It's all about Ubuntu this week and today I have Zee Monodee, my wonderful editor of Dragonfly Moments and a talented writer, talking about her new Ubuntu release, a love story set in the exotic island of Mauritius which is also part of Africa. She's also answered my interview questions. Because she's been on my blog before, I'm not going to share her bio. The interview questions also give a good idea about the author. And she's so fascinating!
"Light my World" is a multi-cultural, contemporary romance, Bollywood style. It's book two of the Island Girls Trilogy.
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?
Still squatting in front of the children, Diya peeked up for a first glance of him.
Brown linen trousers covered his long legs, and she craned her neck to take in his tall body and broad chest. He’d rolled the sleeves of his cream-coloured shirt to his elbows, revealing big, powerful-looking hands and strong forearms dusted in dark hairs. A tense, corded neck lay visible beneath the open collar of the shirt, with a slightly pointed chin above it. Strong jaw, and chiselled, taut, handsome features. Deep-set grey eyes, very much like the elder boy’s, squinted at her beneath thick eyebrows the same hue as the neatly trimmed dark hair on his head.
Diya gaped. This hulking Adonis was her neighbour?
He has offspring to boot, whispered a little voice.
She snorted under her breath. Just her luck, again. He was taken. What is it with this weekend from hell?
The word rolled off the Greek god’s tongue, and the British accent and disbelieving tone dripping with spite jolted her like an electric current.
This man, and the savage who’d hit her car the day before, were the same person.
The surprise zinged through her; she gasped, and brought her hand up to cover her mouth.
In doing so, she lost her balance and toppled over onto her arse to lay flat on her back. Pain from hitting the hard marble erupted all along her spine, and she caught herself before the back of her head smashed into the floor. Quick save, and thank goodness most of the broken glass lay in her flat, and not in the lobby. She’d have been in for some major injury, otherwise.
“Are you okay, miss?” a little voice asked.
Would this nightmare ever end? She must appear like an undignified heap, and there went all the leverage she could bring to this meeting. Humiliation piled onto her anger at being caught in such a stupid position, in front of him, no less.
“No, I’m not okay.” She glared at the oaf. “It’s all because of you, you beast.”
“Dad?” Matthew asked. “What’s he done?”
Confirmation he was the boys’ father. Great. Could something, anything, go right for her?
“Oh, forget it,” she said as her voice broke.
Shoot, she wouldn’t cry, would she?
“Of all the people in the world….”
He spoke the words softly. The disbelief in them wiped away her feelings of self-pity, and hurt like a stab, in the same go.
Was he rude by nature, or did he always itch for a fight? Either way, she wouldn’t let him off the hook.
“What?” she asked. “Go on. What were you gonna say?”
“Nothing,” he said through clenched teeth.
“It’s not nothing. So don’t be a chicken. Say it.”
He remained stubbornly silent.
She glowered up at him. “So?”
He tightened his jaw. “You’re the one person I hoped to never meet again.”
This had to strike beyond rude. What a bastard.
Outrage at his insult filled her, but the distaste for him and his cavemen-like ways won the battle. “Same here, mate.”
“You know each other?” Matthew asked as he peered back and forth at them.
“Yeah,” they both growled.
Buy links:Decadent Publishing
Barnes and Noble
What is the best thing for you about being a writer?
Working from home! While I love interacting with people all the time, I am not exactly a social person in the sense that I’m more of a pyjamas and comfy slippers gal. I rarely, if ever, wear full makeup, and I put myself together only just enough to not appear like a hag when I go out. So having to dress and cake on the makeup to go to work every single day is not my cup of tea (did I also mention I have tons of bad hair days?) I thus love the freedom to be me that writing enables. And since I am also a huge control freak, being able to work on my own schedule is a huge bonus – I get to do everything I set myself to do during the day.
What is the hardest thing for you about being a writer?
Getting over the jitters and apprehension to actually start writing. Never mind if it’s a new book, new chapter, new scene – there’s always this nagging little voice keeping me back and poking at me to ask “can I hope to write something as good as what I’ve written so far?”
To me, writing demands a lot of courage on behalf of the writer, because you’re not only putting yourself out there through your work, but your first critic will always be you, like when you see that blank page or go through what feels to you like the word vomit you’ve barfed out that day. My inner chicken comes to fore way too easily, and it’s hard sometimes to tell her to shut up and leave me alone. J
What genre/s do you write and what genre is your latest release?
Well, my main genre is contemporary romance. Whether this takes place with an Indian-culture slant set in Mauritius, or in more mainstream types like my small-town romances set in England, at the heart of all my stories is a romance.
I’ve tried my hand at romantic suspense/dark espionage, too (felt scary coz I seemed to like the dark themes way too much!), and also at paranormal romance/urban fantasy with the self-pubbed Eternelles series co-written with my bestie.
But my latest is the genre I love best – contemporary romance with a comedic bent. I love romcoms and though I cannot write funny to save my life, I can do light and fluffy rather well, if I may say so, and this comes out in much of my contemporary romances.
What essential things have you learned about writing in the last year?
That you’ve got to trust your gut. If something’s not feeling right, listen to what your gut is telling you – it is always spot on the mark! And I’ve also learned that I have my way of writing and putting a story together, and that it’s okay if this way doesn’t agree with how other writers work. I plan a lot, plot a lot, overthink my stories in daydreams a lot, and then one draft where it all goes onto the page and I’m done with the writing part (editing is another matter from this point on!)
Find what works for you – that’s the best advice I can think of giving any writer.
Who is your favourite heroine from your books and why?
Lol, I would have to say Diya Hemant from Light My World. She and I are the most alike – we’re girlie girls who know what we want and how to set out to get it, and we’ll let nothing stand in our way. At the same time, Diya is infused with very solid morals and her flighty exterior hides a deep and fragile persona that she camouflages with the ditzy butterfly façade.
To me, Diya is the embodiment of all a girl should be – if I had a daughter, I’d wish for her to grow up to become like Diya.
What type of hero do you like? Super alpha, wounded or somewhere in between? Or even something totally different? You could give an example from a movie or well-known book.
I don’t like super alpha men – makes me want to bash them over the head too much! Wounded....yes, it would mean they have been taken down a peg or two and be more of a realist and less holier-than-thou as most men tend to be....
So, yeah, definitely somewhere in between. My type of hero can be a headstrong Alpha or the more easygoing type – but there’s always this line he would never cross; there’s a limit to what he’ll take in the name of love, a boundary that keeps him from being a doormat.
I suppose all my heroes fit this ‘template’ (so to speak).
Tell us about your journey in writing this book.
Well, I’d never planned on writing this book at first! I didn’t even know Diya Hemant existed! I started her sister’s story (Lara in The Other Side) and suddenly, there she was, the baby sister, barging her way through and being a cheeky and almost-adorable brat.
And back then, when I’d started writing (Light My World is my second penned book, btw), I kept thinking I had to use hard and desperate conflicts in my book, like in literary stories. But as I wrote, I realised ‘heavy’ and me were like oil and water; we’d never mix. At least not like fluffy and light merged with my style and persona.
So I knew Diya’s story, with her being so upbeat and well, yes, tiring with her extra energy, would have to be a comedy, all the way. How to make things more and more complicated all while keeping it light? That was a journey I had tons of fun with – putting roadblocks along her path, little setbacks that have huge consequences. Probably the book I had the most fun writing!
Tell us three quirky or interesting things about yourself.
Hmmm... Let’s see....
I’m a good cook but I hate cooking. I know, sounds like an oxymoron, but there you have it. My dream is to afford a cook!
I’ve got severe myopia and have worn thick glasses since I was 8. So yes, no wonder I was one of the ‘nerds’ in school!
I’m a lip balm and lip-gloss junkie – I can never get/buy enough of them! There’s this store called Reserve Naturelle and my husband always tries to steer me away from its outlet at the many malls here because if I go in, you can be sure I’ll be coming out with a tube of lip-gloss or a pot or two of lip balm every single time!
What rituals do you use to help you focus or get the words down on the page e.g. music or a snack.
Not a ritual really, but whenever I sit down at my desk with my laptop, I’ll light up a scented candle. The delicious smell helps me centre myself and focus better, it seems.
But otherwise, I just tell myself “come on, girl. This is what you gotta do, so do it! Now!”
Mention something unique about your books and your writing style.
Mauritius. It’s the setting and the backdrop of many of my stories. While there are other Mauritian authors, I don’t think any uses the light and fluffy, pop/commercial fiction angle I use in my books, and my experience as an Indian-origin young woman in this setting and melting pot of cultures gives me a distinctive writing style with unique elements, I believe.
What book would you like to work on next?
Well, I have a few books contracted and releasing this year, so it depends on the series I have out and when they’d need their next instalment out.
But if it were just me, I’d get to work on a story I have that’s titled “Against The Odds.” It’s part of the small-town Daimsbury Chronicles series, but this one is a longer/full-length book, and the focus is the unlikely coming together of an Indian-origin heroine who’s just been diagnosed with breast cancer, and her billionaire playboy boss whom everyone dismisses as a party animal. Both of these characters, Megha and Magnus, hide aspects of themselves from the rest of the world, and it’s only together that they can show who they really are.
And another thing – Megha’s journey with breast cancer, from her diagnosis to her treatments and her recovery, is very much my own journey with the disease as it happened to me the first time I was diagnosed 9 years ago. In it, I want to demystify breast cancer, and show women that there’s hope even after such a devastating diagnosis.
I read this book and I have to say that Diya is such a sweetie and you'll fall in love with her as well as the hero. Zee, I love your scented candle idea! And I agree, cooking sucks! But working from home rocks. It was so lovely to learn more about you.