Please give a warm welcome to +Zee Monodee as we chat about her life as an author and her latest book, Walking The Edge.
Q1) Mega welcome to my blog, Zee. It is an honour to have you here for the first time. Can you tell us a little about yourself
Of course! J Hello everyone, pleasure to be here today.
So I’m Zee. 31 years old, married to the blind date who became my best friend, mum to a tween boy, occasional stepmum to a teenage lad. I hail from Mauritius, in the southern Indian Ocean, and my ancestors are from India, so I have a lot of traditional and cultural influences that have shaped me into who I am. I’m a rabid bookholic – always buying books and I know I will never have time to read them all, but who can resist that one-click button, right? LOL. Oh, and my other vice is shoes.
Q2) LOL. Books and shoes. Pure heaven. So talking about books, have you always wanted to be an author?
As far as I can remember, yes. I always used to imagine alternate twists and turns to the plots of Dallas, Dynasty, and Coronation Street that I watched with my mum as a kid. My dad turned me into a reading maniac when he bought me Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen for my ninth birthday, and I just knew I wanted to be like Jane Austen.
But of course, there’s “real life” out there, and of course for a young woman of Indian descent coming from a ‘good’ family, well, she’s got to have a career, aka work behind a desk in an office (or the like. My family wanted me to become a doctor, but when I nearly failed chemistry in Grade 9, we all knew that was a doomed plan). So I did the “right” thing – got out of school with stellar results, found a corporate job, worked on a communications degree on the side. Totally forgot about writing – that would happen ‘one day’, prolly when I retired.
Then cancer poked its nose in. I was still on a maternity sabbatical when this happened, and I just knew life had changed. ‘One day’ is right now, as my husband made me see, because we never know if we’ll see tomorrow. So I dusted off that dream and never looked back. It’s been 10 years now since that fateful day – my cancer diagnosis was really the best thing to have happened to me.
Q3) Wow. What a backstory. Sounds like something we read in books everyday. I'm glad you made the change and glad you are here with us. So tell us, who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
I’m a huge chick-lit fan, and I also devour fluffy books with happy endings! So names like Sophie Kinsella and Jill Mansell make it onto that list, as well as the likes of Kristan Higgins, Marian Keyes, and Jill Shalvis. I also give in to darker tales sometimes, and Martina Cole is my go-to lady for these.
As far as influence is concerned, I would have to say the biggest influence came through Vikram Seth and his ‘A Suitable Boy’. I read that humongous book around the time when I’d started toying with the idea of writing a story, and seeing what he did with portraying Indian society with its quirks and traditions made me want to do the same thing for Mauritius and the Indo-Mauritian culture I had grown up in.
Jill Mansell, on the other hand, writes fluff and her long, sometimes very long, stories are always a joyride that takes you from A to Z with no logical order whatsoever! Everyone will be all over the place; you’ll never see the quirky twists coming, and you are in for a definite rollercoaster. I wanted this kind of intense guessing to be part of my tales (no clue if I’ve succeeded, though, lol!).
And Martina Cole sure knows how to do darkness all while making those irredeemable-on-paper heroines become people you totally care about and whom you would defend at the drop of a hat. She showed me that dark can also mean likeable, and this is what I tried to emulate in my Corpus Brides Trilogy, where the women all walk the fine line of sociopaths , spies, and killers.
Q4) The Corpus Bride Trilogy sounds exciting to read. So how do you do it? Can you tell us what a typical writing day for you is like.
I don’t think I really have a ‘typical’ writing day. I write more in bursts and spurts – can go for weeks without penning a word, and then in the 2-3 weeks that follow, I am writing during every available minute like a maniac. Think of the NaNoWriMo spree – extreme writing to the exclusion of everything else. That’s what I’m like when I’m a writing phase. I set out a few weeks for a book and during that time, I just write, with a deadline looming right over me.
I don’t seem to be able to get anything done otherwise. It used to be the same when I had exams – study at the last minute and cram it all in. That’s how I function most efficiently – slow and steady does not win it for me. J
Q5) LOL. Good to see I'm not alone in the droughts and flood writing scenarios. So let's get to your new book. Can you tell us a little about it?
Walking The Edge is a romantic suspense tale with espionage slants in the suspense department. It is Book1 of the Corpus Brides Trilogy, and in it, you come to realize that a mutiny is taking place inside the fictitious and totally clandestine Corpus agency. This discovery comes on the coattails of an amnesiac woman’s quest to find her memory again, when she just knows that whatever stories her supposedly husband is feeding her must be lies. In a dream, what appears to be a memory of a former lover surfaces, and she clues together that he is located in Marseille. That’s where she goes to find him, in order to ask him to help her to recover her memory.
Along this path is danger, deception, a few deaths, some gun shots, and then this Frenchman who totally consumes everything of her heart and soul.
But thing is, he doesn’t remember her... Who could she really be, in the end?
Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23598394-walking-the-edge
Q6) Ooh. Very intriguing. I'm a huge fan of romantic suspense so you've got my attention. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Well, to be honest, it all started with a very potent cold medicine I had taken a few years back. The drug made me totally woozy, and I’d wake up and talk to my husband but not remember the conversation later except for some snatches and blurry déjà-vu feelings. It made me ask myself if this is what someone who doesn’t remember their past would feel like...and I had the start of Amelia’s character, who has amnesia when the story begins.
Now what could her past hide? And what’s with the creepy bloke who claims he is her husband? I didn’t want a standard ‘my husband cheated on me/tried to kill me for my money and I had an accident on the way when leaving him but I crashed the car and ended up with amnesia’ kind of trope. So I wracked my brain for higher and darker stakes, and little by little, the story took shape.
I have to say I took the journey to discover her past right along with Amelia, and it was one hell of a ride, I must say, lol!
Q7) Fabulous! Go Pantsers! LOL. So what's up next for you?
Well, there’s Books 2&3 of the Corpus Brides Trilogy.
Book2, Before The Morning, comes out on February 2, and it is actually the prequel to the whole series. How did the Corpus come to figure out a mutiny might’ve been brewing in their ranks, and who knew? How did they come to know? That’s how Corpus agent Kali, their best assassin, came onto the scene. In real life, Kali is Rayne Cheltham, and she must retire after her last mission because she almost burned herself when she came across her childhood best friend – also the man she never stopped loving – while undercover in London. Rayne will have to juggle a relationship with this same man, Ash, as well as go back into her crazy family’s fold for her sister’s wedding – ask her to kill someone and she’ll do it without breaking a sweat, but going home to her parents’ place surrounded by her many siblings? No amount of training has prepped her for that! Amid it all, someone from her shady past is targeting her, trying to recruit her to jump ship to the dark side...
Book3, Let Mercy Come, releases on March 2, and it is the conclusion of this trilogy. When the mutiny has been culled, it is time to bring the traitor to justice. That’s how Corpus agent Scott finds himself tasked with bringing the culprit, medical doctor Anastasiya, back to the agency to face the head of the organization. Open and shut case, right?
Wrong...because when Scott does find Anastasiya, nothing is as it had seemed. The woman has more than one wardrobe filled with skeletons, and Scott doesn’t know what he got embroiled in until the truth about Anastasiya’s past and all her secrets burst forth and shatter everything he’d thought to be the truth.
Q8) Yay! More books.*rubs hands with glee* So you're a writer and an editor. What is the best piece of advice you would give to a budding writer?
Write, write, and then write some more!
We’ve all heard that ‘practice makes perfect’, and though we’ll never reach perfect, this is one saying that bears its weight in gold in the writing world. Skill with writing comes with practice – you’ll come to develop plots and characters like it’s second nature to you...only if you practice! There’s no other way around it.
Oh, and even when you’re published? You’re only as good as your next book, so you have to be getting cracking on the next even when you’ve just finished one.
Q9) I totally agree. Great advice. You've admitted you love reading. What is the next book on your To Read Pile that you are dying to jump into?
I managed to snag myself ARCs of Jill Mansell’s next two books which come out in 2015 – Three Amazing Things About You, and The Unexpected Consequences of Love. It will have to be a coin toss-up to determine which one I pick up first, lol!
Q10) Happy reading! Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you to readers – mine and all readers – because without you, we authors wouldn’t be here getting to share our tales and assuage the voices in our heads with ye all. J
Favorite city: London
Favorite beverage: Virgin Mojito
Favorite place you’d like to visit: Dubai malls! J
Favorite place to write: At my desk
Favorite hobby: Reading
Favorite movie: Love Actually
Favorite book: All of Kristan Higgins’ Blue Heron series
**Find more about the latest on Zee and her works in her monthly newsletter http://eepurl.com/5GULr
**Read about her life & her books at her website/blog http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com/
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