Monday, May 23, 2011
What cold medication, SpongeBob, & Angelina Jolie have in common...
My name is Zee Monodee, and I recently joined the amazing Noble Romance Publishing house as part of the Hot New Talent program (feels all funky to see my name listed up there *grins*). I'm 28, married, mum to a tween hellion, addicted to Supernatural-- and I'll go back to the real purpose of this post before I bore you to death.
So, intrigued by the title question up there? Some might say they all put you to sleep, but then too, there's good to be ascribed to sleep. Especially when it generates new stories.
All three of the above have played a part in my story coming together. My romantic suspense-slash-mystery-slash-thriller, Walking The Edge (Corpus Brides: Book One), will be coming out with Noble Romance on June 27, under the Foreign Affairs imprint.
Now what on earth do cold medication, SpongeBob, and Angelina Jolie have in common with a romantic suspense-slash-mystery-slash-thriller? Let me explain, and for this, I need to tell you a bit more about the book.
I've always loved a good amnesia storyline. What does this past that the character cannot remember hold? What secrets hide in those darkened depths? I knew this was the starting point of my story - an amnesic heroine, who wakes up from a coma and knows -just knows - that something is off with the world her 'husband' wants her to live in.
What lurks in her forgotten memories? I'll admit that I hit a brick wall here. What was the husband's deal? Why the secrecy? How not to make this into a soap opera? By now I was halfway through a draft, and I shelved the story because it wasn't going any further.
Fast forward to few months later - it's now August, and where I live, the heart of winter (southern hemisphere, tropical island by the name of Mauritius, in the Indian Ocean. Yes, we do have winter in the tropics *grin*). My town is very much like England - always cold, always rainy, so winter months are spent inside. Not really helpful for your sanity when your kids go on winter break, and you're stuck with them 24/7 inside four walls. Add to this that you catch the cold of the century, and you're stuck in bed with fever, endless sniffles, kinks and pain in your body - you get the picture. Sleep is very welcome then - except that you cannot sleep, because there's a kid at home that you have to watch.
Enter the cold medication. Real good stuff - knocks your cold off in 3 days tops. Not to mention that it also knocks your socks and brain off too in the process. I would be out cold within half an hour of a dose, and then I would dream. When I'd wake up, everything would be hazy... and on a few occasions, my husband had to ask me what I was talking about because, you see, my dreams had felt so real I was experiencing deja vu when I was awake.
Eureka moment! I suddenly knew what it was like to lose all your bearings, to question your reality, to second guess yourself and doubt your husband's words when he goes, "honey, nothing like what you mention has ever happened."
And guess what? This is exactly what Amelia, the heroine from Walking The Edge, feels like when she wakes up with amnesia and goes to live with her husband in their posh Hampstead Heath home in London.
I got the trigger point of dreams - highly lucid visualisations that make Amelia question her reality. What if the dreams were real, as in, fragments of her shattered memory? And what happens when they don't equate at all the 'reality' her husband wants her to believe in?
Enter SpongeBob. A SpongeBob GameBoy cartridge, actually. I'm an imperfect and perfectly-flawed mother, and my idea of school break babysitter is a new game cartridge. Anyhow, my kid is the kind who can conjure chaos in 10 seconds flat - I always need to have him close to me. Which is how I find myself drifting between reality and la-la-land (courtesy of the cold meds), to the background score of the SpongeBob Volcano Island video game.
Anyone familiar with the yellow sponge here? You'll know he is extremely annoying. The music on his video game is none less brain-bashing. One tune in particular, on a level my son was stuck on for days, kept playing over and over here. So much so that after a while, I could hear that tune in my head even when it was switched off. It did have a rapid, catchy pace to it, that escalated to a mind-numbing climax. Thanks to my cold meds, guess what sound became the background score of my dreams and daydreams about the story? You guessed it - SpongeBob.
So now I had my starting point. I had my pace, and I knew it all escalates to a climax. The big question was - why? Why is the husband so intent on having her drugged? What does he want to hide? What doesn't he want her to remember?
And what if the clue to her past lies in Amelia's dreams of the past, in the guise of this gorgeous Frenchman she sees in bed with her when she closes her eyes?
Back to my own reality, on the day I manage to tear myself from my bed to plop down on the couch, it so happens that my husband is watching this movie, Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie. Not my cup of tea usually, such movies, but hey, anything is better than listening to SpongeBob. So I sit down and watch this story about a total nobody (played by James McAvoy) who is told that he must avenge his father's murder, and the person who will train him is this kick-ass, no-nonsense, gun-wielding chick played by Angelina Jolie (that was long before her Salt days!).
And Eureka again! Amelia in Walking The Edge should be a kick-ass, no-nonsense, edgy chick a la Angelina-in-Wanted too.
From here on, I slid into Amelia's psyche, walked in her shoes, saw the world through her eyes and the limited frame of reference she had to process everything because of her amnesia. When she wondered that the Frenchman from the dreams could have the key to her memory, I cut and run along with her to Marseille, the old city on the Mediterranean coast. I met this man, Gerard Besson as he is called, at the same time Amelia comes across him in the flesh, finally.
Together, Amelia and Gerard took me on a journey through Marseille to find out who she really is. Start to finish, I had this story's first draft down in exactly 13 days. I wrote for every minute I was awake - I became Amelia. Along the way, with her, my heart broke, sang, took a few hits, found a safe harbour... and found the truth.
What was the truth, you ask? Ah, this I cannot say. Not yet. Why don't you catch Amelia directly, on June 27, to find out what her story is when Walking The Edge (Corpus Brides: Book One) comes out?
I hope I have managed to give you a glimpse of what an incredible ride it has been to put this story together.
From Mauritius with love,
Catch me on the Web at the following places:
Blog - http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com/
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