Goodreads Romance Interview - Nalini Singh

Posted by Goodreads on May 19, 2015
Readers first fell for Nalini Singh's world of paranormal romance in Slave to Sensation, book one of the Psy/Changeling series, and now, nine years later, the bestselling series is still on fire. Her upcoming book, Shards of Hope, draws us back in to her seductive and dangerous alternative universe. Here three major races stalk the earth: Changelings (shapeshifters), Psy (humans with psychic powers and emotional issues), and regular humans. Every installment in the series focuses on a different hero and heroine, and Shards of Hope is Aden and Zaira's story. The two are Arrows, lethal Psy soldiers grappling with a shared past of blood and death. On the run from a shadowy enemy, they desperately search for safety—and redemption—in an inhospitable landscape far removed from civilization.

Read on as the New Zealand-based author answers your questions on what goes into paranormal research, which of her characters she misses the most, and what kind of Changeling she'd want to be.

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Shy: Thank you so much for creating a futuristic world where all skin colors are celebrated. When creating these characters from around the world, where do you draw inspiration? Are they based on people you know?
I think it's just a case of how I see the world—as this astonishing kaleidoscope of color and culture. As a child, I lived in Fiji. Because Fiji has two main cultural groups, everyone speaks more than one language and I grew up bilingual. Then I moved to Auckland, New Zealand, which is such a vibrant, multicultural city. I also love traveling, so I've been to places all over the world.

As a result, when I sit down to write, it's natural for me to default into a diverse landscape. The characters aren't based on specific people I know (with one exception). Rather, all the people I know have helped shape my worldview, and that shapes my characters.

The exception, of course, is Ashwini from the Guild Hunter series. That's my sister's name—one day she was complaining that no one in books ever has her name, and I was like, "Dude, I'm sitting right here." Then, of course, I had to surprise her with a character called Ashwini. However, while they share a name, they're two very different (and awesome) people.

Kia Williams: I absolutely love your books. Were you a writer when you were a kid?
I didn't start trying to put my stories down on paper until I was about ten, I think, and it was in my teens that I really got serious, but I've always been a storyteller. I was that daydreaming kid who could happily amuse herself if left alone—I'd make up stories, go off on adventures.

Beth Treadway: Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them? I'm fascinated to know the process you use to keep so much going at once. How do you do it?! Bowing to the master!
When I first started writing, I'd have a plan about what I wanted my characters to do, and then I'd try to make them do it. That was a spectacular failure. These days I first get to know my characters really, really well. With a new character, it can sometimes take an entire first draft—and that first draft can be really messy and not make much sense at all, because it's all about getting to know the character(s).

This happened with Zaira in Shards of Hope. She's a woman who doesn't trust easily, and so to get inside her head, I had to win her trust. It may sound odd for a writer to say that about a character, but that's how it feels. The entire first draft was about learning who Zaira is beyond the black shields of an Arrow. Only then could I write her and Aden's story. Aden, of course, I already knew deeply because he's been such an integral part of the series to date.

So yes, characters often do unpredictable things. Judd, for example, was never meant to be book #3, but he was ready and it was his time, so I adjusted.

I think that deep knowledge of my characters is what helps me keep everything in order inside my head. They're real people to me. And just like I can remember how my real-life friends are different from one another and what's going on in their lives, I can remember the same things about my characters. Like today I know Tamsyn and Nate are taking their boys out to a theme park, and the two little mischief makers are on their best behavior because they want to talk their parents into taking them on a big ride they haven't previously been allowed.

Linze Brandon: What do you like to have with you while you're writing?
Aside from my laptop, when I'm home I usually have my little lap blanket (in fall/winter) and a cup of tea (always!). Depending on which stage of the book I'm at, I might also have my continuity bibles or research notes beside me as well as my writing notebook. Sometimes I also put up photos that inspire me.

However, because I like to travel, I've taught myself to write wherever I am. All I need is my laptop if I'm past the first draft (first draft time, I can work on a laptop or in a notebook). I also bought a full-size iPad so I could proof my books more easily on the road. Even then, though, a cup of tea usually finds its way to my side.

Sabrina Gilbreath: Is there a lot of research involved in writing your books or is it all from your wonderfully vivid imagination?
The worlds and characters all come from my imagination, and then the research part of that has to do with continuity. In other words, when I wrote Kiss of Snow, I had to go back through every single previous book in which Hawke or Sienna had appeared or been mentioned to make sure all the tiny details came together seamlessly.

However, I do also need to do research when it comes to factual stuff. For example, I do a lot of research on leopards and wolves and how they function in the wild. At times I've diverged from natural behavior (e.g. with leopards forming a pack), but when I do, I do it with the knowledge that such a divergence needs an explanation (changeling leopards form packs because they are also human and need those connections, but their feline aspect means they don't live in a den like the wolves).

And in Hostage to Pleasure, with Ashaya being a scientist and part of the story revolving around prions, I had to ensure I knew what I was talking about. So all of that real-world information that can be researched, I research. Occasionally I will "extend" things because the Psy-Changeling world is set slightly into the future, so I try and imagine what today's discoveries will be like in 2082, for example.

Jessica: Which books did you enjoy writing most in the Psy/Changeling series?
All of them! I truly can't choose. When I'm writing a book, I'm totally into that book and those characters. I think it'd be very hard to spend months working on a book that didn't capture my heart.

Karen: If you could write a book with any writer, who would you pick?
I'm actually an acknowledged control freak as a writer, so I'm not sure I could write in partnership! With that caveat, I do love Meljean Brook's writing and imagination; I think we could create an awesome book together. However, Meljean and I have totally different writing styles in terms of how we actually create our work, so it would probably never work—still, it's fun to imagine!

Vanessa: Can we get a hint of what's in store for humans and the Forgotten moving forward in the series? Will they have a bigger role to play in the future?
Yes. You see the Forgotten in Shards of Hope, and the events of that book mean you'll be seeing far more of all the races and groups in the Psy-Changeling world going forward. Big, huge things are afoot!

Dee: Which deceased character did you have the hardest time letting go of?
Oddly, it's a character who was never alive in the books, Zaid Adelaja. He was the first Arrow, a tormented, gifted, dangerous man who made an impossible choice so others like him would have a better chance at life. It hurts my heart to think that he never made it out, never saw the light that is dawning even for the deadliest men and women in the world.

In truth, I still haven't let go of Zaid. I want to bring him back, give him his happy ever after. So many readers have asked me the same thing. But Zaid is gone, turned to dust long, long ago.

Adrienne: If you lived in the world of your Psy/Changeling series, who do you think you would be?
Hmm, I think I'd like to be a changeling. I love their warmth and their devotion to family and to pack. As for the kind of changeling, probably a winged one, so I could fly. And not a soldier, but more than likely a pack historian or librarian. (Though, of course, being a teleporter would also be all kinds of amazing...)

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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message 1: by kathy (new)

kathy What age range are your books geared for? My granddaughter loves futuristic/dystopian type worlds with romance! She is 11 but reads at a high school level. Thanks!! I will have to start your series! Sounds very interesting!

message 2: by Irene (new)

Irene kathy wrote: "What age range are your books geared for? My granddaughter loves futuristic/dystopian type worlds with romance! She is 11 but reads at a high school level. Thanks!! I will have to start your series..."

There are sex scenes in these books so I wouldn't advise them for an 11-year-old.

message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

Irene wrote: "kathy wrote: "What age range are your books geared for? My granddaughter loves futuristic/dystopian type worlds with romance! She is 11 but reads at a high school level. Thanks!! I will have to sta..."

You know, that would be really awesome to have a YA version of these fantastic books so younger readers could enjoy them, too. Nalini's books are definitely strong enough to stand on their own with innuendo rather than full on love scenes. (Make no mistake, I really enjoy the full on love scenes! :) )

message 4: by Nalini (new)

Nalini Singh kathy wrote: "What age range are your books geared for? My granddaughter loves futuristic/dystopian type worlds with romance! She is 11 but reads at a high school level. Thanks!! I will have to start your series..."

Yes, I think 11 is a little young to read them, but wait a few years and I think she'll enjoy them. :) The books aren't Young Adult, but I have a lot of older teenage readers (which I totally understand - I was reading non-YA books as a teenager too!).

message 5: by Kmwarren (new)

Kmwarren With all your different books, characters and worlds, how do you keep them all straight? Also, do you have a favorite character within your series?

message 6: by Crystal (new)

Crystal Are you working on a story for Alice Elridge(sp?)? I would love to find out if she gets a happy ending or not.

message 7: by Katherine (new)

Katherine Richardson During the writing process do you find yourself struggling to finish?
I'm an aspiring writer but I keep failing to complete most stories due to over familiarity to the desired plot, do you deal with this problem as well?

message 8: by ☘KathyD☘ (new)

☘KathyD☘ I don't have a question, but wanted to comment that I think the worlds and characters you've created in both the Psy-Changeling and Guild Hunter series are amazing! I find the level of detail brings the stories to life. Whatever your writing process is, keep it works! :)

message 9: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Great interview, I can't wait to read Shards of Hope. I think it's wonderful that you are able to travel and still keep writing at the sametime. Thanks for writing such awesome books!

message 10: by Emily (new)

Emily Nalini wrote: "kathy wrote: "What age range are your books geared for? My granddaughter loves futuristic/dystopian type worlds with romance! She is 11 but reads at a high school level. Thanks!! I will have to sta..."

Me: For someone who is 12 her books are a great way of getting your head out of girl troubles. I have had the same problem about being too young to read them. But if you say to the kid to skip over the really sex scenes she should be fine. (Though it is is hard to do).

message 11: by Allison (new)

Allison I hope my comment was posted. Too often readers get stuck in their summer authors and being a former book leader, I believe it is essential to shake it up a little. It makes summer a lot more fun!!

message 12: by Mirriam (new)

Mirriam Banda Hi nalini, let me begin by saying your books are awesome!!! But please help me access them easily. See am from zambia n I find it so hard get your books. I've only managed to read books #2,3,4,5,6,7,8,10 and 11 of psy-changeling series. Please help!

message 13: by Lynn (new)

Lynn Daniels First of all, I love your books. I reread them frequently. You really are a genius at the "Urban Fantasy Domestic Comedy" - when you write about the ordinary moments in our favorite characters lives, they shine. I am very grateful for your 1000 word stories, those quick scenes that you so generously share on your blog and website.

If I could write my Christmas list now, I would ask for:

I would love to read a middle-grade series all about Ben and Marlee, written for younger readers, or a YA series that deals with the younger-packmates. Something that I can share with my 10 yr old son and my father without blushing too much.

The other thing I would love is an answer to a question. Ok, a lot of questions.
In this interview, you said, "In truth, I still haven't let go of Zaid. I want to bring him back, give him his happy ever after. So many readers have asked me the same thing. But Zaid is gone, turned to dust long, long ago."
And the reason that worries me is that over the last two books, I began to hope that there might be a happy ending for Zaid.
In Shield of Winter, Alice said, "Yesterday, I loved a powerful, tormented man who'd been by childhood playmate and who broke my heart to splinters."
Who froze Alice? Who was the powerful, tormented man? Did he follow her into a century of sleep? Will he fit in the Quiver of Arrows?

And, on an entirely different track - did Annie (from Magical Christmas Cat) run into Kaleb; did she get a chance to thank him for saving her life so many years ago? How did he feel to see her and her baby?

No pressure. ;-) I can wait another five or fifteen books for my "Day of Happiness" answers...

message 14: by siriusedward (new)

siriusedward Hey all your series.your worldbuilding is awesome.nobody does it better.
All your 3 series are good...i have reread your books time and time again.

Keep writing books....

message 15: by Laura (last edited Feb 21, 2016 12:37PM) (new)

Laura Hi Nalini! I simply adore your psy-changeling series! That's probably why I have tons of questions for you, and I am sure I will forget to ask at least one or two.
So, let's start off with little Naya. Will she gain the ability to shift in "Alleigance of Honor"?(btw, I'm counting the days 'till it arrives! can't wait!!)
Also, are you planning a male human-female changeling couple? I feel like that would be a really good idea.
Anyhow, I have many more questions for you, but I just realised that answering any of them would be a huge spoiler, and, as much as it kills me to wait, I think that knowing the answers before reading the book just kills the buzz and the tension that the wait creates. So, I will just have to wait.
Oh, and one more question.
Is it June yet?

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