many things …

Boogle stalks across the desk and sniffs the drink.

Your hero? I can’t single out one person. I find many people to be inspirational or admirable for different reasons, but I wouldn’t say I have a hero.

 Questions about Writing.


Your love of photography- has it impacted your writing in any way? Do you see scenes more visually because of it, or has it had another kind of impact? Photography is a hobby I truly enjoy. I’ve been told I have “the eye” but I’m no expert. The technical side of photography boggles my brain and I’m not sure I’ll ever get it. 

I like to carry a camera with me because I often see things I want to capture, whether for later reference or because they speak to me in some way. Does it impact my writing? Yes, in a way. I used a vision board when I was first drafting Wherever You Go. It was full of pictures I’d taken around and about in Bridgetown, Western Australia (which was the inspiration for the setting). I can’t quite visualise in my mind (as in, if I’m meditating, I can never see the waterfall or the gently flowing stream) but I do learn visually. 

 Were you always going to write about food? That came to me later – I knew I wanted to write a novel and loved reading “foodie” fiction, but I didn’t set out to write about food initially. Now it just seems natural!

Playing in the kitchen. Photo by Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash.

Why do you think that stories of failure and redemption resonate so powerfully? It’s such a universal experience, isn’t it. I think it’s that universality that resonates – we all know what it’s like to fail, to mess up, to lose. Likewise, most understand that redemption is a powerful need and a life-changing gift, whether it comes from ourselves or another.

Photo by Eva Elijas on Pexels.com

What time of the day do you usually write? Mornings when I can fit it in, otherwise afternoons on a weekend. I usually get in the zone.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Drafting! I am so slow in this stage. I am not a person who drafts fast at all. I’ve tried and it doesn’t work for me.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? I make faces when I write, talk to myself, and sometimes “act” out certain actions and dialogues. That’s three quirks …

Monique giving a reading.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written? I really loved the character of Irene in Wherever You Go. She’s 69-going-on-70, a nurturing woman who has always put others first, a jam-maker, and a protector. She longs to travel, but has to put her dreams on hold. She reminds me of my grandmother a bit.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

That’s such an interesting question, Sonia. I think it would be hard to write if you felt nothing at all. How would you empathise with your characters? Above all, readers want to have an experience, and a writer’s job is to trigger their emotions and feelings to generate that experience using a combination of techniques. The writer doesn’t need to have experienced those exact emotions themselves, and, if they haven’t, could ask, ‘What is the character feeling? What else is the character experiencing?’ or research others’ lived experiences to engage with that scene as genuinely as possible.

But surely you must at least be able to imagine those feelings. That’s my thought, anyway.  

Best writing advice? Trust the process is advice that works for me. What doesn’t work is ‘write every day’ – I need to balance work, family and writing in a way that prevents the feeling of overwhelm. I do want to write ‘morning pages’ every day, but I’m struggling to make it happen on work days. I would have to schedule my time so tightly – or get up even earlier than I already do – and my sleeping time is already being challenged by the fact of getting older! So I choose the way that works for me.

Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

Best money you have spent as a writer? A manuscript assessment by Laurie Steed.

How can I ignore all-around inspiration and muse Boogle?

Beautiful Boogle.

Sonia, you know we can’t ignore cats – they ignore us! They make it very hard to be ignored when they want attention, and Boogle is no exception. Right now, I’ve taken a break from writing to answer these questions, and she is sitting on the floor next to me, loudly licking her butt. There’s a visual for you. That’s annoying, but I quite like it (love it, really) when she sits on my lap while I’m writing … and when she joins in my cooking videos (you can see them on Instagram). 

Proving the point, Boogle ignoring Monique.

Do you have a favourite author and why? Daphne du Maurier – I love her gothic-style stories about the darker side of human nature. They’re mysterious and uneasy, and clever and unexpected.

What are you reading now? I’m reading The Godmothers by Monica McInerny. Next, I’ll be reading The Breaking by Irma Gold.

Favourite quote (does not matter the source): “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” – Brene Brown

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult? Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery.

Thanks, Monique, its been wonderful to learn about your writing style and your process. All photographs unless otherwise indicated are courtesy of Monique Mulligan.

Follow Monique:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MoniqueMulliganAuthor

Instagram: @moniquemulliganauthor

Twitter: @MoniqueMulligan

Website: moniquemulligan.com

You can buy Wherever You Go at all online bookstores such as Booktopia, in print and eBook versions. For eBooks, click here: https://books2read.com/whereveryougomm

You can also buy signed copies at Monique’s website.

Meet Author Kath Engebretson. She’s Talking About Her Book Nineteen Days

Today, I am virtually meeting and chatting with author Kath Engebretson. So welcome Kath, so pleased that you could join us today to answer some questions about your writing life and your new book Nineteen Days.

Nineteen Days cover MED RES

Nineteen Days: Synopsis:
Genevieve hates cruises. All that lounging around quaffing cocktails and too much food. But Peter, her husband, bought this one for her after the worst year of her life, and she couldn’t tell him she didn’t want to go.They are both still traumatised from an  unimaginable family tragedy, and each of them has gone into hiding behind small talk and silence. A cruise is also the last place Genevieve could imagine making a friend, but in Thomas, a morbidly obese man who inhabits a patch of shade on the deck, she meets someone she can talk to. She tells him her story. Thomas himself has an odd past. He is a refugee from an oppressive cult, an experience that poisoned the only relationship he
cared about. In the gentle relationship, a kind of healing takes place, until Peter drops a bombshell. By the end of the cruise, all their lives have changed.
A story about strange and unexpected friendships; about the facades that people wear, and about what happens when they break; about how 

white cruise ship
For many people, a cruise is a dream holiday.

We will talk about you and your writing, but first, some getting to know you questions.

Kath Engebretson portrair 4x6

Late nights or early mornings?  Early mornings, I’m hopeless with late nights, I start to fall asleep in company and its’s embarrassing.

What’s for breakfast?  Usually coffee with toast spread with marmalade or vegemite.

photo of person reading

Night out or night in-with or without Netflix?  Night in with Netflix. There’s no other choice with the lockdown. I’ve just finished watching the first series of Undercover, a Dutch series, which really hooked me in. I loved series 1 of Succession and am waiting for series 2 to come out on DVD. The Sinner also, the main character, the detective, is a deep, complex, lonely and very humane man.

G&T or Tea/coffee? G and T with ice and lemon and really good coffee.

glass of fresh drink on white background

What did you want to be when you grew up? Strangely enough, a writer, but I had to wait for a long time. I became a teacher, then an academic, while having and raising a family. Now that I’m only working part-time, I can write my stories without being distracted by the need to keep up my academic writing.

What brings you joy? Lifts your spirits, chases away a down mood.  My grandchildren, all seven of them, and my Jack Russell terrier Matey. We are a mutual adoration society.

white and brown dachshund with black framed eyeglasses

Your hero? Barack Obama. If you could choose three people to invite for a dinner party, who would they be and why? Nancy Pelosi, because of her unflinching commitment to restoring some decency and dignity to the leadership of the United States. I love that she’s a grandmother and still tireless in her political contribution.

Paul Keating because in my view he was the best Prime Minister we ever had, he’s witty and blunt and analytical in his conversation, and he had a vision for the country. Then Archie Roach, because through his music he’s told the story of disadvantage and prejudice against First Nation people. He and Paul could talk about the Redfern speech. I wish you’d given me more than three, as there are many people in public and private life I admire for their contribution to humanity.

What is the origin of your unusual surname?  Engebretson is my late husband’s family name. His parents were Irish who came to Australia after the Second World War. Like many people in Ireland, their name is of Scandinavian origin, perhaps going back to the Vikings. There are many variations of the name in England and Ireland.

 What inspired your new book? Being on a cruise and feeling lonely, as if I didn’t fit in. Looking at the other passengers and wondering about their stories. On one cruise I saw a man with Thomas’s physical characteristics and I wanted to get to know him. He was with a younger man, very different from him, and I wondered about their connection. I decided to weave a story around them.

photo-1579463535845-d9c98f905668
You can feel alone.

Older characters especially main characters seem to be under-represented in books. Do you find that reader respond to this? It’s natural that we all want to read about our own generation. I prefer books and movies about people my age, I can relate to their history and they tend to be more complex and interesting characters. They’ve done things, made mistakes, and learned something along the way.

older people
Love isn’t simply for the young.

A cruise is a perfect trapped environment, with people you’d love to know better and also those you’d love to avoid! Absolutely. As one of the characters in the book notes, there are the interesting, the weird, the sad, the boorish, the finicky, the complainers, those determined to have a good time no matter what, the seasoned travellers and those on their first cruise. You meet a lot of people but don’t strike up a relationship with many of them.

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Lazy days at sea

Does being both an academic and an author cause any conflicts? No, they are separate worlds in my life, I learned to compartmentalise the different aspects of my life during my teaching and academic life when I had to come home to children and family life.

What time of the day do you usually write? It varies a lot, depending on what other things I have to do. I do the creative part in fits and starts, maybe a page at a time handwriting, just let it roll out. Then I take a long time typing it and editing as I go.

What is the most difficult part about writing for you? Getting the voice of each character right, they have to sound like themselves. I try to put myself in their shoes, think about the kind of vernacular they’d use.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing? I don’t really have a schedule. After a day of marking students’ essays, for example, I may reward myself with an hour of writing.

Notebook Unsplash
A notebook can be so inviting.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk? It’s not a quirk, but I scribble in a notebook lines of dialogue I hear, plot twists, I may be cooking or walking and an idea will come, then I’ll stop and write it down. I don’t always use these ideas.

Do you have a favourite character that you have written?  Yes, Simon O’Brien in my first novel Red Dirt Odyssey. Physically he is a dwarf, but a man you can’t help liking and respecting. He’s a gifted artist and photographer,  a thinker and a doer, and he knows what compassion means.

Red-Dirt-Odyssey-Cover

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions?  Personally, I couldn’t, but of course, there is Camus whose response to what he saw as the absurdity of life was to withdraw from emotion.

Best writing advice/ Worst writing advice you ever received? Best writing advice. Stop mucking around and just do it. Worst writing advice, plan the story out before you start. I never do that, I let it unfold.

Best money you have spent as a writer?  Getting my website professionally developed.

person in black long sleeve shirt holding book
The lure of a good book

Do you have a favourite author and why? Tim Winton. He is so essentially Australian the way his books are so grounded in the landscape, the bush and the beach. I love every word he writes. I didn’t want The Shepherd’s Hut to end.

What are you reading now? What books or authors have most influenced your writing?  That’s a big question. I’ve been moved and influenced by numerous books over a long life. The classics such as the Brontes, Dickens, but I really love Australian writing, Tom Kenneally, Kate Grenville, Ruth Park, Peter Goldsworthy, and great murder mysteries such as those by P.D. James and Elizabeth George. Stephen King “On Writing” is the best writing advice ever. It makes you want to sit down and write.

Favourite quote: Christopher Brennan, Australian poet, The Wanderer

and saying this to myself as a simple thing

I feel a peace fall in the heart of the winds

and a clear dusk settle, somewhere, far in me.

Favourite book/story you have read as an adult? Recently Damascus by Cristos Tsiolkas, and The Kingdom, by Emmanuel Carrere, a book with older characters, The Weekend by Charlotte Wood.

Favourite book/story you have read as a child? Gone with the Wind was my first grown-up book.

Nineteen Days slider with quote (1)

And then I sneakily added a couple of bonus questions.

As self-described ‘reluctant’ cruise taker- which was the best or most memorable cruise you took and why? The cruise we took around the Greek islands in 2006 was wonderful. We had a few days in Athens, then boarded in Piraeus. The ship called in at Marseilles and Naples, then cruised around the Greek islands. It’s hard to say exactly why it was so enjoyable. All the ports were fabulous, it was quite a short cruise, with a new port almost every day, and it was a small ship. . We seemed to be the only English speakers on board, most were Italian or Greek, so we often took a table for two at lunch or dinner. It meant that my husband and I had lots of time together without having to make conversation with others. That sounds unsociable, but at that time in our lives, it was just what we needed. However, on the last evening there was a formal dinner, and we were at a table with four Italian couples, one a grandmother with her grandson, and we managed to communicate with each other quite well. They were nice people and we had an enjoyable evening with them. I still have fond memories of that cruise.

white concrete houses on mountain
Greece.

Do you think the covid 19  will have much impact on cruising?

There will always be people who love cruising and will want to continue after the virus is eradicated, but I think the cruise lines will take a long time to recover, because of fears of a flare up. Viruses breed on cruise ships, because you have people from many different countries mingling together, and once a virus is inadvertently left on a handrail or in a bathroom, it spreads like wildfire. On every cruise my husband and I did together, except the one around the Greek islands I’ve described, one of us became ill on board or brought an illness home with us. After Covid 19, I think people will be more wary, but hopefully the cruise lines will have updated protocols for cleaning and disinfecting. Personally, I won’t do another cruise, as my husband died very soon after the last cruise we did, and he was my best travelling companion.

Thank you so much Kath and best wishes for the success of your new book.

About the author:
Dr Kath Engebretson is a Melbourne-based teacher and academic. In her
field of religious studies, she is the author and editor of several academic
books and many student textbooks. Her PhD focused on teacher education,
and she taught in the Education Faculty at Australian Catholic University
for 17 years, mentoring several doctoral students. Kath loves the Australian
landscape and has travelled to many of Australia’ remote places. She also
loves reading and photography. Kath is the mother of four adult children
and grandmother to seven boys and girls. Her first novel, Red Dirt
Odyssey was published in 2016.

ISBN: Paperback ISBN 978-0-6488360-0-1, RRP$29, eBk 978-0-6488360-1-8, RRP$4.99
Category: Fiction, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction. Available: From Booktopia and Amazon.