What would you like to tell readers about yourself?
* 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.
What are you going to tell us about today?
* The Other Side is book 1 in the Island Girls trilogy. The Island Girls trilogy follows the 3 Hemant sisters – Lara, Neha, Diya – over the span of the 2000-2010 decade, chronicling the changing face of the Mauritian society over that crucial period.
* The Other Side is Zee’s first-ever penned novel, written in the year 2005, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and thus decided to live her dream of writing a book. She drafted this book mostly during sleepless nights between chemotherapy sessions, the outpouring of this tale becoming her therapy to cope with her treatments.
* Back in the year 2000 (when this story takes place), divorce was an almost-alien, shunned & vilified concept. People were still supposed to marry ‘for life’ and a wife left her husband’s home only in her coffin. Those who dared brave this silent edict did it at the risk of becoming marginalized and cast away. Like Lara, the author, Zee, divorced her British husband and returned to the island to face such drama. Much of the divorce angle in the book comes from her own experience.
* Zee’s initial plan was to write this one book and then be finished. Over the course of the story, Lara’s two sisters – Diya and Neha – started whispering their own tales...and the trilogy was born.
* Book 2, Light My World, is Diya’s hilarious quest to find Prince Charming in the sea of frogs that is Mauritius (well, what it is according to her perception!). Follow her on this desperate mission in September 2013.
* Book 3, Winds of Change, follows Neha as she must come to terms with widowhood and the fact that her marriage has always been a sham. In waltzes a man with the ability to make the perfect, ‘saintly’ widow she is burn with passion like she never suspected existed. Will the saint turn into a sinner, or find her rightful place simply as a woman? Find out in November 2013.
A look into the story
* 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?
* Lara, whom he’d loved and lost so many years ago.
* How did meeting her again make him feel? He didn’t have a clue, and this uncertainty rattled him beyond the pale. A part of him didn’t dare browse his feelings for the full effect this meeting with her had had on him. But he couldn’t hide, and the sooner he faced the truth, the easier it should be for him to keep on moving forward. At least, he hoped.
* He didn’t want her back. Not in his proximity, not in the same place, not on the same soil. The more distance between them, the better. He’d had to work so hard toward finally accepting such a reality, so why had fate chosen that precise moment to put her back onto his path?
* He ran a hand in his hair, letting his fingers work at untangling the knots. He should cut the long locks, but damn if he found the time.
* Why now? He’d recently reconciled to the idea none of his relationships would work out, because she was the only woman he’d ever love. Peace with that notion had come hard. If he hoped to settle down someday, he’d do so for convenience and companionship, but never for love. It took one face-to-face meeting with her to send his certitude spinning like a crazy top.
* No, she shouldn’t be here. He had no desire to see her and be reminded of what he’d let go. He’d wanted to run when upon recognizing her earlier. Run as fast as his legs could carry him. Run away from the hurt and the anger that inevitably crept into his whole being and consumed him completely whenever he even thought of her.
* Yet, he hadn’t been able to resist. One glance at her, and he’d been a goner. Again. So he’d given in, and revelled in those short but sweet moments they’d shared. She’d felt so good in his arms—
* He sighed and ran his hand over his face again in a gesture fraught with weariness and frustration. Lara. He’d stumbled aback when he recognized her. She’d changed in the past twelve years, since the last time he’d seen her.
* She was a woman and not a skinny seventeen-year-old anymore. The long hair had also tricked him. The straight black locks framed the sides of her face, whereas in the past, she used to draw it into a high ponytail that bounced with her every step. He loved to tug on her long hair, which would annoy her so much, and when she frowned and narrowed her gaze at him, he would swoop in and steal a kiss. After which she would smile. Reluctantly, but she’d smile nevertheless.
* Why was she back? He had returned to Mauritius because she wouldn’t be there. Her life was in London. What was she doing here? He prayed she was on vacation.
* He closed his eyes and let his head touch the surface of the window. The glass felt hot against his skin. As drained as he felt, he couldn’t bother with a possible burn to his sun-sensitive skin. Meeting her again had shaken him up. More so, because he couldn’t bear to see her and know she belonged to another man now. To that darkly handsome husband of hers, who, he’d been loath to admit, resembled Tom Cruise, Lara’s teenage crush. The guy also had brains, since he was some hotshot actuary or something, working in investment. And Lara had seemed happy with him. He remembered the joyous expression on her face when he’d seen them once on Piccadilly Circus in London.
* That day, he’d known for good she was lost to him, stupid fool he was. He’d been an idiot to leave so abruptly for France all those years ago, his relationship with her hanging as unfinished business.
* But it had all been a long time ago. A different lifetime, even. He forced his eyes open, and rubbed the nape of his neck as he peeled himself from the window and stepped closer to his desk. No use pondering the past, especially one that had not gone as planned.
* Would they have worked out, the two of them? He’d never know. Better this way.
Buy The Other Side here...
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Thank you for joining us here today, Zee Monodee! It was a pleasure getting to know you and your story. Readers, interested in seeing the trailer? Check it out below!