Friday, April 11, 2014

Guest Author Zee Monodee


I am thrilled to interview Zee Monodee about her new release, Light My World!

Thanks for stopping to chat! Please tell us a bit about your latest release, or what's coming up.
Hi Leigh! Thanks for having me over! Hello to everyone *mad wave*

So my latest release is Light My World, which is Book 2 in my Island Girls Trilogy. The series follows the lives and loves of 3 sisters in Mauritius between 2000-2010, and each story is a stand-alone (in case you’re wondering!).

Light My World is more of a romantic comedy, featuring a spunky, feisty heroine and a rather tragic and brooding hero. It’s a match apparently made in Hell, at first glance, because it is hate at first sight. But sometimes, our brains might jump to conclusions and do so to obliterate what our hearts might be telling us...and Diya and Trent will find this to be the case between the two of them as fate keeps pitting them together.

How did you become inspired to write this work?
Believe me when I tell you I had no plans whatsoever to write this book. My goal was to pen The Other Side and be done with that story/world. But as I began writing, I discovered Lara, the heroine, had 2 sisters, of which Diya, the heroine of Light My World, was the most vocal – if I gave her a story, I’d have to give Neha, the other sister, her story, too. And Diya being such a forceful personality that quite literally gets under your skin and stays with you, there was no way I couldn’t not write her story. So one story morphed into a trilogy.

And I have to say Diya literally came to me fully formed. She jumped into the story with the energy and tenacity that is so her and the rest was history. Now being such a spunky girl, she had to meet her match, and I reckoned a hard Alpha man wouldn’t do it for her – she’d run him down or end up killing him (or he’d kill her first! That hero needed a lot of patience to be able to put up with her). I already knew Diya was looking for Prince Charming, and she knew what she wanted him to be. It only struck me as natural to have the real Prince Charming look as far from this ideal as possible, even making him an ogre in the process. And since he’d need patience, how did he hone that? Simple – let’s give him two little boys who test his resolve every minute of every day!

The rest, as they say, is history – I let these two loose on the page and they wrote themselves up.

Did you have to do a lot of research to complete this work?
Regarding setting, yes – the story takes place in an area I’m not familiar with (Tamarin and the west coast of Mauritius) so my husband and I took an afternoon off to visit the place and get a feel of the location, as well as details (like, there’s this metal bridge with criss-crossing beams to get in and out of the village, and then the road twists like a hairpin and is bordered by these huge, centuries-old trees that turn the road almost as dark as night even at midday). I wanted that authenticity in the story. Then there was the colonial house that makes up about half of the other setting for the tale – I remembered, if rather vaguely, one such house that belonged to my maternal grandparents. So to refresh my mind, I visited such a house turned into a tea route museum.

Then their jobs needed a little research – Diya is an interior designer, and she takes over the renovation of the colonial house. That required some little digging for authenticity. Trent is a former pilot and during the course of the story, he goes to work for the Civil Aviation department to coordinate the runways and stuff like that at the airport. My husband works for the local airline and he put me in touch with some people in Civil Aviation.

What is a day in your writing life like? Do you have a set schedule?

I write mainly when the kid’s into school and my husband is at work. I kinda need the quiet to immerse myself into my work. Yes, I can work around noise and the like (like 2 boys playing Minecraft or other zombie-killing video games that shake the whole house with their vibrations) but when I write, I do my best work when ‘in the zone’, and I can’t get into the zone if I know someone might need me at any point or that I’ll have to get up for some chore.

So I try to write the minute I come home from dropping the kid to school, will keep at it for 2-3 hours, then I’ll go online to check email and social media. By which time, it’s lunch and then if I can sneak in another hour of work, I do it, before going out to pick the kid from school. After that, it’s no more ‘work’ and I turn into a desperate housewife.

Do you prefer to write one specific genre, or are you a bit all over the map? What is your favorite genre to write and why?

While I don’t consider myself all over the map, I do write across a few genres. The core is romance, but that can take comedy aspects, small town vibes, and then suspense and mystery/thriller aspects. I also dabble in paranormal and urban fantasy. I don’t think I could write across all those types of stories if romance hadn’t been a major part of these plots.

But there’s something in all these genres that calls to me. Comedy is soothing for the mind; small towns bring that sort of warm, fuzzy glow; suspense is an adrenalin rush where I’m always wondering how I can up the ante, and the characters are all in shades of grey – there’s leeway to go dark, to the limit of redeemable, with them; while paranormal/urban fantasy, there’s an element of suspension of disbelief that really makes the sky the limit. All these genres push me in a different way.

But if I had to have a favorite, it would be small town contemporary romance. I’m a huge soapie fan, love the drama of relationships, dalliances, trysts, family secrets and the like. I love that I can bring families to life and get to play in their world – it’s like playing with dolls but as a grownup – you give them grown up conflict and then get to smooth it all out. Uh, does that make me sound crazy...?

Of your backlist/WIPs, which would you say was the easiest to write? The most challenging? Why?
Light My World was the easiest...because *grin* the relationship between Diya and Trent is very much my own relationship with my husband. He’s older than me, jaded, slightly cynical, armed with tons of patience, has a kid from a previous marriage, while I’m like Diya – rather impulsive, talks too much, a little too exuberant. So that was a whole lot of fun to write ‘us’ into that storyline.

The most challenging – I’d have to say it’s Winds of Change, Book 3 in the Island Girls Trilogy, and the story of Neha, the middle sister. When I wrote her, I was 25...and Neha was supposed to be 34, married for over 15 years, mother to 3 children aged 11 to 16, and a widow. She’s also very quiet, introverted, and has a bit of a stick up her arse (sorry for the wording). In short, Neha was very much the opposite of me, and at the time of writing her, I was still finding my writing legs and found it hard to write a character that didn’t resemble me – I had to push hard and dig deep to make her sound authentic.

What do you have planned writing wise for the rest of the year?
Well, there are a few releases on the cards. Winds of Change (Island Girls #3) comes out sometime in the next 2 months. Calling Home – where a socially inept forensic pathologist lands custody of an 11 year old girl – releases on May 13.

You belong to me – a romantic suspense that’s a retelling of the Grimm fairytale ‘The Nix of the Mill Pond – releases sometime in the summer from the Beyond Fairytales line at Decadent Publishing.

Storms in a shot glass – a romantic comedy involving a pregnant personal assistant, the most eligible bachelor in London, and the tabloid scandal of the century – is on the release sked, as is Transient Hearts – a romcom Western story where an Indo-British chef finds the man who might complete her world, but both of them are only in transit in the town of Freewill, Wyoming.

There are also a few installments of the Eternelles series, which I co-write with my bestie, Natalie G. Owens.

Writing-wise, I am focusing on series I already have out. Like the next 3-4 installments of the Daimsbury Chronicles, a series of small town romances set in the village of Daimsbury in Surrey, England.

And right now, my focus is on a story for the new Temptations line at Decadent Publishing – Breaking Free is the coming together of a former bad girl turned fashion store CEO and an uptight earl named Darcy. Sparks are expected to fly!

Do you have any social media profiles/pages where readers can follow you?

Definitely! I am not as much as I would like on Twitter, thanks to an uncooperative Internet provider.

But on Facebook, that’s where you’ll find me all the time. My profile is open to the public, so come on over and let’s get talking. Just search for Zee Monodee there and you’ll find me.

There’s also my blog/site (http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com), but Facebook is where I’m more myself than anywhere else.

Desert Island quiz: you can only bring one album, one DVD set for your favorite TV show, and one movie. What are they?

One album...Ollie Murs’ debut album. Love his songs!

DVD set of fave TV show...the whole Gossip Girl series. What can I say? I love drama, and the fashion is exquisite in there!

One movie....Love, Actually. The epitome of romance and romcoms!

Who are your favorite authors in your primary genre?

Small town/family romances – definitely Kristan Higgins! That woman is marvelous!
Then there’s Jill Shalvis, Susan Mallery, and Robyn Carr.

~

Title: Light My World
Series: Book #2 in the Island Girls Trilogy
Author: Zee Monodee
Line: Ubuntu (geared to African Romance)
Publisher: Decadent Publishing, LLC
Release date: April 8, 2014
Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Interracial Multicultural Romance/ Interracial Romance/ Bollywood/ Humour/ New Adult
Length: 262 pages
Heat Level: Sensual/ 2 flames


Blurb:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that to find a prince, a girl has to kiss a few frogs along the way. But what happens when a modern-day princess comes across…an ogre?

So what if a girl has to kiss a few frogs to find her prince?

Tired of her Indian-origin mother’s relentless matchmaking, Diya Hemant is determined to find her Prince Charming on her terms. Armed with a definitive list of requirements, she is sure she’ll know her man when she meets him…

But looking and finding are two different things, especially on the tiny island of Mauritius…

When her path crosses surly British widower Trent Garrison’s, it’s hate at first sight. And though fate keeps pitting her against him, she’s certain he can’t be turned into a frog let alone a prince.

Can this modern-day princess overcome her own expectations and see beyond the ogre to the man beneath?


Buy Links:






Trailer:




About the author
Zee Monodee
Stories about love, life, relationships... in a melting-pot of culture
Zee is an author who grew up on a fence – on one side there was modernity and the global world, on the other there was culture and traditions. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she'd stand tall on her wall and dip toes every now and then into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
From this resolution spanned a world of adaptation and learning to live on said wall. The realization also came that many other young women of the world were on their own fence.
This particular position became her favourite when she decided to pursue her lifelong dream of writing – her heroines all sit 'on a fence', whether cultural or societal, in today's world or in times past, and face dilemmas about life and love.
Hailing from the multicultural island of Mauritius, Zee is a degree holder in Communications Science. She is a head-over-heels wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween son, best-buddy-stepmum to a teenage lad, an incompetent domestic goddess, eternal dreamer, and an absolute, shameless bookholic. When she isn’t penning more stories and/or managing the Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing, you can bet you’ll find her with her nose in her tablet, ‘drinking in’ a good book.


Tidbits about this book & series (please choose 1 or 2, whichever you feel more relevant for your blog):

- The Island Girls trilogy follows the 3 Hemant sisters – Lara, Neha, Diya – over the span of the 2000-2010 decade, chronicling the changing face of the Mauritian society over that crucial period.

- Book 2, Light My World, is Diya’s hilarious quest to find Prince Charming in the sea of frogs that is Mauritius (well, what it is according to her perception!). Follow her on this desperate mission!

Excerpt

He heard more than felt the car hit the back of the SUV, which had halted in a screech of tyres. The smell of burnt rubber filled his nostrils when the calm came back. He expected the airbag to blow from the wheel, but none released.
Better and better. The car wasn’t only tiny, it didn’t even have an airbag.
A wave of concern washed over him. He wasn’t hurt. At least, he didn’t feel any pain. But what about the other driver?
However, as he stepped out of the car, the worry drained away as another, stronger emotion settled in. Anger.
What sort of inconsiderate driver stopped like that in the middle of a main road?
The bloke should be tagged as a public danger. To top it all, he was going to be late to see his children.
Bloody hell!
His tall height allowed him to peer into the vehicle without much difficulty. He swept his gaze over the top half of the interior, and puzzlement replaced his fury.
The car couldn’t be empty. Where was the driver? When had he had the time to get out of the vehicle?
Walking around to the front of the hood, Trent stopped in his tracks.
The body of an unconscious—or worse, dead—dog lay sprawled on the street. Sunlight glinted off its shiny, metal-studded collar. Must’ve been the reason behind the streak of light that had blinded him and the other driver, too, probably.
As he ran a hand in his short hair, he cursed again. How did the locals respond to accidents here? Especially when there was a death involved, even of a dog? Not something he wanted to find out, and not as a participant in this involuntary homicide.
With his hand on his mouth, he goggled at the dog that picked itself up and hobbled across to the other side of the road, before disappearing in between two rows of sugarcane.
What the hell? What was it with this strange island? Couldn’t anything be predictable on it?
The muffled opening click of a car door broke the silence, and Trent stepped back to glare at the person getting out, more like slithering out, of the SUV.
A slim pair of legs emerged and wobbled for a second after the sandal-clad feet hit the asphalt.
When the door closed, he glimpsed a short denim dress hugging a tiny frame. Straight black hair brushed the shoulders and the lapels of the collar, and framed a lovely, delicate face.
He had to blink a few times. The woman, or the girl, could pass for a life-sized doll. She stood no taller than five feet, so small he could probably encircle her waist with his hands. Her eyes were deep-set and dark, rimmed with black kohl. Her golden skin struck him as somewhat pale underneath her makeup, and she bit her full, pale lips, as if trying to work some colour into them.
“Thank God the dog is alive,” she said in a light, youthful voice. “I sure would’ve hated to have killed it. Lucky there isn’t any damage.”
Her voice reminded him of laughter, and the tinkling of fragile crystal flutes.
Shaking off the bizarre notion, a slow throb built in his blood. The overwhelming feeling settled as a twitch in his cheek, and he winced when a stab of pain shot from his clenched jaw.
No damage? What about his car? “Miss, you demolished my car.”
Nothing betrayed her cool composure when she checked out his car before staring at him again.
“Sorry, but you hit from behind. You’re at fault.”
He’d started to think that the delicate motion with her frail shoulder could topple her over, so much she seemed fragile. But the concern sputtered into outrage once her words registered. The cheek of the girl.
She’d stopped dead in the middle of the road. How the heck could it be his fault? “If it weren’t for you, none of this would’ve happened,” he snapped in a low growl.
She pursed her full lips, and jutted her pointed chin out in a fierce way as she settled her hands on her hips. Craning her slender neck to peer into his face, she stood her ground.
“Well, I should’ve killed the dog? This is what you wanted?”
“No, but—”
“And you wouldn’t have jammed into my car if you hadn’t been tailgating me.”
“I wasn’t tailgating you—”
“Yes, you were.” She poked a finger into his chest. “And you were speeding, at least a hundred where the limit is sixty.”
Could this girl be for real? “Miss, you were going faster than me, so don’t get on your high horse here.”
She poked him again. “Stop evading the issue. It’s your fault.”
Disbelief strangled his throat. She glared back, not in the least bit intimidated by the fact he towered above her by more than a foot.
At the same time, he flinched under her accusing words. Kill the dog. Right. Like he’d have wanted to kill a poor animal. What was it about this scrap of a girl that had him so ruffled?
A thought struck him. “Are you old enough to drive?”
“I’m twenty-four years old, for your information,” she said, spitting the words out at him.
So she could be held responsible for the accident. “My car is damaged, and it’s your fault.”
Blimey. They sounded like little children during kindergarten recess in the schoolyard.
He should drop this matter, deal with her like the adult he prided himself to be.
If she’d let him, though. Her dark eyes grew even darker as they narrowed on him. Fire, or ice, burnt in them. Her voice dripped with frost when she next spoke.
“I thought British men were supposed to be courteous.”
“I beg your pardon?” She’d done it again, struck him speechless. Unbelievable.
She fluttered her hand before her in an evasive gesture as she shook her head. “You know, proper British manners. Can’t say you’ve shown any so far.”
How could she sound so righteous, as if she were the injured party?
“How do you know I’m British? Does it read not-from-Mauritius somewhere on my face?”
“Your accent,” she said. “You speak just like Hugh Grant.”
Hugh Grant? That pasty-faced pin-up?
Even better. Not. “Thanks. It’s a very positive compliment.”
Trent had the pleasure of seeing his sarcasm unsettle the unnerving Miss Know-it-all. Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession as she glowered at him.
“You’re so….” She paused and seemed to search around for the proper word. “…obnoxious.”
And she was a brat. Nothing more.
Her barb hit home, though. He’d been called many things in his life, but this one was a first. And coming from a tiny lady like her, he didn’t know whether to laugh or be annoyed. He couldn’t remember the last time, if ever, he’d had such a verbal joust with someone. Loath as he was to admit, but tangling with her tickled him as stimulating as the encounter unnerved him.
Blimey, he had no time to dwell upon that. He was getting late. And he itched to shut the little spoilt princess up.
“My, incredible,” he said. “A pretty head as yours came up with such a big word. I sure hope you won’t get a nosebleed from too much brain activi—”
Yes, he’d been callous, but the sight before him horrified him more. He stood there, his jaw slackening as his mouth fell open.
“What?” she asked.
He pointed at her face. “Your nose. It’s bleeding.”





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