Sunday, August 5, 2012

Interview: L. A. Mondello, author of Material Witness

Material Witness
By L.A. Mondello

Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780615653730
Number of pages: 220
Word Count: 70,000

Amazon     BN  Smashwords

Blurb/Book Description:

Who does she trust when she’s living the real life horror of one of her crime novels…

Bestselling crime novelist, Cassie Alvarez, aka Cassie Lang, had murder on her mind when she walked into Rory's Bar under dressed and under cover to research her latest crime novel. Researching the cool, blue-eyed and dashingly handsome man at the end of the bar stirred her senses more than she wanted to admit. But was this man of leather armor all he appeared to be?

Playing White Knight to an innocent wasn't how Detective Jake Santos planned to spend his time under cover. But there was no way "CJ" was what she claimed to be and that nagging tightness in Jake's chest told him he'd better take her home to safety and leave it at that. Then the barroom exploded with gunfire, leaving a trail of dead that includes a notorious Providence crime boss and an undercover FBI agent. When Cassie’s name is leaked to the media as the only witness to the grisly murders, Cassie insists she only trusts Jake to protect her.

The FBI wants their star witness happy and will do anything to make sure Cassie testifies. But it is clear to Jake that the shooter isn’t the only person who wants Cassie dead. Not knowing who to trust, he vows to protect Cassie at all cost despite the fact that guarding the beautiful novelist is a serious distraction.

Interview Time!

1. What's your favorite part of a book?
The opening and ending.  I love them equally and usually have that written before I write the rest of the book.  I cringe through the black moment because I hate hurting my characters.  I really like them at that point. <g> 

2. When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?
No.  I want them to sound like they fit the character.  If I'm creating a character with an obvious cultural distinction, I'll choose a name that fits that nationality.  Usually I can get a name locked down quickly.  There was only one book, Fresh-Start Family, that I had difficulty with the hero's name.  I started out calling the hero Tom, figuring I'd change it later.  Tom is my husband's name.  But half way through the book I realized this character was really a Tom so I kept it.

3. How do you get started with writing a story (as in, how do you start developing the story, how do you get inspired for it)
It's different for every book.  Sometimes I could be reading an article in the newspaper and it will give me a seed of an idea.  Sometimes a terrible thought pops into my head and my mind runs away with that thought and it develops into a suspenseful story idea.  Sometimes I'm inspired by real events in my life or the lives of my friends.  Once the seed of an idea starts, I run with it and let it take me where it leads me.  Once I have enough to start plotting a full story, I flesh it out on paper (sometimes writing a few scattered scenes) and make sure there are no holes in my story.  Then I write it.

4. What advice would you give to people who "run out of creativity" when writing?
I'm a big fan of graphic organizers.  I don't care if it's writing out a list of terrible things or best things that can happen to the h/h or it's plotting it out on a 3 ACT Structure chart.  Whatever gets the brain moving works and should be used.  If that doesn't help, I always suggest getting out of your office chair, going down to the local coffee shop with a pen and paper and just write longhand.  Sometimes getting of the normal environment helps move things along.

5. How long did it take you to publish your first book, after you started trying?

I had a start/stop beginning.  I wrote my first manuscript draft the year I was married.  I then tucked it away and had two kids.  When my youngest was a year old I pulled out that dusty manuscript and rewrote it.  That's the time I consider myself truly starting to write because I became serious about wanting to write and publish then.  About 2 1/2 years later I sold my first book to a small press publisher.

6. How did you come up with the title?
I always try to get a title that either has buzz words that readers are interested in, such as Protector, Marriage, Bride, Baby.  Or something that gives the story at a quick glance.  That's how I came up with Material Witness.  The heroine is the material witness in a high profile murder investigation.

7. What are your current projects?
Oh, my gosh.  I have so many in progress.  I'm working on a new proposal for Love Inspired Romance.  In the next month or two I will be releasing a Young Adult story I wrote with my daughter.  That was a fun project.  It's called No Strings Attached and is about a teenager whose mom is ruining her life by marrying the father of the boy at school that she's in love with.  It deals with some issues such as teen depression and cutting as Izzy's best friend is cutting herself and Izzy struggles with whether to tell someone or be "loyal" to her best friend, whose college boyfriend has just dumped her.

8. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The Romance Writers of America.  There are too many members who have given advice, hugs for rejections and encouragement when needed as I journeyed through this thing we call writing and publishing.

9. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I really love writing romantic suspense and the intricacies of the mystery/suspense plot.  I think I'm always going to finish a project and then wish I'd added some other cool element after the fact.  But then I get to use that cool thing in another book. <g>

10. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I just always wrote ever since I could hold a pencil.  I think it's part of my DNA.

11. Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Material Witness is the story of Crime Novelist, Cassie Lang, aka Cassie Alvarez, who goes undercover as a hooker in a Providence bar to do research for her next book.  She has serious writer's block and needs information to kickstart her story.  She's a fish out of water and has no clue what she has just walked into.  But Detective Jake Santos knows and sees right away that Cassie doesn't belong at a bar where a notorious crime boss frequents.  He tries to rush her out of the bar, but it's too late.  A drive-by shooting leaves the bar with broken glass and dead bodies.  Cassie is the only material witness who saw the shooter.  When her name is leaked to the press, her life is in danger and she doesn't know who to trust. 
12. Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write, write, and write.  Too often people start writing, get discouraged or think what they've written is bad, and then quit.  You can fix a blank page so they only way to fix your writing is to keep writing and finish your story.


Lisa Mondello (a.k.a. LA Mondello) has held many jobs in her life but being a published authors is the last job she'll ever have. She's not retiring! She blames the creation of the personal computer for her leap into writing novels. Otherwise, she'd still be penning stories with paper and pen.  Her first book, All I Want for Christmas is You, was the winner of the Golden Quill contest for Best First Book and to date has had over 350,000 downloads worldwide.

She is currently the author of 14 novels under the name Lisa Mondello and LA Mondello.

You can find more information about Lisa Mondello at  or chat on Twitter at @LisaMondello.

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