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A pick 'n' mix genre author. "I'm not greedy. I just like variety."

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Playing 20 Questions with Zee Monodee!

Today I am joined by the awesome Zee Monodee!

EM: Welcome to My World, Zee. Thank you so much for stopping by to play twenty questions with me! :-)

Before we begin, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Hi everyone; hey E! ’Pleasure to be here today with ye all.

A little about me? Well, I’m a serious, meticulous, and highly cognizant brainiac... Not! LOL. On most days, happy-go-lucky airhead-y gal would suit me best, and on some occasions, I also get to add incompetent housewife, undomestic goddess, talk-the-hind-leg-off-a-donkey rambler, and in-over-her-head mum and wife to that description.

In the midst of it all, my moments of sanity and lucidity come about when I’m penning the stories of all these people who are screaming in my head (...I guess, not a sane and lucid moment, after all...).

EM: Are you ready to play 20 questions? *rubs hands together*

ZM: Oh sure – I cannot wait! *grins*

Which do you find harder to write?

1. First person POV or Third?

First person POV. Not only do I get struck with I-itis (where every sentence starts with “I”, lol), but the rambler in me also comes to the fore when I get into a character’s head using 1st person. I definitely go off on tangents, write you a whole diary, all without advancing my story one whit. So we’re all better off with me sticking to 3rd person, which gives me the distance I need from the plot and characters to remain ‘objective’.

2. As a male or female?

Strangely enough, I find the male POV easier to write. I dunno – maybe it’s because I research the male psyche more to be able to get a grasp on how men function. I always seem to know my hero in and out better than my heroine. It’s like the heroine takes me on a journey with her – what she discovers about herself through the story, I discover right along. But my hero, he’s more like “this is me; look at all that I am” while he places himself naked before me (okay, maybe that’s why I connect with the hero better... *grin*)

EM: I think I would forgive my male characters for being the way they are if they showed up naked to the casting call, but they never do. *pouts* ;-P

 3. Beginning, middle or end of the story?

Beginnings, definitely. I always know my beginning – there’s also the thrill of starting something new, of undertaking a new, unknown journey with these people (the characters, lol) whom I know already, but whom I’ll be more intimate with the further down the road we go. I hate middles, mostly because I’m always getting mixed up in new GMC directions and subplots, and the end is always bitter-sweet to me. I’m a huge romantic and totally emotional person – I can be crying one minute and flinging the china at the wall the next, lol – so endings are always a loaded moment for me.

4. Fight scenes or smex scenes?

I’d have to say, smex scenes! Why? Not because I’m good at them, but in my Corpus Brides series, in this whole romantic suspense/espionage thriller angle, I have to have ‘good’ fights and all the ‘accessories’ accompanying it (guns, weapons, tradecraft... and know how to use them all efficiently!). I’ve actually scared myself a time or two over writing the first two books in this series because I was having too much of a good time getting into the part of my spies/assassins. That’s scary – to find you have the kind of twisted brain that conjures up fight/action/ even killing scenes so easily... *grin*

Now, smex... That wouldn’t be twisted to enjoy imagining, innit? Lol.

EM: If it helps I totally love writing scenes where my werewolves are ripping the spines out of the baddies . . . Now that's definitely twisted. I think it's safe to say we just really enjoy what we do?

5. Synopsis or blurb?

Blurb. Synopsis requires me to know the story in and out. Usually, I know my plot from start to finish, but it’s the characterization that’s tricky for me. I feel, sometimes, that I know my characters too well, and instead of simply telling the story in the synopsis, I’m more inclined to write a whole biography for them (and one that doesn’t make much sense either, unless you’re me, lol). With the blurb, I can give an inkling of the plot, of the conflict, but that’s it – I don’t need to delve deeper and risk opening the dams.

As a writer, do you prefer:

6. Writing in the morning, afternoon or evening?

Morning. I’m not generally a morning person, especially not before I’ve had my coffee, but I do find I have more energy early in the day. That’s also the time when I’m alone at home, without any interruptions – the kids are into school, the hubby’s at work, my mum has probably already called and recounted the whole village/family gossip for the day, so I’m free to sit down and just plunge into my story.

7. Writing with music, or in peace?

Both, or neither. When I start writing, at some point, I manage to reach “The zone”. I no longer hear or feel anything except the story. Time flies, literally. Once, my husband left for work during a weekend. The minute he went out, I delved into my current WIP and started writing. A few moments later, I heard the front door open. So I asked my husband, “Did you forget something?” I thought he’d come back to grab something; turns out he’d been gone for 5 hours and I was clueless!

8. Planning, or Improvising?

Planning, definitely! My characters can pull all sorts of tricks on me if I let them have their way, so I have to curb that edge and make them behave. Since I also have health problems (post-cancer, 2 times), I have to tread a fine line between work and not overextending myself. I rely on deadlines to help me with that, but deadlines require planning, so I plot and work my way through a story before I even put fingers to keyboard.

9. Juggling a few projects, or concentrating on one at a time?

I’m always juggling a few storylines in my head – snippets from 2, 3, or more stories will be popping into my brain at, usually, the most inopportune of times (like when you’re stuck in traffic!). But the actual writing? For that, I prefer to stick to one project at a time. I aim to make each of my characters different, so I don’t want to ‘corrupt’ the voice of one by working on another at the same time.

10. Sticking to one genre, or exploring many?

Exploring many! I love the intricacies of culture-based romances; the rapid pace and adrenalin of romantic suspense; the feel-good, meandering-river pace of sweet contemporary romance – all of which I write, currently. I hope to try my hand at paranormal later and maybe even fantasy.

As a reader, do you prefer:

11. Story being told from female view or male?

Both. I like to get to see what’s going on in both their heads.

12. Good guys or bad boys?

Bad boys! They’re perfect... on paper. *grin* I get to enjoy them without the day-to-day hassle of living with an Alpha bad boy (something I already know first-hand, lol).

13. Feisty females or fragile damsels?

Feisty females, all the way! I can accept fragile damsels, but they better not be naïve or too-stupid-to-live. I like a woman – and a man too, come to think of it – who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to set out to get it, by whichever means she has to.

14. Stand alone stories or series?

In the past, I never read series, especially not ones where a single storyline was split over X number of books. I stuck to stand-alones... until I started Rebecca Royce’s The Outsiders’ series. It’s everything I didn’t like – a single storyline over nine books, though each book has its own romance. But she got me hooked, and made me a convert.

15. Quick reads or long stories?

Long stories. I like the rich and complex development longer works allow.

16. Romance as a side dish or the main course?

Main course! I read mainly for escapism, and there’s nothing more escapist for me than romance with a big guaranteed HEA!

17. Erotica or soft romance or something in-between?

Depends on the story, and the characters. I dislike sex in a story just for the purpose of having sex scenes in there. But some of the strongest/best stories I have ever read are erotica – mainly Megan Hart’s erotica.

18. More action or humor?

I’d say humor. I’m a huge chick-lit lover, mainly for the funny tone and lightness that the humor in that genre delivers.
Just for fun:

19. Vampires or Angels?

Do I have to choose...? Not fair... Vampires, then. That bad-boy complex again...

20. Werewolves or Demons?

Demons. I hate the wet-dog smell, lol!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently penning a romance for Decadent Publishing’s Western Escape line – the story is set in the fictional town of Freewill, Wyoming, and features a British, Indian-foods-chef heroine, and a Forex broker from New York who returns home against his will, and meets his match in the fiery chef.

Then, in the works, is another 1NightStand short for Decadent Publishing (my first 1NightStand with them, Once Upon A Stormy Night, comes out May 29). This second one I’m working on is a time travel set between today and the mid-nineteenth century on British-colonial Mauritius.

Last, but not least, is Book 3 of the Corpus Brides series, Let Mercy Come. I’ve outlined ¾ of the story; only the ending eludes me right now, lol. But I’m getting there. Very excited about this one – it’s the story of Anastasiya, a character who’s introduced in Book 2, Before The Morning (that came out last week!). The man in her impossible-at-first-glance love story is Scott, a spy and Corpus case officer who has appeared in both books in the series so far. Anastasiya, a medical doctor with a shady past, hides even more secrets than Amelia and Rayne, the heroines of the first 2 books – can she, ever, get her happy ending?

EM: You are one busy lady. They all sound intriguing, can't wait to hear more about them. :-)

Do you have any current release?

Yes – it’s Before The Morning (Corpus Brides: Book 2). The second in the Corpus Brides series, it is, in fact, the prequel to the events that unfold in Book 1. So even if someone picks up Book 2, without having read Book 1, they won’t be lost. Each book is also a stand-alone, and can be read in sequence, or in no particular order.


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?
Purchase link: https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/420/Before-the-Morning

EM: Love that cover!

Any upcoming releases?

Indeed! My contribution to the ongoing 1NightStand series at Decadent Publishing, titled Once Upon A Stormy Night, comes out May 29. It’s a hot, contemporary romance set on my island, Mauritius; the story of a corporate executive and a British expat on the island.


British billionaire Lars Rutherford came to the tiny island of Mauritius to take over directorship of his best friend's shipping company. He's not here for anything but the job, or – to the chagrin of the many matchmaking society mamas in the country – to find the 'right woman' for him.

Corporate legal affairs specialist Simmi Moyer is rich, beautiful, successful, and climbing the executive ladder with tremendous speed. She's got it all – or does she? Mauritian society shuns her for being single and childless, and nothing she accomplishes will ever be enough.

Lars isn't looking for a woman; Simmi isn't looking for a man. Both just want one night to forget their precarious position in this traditional, culture-driven society.

But will a few stolen hours of solace ever be enough, especially when they realize Madame Evangeline might just have paired them with the one they didn't know they were looking for?
The tempest brewed by uncalled-for yearning in their hearts when they meet, and the desire for something more substantial than one night of pleasure, builds between them, while outside, a real-life cyclone storms on the island and ensconces them in a world where only the two of them exist.

Before the night is over, both Lars and Simmi will have to decide whether they'll walk out the next morning alone, or if they can put themselves on the line to step out together.

Where can readers find you on the internet?

At my blog, which is the one-stop place for all my new releases and the craziness going on in my life at any given moment *grin* Here’s the link http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com/

I’m also on Facebook and Goodreads (as Zee Monodee), and on Twitter, @ZeeMonodee

EM: Thank you so much for joining me!

ZM: It’s been a pleasure, E! Playing 20 questions with you is always so much fun – thanks for having invited me over today. XOXO

EM: Zee has so kindly treated us to a nice long excerpt of her new release. So enjoy! :-)

~ * ~

Before the Morning (Corpus Brides: Book 2) Excerpt:

From the front-facing window on the second floor of the Shepherd's Close freehold,
Corpus secret agent Rayne Cheltham watched the ambulance pull away from the curb.

Shivers crept up her arms, and she hugged herself tight to ward them off.
Get a grip!
She was a professional on an assignment, an elite, trained operative from a clandestine agency that handled operations for governments and international forces as a stealthy left hand. Her agency entrusted her with the most important missions—nothing should faze her.
Before today, she would've said that nothing could affect her when she had her eyes on a goal.
But she wasn't sure anymore. She'd never had her past collide with her present like a few moments ago, in the form of her childhood best friend.
Ashford Gilfoy, better known as Ash. The boy who had been there to catch her when, at six, she had slipped while climbing the chestnut tree that sat right on the border between their two houses in Hastings, two days after her family moved there from Salisbury. The boy who had taught her how to ride a bicycle without the training wheels on the long and winding, gravel-covered lane leading to her parents' mansion. The teenager who had smashed the nose of the first lad who had broken her heart, at thirteen, during recess in the schoolyard. The young man she had left seventeen years ago on a platform at London Waterloo, on the day she bid her old life goodbye.
For the first time since that day, she was back on British soil, and kismet decided Ash should cross her path.
Why then, of all times? She was a hair's breadth away from closing the contract on this mission. Seven months of intensive infiltration work and she was ready to achieve her aim—neutralize Nikolai Grigorievskiy's criminal operations before she took out the man. The Corpus always sent her for the kill, but the trick was that she had to make her target's death appear self-inflicted, at the bare minimum, or an accident, in the direst of cases. Measles, as such operations were known in their clandestine world—a planned assassination that didn't leave any indication of the cause of death. She would then have to sanitize everything—leave no evidence, no witness, nothing that could lead back to her. Unlike her other agency counterparts, she wasn't an out-and-out black ops assassin, but a different level of highly implicated agent provocateur.
In other words, a consummate actress who got to her ends by manipulating people and circumstances. All those years of drama school, at her mother’s insistence when, obviously, she'd be too tall to become a ballerina, came in handy. In fact, her portrayal of Lady Macbeth in the drama school's end of year play had caught the eye of the people who had recruited her into the Corpus. Seventeen years into the agency, fifteen of them as Kali, her operative name, a sociopath with no apparent conscience who followed her orders with diligence. Never had any one of her targets come close to figuring she was an undercover agent. Her track record was flawless—each assignment undertaken with one hundred percent success rate and a marginal body count.
Until today, when she'd almost gotten burned.
Ash had recognized her down there. For a second, she'd thought her cover was blown. Then, she'd taken a deep breath and forced herself to remain in character. Never panic, always stay in control, breathe and gather your wits—the first lesson drilled inside the mind of any secret agent. Pulling on a blank face was one of her fortes, and Ash had bought the act. He thought she was Irina, clueless twenty-year-old from the dirt-poor suburbs of Moscow who didn't speak any other language but Russian.
She'd had a few close encounters in the past, but never like that. Rayne and Kali had two separate, compartmentalized lives that ran parallel. The two should never have touched, because that would end up making a mess of her. She could keep each persona separate, as long as she could push Rayne to some dark corner of her mind. Her job taxed her, and she walked the tight line of paranoia every single second while undercover.
But if Rayne came to the front during a mission . . . .
Damn it, she wasn't a rookie agent on her first mission. Cherries, as the CIA called them. Hell, even during her first undercover operation, she'd had no qualms and no trouble achieving her aim.
Why today, when everything was smooth sailing toward a much-desired goal?
She closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the windowpane. The glass was warm against her clammy skin.
She was sweating?
That will not do. I have to take control again.
She had to forget about Ash, about Rayne, and focus on being Irina, the one who would bring down a notorious criminal. Her agency and the whole world counted on her to take out the piece of scum. She was their last hope, sent in as the trump card after good cops got killed when trying to bring Nikolai to justice.
Someone knocked on the door, and she pulled away from the window. Damn it, she still had a job to do.
Willing confidence to steel her spine on a deep breath, she turned around. She blinked a few times, called forth tears. She was supposed to be a young wife who'd just been hit by her husband, a man she'd left downstairs at the party with a leggy blonde draped all over his side.
The moisture trickled onto her cheek, and she swiped her eyes to smear the kohl and mascara.
There—she should present the desired picture of despair.
"Da?" she answered as she stepped toward the door.
The panel opened quietly. "Zdrastuyte, Gaspazha Grigorievskaya."
Hello, Mrs. Grigorievskaya. Such formality. Only one man addressed her with such deference and respect—Boris Petrov, Nikolai's right-hand man.
"Zdrastuyte, Boris Ivanovich." She replied him with the same formal greeting, using his patronymic name to further show her respect, as was customary in the Russian culture.
Boris was the least disposable target in the whole operation—the keystone. She had to bring him down, or at least create a rift between the two men. Everything would crumble afterward. Nikolai wouldn't have his main pillar of support, and would thus crash down through the pyramidal structure of his operations.
"Are you okay?" he asked as he stepped into the room and closed the door behind him.
She shrugged, forced a small, tremulous smile. Russian wives, she'd learned, tolerated a lot of their husbands' outbursts. "It's nothing."
"You shouldn't listen to what Mikhail said. He is just jealous that Kolya's attention is not wholly directed onto him any longer."
"It does not bother me," she said in a small voice.
Make a move, she silently urged him. For her plan to work, Boris had to capitalize on the simmering embers of passion that flared between him and his boss' wife, and that he denied all the time. She'd already lost too much time, and had to start the measles process.
I have to take matters in my hands. There's no other way.
She trained her eyes on him. Boris was a big, burly man in his mid-forties. Anyone could imagine him knocking out a person with just a flick of his thick wrist. Toying with him was like playing with fire—she could get burnt. But she had no other choice. The time had come. Five months to gain Nikolai's trust and compliance; two months to insidiously plant the seeds of discord within the criminal's entourage. She didn't have much leeway to work at influencing outcomes anymore. No—she had to provoke.
Rayne inhaled, felt the oxygen fill her lungs and clear her brain. She forced herself into her character. What would Irina do?
She gasped, and brought her hands to cover her mouth. With rapid steps, she rushed to Boris' side. She reached out with one hand and trailed the tips of her fingers along one of his eyes, swollen nearly shut from a blow.
"You shouldn't have," she said in a soft whisper, letting tears streak down her cheeks. "Not for me."
Boris' swift intake of air was the only sound that hissed between them. He closed his eyes under her touch.
Do it, she urged.
"I am so"—she paused and sobbed—"so sorry." Her voice was small and breathless, heavy with sadness.
Boris settled a heavy, meaty palm on her hand, to keep her fingers unfurled on his cheek. "Forgive me, Irina. I couldn't let him say those ugly lies about you."
He is caving.
"Boris, please." She pleaded with him.
"I will do anything for you."
"I am a married woman."
"Why don't you leave him?"
She gasped. "I cannot. I pledged myself to him."
"But look how he treats you!"
"Borya," she said, using the nickname for Boris, "back in Russia, for every one like me, there are ten other girls, more beautiful, waiting to take my place."
"There isn't any woman more beautiful than you in all of Russia."
She smiled, making sure she displayed sadness and resolution on her features.
"You are such a sweet man." When he wasn't forcing underage girls into the cargo holds of boats docking out of most major European ports, plying them with drugs before supplying them like meat to brothels and sex perverts.
"Leave him," Boris said, the words a subtle urge.
"I can't. Where would I go?" She gently tugged her hand from under his and took a step closer to him. "I can't go back to that life, Borya."
"Irina, please—"
The sound of the door opening startled them. Nikolai stood on the threshold, his tall, dark form an intimidating silhouette in the dim doorway.
Kali threw one look at Boris, shook her head softly, and took a few steps away. The back of her knees hit the edge of the window seat. She stumbled backward into a sitting position on the upholstered ledge.
Nikolai's narrowed gaze went from Boris to her, and back to his right-hand man.
"Leave us," he said softly, the words obviously an order.
Boris nodded and exited the room.
Good—she’d sown the seeds of doubt. Her "husband" would wonder what went on between her and Boris, and Boris would try to get closer to her. She would play on this nearness between them, subtly make people wonder if something was happening behind Nikolai's back.
At that point, she would move her final chess piece—Nikolai would die at the same time as Boris. For the world, things would look like an altercation gone wrong between a spurned husband and a forbidden lover, with her caught in the crossfire. That's how she'd ensure her exit from the operation.
Yes, all the pieces of the game were falling into place. She just had to play along.
Nikolai closed the door behind Boris, the click of the latch falling into place sounding louder than it should have.
He turned toward her, pressed his shoulder against the doorframe, and pushed his hands into the pockets of his Gieves and Hawkes champagne-coloured, tailor-made linen trousers.
Her "husband" focused his steely grey eyes on her.The stare burned into her skull. Still, she refused to look up. Not yet.

***end of excerpt***

~ * ~

Author Bio:

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: 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! 

FREE for this week: WALKING THE EDGE (Corpus Brides: Book 1): 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! 

Contact Links:

Facebook & Goodreads: Zee Monodee

Twitter: @ZeeMonodee


  1. Again, thank you sooo much for having me over today, E! XOXO

    1. It was a pleasure having you, Zee. Come back soon! :-D

  2. Everytime I read one of your interviews, I ALWAYS learn something new about you. Best wishes on your releases, and LOVE the cover of your 1NS.