Thursday, December 12, 2013

Interview & Giveaway with guest author Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of "TWO OF A KIND"

Welcome to this week's BB Writers Retreat!

Please let me introduce you to our guest, Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of "Two of a Kind".

After the interview (below) Yona is giving away a signed copy of her book, so be sure to enter to win! 

Yona Zeldis McDonough, author of "Two of a Kind"
Yona Zeldis McDonough is also the author of many more publications, including:

and for children: (Partial list)

Lia Mack: Yona, thank you so very much for joining us today for our BB Writers Retreat. 

As always, I like to jump right in with the ultimate question...Why do you write?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I write to keep myself sane, balanced, hopeful and happy.  I write to make sense of my experience, and my perceptions. I write because I have to, pure and simple. I feel I did not choose writing; writing chose me.

Lia Mack: That's a precise way to put it - "writing chose me.

Can you describe a bit how your venture into writing looked like?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I was enrolled in a graduate program in art history at Columbia University and I was NOT a happy camper. I did not like anything about it and was not sure what to do next.  I was allowed to take other courses in the university—for free—and on a lark, took a fiction writing class. I was instantly hooked and decided that fiction, not art history, was what I wanted to do with my time on earth. I left the program shortly after that and began writing—first stories, then novels—always with the same goal in mind: becoming a full-fledged, published author. It took many years before this happened.  But it did and I have not looked back.

Lia Mack: That's wonderful. 

Can you tell us a little about your book?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: It’s a second-chance-at-love-story. Ten years after losing her husband, Christina Connelly has worked through the pain, focusing on raising her teenage daughter and managing her small decorating business. But her romantic life has never quite recovered. Still, it’s irksome to be set up with arrogant, if handsome, OB/GYN Andy Stern at her friend’s wedding. If he wasn’t also a potential client, needing his Upper East Side apartment redesigned, she would write him off.

This is never going to work, Andy thinks. Still grieving his wife and struggling with a troubled son, he’s not looking for a woman, and certainly not someone as frosty and reserved as Christina. Their relationship will be strictly business. Yet to everyone’s surprise–including their own–these two find themselves falling in love. But if reconciling with their pasts is difficult, blending their lives and children to create a new family is nearly impossible. They’ve been given a second chance…can they overcome all the obstacles in the way of happily ever after?

Lia Mack: What was the most challenging aspect of writing this particular story? 

Yona Zeldis McDonough: The novel is told from several points of view and all of them came easily to me—except Christina Connelly’s—and she was the protagonist! I don’t know why, but she was a very tough nut to crack and it took a long time before I was able to find my way into her head and heart so I could tell her story.

Lia Mack: Don't you just love those illusive characters ;)

What are you working on now?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I just sold a new manuscript to my publisher, New American Library.  It’s called YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME and is about a 35 year old single woman who finds a newborn infant on a subway platform and decides to adopt her.  Then the baby’s biological father shows up…The novel will be out in October 2014 and I am beyond excited!

Lia Mack:  That IS exciting! Can't wait for October :)

What does your typical writing day look like?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: Now that my children are older, I am more the mistress of my own time. I like to write first thing, so that I know I have that done no matter what else happens during the day.  I work in my upstairs office, usually with one or more of my two dogs (Pomeranians, small and yappy) nearby.  I put in a few hours and break for lunch.  Sometimes I work in the afternoon too; otherwise that’s the time for appointments, errands, meetings etc.  Gym late in the day or early evening.  If I am really deep into a book/project, I’ll write again late at night, sometimes into the wee hours.  It’s NOT good for my sleep—gets me all pumped—but those quiet night hours can be very productive.

Lia Mack: That sounds like a dream schedule, although I know how distracting dogs can be... Can you share a photo of what your writing space looks like?

(see below!)

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I work in a small room on the second floor of my house. I face the backyard (also small!) and I painted the room light blue so it feels like the outside comes streaming in. I have all sorts of beloved objects around me and on the wall above my desk is a poster of a ballerina named Paloma Herrera. Her pose—head tilted back, arms extended, leg reaching up to the sky—is so beautiful it makes me gasp a little every time I see it, and she is an inspiration to me every day of my life.

Lia Mack: What a fantastic muse in an idyllic setting.

On to business... What are your thoughts on authors needing to build a platform?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I confess I resisted at first. I thought, Platform? Why does an author need a platform? But now I see the importance and the value. There are so many books and writers out there, so much competition.  You need a way to distinguish yourself and bring attention to what you do.  You can’t beat the system, so you have to join it. 

Lia Mack: This is true. Perfect advice for writers everywhere.

Speaking of writers and advice, if you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself if you could speak to the aspiring writer you once were?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I turned down a couple of juicy magazine jobs in my youth and I really do regret it now. I think it would have been great training and an opportunity to make great contacts.  So I would go back and tell myself, “Honey, you say yes to that job—pronto!”

Lia Mack: Indeed! :)

Yona, thank you so much for being our guest author today. 

Where can BB readers go online to find you and your work?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I hope you’ll visit my website, which is and friend me on Facebook!
Yona Zeldis McDonough's writing space
a Rafflecopter giveaway