Interview with Zee Monodee
Tell us about yourself. Both your writing self and your non-writing self. What are your interests and hobbies? Do you have a day job, etc?
Hello everyone! Pleasure to be here; thanks to lovely Lucy for inviting me over. 🙂
Okay, about me… I’m 30 years old, and sometimes it feels like I finished secondary school yesterday. But I just need to glance at my 10-yr-old son to know that cannot be the case, and then into the picture comes the husband, this man I’ve been with for almost 12 years now without throttling him (or vice versa, lol!) I live in Mauritius, born and raised here actually, and despite a stint abroad in England, home is where the heart is and mine was always on my island (especially when I met my husband here while trying to get over a very bad divorce. Yep, you read that right – I was already married and divorced at 18).
So basically, I’m your typical fun-loving gal – I love pop music, fashion, movies, TV shows, soap operas. I’m of Indian origin, so anything with drama draws me like a magnet to iron. 🙂 And of course, I love to read. I could spend all my time in my reading corner downing book after book, but sadly, that’s not real life.
As for the day job, well I’m firstly a freelance editor, but since July 2012, I have been managing the Ubuntu line (geared to romance set in Africa and/or with African characters) at Decadent Publishing. It’s a challenging post but I relish a good challenge and there’s nothing I love more than finding a gem in the submissions and getting to bring an author into the spotlight.
And of course, I’m an author. I write mainly contemporary romance. Some of these works are set in Mauritius, where I showcase the culture I grew up in. Lately, a lot of my work is veering toward small town romances set in rural England – there’s something lovely and romantically magical to me about village life in the UK. Then I indulge my love of the paranormal (Uh, hello? I’m Zee and I’m a Supernatural junkie. Yes, the TV show) through the self-published Eternelles series I co-write with my bestie, Natalie G. Owens.
Give us the background on your latest release.
Well, I totally did not see this one veering into a series. It started as a thought a couple years back – I’d just finished dealing with a second bout of cancer (yes, 2x survivor of breast cancer here, and yes, too – it hit me twice in my 20s. Cancer doesn’t wait for later, so ladies, please take heed and check your boobies every month! It can save your life, like it did mine).
So yeah, there I was like a veritable encyclopaedia of first-hand cancer knowledge, and my bestie suggested: why not exploit all this and turn it into a story?
That’s how the character of Megha Saran was born, and her romance meant she fell in love with the most unlikely man ever – her super-playboy boss, Magnus Tramell. Now, Magnus’ family is very rich and in the village where they hail from, they’re almost considered like royalty. Since I’ve always loved the county of Surrey, it came as no surprise that I invented a small village there called Daimsbury.
Then life butted in and deadlines on other works crept up, so this story got relegated to the backburner. But sometime this year, one of the editors at Decadent Publishing mentioned a new line starting. In a nutshell, these would be category-style stories in a short length. Needless to say, I was intrigued. What could I write to submit to that line?
And the idea of Daimsbury popped inside my head again. Like, why not use a setting I’ve already created and peopled with some intriguing characters?
Now I’m a huge – and I really mean huge – fan of the TV show Supernatural. Jensen Ackles (considered by many, especially in the fandom, to be the hottest man alive) and Jared Padalecki (the hottest nerd alive, at least in the show, coz he’s no nerd in real life, lol) play two brothers fighting against Evil. So far, neither has got even the hint of a happy ending. It got me thinking – what if Dean and Sam (as they are known in the show) were regular blokes who also got a happy ending?
Jensen/Dean being the eldest, I had to start with him. J I wanted the characters in this series to be young, around their thirties. What sort of conflict can you give an early 30s bloke? Oooh, what if he had a teenage daughter? And what if this being-involved-in-a-teenage-pregnancy angle meant he lost the girl he really loved and wanted to marry all along? And what happened to this girl? That’s how Liam Morelli and Honor Whelan were born, and theirs became a story of former best friends finding themselves and a second chance at love over a Christmas season.
How did you get started with writing? And what was your route to publication like?
I have to say thanks to cancer for getting me to pursue my dream of writing. So there I was, just-turned 22. I was happily married, had an adorable toddler, and even my then-5-yr-old stepson seemed to like me and didn’t see me as an evil stepmum or something. 🙂 I’d taken a break from corporate work (I used to be an after-sales department coordinator) to bring up my son, and was pursuing my degree via distance learning on the side. Life couldn’t get any better. Then the lump came, seemingly overnight. Less than 2 weeks later, I had a diagnosis of super-aggressive malignant breast cancer and it was a miracle I was still alive.
You know when they say that facing death and getting away with it gives you a different outlook, like a second chance at life? I was alive, and wanted to celebrate that fact every single moment of my life. It had always been my dream to write ‘one day’, but when I told my husband about this, he told me this: ‘One day is now. You make it happen.’
So that’s how I picked up the pen (and the keyboard) to start my first story. Writing this tale of divorce in Mauritius and a second chance at love became an anchor to me, and it kept me going and powering on between chemotherapy sessions and all the other treatments for the cancer.
That story was first published in Mauritius, in print. But my writing proficiency didn’t match the local market’s pace, so I turned to e-pubs in the US to push my work through. And that’s been it. Never looked back again. 🙂
What are you currently working on?
Well, I just finished my first NaNoWriMo, and the novel I penned for that challenge ended into a longer, single-title romance. Set in a rural village in North Yorkshire, it’s the tale of an anorexic supermodel whose family kidnaps her from backstage at a fashion week and forces her to lay low in this village until she’s realised how much she’s putting her life in danger because of the anorexia. On the first morning there, the model tries to break out…only to land onto the path of the very handsome, Viking-god-like pub owner and chef. Suddenly, staying in this sleepy place doesn’t look like Purgatory anymore.
It’s Book 1 in a series I’ve titled Havisham Park. I am now editing and polishing before I can submit this to a publisher. It’s fun, because I had to learn how to speak Yorkshire (which is a veritable other language from English, lol!) and then the village and its inhabitants came to life while I was writing. I’ve totally fallen in love with this world and cannot wait to get back to it.
Do you have a particular Muse for your writing? Do any of your characters bear startling resemblances to sexy celebrities or people you admire?
Muse? No, not really. I do hear ‘the voices’ though *grin* Authors will know what I mean. But yeah, characters scream to be written, and that’s muse enough for me.
And yes – almost every time, my characters will bear striking physical resemblances to sexy celebrities, especially men I’ve ogled/found hunky. The heroines, too, will look like someone famous. For example, in Bad Luck With Besties, Book 1 in The Daimsbury Chronicles, you already know that Liam Morelli, the hero, is templated off actor Jensen Ackles. Honor Whelan looks a lot like Katie Perry (especially with her blunt-cut fringe and those big eyes).
I prefer to work with a physical likeness because I always visualize my scenes before I write them, and this is easier to do when I have a definite physical image in my head, like an actor/puppet I’m having play out the scene. Helps keep my focus and consistency, then.
And yes, too – creating hunky romance heroes is a perfect excuse to indulge in eye candy research 🙂
Where do you see yourself in five years? Both writing-wise and non-writing-wise?
Writing-wise: a few series under my belt, and hopefully, these will be successful ones so I’ll still get to indulge in dabbling into those worlds and bringing their inhabitants to life for the length of a story. I hope to be a ‘recognised’ name by then, and readers seeking my stories for a good time.
Non-writing-wise: …to tell you the truth, I have absolutely no clue here. 🙂 Hopefully, still married to my wonderful husband and watching the kids grow. My stepson will be out of the house/an adult by then, while my son will be in the last years of secondary school. I hope both will have grown into decent, respectable men and beautiful human beings. And yeah – me celebrating another 5 years of being cancer free.
And now for some silly questions…
Muscled or skinny?
Muscled. Not the bodybuilder type coz that’s a bit freaky, but some muscle even on a lean frame is, imo, necessary (and yeah, a man cannot, I repeat, cannot, have smaller hips than I do!)
Tall or short?
Tall. At 5’2, almost any male will tower over me, but I love my high heels so my man’s got to be tall for us not to look like Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise 🙂
Boxers or briefs?
Doesn’t matter. He’ll lose either when it matters *wink*
Moustache or beard?
Beard + moustache or nothing at all. I find moustache-alone rather creepy 🙂 And beards can be sexy
Long hair or shaven head?
Hmmm… Both have their particular allure. I’d go with shaven head, though, coz I tend to find balding men sexy (hello, Jason Statham!)
Tattoos or piercings?
Tattoos! Piercings are scary, like, what if I hurt him without meaning to because of that scrap of metal in whatever-body part? 🙂
Intelligent or funny?
I’d go with funny. Nobody likes a bore, even if he’s super intelligent. 🙂 That being said, nerds are sexy, though…
Blond, brunette or red head?
Being of Indian origin and living in a land where almost everyone has dark hair, I have a definite propensity to like blond men (half my heroes, or more, are blond…)
Hottest celebrity (tell us why, if you like)?
Hmmm, now that’s a very tough one…. So many to choose; do I have to settle for just one? It’s a tossup between Hugh Jackman and Chris Hemsworth. Yes, they’re both gorgeous men with adorable smiles and voices to make you swoon, but what attracts me most on top of all that is they’re both family men. I find that the epitome of hotness – a man dedicated to his wife and children.
Top same-sex crush (or opposite sex if you already like same-sex!)
Another tough one…. Charlize Theron. That woman kicks arse and she is gorgeous! 🙂
Most disliked celebrity (tell us why, if you like)
Kim Kardashian. Do I really need to state out the obvious why? 🙂
Favourite book (tell us why, if you like)
The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella. It is funny and smart and somehow, real, because this could totally happen, and I love the way the heroine’s eyes become open to what really matters in life. And yes, the laughter. 🙂
Favourite place in the world (tell us why, if you like)
My home country, Mauritius. It’s got beauty and what I cherish most – tolerance. I’m a “covered” Muslim woman yet nobody gives me a second glance or calls me a potential terrorist here despite my conservative dressing-type.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Lol – I think I’ve rambled enough. *wink*
Now give us the blurb, an extract and buy links for your latest release.
Title: Bad Luck with Besties
Series: The Daimsbury Chronicles
Book #: 1
Genre: Contemporary romance
Heat level: Sweet
Publisher: Decadent Publishing, LLC
Honor Whelan always trips into bad luck with male best friends. Abandoned by her bestie of eleven years who got her pregnant during a one-night-stand, she finds herself destitute and alone, with no other choice but to head home to the Surrey village of Daimsbury.
Fifteen years earlier, Honor left Daimsbury because her then best friend and the boy she loved, Liam Morelli, got another friend pregnant.
Honor had run…but today, she can no longer hide. Especially not when fate knocks her straight into Liam’s path, and he starts to show signs of wanting a second chance.
Will her luck finally change or will she continue to fight bad luck with besties?
She let her gaze travel to the dining table, bare except for the two white documents in stark contrast against the mahogany wood. Which one should she contemplate first? Not that she hadn’t spent the past three months pouring over them. Glancing at the papers shocked her with solid punch to the gut. Every single time.
What had she expected, really? Jonathan might have gotten her up the duff during one drunken night, yet he still remained totally gay. The flat and all its contents belonged to him. He wouldn’t get his hands on her book collection, that was for sure. Everything else, he’d ditched, like a person picked up a rotten sock with the barest pinch of fingers and tossed the smelly rag in the rubbish bin.
A flutter, akin to something pulling inside, started in her belly. She placed a hand on the spot where a baby grew in her. She could almost feel the kid calming from the touch. Doctors could say whatever they wanted; she knew her body. Her baby was alive and proud to exist. Why couldn’t Jonathan see that?
She sighed. Her gaze landed on the eviction papers. Her three months’ notice would run up tomorrow, and she no longer held hope that Jonathan would come round and tell her everything had been a mistake, that he hadn’t meant to eject her, and his child, out of his life and throw her out on her arse, to boot.
She’d been an idiot. The minute she’d confessed about her pregnancy, all shades of her best friend for the past eleven years had vanished. The cold, hard man she’d faced had turned tail and run to his former lover, the same one who had dumped him like a rotten sock, too. The most misogynistic bastard Honor had ever encountered. No wonder Jonathan, under his influence, sent her not only an eviction notice, but also the papers wherein he renounced all rights to the baby and requested she never bother him with anything pertaining to the child.
How could she have been so wrong about him? A tear rolled down her cheek. She should know, shouldn’t she, having an awful track record with male best friends. Hadn’t Liam Morelli gotten Rose Payne, the other member of their trinity, pregnant when they’d been seventeen?
And speaking of Liam. No, she couldn’t think of him. He’d returned to Daimsbury where she was headed, but no other choice lay before her. She had to go back, because the family house in that Surrey village was her only remaining possession.
Now give us your author bio and website/social media links.
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 married, mum to a tween son, & stepmum to a teenage lad.
Website & blog: http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com/
Thanks again for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed this interview and wish you the best of luck with your latest release. Many sales!