Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Story within a Story with Lisa Mondello

The Story Behind The Knight and Maggie’s Baby by Lisa Mondello

I want to thank Carrie Ann for having me on the blog today and for letting you all into my world of ideas.  Yes, ideas come from everywhere and sometimes it’s scary to think of how a book actually got started.  I’m writing a screenplay right now that was inspired by Romantic Times reviews and music piped into a restaurant bathroom.  But that story is for another blog post… Today I’m going to give you the story behind the story for The Knight and Maggie’s Baby, book 3 in my Fate with a Helping Hand series.

Most people who know me know that I’m a huge Elton John fan.  This goes way back to when I was 10 and bought my first 45, Bennie and the Jets/Harmony.  I wore out that 45 and all my early vinyl Elton John records.  I’ve also ruined the chances of my kids ever being fans because they had to endure endless hours of listening to all my Elton John albums throughout their growing years.  Where other nice mommies play Barney and The Magic School Bus music in the car, I played Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Songs from the West Coast and everything in between.  Yes, I could have chosen The Lion King soundtrack.  But we watched the movie every day in the house and already had that covered.  So, now that I’ve established my obsession with Elton John, you’ll know where I’m coming from when I explain the inspiration for The Knight and Maggie’s Baby.

I should mention that even though The Knight and Maggie’s Baby is a new release, published in September 2011, it was written in 2000.  Elton John was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1998 for his service to music and his charitable services.  Most people know the huge and amazing contribution Elton John has made to the music industry.  Not everyone is aware of his dedication to his charity, Elton John Aids Foundation, a charity devoted to bringing Aids awareness and relief to people suffering from HIV and Aids.

Okay, so Lisa, how does this relate to The Knight and Maggie’s Baby?

Jonah Wallace, the hero in The Knight and Maggie’s Baby, has everything a man could ever want and has the money to get anything he doesn’t have.  Except the love he never had as a child growing up.  Driven by a need to help provide a safe home for runaways and trouble kids, Jonah, a man who “has more money than the Queen” dedicates his life to the Haven House Foundation and is knighted for his good work.  (You’re already seeing where this came from, right?  Sometimes my interests don’t stray far.) In order for him to inherit his fortune, his grandfather insists he needs to take a wife for 1 year. Driven to desperation and under time pressure, he marries a pregnant coffee shop owner after she helps him out of a jam when his hired bride-to-be walks out on him the day of their wedding. The love she gives, and his love for her and her baby, will change his life in ways he can’t even imagine.

I loved writing this story.  I laughed and cried throughout.  And I love the 3 generations of women that I introduce as such an integral part of Maggie’s life, her mom, her grandmother and her baby girl.

I took inspiration for the coffee shop location and the 3 story tenement house that Maggie grew up in from the apartment I had in Allston many years ago and the area where the Boston rock band I used to manage in the 80s used to play gigs.  In fact, having lived in Massachusetts my whole life, all the stories in the Fate with a Helping Hand series were set in places where I’ve lived and spent a great deal of time.

So that’s the inspiration behind The Knight and Maggie’s Baby.  Contrary to what my kids may say, I listen to more than just Elton John music.  In fact, Florence and the Machine is blasting through my headphones as I type.  (Don’t you just love Florence?)  But I definitely have a major soft spot for Elton!

The Knight and Maggie’s Baby is Book 3 in my Fate with a Helping Hand series.  Book 1 is All I Want for Christmas is You.  Book 2 is The Marriage Contract.  I will be giving away a copy of any of those books to one lucky commenter today. So don’t be shy.  I love hearing from readers!



Excerpt from The Knight and Maggie’s Baby

“Don't you think you're rushing things just a tad?” She lifted her hand and pinched her index finger and thumb together for emphasis.

“I'll admit my proposal is a bit abrupt,” he stammered.

“A bit?”

“We've only known each other--”

“Forty-five minutes tops,” she blurted out. “Are you out of your mind?”

Her tone was incredulous. And he really didn't blame Maggie if she thought he was nuts. He felt nuts. Desperate, too. But he found himself defending his proposal.

“Quite possibly. But you see, that’s exactly my point. I have a bit of a time-crunch here, and it seems as though--”

Maggie folded her arms across her chest. “How silly of me.  Here I thought you were sweeping me off my feet.”

He shook his head with a chuckle. “I do sound mad, don’t I?”

“Recognition is the first step toward recovery.”

Something rumbled up from deep inside him. Jonah laughed at himself, this disastrous day, and the absurd situation he'd been forced into by his grandfather. It felt good to laugh. That in itself was incredibly surprising, considering he hadn't managed to do much laughing at all since he'd learned of the impending plans for Wiltshire.

He peered at Maggie through moisture filled eyes. She wasn't laughing. But she was incredibly beautiful. Her sapphire eyes sparkled when she teased him. There were small freckles sprinkled across her nose that looked adorable with the sun shining on her creamy skin.

When she looked at him the way she was right now, it didn't seem like such a crazy idea to marry her. At least not for the reasons he was proposing. He hadn't given it a second thought. And yet, now he realized just how ridiculous he looked from her eyes.

“I'm not making a pass at you. Truly, I'm not.”

“You just asked me to marry you.”

“I'm asking for your help.”


His lips tilted up to one side. “Again.”

Maggie took two steps down the stairs until they were both standing at eye level. “Forget the phone call, the nice air conditioned ride in the limo, the coffee, the pie—”

“Which by the way was truly inspiring,” he interjected. “If I didn’t already tell you that.”

“You did. You don't even know me. You’re asking a total stranger to marry you.”

He shrugged. “I know that. But I know you make me laugh.”

“So that's all it takes for a happy marriage? Bet we could make a killing with that book.”

“I sound delusional,” he said. “Even to my own ears, which is pretty scary.”

He was delusional. He'd just asked a woman he didn't even know to marry him! And the fact that he was truly considering it was entirely grandfather's doing.


  1. It's interesting how you got the idea for The Knight and Maggie's Baby (in a round about way). I found it funny that you didn't make your kids listen to children's songs in the car but Elton John. My sister did the same thing, though, not with Elton John. I haven't read any of the series yet, but after this ,I put the three books on my wishlist.


  2. Sounds like a good book! I'll have to add it to my list :) Thanks for sharing and wonderful interview!

  3. Very interesting interview and a good idea for a book.

  4. I love posts like this which reveal the inspiration behind a story! Very interesting and fun!

  5. B-B- Benny and the Jets. Benny! Benny! Benny and the Jets.

    Gotta love songs you can sing along to.

    Books sounds like one I'll have to check out.

  6. Sounds like a great book. I love Sir Elton, too. Benny and the Jets is an all-time fave!

  7. Every time I think or hear the song: Benny and the Jets, I think of Haley off American Idol now, LOL. I shouldn't, but I do.

    I love hearing about what inspires authors to write their stories.

  8. I like hearing about the inspiration for a story. Will have to check out this series.
    linze_e at hotmail.com

  9. Comments...Take Two!

    I stopped by yesterday and responded to comments but apparently there was a burp in the system and they didn't go through. So here I am again.

    We clearly have some Elton fans among us! Yay!

    Inspiration is such a funny thing. My family members are always wondering if I've created a character modeled after them. Well, it's hard not to pull traits from what you know. So they may be right. But inspiration for the story? Anything goes!

  10. We had a party at our small apartment,people everywhere and lots of fun.