Joining me today is the lovely and talented Zee Monodee! She has two new releases, Before the Morning, from Noble Romance, and Once Upon a Stormy Night, in the 1 Night Stand series from Decadent Publishing.
According to Zee, she grew up on a fence with modernity and the global world on one side, and culture and traditions on the other. Putting up with the culture for half of her life, one day she decided she’d stand tall on her wall and dip her toes into both sides of her non-conventional upbringing.
Straddling that middle ground became her favorite stance, which is reflected in her writing. “All of my 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.”
Of Before the Morning (Corpus Brides: Book 2), she says, “It’s an action/adventure, romantic suspense tale on the backdrop of a clandestine espionage agency. Once Upon a Stormy Night is set 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 a future they refused to contemplate… until now.
Yum. So, Zee, what inspired you to write romance?
The craving for a happy ending. Life is already tedious enough, and then on the news all you see is mayhem and desolation. Books are an escape, romance even more, because you know that at the end, everything will work out and there will be happiness. I couldn’t resist that lure. Then, of course, there are the handsome heroes…
Yes, the hawt is always a draw. What was the inspiration for your current release?
Before The Morning turns out to be the prequel to Book 1 in the series, and is mostly the backstory of what happened in the Corpus mutiny plot, and a glimpse into the workings of the agency. I love TV shows like Nikita, and Burn Notice, and movies like Salt. The espionage slant intrigues me, and I love the action and the almost-permanent adrenalin rush in that kind of plot. Since I strive to pen strong heroines who don’t back away from anything, I knew this one had to have a tough heroine, because I’d upped the stakes when I went deeper into the workings of this clandestine agency.
Still, I always have the love story angle in mind, and I wanted to do a story where the couple are best friends turned lovers, and are already married for much of the story. HEA doesn’t come when you say “I do” and I wanted this book to show that. All of the above combined to give me the starting point for this story. I knew I had to tell the story of what happened before Book 1, and I went from there.
I love your focus on real love and romance. I don’t think it detracts from the story at all for there to be elements of realism in how the plot or relationship builds. So then, what do you like to read?
Romance, mostly! I also love chick-lit, and a good cozy mystery too. Basically, anything that gives me escapism and a happy and/or satisfying ending suits me. Give me light and fluffy any day – yes, I fully accept that I’m a book airhead who hates serious, maudlin, “I’ll kill myself before I get to half the book” types of literary fare. I’m a reading junkie, so I read pretty much everything that will not make me want to commit suicide thanks to the dry prose and woe-is-reality approach. Some non-fiction will also capture my attention, and I have a strange fascination with cookbooks and chef/food memoirs, despite hating to cook.
I ha! I read on your site about your desire to channel Nigella Lawson. I guess that’s not going so well… So, what are you reading right now?
The Maybe Baby anthology from M&B UK. It’s a collection of three somewhat-connected stories (three sisters) set in the Australian north-west plains, each story having a baby or young child being the catalyst to bringing the romantic couple together. It’s pure comfort-food category romance, despite the authors touching deeper issues like infertility, the feeling of loss after an abortion, and in one of them baby is terminally sick and the couple doing everything they can to save her, aka give the girl a sibling whose cord blood would save her life. It’s profound and not for the faint of heart, but at the same time it’s pure, unadulterated romance with the highs and lows of budding love and that wonderful HEA at the end.
You’ve mentioned HEA a few times. Tell me more about your writing curiosities. Any quirks of style?
I never noticed that, but my CP, the one who has critted all my work so far, pointed out that I string words together with hyphens to create unprecedented descriptions. Like, “the pale pink-gilded mouldings-damask wallpapered salon of the Green Park suite at the Ritz.” I also go into elaborate and very detailed descriptions of setting, and somewhere in every story, you’ll get a rundown of both the hero’s and the heroine’s physical appearance. And when I’m in deep POV, I can ramble, a lot.
Yay! Another author who makes up words! I get so much crap for doing that, myself. At last I am among peers (peer?). What’s your dictionary of choice?
Does Google count? *grin* I’m afraid I haven’t broken open a physical dictionary in a long time.
Indeed, times have changed. Along that line, I know that along with being an author you’ve recreated yourself as a bit of a cover artist. Do tell!
I think for cover design, it’s more an in-your-face approach. You need to find the perfect picture(s) to put to your vision, and what the author requested and wished for, into being. It’s kinda like tunnel vision – that one picture and you’re done. Snap the fingers, and there you are putting this cover together.
The cliché says that an image is worth a thousand words – that’s never truer than when making a cover. In one glance, the cover conveys the story’s tone and setting, while writing demands those thousands of words to convey the same tone and setting. But art and writing are different. Cover art design is less in-depth than writing, because you work off an idea and make it concrete. No matter what brilliant idea you have for a story, you’ll need more ideas to string with it to make a book, if that makes sense – you need characters, goal, motivation, and conflict, antagonists, wrenches, hurdles to get to that HEA. A cover is simply expressing that one original idea. Creative writing requires you to think in terms of the big picture and how everything falls into place within this frame. Cover design is all about one image and how this image opens the door to everything that fills your story frame.
Ah, and there’s the understanding that some doors don’t get opened. What’s your best rejection letter coping strategy?
Mope. No, seriously – just get over it. Rejection is going to happen whether you like it or not. You don’t move forward by dwelling on what’s happened, and what’s outside of your control. But you can take control of what you do with your life, your time, your thoughts, your energy. I’ll probably talk it over with my writing sisters, get a few cyber hugs or two from them, but then it’s onwards and upwards. Always have a backup plan – this is what will keep you sane.
So back to this desire to channel Nigella Lawson. If you were her, what meal would you make?
I have a burning desire to make a perfect Sunday roast. Whether a full chicken or a shoulder of lamb, with all the trimmings and the grilled veggies and home-baked bread. With my luck (and undomestic goddess fingers!), the chicken or lamb would probably end up undercooked (or not cooked at all inside, while they’re charred on the outside!) and the veggies would be half-raw, half-too-cooked. The bread will not have risen, and you could probably use it as a doorstop because it would be that hard.
That said, I do make some edible stuff, but just never where a roast is concerned. *grin*
Here’s the big question we all want answered: My mother always joked about her special place in Hell—just punishments for guilty pleasures. What guilty pleasures will send you to your special place in Hell?
I’m glad you said “pleasures” here because I definitely have more than one taking me to that special place! Shoes – buying more shoes than I need, or could possibly wear, also when I could be using that money to treat my family to an outing to the hotel, or getting stuff for the house. Chocolate cake – no one’s allowed near my chocolate cake. I’m pretty easygoing and share just about anything with my husband, but not my chocolate cake. I will even buy it and eat it all before he or the boys get home, just so I won’t have to share. Sorry, no can do on that one! And finally, ogling hunky men on the TV – I love watching rugby. All those big, brawny, sweaty male bodies with the testosterone flying about. Then I watch True Blood mainly to catch a glimpse of Alcide’s chest and abs. I know I should be drooling on my man (and believe me, I do!) but unfortunately he does not have the exclusivity where my ogling attention is concerned.
So there you have it, loves. The woman you want on that wall, and all of her brilliant colors! Zee is also hard at work on her next projects–Against The Odds – a novel, again featuring Magnus Trammell (from Once Upon A Stormy Night), and Let Mercy Come, the conclusion of the Corpus agency storyline,