First Reveal of the Ubuntu Series Logo (right here on RAH!)
Our guest of honor is Zee Monodee, Managing Editor of the brand-new Ubuntu line at Decadent Publishing. It’s so nice to have you here! Hope you’re ready to party!
Thanks for having me over! Pleasure to be here with ye all. And you had me at ‘party’!
Boo! Trick or Treat?
Treat, definitely. I’m not much for candy, but I am a sugar addict. And if it has chocolate in there, all the better.
Trick, not so much. Though I am outgoing and ‘bubbly’ in social circles, I’m pretty much a timid person action-wise, and a total comfy slippers + PJs kinda gal, so tricks are not for me. *grin* I leave that kind of mischief for my kids and the husband.
What costume are you wearing?
Hmmm, good question. We don’t celebrate Halloween where I live, on the island of Mauritius… but if I had to choose, I’d say a Victorian corset and big hoop skirt with the lace parasol and all. (Yes, I love black J)
What age did you Trick-or-Treat to and what candy was it that motivated you?
Like I mentioned above, we don’t really do Halloween here where I live. I grew up here, and though I spent some time abroad, that happened in my late teens, so I didn’t really trick or treat. However, one of our neighbors in England used to dish all the good British chocolate like Cadbury’s Milky Lane tray and Quality Streets sweets. At about eighty-something, she considered everyone kids, so my friends and I splurged and indulged in the treats she gave out that day.
How do you feel about “fun-sized?”
Hmm, now we’re talking! *grin* And personally, that idea brings to mind a 6-foot-plus hunk wearing nothing but boxers… Oops, you mean I slipped up? Sorry… *wicked grin* Oooh, I think I see one such hunk—
Wait! You can’t come in yet! Tell us about who you represent/edit?
Well, I recently joined the editorial staff at Decadent Publishing. Decadent is starting a brand new line dedicated to African romance (basically, romance set in Africa and/or with African characters. It’s not just multicultural/interracial stuff). Named Ubuntu, this one expected to see its launch in March 2013, but thanks to the attention the project has already garnered, we’ll be launching well ahead of the initial plan – our first release will come out in December 2012 itself!
And I am the Managing Editor of the Ubuntu line. Anything romance that has something to do with Africa, you can bet I’ll be editing that. J
What is your favorite Holiday and why? Have you edited any books about that Holiday?
I have to say it’d be Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. There’s something about the ties between a parent and a child, something in that relationship that makes me sit straighter and notice even more than a budding romance. I love everything about relationships, about all those facets that make people who they are, and what better than parenthood to showcase this diversity of heart and spirit?
And no – I haven’t edited any books yet along those themes… but I hope the readers are taking note and someone will send me a story like this *shameless hinting, lol*
How much do you read/edit at night? Do you have any creepy rituals?
I try not to edit at night. Actually, I try not to ‘work’, whether editing or writing, at night. I do all my work during the day when I have the house to myself and some blessed silence because my boys are into school. At night, I’m the mum and the wife and basically just the girl I happen to be.
But a good deal of this ‘me’ happens to be a compulsive reader, so you’ll most probably find me with my phone in hand (I read on my phone) reading/devouring a book while my husband is already nodding off or even fast asleep at nine o’clock.
And creepy rituals… Not exactly. Unless you count that glass of half fruit juice, half sparkling water I always drink with my reading as a ritual.
What is your favorite “monster” and do you like monsters to be heroes or villains?
I love vampires – the big, bad, terribly bad boy kind (Damon Salvatore comes to mind, lol!). And going on the same Damon line – I like my monster to have a good deal of villainous bent in him, but side by side with that is the other part that can be heroic. I love to see that struggle, to see them reining themselves in when their instincts are telling them to be bad and to ignore the consequences; them choosing to do the right thing… especially in the name of love.
Alright, I guess you can come in. ;P
What do you like doing besides editing? Is it dangerous?
I read a lot. Less now than I used to because work and my own writing keep me busy, but I literally inhale books when I have the time. And yes, that can be very dangerous for a woman’s sanity, thanks to all the hot, hunky, and lethal heroes that feature in romance novels. I’m a goner for a good Alpha, and that kind of bloke is totally, utterly dangerous, indeed. J This bent is also hazardous for my wallet, because you can bet I’ll be adding like 20-30 books to my stash every time I visit a store like Amazon. (Shoes also dent my wallet, but that’d be another topic, lol)
And I’m also a TV-show junkie. Addicted to shows like Glee and Gossip Girl, though my favorite will always remain Supernatural. That one is dangerous, because you can’t help falling in love with those Winchester brothers, and the myths of SPN totally ruin you for other supernatural fare. *grin*
Who was your first selling author? Was it special?
The author who landed the luck of being the Ubuntu debut launch is Kiru Taye. I was acquainted with her on social platforms, and knew she was lovely and a prolific writer.
What made it special is the fact that Heather and Lisa, the co-owners of Decadent, started thinking about the possibility of a line geared to Africa when they noticed the demand for this kind of offering from African authors… of whom Kiru was a member. So, in a way, this line came into being because of authors like Kiru Taye, and as luck would have it, her ms is the first one we acquired. J
What is the hardest part of editing others books?
To do their story and characters justice. Editing for others is not at all the same as tweaking your own work to make it better. As an editor, you walk a very fine line between making the story better, and totally barging in to impose your vision on the whole thing. An editor has to keep herself in check to not give in to the urge of changing everything her way, but to work with the author’s style, voice, and vision to make the story better.
To align yourself with that style, voice, and vision is not easy to do because every author is different, and as an editor, everyone trusts you to make the story better, within the scope of the author’s capacity. It’s a tough job.
How would you describe your editing style?
I would say – terribly anal once I get my hands on an ms, *grin*, but at the same time, I am always there listening to my authors, talking with them, smoothing their concerns out. I try my best to picture their vision for their story, to see the characters through their eyes, and from here, I work to shape the story to the standard my senior editors and the owners of Decadent expect.
I also believe I am easygoing as a person – authors (hopefully!) can relate to me because I am also an author and so, have been in their shoes. I’m flexible about deadlines when we can afford to, I don’t impose my choices and will always let my author defend her/his point. The way I see it – it’s their story, and they have to be able to go to bat to defend it. While not questioning the editor’s authority every step of the way, the author also shouldn’t be a doormat and has to be able to stand her ground when she feels it is necessary.
But hopefully, so far it has never gotten to that point with any author I’ve worked with, which leads me to think I am not that much of a tyrant.
What do you think makes a good story?
Without a doubt – characters! You can have the most amazing idea, the deepest world-building, the most beautiful descriptions, an engaging/unique voice… but if your characters cannot shine in that setup, then you don’t have a good story. Full stop.
I’m a huge chick-lit fan (and lol, hear me out before you start groaning and closing the window J). Everyone will agree there’s “barely” a plot in chick-lit; that it seems fluffy and light and “surface” writing… I’ll use an analogy that women will totally understand to illustrate my point – you all know how hard, and how much work, it is to get that barely-wearing-makeup look. In fact, to pull that off takes even more practice and skill than applying color skillfully to your face.
Well, the same can be said about chick-lit – it seems easy and effortless, but it is actually hard work to pull this kind of story together. Why? Because chick-lit is all about the characters. They’re the stars of the show; everything lies on their shoulders; they are the be-all and end-all of the author to pull together this whole project.
Nobody can tell me chick-lit is not popular, so ask yourselves why? Could this be because the characters appeal to readers?
So, to me, it all boils down to characters. You can correct/tweak/edit every aspect of a story, but if your characters don’t pull through, you’re pretty much screwed.
Do you have any suggestions for beginning writers who want to submit?
Yes – don’t be afraid! Don’t think you will “never stand a chance” because you are just starting, or that you don’t know about Africa, or because you are undermining yourself. You’ll never know if you don’t try.
And if you think your story could fit, but are not sure, then send me an email and ask me about it. I’m just an email away, peeps. J No question is dumb; in fact, the only silly question is the one you don’t ask. So do not hesitate to contact me.
And another thing – if I had to streamline what we’re looking for where this line is concerned, I’d do it like this: you all know what category romance is like, right? So the kind of plots and tropes you see in category romance, that’s what I want to see in submissions for the Ubuntu line. Give me light, airy, funny, deep, chick lit, women’s fiction – as long as you steer clear of the whole kill-me-now darkness and doldrums of typical African literature, then I want to see your story.
What else are you working on right now?
Well, I’ve got a few personal projects on the grill. A trilogy about three sisters that spans a decade on the island of Mauritius, that I hope will get to be featured in the Ubuntu lineup. Then I have the next books in the series I already have out with some publishers – the last one in the heroine-centric, Corpus Brides espionage thrillers; Book 2 of my group of friends in Freewill, Wyoming for the Western Escape line at Decadent; the stories of the 2 wingmen in my very first 1NightStand, the hero’s best friends, who each get their own full-length romance.
And in the middle of this, I’m delving in submissions we’ve received for the Ubuntu line. Lots of work, but lots of ‘happy’ work, too. J
Last question: Where can our partygoers find you and your work?
You can find links, blurbs, and excerpts, to all my books from my blog site.
And for the Ubuntu line, I am just an email away, at email@example.com
Facebook: Zee Monodee
Other: as Zee Monodee on Goodreads & Pinterest
Company Preferred Buylink: http://www.decadentpublishing.com/
Thank you so much for coming!
Back to the bash!