Thursday, July 5, 2012

Meet the Author... Zee Monodee

I'm pleased to have with me today the very talented and busy woman Zee Monodee...
What motivates Zee Monodee the author? Why do you write?
 The voices in my head. J Seriously, I think I speak for a lot of authors when I say that story ideas, character voices, snippets of scenes, haunting dialogue – all of these zip through our minds throughout the day. I need an outlet for all those stories, all those people. I also find my comfort world, the “bubble” so to speak, in the act of writing, in losing myself into a story and putting it all down on paper (or Word doc, lol). Writing started as a coping mechanism for me during months of intensive chemotherapy after my first diagnosis of breast cancer, and even years after that, I still find the kind of soothing solace in the act of writing.
That’s what motivates the author in me, but I also, mainly, write for my readers. I love getting lost in a good book, going on a journey with the characters. I don’t know of many greater joys than a good read, and this is what I want to give anyone who picks up a Zee Monodee book. Not a life-altering experience (trust me, I know I’m not that good!) but a little bit of happiness and escapism – that’s what I want to bring to my readers.
When did you know you were a writer? Was it always your destiny or did you stumble upon your craft by accident?
 I’ve always loved to write. Basically, I’m a language junkie. I majored in languages and literature at school, and was very active in elocution contests, debate competitions, literature discussions. I loved writing short stories for my English and French classes, and not to boast or anything but these stories had quite a loyal and steady following among my friends. J So if you’d asked me when I was in high school what my dream occupation would be, I’d have told you I wished to be an author.
Alas, no one really knew that you could attempt to make a living being a writer, you know. So I did the ‘expected’ thing and got a degree and the required job in the corporate world, the one that demands an A-line skirt, white blouse, and blazer with the pulled-back hair, subtle makeup, and the designer handbag on the shoulder.
Then, the other ‘expected of a woman’ thingie cropped up – becoming a mother. I decided to stay at home to bring the kiddo up, and then I’d head back to corporate when he’d be into school. Things didn’t quite happen like that because he was still a toddler when I was diagnosed with cancer, and following the surgery and treatments and all that lovely hoopla, I had no wish or desire to go out to work again (not that I actually could, either. When you start to plan your life around what your health allows you, you don’t have much room for extras like work. Thank goodness I had my husband, who was happy to provide for the family. Not everyone is that lucky and I thank God everyday for giving me this ‘way out’.)
By then, I’d started writing, and my first novel got accepted for publication by a local publisher on my island, Mauritius. I knew I’d found my calling, and I’ve never looked back ever since. J
What is your favorite genre (m/m, BDSM, YA …) to write and why?
 Contemporary romance with an Indo-Mauritian cultural slant. Think of romantic comedies like Bend It Like Beckham and Bride & Prejudice. Normal, everyday romance, but with an Indian and/or immigrant slant that brings with it overbearing mothers and aunties, the pressure to get married and have kids, while the girl in question is only looking for herself in all this family chaos. I enjoy writing about this world because it’s the one I grew up in, the one I’ve faced day in day out, and still face to some extent. It’s a quirky and funny and crazy world, and unless you’re part of that universe, you won’t really know the drama that goes on behind the society’s closed doors. I was born on the island of Mauritius to parents whose ancestors hailed from India. In the family, we carry the same mores and values, customs and traditions of our Indian origins, and this makes for a Big Bang-type collision course when the modern world you’re growing up in meets with these often-outdated ideals and ideas.
I started writing this kind of story, and somewhere along the way, I have no idea how I veered to non-cultural romantic suspense/espionage fare (my Corpus Brides series), probably an outlet for the twisted part of my brain, but recently, I went back to those roots through my 1NightStand story, Once Upon A Stormy Night.

Oh, and I get to exorcise all my demons from all those overbearing aunties through these stories. J
 Is there a particular genre you haven't tried but would like to? What is it and why?
 Chick-lit. I’m a huge chick-lit fan and junkie. Love the humor, the lightness that still manages to weave deeper and stronger threads through the narrative. However, I can’t write funny or even a little fluffy to save my life, and I dread 1st person POV. But yes, it’s my dream now to be able to write a chick-lit story someday.
How did you get into eBook publishing?
 I wasn’t getting where I wanted to be with traditional publishing. My first book came out with a traditional, fully-print publisher here in Mauritius. At the time, I’d only started to write, so it took me some time to come up with a fully polished manuscript that I could send for consideration. One year elapsed between my first book and the second I submitted. However, writing is still considered a hobby on my island; so, I was told that I turned books out too quickly. I knew I was only getting started, that I’d churn out more than one book a year, which would be an issue with my publisher. I’m not a patient person, and uncertainty is the death of me.
No problem of that kind with e-publishing, where the more books you come up with, the better, with no lag time in publication. So I turned to eBook publishing. Never regretted the decision. J
How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you have a set routine or do you write when the mood strikes?
 I cannot write for more than 3 hours in one go, my brain literally scrambles and I draw a huge blank. So I try to devote these 3 hours daily during the week to actual writing. The rest of the time, I will be working and/or thinking over the story and outline.
I used to write when the mood struck, but I no longer do this as I have deadlines to submit books in the ongoing series I have with my publishers. This forces me to write whether I feel the muse or not. Of course, I do allow myself a break 1 day of the week, but I don’t let it snowball into more because I’ll only be losing time that I cannot afford to lose. I plan my morning so that I have time to check my email, hop on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, update my blog, then I’m down for these 3 hours of writing. I do all of this before 1 PM, at which time I break for lunch and then a little bit of exercise. After that, it’s time to go pick my son from school. Afternoons, evenings, and weekends, are family time.
But this routine only works when the boys (son & stepson, who haunts our house regularly, lol) are into school. Come vacation time and I’m a wreck. J
Is there a certain aspect of the story you begin with? Do you create the characters first or do you come up with the plot?
 Usually, I work everything in and around the characters. I almost always see the characters first – usually a face I’ve seen somewhere (often someone famous J) and I imagine who they are, what their story is, and who they’d best be paired with. From this, I find the plot and craft the story around these points. This usually works for my romance books, especially the sweet romance ones in the Destiny’s Child series. The requirement for that one is a child/children destiny lands into the laps of two unsuspecting people, so there’s lots of room to maneuver a plot.
For the Corpus Brides series, I have a plot backdrop that I must use in every book, and this comes into play when I devise the characters and their story. For the 1NightStand stories, the basic premise is a one night stand date arranged by Madame Eve – I have to work the story around this requirement.
Tell us about the most intriguing character you've created.
It’d have to be Rayne Cheltham, the heroine in Book 2 of my Corpus Brides espionage series, Before The Morning. Rayne is all about facets and apparent contradictions, which made her a very challenging character to create. She has sociopathic tendencies, and coupled with her brilliant, gifted mind, she makes the perfect spy. Logical, unemotional, detached, swift and efficient, she rises to become one of the best assassins inside the clandestine Corpus agency.
So she’s a killer, remorseless too at that – so how do you make such a woman the heroine of a romance, make her sympathetic, and get the reader to root for her?
Rayne hides something inside her, though. She’s always loved one man, and only him – her childhood best friend. When he crosses her path, unbeknownst to him, Rayne realizes she’s on a downward slope and needs to get her life back together. She quits the agency, and ends up with this man, Ash. But the means she uses to get to her ends are devious, the kind she used when she worked as an undercover assassin. Her heart is in the right place, but her choices are debatable. I walked a very fine line when writing her, but I think she comes across as a relatable woman, someone the reader can empathize with and cheer for.
Who is your favorite author? And, if given the opportunity to meet them, what would you ask them?
 I have a few favorite authors, but if I had to choose one, I’d say Sophie Kinsella. I’d ask her how on earth can one write as funny as she does. J
What did you do when you found out your first book had been contracted?
I froze. J I got the news via the phone, and for a few seconds, I stopped hearing what the lady was saying at the other end of the line. I couldn’t feel anything, all my senses went blank. Then, it was a weird feeling, a bit like déjà vu, and I asked myself, Did I dream that up?
First thing I did when I cut the call was to phone my husband and tell him about it. Then I went online to go all ‘squeee!’ with my CPs.
Has there been a person or influence in your life that has helped you reach your writing goals?
 I’d say my father. He always encouraged me to read, and to get involved with languages. In a world where most parents tell their daughter that she should aim to make a ‘good’ marriage, my dad told me that I shouldn’t be afraid to set out to be whoever I wanted to be, as long as what I did was legal, moral, and honorable. That I had what it takes to be whatever I set my mind on. Thus, it didn’t feel weird for me to want to be a writer. I didn’t feel like I was letting anyone down, and that was liberating.
Do you have any words of inspiration to aspiring authors? What advice would you offer a writer trying to publish?
 Inspiration? I’d say, trust yourself. No one knows the story better than you do. You know how much sex there should be, how the characters are supposed to react, how the story should happen from start-middle-end.
That doesn’t mean, don’t take any advice. But pay heed to what your gut is telling you as well. If something feels uncomfortable to you, then don’t do it, don’t go there.
And for the author trying to publish, know that you should arm yourself with tons of patience. Publication, and writing success, do not happen overnight, or even over a short period. Know that you’re in there for the long haul. If you cannot commit to that, then get out right now. Whether you land an agent and a trad deal, or you sign with an epublisher, or you self-publish your book – success is something that will take time, and effort, to build. Let no one kid you that it can be any different!

Tell us about your current release.

I recently had Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book Two) come out with Noble Romance Publishing. It’s an action-packed, heroine-centric espionage/romantic suspense thriller.
Before The Morning
. . . is a time of great darkness. . .
A trained killer with borderline sociopathic tendencies:
Rayne Cheltham traced out her life's path when she was twelve: she would marry her best friend and bear his children, and in the process, stifle the restless edge in her. When he vows never to marry, she gives in to the darkness and becomes a clandestine agent—until the day he walks into her world again, and her carefully fabricated façade crumbles.
A former cop burned by life and his personal demons:
When Ash Gilfoy meets a woman who reminds him of his childhood best friend, he starts upon a path that leads him down into an abyss once again. The day Rayne waltzes back into his life, he knows she is his second chance, and the one who will save him.
Each thinks the other is their redemption . . . until they discover how deep the other's edge of darkness goes
No one knows Rayne used to be a spy and an assassin, and no one knows why Ash left the police force. The secrets between them make them sit on a keg of gunpowder with a lit fuse in their hands. Neither knows what 'normal' means now, especially Rayne, whose whole life is built on a lie. Truth is threatening to explode in their faces, and that is not the only menace they have to face. Someone is out to get Rayne, and she must disclose her past before it is too late.
Can Rayne and Ash survive all that's thrown in their path? Can they hang on to the last thread of their relationship, and can they emerge, still together and still alive, in the morning after the deepest darkness?
Catch the book trailer at

Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?
 Sure do! I’m outlining Book 3, and the last of the Corpus Brides series. Titled Let Mercy Come, it is the story of the Corpus’ runaway medical doctor, Anastasiya, when the agency’s top hunter, an agent named Scott, is sent to recover her in order to bring her to justice before the Corpus authority. But Scott will soon learn that nothing is as it appears, and that secrets still shadow the very existence of the Corpus agency.
Where can readers connect with you?
I’m only an email away J
I am also on all the major social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads – as Zee Monodee. Don’t hesitate to get in touch & friend/follow me. I love meeting new people.
Then there’s my blog, where readers can catch up with what’s happening in my crazy family life and my writing career, with news about upcoming releases and behind-the-scenes info about all my books.

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 favorite 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.

Buy Links:
BEFORE THE MORNING (Corpus Brides: Book 2): An action/adventure, romantic suspense tale on the backdrop of a clandestine espionage agency - come read the story of Rayne, a spy who leaves that life in the name of love, & Ash, the man who changes her world!
WALKING THE EDGE (Corpus Brides: Book 1): Currently FREE - A romantic suspense novel, wherein an amnesiac woman is on the quest for her forgotten memory... Escape from London all the way to Marseille, France, and discover the secrets, deceit, danger, & the powerful love, she uncovers during her search! 
ONCE UPON A STORMY NIGHT (1NightStand): On the paradise island of Mauritius, British billionaire Lars Rutherford isn’t looking for a woman, & corporate law executive Simmi Moyer isn’t looking for a man. But when a matchmaker pairs them together on a blind date, both face open doors towards a future they refused to contemplate... until now.

Contact Links:
Facebook & Goodreads: Zee Monodee
Twitter: @ZeeMonodee

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for having me over today, Ella! It's been a delight to answer your questions :) xoxo