Hello and welcome to my blog for another round of Meet the Characters! Today I am featuring a guest blogger who has graciously agreed to let me do a character interview, which is my favorite kind of interview. Join me in welcoming author, Zee Monodee, and her characters from The Other Side (Book #1 in the Island Girls Trilogy). It’s a fantastic contemporary romance with wonderful characters so without further ado here is the interview with Lara, heroine from The Other Side.
How did you first meet your writer?
She saw someone who looked like me, and strangely, we had the same name. That girl is Bollywood actress and former Miss World Lara Dutta. Zee saw her in a movie one day, and literally, there I was, making her acquaintance. She also bribed me with Haagen Dasz ice cream, trying to worm my story out of me, but then we found out we ‘clicked’ so well – both of us being divorcees in the Indian society of Mauritius – and from there on, we’ve been chummy. Zee’s experience as someone who’d been divorced from a British husband and having then returned to the island matched somewhat with mine, and we both knew we wanted to tell the world ‘our’ story, that of the divorcees of Indian origin.
Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?
Are you joking? Never in the whole wide world! I mean, I’m little ol’ me. My life has had ups and downs, but there’s nothing spectacular about it. I’m just a regular girl trying to live her life within the parameters set up by my family, upbringing, and culture. But then, too, I had to go and fall in love with a totally ‘unproper’ boy! Not only that, he is white, and descends from French aristocracy on his mother’s side. Guess I rocked the boat there. 🙂
What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?
Of course, I will say the romance. I mean, I’ve loved Eric since I was sixteen… He was my first love, and we all know how hard it is to forget a first love. He’s also ‘the one that got away’; there always existed a part of me that wondered ‘what if…’
And then ‘what if…’ happened, when our paths crossed, and kept on crossing despite me doing my best to steer clear of him. I mean, the man ripped my heart out when we were young, and my husband had done a pretty nasty number on me, as well. Burnt once, shame on you. Burnt twice, shame on me… But Eric is everything I’ve ever wanted in a man, and I cannot resist him, especially not when he has his heart set on something, like winning me back….
What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?
Being with Eric…. *grin* I know that sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. However, I am no doormat, and I do exist as my own person. I never say no to a shopping trip, especially for shoes. And then, there’s work, which always keeps me busy. I wanted to shatter the glass ceiling by becoming the Managing Director of an international conventions centre before I turned 30, and there’s a price to pay for that, aka no free time.
Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?
Not really… I mean, I see my life more as a chick lit romance. Something light and fluffy and, yes, with lots of shoes thrown in for good measure. Alas, poor Zee cannot write chick lit or even funny to save her life… Thank goodness she does write fluffy; otherwise, she would’ve thrown me into some depressing literary read and made me want to fall back on ciggies even more!
If you could rewrite anything in your book, what would it be?
My mother! Seriously! I love her, but man, would she ever let me live a little? For a woman who was young during the hippie revolution, she is extremely uptight and controlling.
What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?
I’m a control freak… and I dislike this. Zee has me painted as someone who battled with eating disorders in an effort to control my environment (that my mother spun at every chance she got!). Thank goodness she made me get over this, but still, I wanted to be perfect… Apparently, I also like everything to happen on my terms, and this paints me as a prime class biatch! Urghh!
Who was your first girlfriend/boyfriend and what do you like most about them?
Strangely (or not!), my first serious boyfriend was Eric Marivaux. We all know how this ended – after a year and a half of ‘slumming’ it with a brown girl, he left for France and I didn’t hear from him again. But I had loved the way Eric could make me feel; like I was cherished and the center of his universe… He made me feel complete, not because he was with me, but he gave me the strength to be me, to be everything I could be, and that, I believe, is his best quality.
What embarrasses you?
Mentions of my bouts with eating disorders. I messed up royally when I was younger. A part of me says I should’ve known better, but hindsight is always 20/20, innit?
What is something no one knows about you? Why do you keep it a secret? And what would happen if everyone found out about it?
That in the end, I do want children, and the picket fence, the semi-detached, the Ford in the garage, and 2.5 kids+dogs in my back yard…. I want a fairy-tale ending, to be the princess who gets her HEA.
But all this at odds with my image of the tough career girl confident in herself and who knows what she wants, that is, to reach the highest rungs of the corporate ladder before she is forty. And nobody would take me seriously if they knew this secret. After Eric played me the way he did when we were teens, I vowed no one would ever get the upper hand on me ever again, and so I had an image to abide by.
What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy Sunday?
Eat ice cream and watch popcorn horror flicks while wrapped in a threadbare afghan. 🙂
What word makes you the happiest?
Mrs. Lara Marivaux. Okay, three words, but this is – was – always my dream….
What turns you on?
Attention to detail, and heartfelt consideration. For example, Eric remembers I hate garlic, so he doesn’t use any in the food he cooks for me.
What turns you off?
Ignoring details, and assuming you will go along with what others choose for you… My ex-husband tended to do that…
What other profession would you like to try?
Frankly? I have no idea… Shoe designer, maybe? I’m totally undomestic, and I have lousy taste except in shoes.
Would you ever use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone?
No. Though I might be tempted to have a voodoo doll for when my mother is making my life hell… Think I’m exaggerating? Read my story, then let me know what you think of Mrs. Gayatri Hemant! *chuckle*
If you knew a zombie apocalypse was coming in one week, what would you do?
Throw all caution the wind and tell Eric exactly what I feel for him. Who cares if I could be hurt again? In another week, I’d most probably be dead.
How do you react when people sing “Happy Birthday” to you in a restaurant?
Oh, the shame! Do people still do that? I’d be mortified. As much as I might come across all confident and gung-ho, I’m really an introvert, a person who prefers to fade into the wallpaper when she doesn’t have something to do or say. I dislike any kind of public displays, to have all the attention on me… Another aspect of my control freak aspect? (Damn you, Zee!)
Have you ever gone alone to either dinner or a movie? What about a vacation?
Yes. Girl power rocks! Okay, it hurts to be alone sometimes, but what is it they say? Better be alone than unhappy? That could be my motto in life.
Divorce paints a scarlet letter on her back when she returns to the culture-driven society of Mauritius. This same spotlight shines as a beacon of hope for the man who never stopped loving her. Can the second time around be the right one for these former teenage sweethearts?
Indian-origin Lara Reddy left London after her husband dumps her for a more accommodating uterus—at least, that’s what his desertion feels like. Bumping into him and his pregnant new missus doesn’t help matters any, and she thus jumps on a prestigious job offer. The kicker? The job is in Mauritius, the homeland of her parents, and a society she ran away from over a decade earlier.
But once there, Lara has no escape. Not from the gossip, the contempt, the harassing matchmaking…and certainly not from the man she hoped never to meet again. The boy she’d loved and lost—white Mauritian native, Eric Marivaux.
Back when they were teens, Eric left her, and Lara vowed she’d never let herself be hurt again. Today, they are both adults, and facing the same crossroads they’d stood at so many years earlier.
Lara now stands on the other side of Mauritian society. Will this be the impetus she needs to take a chance on Eric and love again?
She shouldn’t have come. The sound of her mother’s high-pitched voice crept over the din, asking if someone had heard a car stop in the driveway. They’d come out in the next minute.
Picking up her courage, and wishing it were Dutch courage despite her not being a drinker, she tore her fingers and head from the wheel and threw the door open. Lara peeled herself out of the vehicle at the same time a chorus of gasps resounded in the garden.
All three older women were over her like a bad rash. Hugging and kissing her cheeks, holding her face in their hands while they exclaimed how beautiful she had become. All of which were simply tactics to lull her into complacency for when they’d really pounce on the meaty topic—her divorce.
With their deceptively frail-looking hands on her shoulders, they pushed her toward the back door to the kitchen. A memory of being pushed around in the same way toward the altar on her wedding day, the glittery gold and red veil over her eyes, assaulted her. She stopped in her tracks, the pain coming in from nowhere to slice through her heart. The biddies must not have noticed her stilling; they simply continued to steer her inside until she was seated at the table. A plate of towering hot bhadias appeared in front her, along with a bowl of satini cotomili, the coriander, tomato, and chili paste-like dip Mauritians ate with all their fried foods.
Auntie Ruby, resident gossipmonger, lived up to her reputation. She had been the first to mention Lara’s failed marriage before they made it back into the house.
The sound of the grating voice droned on, Lara choosing to ignore it, before her mother gave her a small slap on her shoulder.
“You wicked girl. You said you were coming on Monday, and here you are surprising us now.”
She sighed. This was code for “how could you have kept this a secret and made me lose face in front of everyone, when I’ve been telling them you are coming on Monday?” Her mother lived for hearsay and the general idea of “what will people say.” In fact, most people in Mauritius lived by the standard. Whoever said the ton and all its silly rules had died in the Regency era had not taken a trip to Mauritius, in eighteen-ten or the year two thousand.
“But my poor little girl,” Auntie Ruby said in a cajoling tone bringing nothing but danger to mind. “Of course you wanted to come home earlier. Who wouldn’t? Look what that awful, awful man has done to you.”
Translation: “And here’s your cue to air out the laundry, from the sheets to the knickers, you silly goose.”
“Our hearts went out to you, dearest girl, you who are like a daughter to us,” Auntie Zubeida chimed in. “We never saw this coming. How could you not have told a soul you and that scoundrel were having problems? We would’ve spoken to him, set him right, showed him this is not how he is supposed to treat our daughter.”
“Tsk-tsk. And what a beautiful couple you two made. How could anyone have thought you would break up?” Auntie Ruby added.
Lara forced a small smile. Damn, how she wanted to be out of here. She had a duty to do, though—the sooner she was done, the better, so she could run back to Grand Baie and leave those old cows behind. And yes, in that lot, she included her mother, who had yet to speak out. Bad vibe.
“I’m doing fine, Auntie,” she said. “That’s what matters.”
All three women watched her with narrowed eyes. No way was she doing away with the Inquisition.
“How can you be fine?” Auntie Ruby asked. “We have been so preoccupied with your plight. How on earth are you going to get along? How will your parents bear all this? To think they still have an unmarried daughter on their hands, now they are ending up with two daughters. Oh what fate God has dealt them.”
Lara bit her lip to keep from answering back. Right, the ton must’ve been more solicitous than this. The aunts were simply nosing for gossip. But then, that’s what Jane Austen wrote in her subtext, too. The concern was merely the polite way of enquiring about gossip in their society.
Buy the Book:
Amazon (available at the discounted price of $2.99) http://www.amazon.com/Other-Side-Island-Girls-ebook/dp/B00E77XHG6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375035073&sr=8-1&keywords=the+other+side+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 a head-over-heels wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween son, best-buddy-stepmum to a teenage lad, an incompetent domestic goddess, eternal dreamer, and an absolute, shameless bookholic. When she isn’t penning more stories and/or managing the Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing, you can bet you’ll find her with her nose in her tablet, ‘drinking in’ a good book.
Facebook – Zee Monodee
Pinterest – ZeeMonodee
GoodReads – Zee Monodee
Twitter – ZeeMonodee
Thank you for joining us today! I hope you enjoyed this round of Meet the Characters and will join us again next week!