Who do you trust when those you love most let you down?
Thanks for inviting me, Robert. It’s always a pleasure to chat about writing, especially with a fellow author.
1. Please tell us a bit about your fictional debut YA novel, Monelli & Me.
It’s a story about family relationships that explores what happens when 15-year-old Kate learns her mother has been keeping a secret. Kate has grown up unaware that the man she calls Dad is not her biological father. A phone call brings the lie to light and she is launched on a rollercoaster of emotion as she struggles to come to terms with the fact those she loves most in the world have been less than honest with her. To complicate matters, her biological father, Nick Monelli, is coming to Perth. He wants to take Kate back to Brisbane with him to get to know her grandmother who is seriously ill with cancer. Essentially it’s about the consequences of being dishonest, even if it is by omission. One of the books earlier titles - it has had a few! - was Half Truths and Consequences.
2. What was the inspiration behind this story? Is any of it based on reality?
Monelli & Me isn’t based on reality. I came up with the original idea more than 20 years ago when my older daughter was a teenager. She and her cousin had joined the local theatre group and I wrote it as a play with them in mind for the lead roles. I chose to write about a teenage girl who discovered a secret about her past because it offered lots of scope for drama. Family has always been really important to me and I was fascinated by my Italian/English heritage from an early age. My father and I were always close. He was patient, gentle and incredibly insightful and I imagined how I would feel if I discovered he wasn’t my biological father and I didn’t have the cultural heritage on which I based my sense of identity. Incidentally, the play was never produced because I had such scant knowledge of stagecraft. Time passed, I took another look at it and I decided I wanted to reimagine it as a YA novel.
3. What was the process like in getting it published?
As with most of my published titles, not easy! I entered the manuscript unsuccessfully in a couple of competitions and submitted it to a few publishers over the years. While I received some lovely comments no contracts were forthcoming. About 18 months ago I started releasing some of my own titles while waiting for new manuscripts to do the rounds of traditional publishers. Monelli & Me had been through a comprehensive process of critiques and rewrites so I opted to self-publish. I love the process of making books and after nearly half a century of writing, I’m not short of manuscripts.
4. What were some of your favourite children’s and YA books as a child?
Magic, mystery and adventure. Biographies about famous people. Books about ancient civilisations and how people lived in the past. From books I found out about photography and film making and the history of dance. A few of my favourite authors at that time were Enid Blyton, E Nesbitt and Elizabeth Goudge. At home we had a full set of the Richards Topical Encyclopaedia and I was fascinated by all the information in those.
I used to hide away in the car when it was parked in the driveway and read because Mum couldn't find me there to do jobs around the house. When Dad went to work on the weekend to check on the leather at the tannery, I went with him so I could sit outside in the car and read. I don’t think there was such a genre as YA when I was a teenager. Favourite authors at that time were John Wyndham, Thomas Hardy. I also read Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo.
5. What’s on the horizon for you next?
I have two new picture books scheduled for release later this year. Solo Dan is in production with Daisy Lane Publishing. It’s about a boy who wants a forever home and is being illustrated by Kym Langfield. Looking After Grandma has been picked up by Serenity Press and will be illustrated by Amy Calautti, who did such wonderful work on my picture book When the Moon is a Smile.
I recently completed a MG novel that will soon start doing the submission rounds and I’m working on another that I plan to complete by mid-year. In non-kidslit, I am working on a couple of romantic novellas and I’ve given myself a December deadline. Wish me luck!
6. Where can people get in touch with you?
There’s lots of information about me and my books on my website at www.teenaraffamulligan.com
I’m also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/TeenaRaffaMulligan
Title Listing Information
ISBN 13: 978-0-6485346-0-0
Retail Price: $19.99 incl. GST
Size/Pages : 8in x 5in / 166 pages
Publication Date: 31 March 2020
Author: Teena Raffa-Mulligan
Distributor: Novella Distribution firstname.lastname@example.org
Also available from: Online retailers
Sea Song Publications email@example.com
Teena Raffa-Mulligan is a reader, writer and daydream believer who can’t imagine a world without stories. Her many publications for children include poetry, short stories, picture books, chapter books and MG novels. Since retiring from journalism, she also occasionally flirts with romance. Teena shares her passion for books and writing by presenting talks and workshops to encourage people of all ages to write their own stories. She shares her home near the beach with a sometime surfer and a gorgeous Labrador with a toast obsession and anxiety issues.