It’s my pleasure to have Zee Monodee here today to tell us about her brand new release Light My World, and her inspiration for its setting. Light My World is the 2nd book in the Island Girl Triology which follows the 3 Hemant sisters – Lara, Neha, Diya – over the span of the 2000-2010 decade. It also chronicles the changing face of the Mauritian society over that crucial period. Both the book and Mauritius sound wonderful. I now I have a new vacation spot added to my wish list! Stick around—there’s an awesome trailer below, too.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~Blurb:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that to find a prince, a girl has to kiss a few frogs along the way. But what happens when a modern-day princess comes across…an ogre?
So what if a girl has to kiss a few frogs to find her prince?
Tired of her Indian-origin mother’s relentless matchmaking, Diya Hemant is determined to find her Prince Charming on her terms. Armed with a definitive list of requirements, she is sure she’ll know her man when she meets him…
But looking and finding are two different things, especially on the tiny island of Mauritius…
When her path crosses surly British widower Trent Garrison’s, it’s hate at first sight. And though fate keeps pitting her against him, she’s certain he can’t be turned into a frog let alone a prince.
Can this modern-day princess overcome her own expectations and see beyond the ogre to the man beneath?
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Research into the setting for Light My World
By Zee Monodee
First of all, thank you, Tara, for welcoming me on your blog today! It’s an absolute delight to be here!
So, where do I start telling you about the different settings that were used in this book?
The story takes place on the western coast of Mauritius. Much of that district is like a long, vertical strip of land bordered by the sea, and the farther North you go, the more you get to those tourist-y, paradise-like beaches Mauritius is known for. Flic-en-flac, one of the most popular beaches on the island, is a stone’s throw away from where this story takes place, in the village of Tamarin.
Tamarin is a coastal village and two of its particularities are that firstly, there’s a river’s mouth meeting the sea there, so no coral reefs to break the waves, making this the prime surfing spot of the island. Secondly, a big basalt mountain flanks the other side across from the sea, and thus, the village climbs up on these slopes – of course, the higher up, the more exclusive the area.
I’ve never lived in that area – lol, way too expensive for me. In fact, it’s mainly expats who live in that village and it surroundings. But Diya is an up and coming designer, and her company is located in that village; it only makes sense that she would live there. And Trent decides to settle in that area because on top of being an expat hub, the west coast is also renowned for its low humidity, something his eldest son needs for his health.
So how to place them there when I’ve never lived in the area? Research, of course! My husband took me on an afternoon to Tamarin and we travelled along the roads, checked out the public beach, strolled into those exclusive expat areas. And lo and behold, we found a new development – exclusive, high-end flats being built in a newly appointed residential area...and it turns out it’s from the same company from which one of my uncles bought his inland flat...and it turns out the layout of both buildings would be pretty similar.
I thus had the building and the flats where Diya and Trent live! Score one!The next biggest part of this book’s setting was the colonial house. Yes, that’s one of them on the cover itself. But it’s not the one I actually used for the backdrop of La Porte du Paradis in the story (though the structures are similar). This house here – which is a former residence of a big tea plantation owner and has now been converted into a tea route museum – was the main inspiration.
These colonial houses are a dwindling legacy in Mauritius, most of them falling into derelict states and then being bulldozed for the prime land where blocks of concrete will surely go up. A shame, really, because these houses are a legacy of what life in the French and then British colonies of Mauritius were like.
My own grandparents had one such house, and I remember the awe whenever I visited the place. You could play hide and seek all day in there! There were polished wood floors, high ceilings with exposed beams, enormous verandas, even catacombs where kids could stand up and run without need to stoop – I always thought of that house as a castle. Yes, it could be the romanticized recollections of a little girl at play here (sadly, the house got demolished when I was about 9)...so I visited this dwelling-turned-museum, le Domaine des Aubineaux, located inland and about half of mile from my parents’ house – for the sake of the story, I transposed its likeness onto the west coast. Turns out my memories weren’t so far off the mark. I wanted – needed – to immortalize this legacy in a story, to pay my respects to these old colonials, and hope they get a chance to live forever in a book.So there you have it – the main settings of Light My World and the how and why behind them.
Thank you again, Tara, for having me over today!
From Mauritius with love,
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About the author:
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 favourite 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.
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Diya spun around when the warm, strongly male hand closed over her wrist. She risked a startled glance at Trent’s face, to then train her focus to where he touched her. The heat from his palm filtered into her arm, yet she stood frozen.
She glimpsed back up, into his face. What is going on here? In the blink of an eye, everything seemed to have changed.
Lines had appeared on his forehead, his features drawn and pale. But his eyes held an intense light, and the warmth in them took her aback.
Trent Garrison’s grey eyes had always peered at her with ice in them. She remained unprepared for the assault on her mind when the softness of this look washed over her. A quiver thrummed in her chest, tingles shot up from her fingers, and a lump lodged itself in her throat while her mouth went dry.
She parted her lips to speak, but no sound escaped her; only a small, husky breath.
“Thank you, Diya.”
She’d never heard him say her name before. Not like this, anyway. His voice rumbled deep and ragged at the edges. The phrase came out thick with the emotions echoed in the depths of his deep-set eyes….
Something, or someone, tugged on her jeans.
“Can we go now?” a little voice asked.
Startled out of her thoughts, she shook the unreal, dream-like sensation as she emerged from the mist she’d been plunged in by the touch of his skin on hers.
He released her hand, and she bent to scoop Josh in her arms.
“Let’s go, sweetie. I hate hospitals. I’ll meet you at the gate,” she said in Trent’s direction as she left the room.