Narrator: Jazmine Ramay
Length: 5 hours 30minutes
Publisher: Shelly Hickman⎮2020
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Series: Fortytude, Book Two
Release date: Jun. 10, 2020
The sequel to Vegas to Varanasi catches up with Anna and Kiran a couple of years after the event that brought the once “ugly duckling” high school acquaintances together. But will their romance continue to flourish in the face of a whole new set of insecurities brought on by middle age?
First, there’s Kiran, who has an unexpected health scare. While his doctors assure no permanent damage has been done, there seems to have been some damage to his personality, as the normally respectful and reserved Kiran begins behaving erratically and overtly. Anna wants to hope that this is temporary, sparked by the visit of Kiran’s womanizing, free-spirited cousin, Seth. But is this just the midlife Kiran surfacing?
Anna has midlife issues of her own. Now forty-eight, she’s navigating the onset of perimenopause and all the delights that come with it, from facial hair to mood swings to body temperature issues. On top of that, her two-year-old granddaughter is starting to show signs of a behavior disorder, bringing with it a whole other level of stress and worry.
Will Anna and Kiran finally find their happily-ever-after? Or end up stuck in a midlife mess in this romantic comedy of accepting change, and “the change”.
Buy on Audible
I’m a Las Vegas native who received both my Bachelor’s degree in Art and Masters degree in Elementary Education from UNLV. Pre-pandemic, I spent my days teaching computer science to middle schoolers. When we shifted to remote instruction, it was an adventure I don’t care to revisit. My hope is that it won’t still be necessary when school starts in the Fall. I celebrated my 30-year anniversary with my husband in June and we have two grown children. Though I’ve written five novels, my reading preference is usually nonfiction. Watching anything comedic is one of my favorite pastimes. (Netflix’s new series Space Force is my latest love. Check it out.) Oh, and I love musicals! Early this year, I started a YouTube channel that focuses on life topics for women over forty, but I haven’t decided if I’m any good at it.
It was easy for this title because Jazmine read the first book in the series, Vegas to Varanasi, and did such a fantastic job. I was so happy she was willing to read the second book as well. I initially chose her because 1) she has a lovely voice; 2) she is awesome with accents; and 3) her training and background as an actor shines through when she reads.
How closely did you work with your narrator before and during the recording process?
Did you give them any pronunciation tips or special insight into the characters? Because we had already worked together on the first book, this one was a breeze. At least it was for me. (I can’t speak for Jazmine.) For book one, we worked much more closely, and I’ll admit we struggled at first with Kiran’s character. I’m sure I drove her nuts because I was persnickety about how I wanted him to come across. However, once we got to book two, Jazmine knew all the characters so well that I was barely part of the process!
Were there any real-life inspirations behind your writing?
Hell. Yes. Though I wasn’t living with a new relationship, (I’ve been married thirty years now), I was pretty much living with all the symptoms of perimenopause that poor Anna endures. The hot flashes, the horrendous periods, peach fuzz on the face, etc., etc. I thought it would be fun to open up about such matters (and others I won’t go into here) in a light-hearted way so that other women my age wouldn’t feel so freakish and alone. Be warned, a few readers said the honesty was a bit much for them.
What do you hope your readers or listeners will take away from this book? There are a lot of family problems in this story, and that’s the way life gets sometimes. I think the only way we get to the other side of tough times is through our love and support of each other, being honest with each other, and keeping a sense of humor whenever possible. That’s what I hope to convey through this story and characters.
When writing a series, how do you keep things fresh, for both you and your readers?
With each story, I try to place my characters in new and unique circumstances so I can explore the relationships - given their personalities, histories, and stage in their lives. I admire authors who can achieve this beyond two or three books, at least when they’re character driven like mine. Some readers have asked if there will be more of Anna and Kiran after book 3. As of now I have no plans to continue their story, but who knows? It’s possible one day those characters will call to me again to tell the story of their golden years.
If this title were being made into a TV series or movie, who would you cast to play the primary roles?
Sarah Jessica Parker as Anna and Hrithik Roshan as Kiran. If you haven’t heard of him, Google! You won’t regret it. ;-)
Are you an audiobook listener? What about the audiobook format appeals to you?
I love audiobooks, however, most that I listen to are nonfiction rather than novels. As I’ve gotten older, I lack the attention required to finish a book, even when I find it enjoyable. I don’t know what it is. Audiobooks are great because I can listen to them to and from work, though more recently I’ve been into podcasts.
What do you say to those who view listening to audiobooks as “cheating” or as inferior to “real reading”?
As a teacher, I think this is a valid argument when referring to young people. The more you read “for real,” the better reader you will become. However, adult life is often so busy and full that many people don’t have the time, or energy, to read when they do have the time. Audiobooks make reading much more accessible to those who might not otherwise “open a book.”
If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?
I’ve always had a love for the 1940s – the clothes, the music, the style – so it would probably be that time period (after the war). One of my favorite albums as a kid was “That’s Entertainment.” It was one of those double albums that opened like a book and held a 33 vinyl on each side, and it had a ton of songs from musicals of the 20s, 30s, and 40s. I adored Judy Garland, and remember driving my mom insane one day when I played “On the Atchison Topeka and the Santa Fe” a bazillion times on my record player.
What’s next for you?
For now, I feel like I’ve lost my writing mojo, but I still need some sort of creative outlet. So in January I started a YouTube channel aimed at women over forty. We’ll see how it goes. So far, I have nine subscribers. Haha!
Jazmine Ramay is a working actor based out of Los Angeles. She currently spends most of her career in the Voice over world but also loves to sing-starting her own Jazz band and exploring opera and musical theatre. A graduate of PCPA (Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts) and the Cabaret Conference at YALE, her credits include Cory (Barefoot in the Park), Penelope (Penelopiad), Jenny (Distracted), and the 2nd Wyrd Sister (Macbeth). Jazmine has worked in Theatre, Film and Television and has had appearances in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill . She was in the original cast of B Street Theatre’s hit production of Bars and Measures. Her all time favourite role was Gwendolyn in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. As a voiceover actor she works full-time and commits to making more great projects in the years to come.