Last Christmas, I had a doozy of a flu and I was feeling so VERY sorry for myself. So I picked up a book that had been lurking on the TBR pile and it was so compelling, all my woes and aches and miseries went away and I was transported into this fascinating new world. A world full of really sexy heroes and amazing sensual tension and heart-stopping danger. You guessed it, I was yet another convert to Nalini Singh's brilliant Psy/Changeling series. These books have taken the romance world by storm and I'm delighted that Nalini has stopped by to shoot the breeze with the Banditas today.
Nalini, welcome to the Banditas! We’re so excited that you could find the time to visit us today. Firstly, can you tell us about your road to publication? Was it long and hard or were you one of these people who found success without too much failure along the way?
I wrote many, many, MANY words before I sold. But while dealing with rejection over and over was very hard at the time, the tough road to publication was also very valuable to my development as a writer. I think of this period as my apprenticeship - I learned so much and honed my skills so I felt ready for publication when it came. One thing not many people know is my very first book – DESERT WARRIOR - was picked up out of the slush pile. So if you're in that spot yourself, there's hope!
Influences are many and varied, from which country I'm living in to what I see out the window of the bus! I think most writers are that way - we see the world through the lens of imagination. I read across the board for pleasure, paranormal included. I have so many favorite writers, including: JD Robb, Jude Deveraux, Jayne Castle/Jayne Ann Krentz, Anne Bishop, Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey and Kay Hooper. More recently, I've fallen in love with Gena Showalter's ability to make me laugh, Meljean Brook's sexy, vain vampire, Ilona Andrews's and Patricia Briggs’s urban fantasy worlds, as well as Kristine Kathryn Rusch's “Retrieval Artist” series. Um, should I go on?
At the moment I'm focusing on the single titles, but when I was writing both, I did find differences. Category requires a much tighter story-world, while with single titles, there's more room for sub-plots. And with my Psy/Changeling series, I have scope to develop an overarching plot through a number of books as well. However, the skill of writing tight is one I'm very, very glad I had a chance to develop. Because single title gives you so much freedom, it can be tempting to go off on tangents. I love having so much room to play, but I'm always very aware of bringing it back to the love story.
You've created an amazing, vivid world with your Psy/Changeling series. Can you talk a little bit about how you put that world together, what inspired it, how you create such a convincing environment for your characters?
The world came together very organically. If you've been to my website, you'll know that I wrote the first draft in three weeks around a full-time job. It was insane in the best way. I just had these two powerful characters in my head - Sascha and Lucas - and when I started writing about them, they bought their world with them. It's still an organic and growing world - with each book, I see more and more of it. However, continuity is something I pay a lot of attention to. I have a story bible with info about the characters, details of the world, research notes, you name it. It's crucial that the world remains coherent as the books progress - I think it makes it the books far richer, because actions have consequences, and relationships that get forged in one book don't disappear in the next.
I think it's important to always keep in mind that the sexual tension develops from the attraction between two people. It sounds basic, but it's critical, and you have to give time for that attraction to develop. It's tempting to get the hero and heroine into bed straight away, but waiting can pay off (no pun intended). With CARESSED BY ICE, I had an iceman of a hero. The love scene was a long time coming 'cause this guy had to thaw out! Readers wrote to me saying they were crazy with waiting by the time the love scene came...but that it was worth it. The world literally shook (you gotta read the book to get that joke *grin*). So I guess what I'm saying is - stay true to your characters, give them the time they need, but make sure you deliver. No one likes a tease!
I think the isolation was good in terms of the development of my voice. I had (and still do have) a good bunch of friends in the Romance Writer of NZ, which was a tiny organization back when I first joined, and I had a good source of information in the RWNZ newsletter, but I wasn't bombarded with what I "should" or shouldn't be doing. I wrote from the heart and sent submissions out.
Currently, I have a novella out in AN ENCHANTED SEASON - Tamsyn and Nate's story is a sizzling prequel to my series. And in September, I had CARESSED BY ICE, the story of an assassin and the shapeshifter he falls in love with. CBI was just voted the best print paranormal romance by the readers at NightOwl Romance, which was really exciting.
I'm currently working on book 5 of my Psy/Changeling series. It's called HOSTAGE TO PLEASURE and it's about Dorian, a sentinel in a powerful leopard pack, and one of its most dangerous members. Dorian lost his sister to a serial killer and he's so angry deep inside that it threatens to consume him. He's not ready for a mate...but when it happens, there's no way he's going to let her get away.
Oh, I’ve been hanging out for Dorian’s story. He’s one sexy big cat ;-) Congratulations on your success. You really have become a shining star in the writing firmament (waxing poetic here). What has your writing career so far taught you? Were there any major surprises along the way to becoming a bestselling author? Do you have any advice for people just starting a career?
Thanks, Anna! My advice and what I've learned - Work hard, write lots and get submissions out there. Luck is what you make of it. As for surprises, I've been wonderfully surprised by how many people have fallen in love with my Psy/Changeling world. It's been an amazing ride and I'm hoping it continues for a long, looooooong time!! :)