2. I had to learn what it implies to be a chef – so for many months, I lived and breathed through cookbooks, cooking shows, and reading about the life of a chef (hello, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential!) as well as learning the techniques a chef would use (immense thanks to Michael Ruhlman for his books Ratio and Ruhlman’s Twenty which pretty much became my – and Niall’s – cooking bible).
3. Got immersed in the world of modelling…especially going behind-the-scenes of some iconic stuff like the Victoria’s Secret annual lingerie show. Found out that being a model is much harder and tougher than it appears.
4. Howard Castle in Yorkshire is the location I just knew I had to use as Havisham Hall when I first encountered it in the movie Garfield: A tale of two kitties. The grandeur of this restored castle never fails to astound me. The real Howard Castle is not located in the northern Yorkshire dales, though – that was my creative license with the setting.
5. Of course, this would veer into a series with me – I just cannot seem to be able to write single-title books and leave well enough alone. So it started as the stories of 3 sisters…and as I wrote, other characters grafted themselves into this world and begged to have their stories told, too.
6. The idea to make Havisham Park and its villages the best kept secret regarding the discrepancy in the man to woman ratio came as something totally out there that I thought of…and then I thought, why not? Thus, the Havisham Park hunks were born *grin*
7. Learning the Yorkshire lingo and dialect was an education in itself! For months, I immersed myself in listening to only Yorkshire folks and also watching British soapie Emmerdale which takes place in Yorkshire. Replicating the accent wasn’t easy, and it also proved like an entirely other language. I hope I have done them justice though in the way I have put across their accent and manner of speech in the book.
8. I wanted to go back to my storytelling roots for this series, so the heat level is mainly sensual and not overly hot and descriptive as my edgier Corpus Brides espionage series. I wanted Havisham Park to be about soap opera-style romance that tugs at the heartstrings, so the focus is more on relationships in there.
9. Whisk Me Up was my first ever attempt at NaNoWriMo back in 2013. For the first time in my life, I committed myself to write 50,000 words in a month…but I ended up going above and beyond and penning close to 77,000 words within 25 days of said month. This proved a turning point for me, because I had suddenly found the manner of writing that best suited me.
10. At least 9 other books are planned in this series thus far, and I hope I will get the chance to write them in the coming years and bring them to you, fellow readers.
* After fainting backstage at a fashion week, supermodel Mary Beth Beresford is forced to go into hiding in the sleepy North Yorkshire village of Stonydale in Havisham Park when her sisters kidnap her and bring her there to their late father’s family stronghold so she’ll face the truth - she is anorexic.
* Never one to be bossed around, Mary Beth attempts to break out the very next morning...only to land onto the path of the gorgeous, Viking-like pub owner and chef, Niall Barry.
* Suddenly, sticking around in this one-horse town doesn’t look like Purgatory anymore.
* But Niall is a very private person who shies away from celebrity, and Mary Beth is one of the biggest celebs on the planet. Not to mention that she is an aristocrat - daughter of the late earl and member of the peerage - while he is simply a working-class chef.
* Is any relationship between them doomed to collapse like a failed soufflé?
* Something about this lass didn’t add up.
* She jerked in his arms, and clamped her lips shut before pressing a hand to her mouth. A garbled sound came from her throat and her skin paled, beads of sweat erupting at her temples.
* He grabbed her shoulders; to steady her or to keep her in place, he knew not.
* “Are you sick? Is it your blood sugar, if you’re diabetic?”
* She struck him as much too young for diabetes, but stranger things happened in the world.
* “Fine,” she bit out behind her hand and shook her head, sending her ponytail flying.
* Early twenties, he’d say. Still a girl. Off-limits for him, being on the wrong side of thirty. He released her.
* “You’re not fine.” Could he have growled more if he’d wanted?
* She bristled and shrugged away from his touch. “And you’re not my keeper.”
* This scrap of a lass wanted to take him on?
* Niall drew to his six-five height and towered over her. You could put two like her side-to-side and only then would she match him somewhat in width.
* But she poked that pointed chin out and stared him down, even if she appeared on the brink of collapse.
* “The saying is, ‘you’re not my mother’,” he threw out in a bid to unsettle her.
* She snorted. “Like she ever cared.”
* Late teen/young adult rebellion? Hence the druggie route?
* “Well, you’re in my place, and under my roof, you do as I say.”
* “But of course, if you say so, Thor.”
* Bit of a smart mouth, ain’t she? With his build, blond hair, and Viking ancestry, he’d been compared to the Norse god many a time.
* Then her eyes rolled back, and she slumped.
* Hell fire! “Calling the doctor.”
* He picked her up again and brought her to the back, into the office, where he lay her down on the worn settee.
* “Listen, lass. You almost passed out three times in the past quarter hour—”
* “I told you I’m not sick. I came out for a run but got lost and been out longer than I planned.”
* “And you set out on an empty stomach, I bet.” Where that certitude came from, he knew not.
* “I had a protein shake, okay?” She had the gall to glare at him.
* He leaned down and peered into her face. “Don’ cut it with me. You’d need to run mile afore that worked off. Hardly in sweat, are you?”
* Fire flashed in her gaze, and she pursed her lips as if to refrain from cursing him, or worse, spitting into his face.
* “Stay put,” he ordered as he dashed out of the room and into the kitchen across the corridor. From the oven, he pulled a dish of leftover shepherd’s pie he’d heated up for Anna. Lord knew the woman never remembered to eat. Anorexic at her age; he snorted.
* Eeh bah gum. The lass back there? Way too thin. She probably hardly ate a thing.
* “Where are you off to?” he barked from the kitchen doorway.
* She froze in the corridor. “On my way out.”
* “Not afore you eaten summa’.”
* “Gosh dang! Ya never let up, duntya?”
* Author, editor, smitten wife, in-over-her-head mum to a tween boy, best-buddy stepmum to a teenage lad, bookaholic, lover of all things fluffy & pink, chronic shoeholic, incompetent housewife desperate to channel Nigella Lawson (and who’ll prolly always fail at making domestic goddess status)...
* Zee hails from the multicultural, rainbow-nation island of Mauritius, in the southern Indian Ocean, where she grew up on the figurative fence—one side had her ancestors’ Indian and Muslim culture; the other had modernity and the global village. When one day she realised she could dip her toes into both sides without losing her integrity, she found her identity.
* This quest for ‘finding your place’ is what she attempts to bring in all her stories, across all the genres she writes. Her heroines represent today’s women trying to reconcile love, life, & relationships in a melting pot of cultures, while her heroes are Alpha men who often get put back into their rightful place by the headstrong women she writes. Love is always a winner in her stories, though; that’s a given.
Zee Monodee is giving one lucky commenter the chance to name a character in her next book of the series. Just leave a comment on the post and complete the rafflecopter for your chance to win.
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