Back in April, at the Romantic Times Convention, I was able to sit down with NYT Bestselling author Nalini Singh and discuss all of her books, including her latest release Tangle of Need.
Adria, wolf changeling and resilient soldier, has made a break with the past–one as unpredictable in love as it was in war. Now comes a new territory, and a devastating new complication: Riaz, a SnowDancer lieutenant already sworn to a desperate woman who belongs to another.
For Riaz, the primal attraction he feels for Adria is a staggering betrayal. For Adria, his dangerous lone-wolf appeal is beyond sexual. It consumes her. It terrifies her. It threatens to undermine everything she has built of her new life. But fighting their wild compulsion toward one another proves a losing battle.
Their coming together is an inferno…and a melding of two wounded souls who promise each other no commitment, no ties, no bonds. Only pleasure. Too late, they realize that they have more to lose than they ever imagined. Drawn into a cataclysmic Psy war that may alter the fate of the world itself, they must make a decision that might just break them both.
Literary Escapism: Tell me about your Psy-Changeling series. How you started it?
Nalini Singh: I’ve always had an interest in abilities such as telepathy and telekinesis; and one day, I started thinking “What if we really had strong psychic abilities? And what if there was a cost to it? What if it drove you insane?” The next question was, “What would you do to survive?”
That’s the central concept behind the Psy. I just sat down and started writing and my changelings were there.
I’d been reading shape-shifter books and noticed that it was often a horribly painful experience, or something forced on the shifters like, for example, by a werewolf virus. I thought, “Why does it have to be like that?” Why can’t it be something beautiful?
I wanted to write about people who were at home with both parts of their nature. They’re true shape shifters. That aspect of their being is always there, no matter what form they’re in.
All these ideas/thoughts came together in the Psy/Changeling series.
LE: How long do you plan to continue the series?
NS: Until I’m like 88! I love the world. I joke with my friends that they’re going to have to do an intervention at some stage.
More seriously, I have a very defined series idea. I’ve always known where the original arc would end. It’ll probably be about two or three more books before we reach that point. When we do, the world has so many other aspects that I want to explore, parts that don’t fit the main/original arc. For example, I would love to do a falcon book.
As long as readers enjoy going back into the world with me, I think I will continue to write the series, exploring it in all its wonderful complexity.
LE: How do you remember every little detail from the story? Like when you have to mention something from a previous book?
NS: The storyline itself is all in my head. It’s like a movie that plays behind my eyes, so it’s easy to describe But what I said before, about knowing the end, that’s what keeps it all together.
For details, I have a series bible, with all kinds of notes in it. I also keep up to date searchable files of all my books, because often, I’ll know exactly where the information is, down to the words used in the paragraph, so I can quickly find it.
LE: Since you have the end in mind, does that mean it’s going to be coming up soon? And can you go past that ending?
NS: To add to my earlier answer – I think if you are reading for a series that has a start and an ending, you will be satisfied with the conclusion of the original arc. Questions will be answered and secrets revealed.
And then, if you want to return to the world and the characters, explore more, then you can go back into it with me.
LE: Would there be any characters from now in the possible future series?
NS: Yes, because I think that’s part of my natural writing style. I don’t like leaving characters behind. I like to see what happens next in their lives. It’s really interesting. What are they up to?
As people we keep changing and developing and we have new challenges and new things that we face. I think it’s really exciting to follow the characters in that way.
(Sometimes on the website I do little vignettes that show slices of their lives.)
LE: I’ve read all of those and I love them! Are you going to publish any more?
NS: I actually have several more of these little vignettes. I’ve been trying to do one for each couple. It’s just a matter of finding time to edit the rough drafts, so I can put them up.
LE: Have you considered doing a novella about each of the characters and their life now?
NS: It’s a little difficult to do this because with novellas you get a lot of readers who are new to the series, so there’s a chance they might be lost. But that’s not to say I haven’t considered this.
LE: You have done that with the Guild Hunters series.
LE: With Angels’ Flight.
NS: I’m doing a Psy-Changeling anthology too, next year.
The thing with doing novellas with a couple already in a romance is to not ruin their romance. I never want to write something where I’m putting obstacles in their path just to get conflict in the story. It’s more of a case of how they’re getting along and you see a little of this in Tangle of Need with Hawke and Sienna learning to live with each other.
I may do a novella featuring Walker and Lara in that way for the anthology, since we haven’t seen them much after their mating.
LE: Since you brought up the Guild Hunter series – how long is that series going to last?
NS: I think it will be shorter than the than the Psy-Changeling series because the cast is smaller..
LE: What about stories for the Seven. Like Jason and Dmitri?
NS: I don’t want to force any stories. They’re such interesting characters and I want to do them justice. At this stage I’d like to write about them all but I don’t know that I will. Jason’s story will be out in September – Archangel’s Storm.
LE: Do they say tell my story?
NS: It seems to happen like that. By the time I’m near the end of one book, I have a good idea who will feature in the next book, even if I’m not ready to talk about it.
Characters change in the course of a book or series. When I first started writing this series, it wasn’t meant to be a series. Angels’ Blood was meant to be a standalone (!!).
Dmitri, for example – I was intrigued by his character from the start, but he was starting to come more to the forefront with each book, and I never would have expected that. So we shall see what happens. Sometimes they surprise me as well.
LE: The two series, Guild Hunter and Psy-Changeling, are very, very different. How do you deal with writing them?
NS: I love the difference. When I step into one of the worlds, it’s quite a clean break from the other series and I think it actually keeps both series fresh.
LE: The Guild Hunter series is shorter. Does that mean there is something else in the works?
NS: There is always something in the works! I’ve actually made a rule for myself: After my failure at writing a stand-alone I’m not allowed to publish anything else that might turn into a series until I’ve finished one of these two because at this stage, the books are coming out roughly a year apart. If I did a third series it would mean a longer delay between books, and I don’t want to do that to my readers.
If I did do something new, it would be contained – a trilogy for example.
LE: The “Royal House of Shadows,” series; what was it like writing with all those other authors?
NS: It was fun. We were all on different schedules. Someone had a book due in seven months, someone had one due in three. We had to write when we had the time. So we did a lot of the brainstorming in hundreds of emails to work out the perimeters of the world. Then we went away and we wrote our individual books. We would then email each person directly if we needed something.
For example, there is a scene where Gena’s hero pops into a particular forest which I had fleshed out, and I told her that it was a horrible place with certain nasty fauna and so she worked that into her book. Communication was the key word.
LE: What was it like writing Micah?
NS: Wonderful – he was such a strong character from the very start, with a personality that was utterly unique. He had basically gone from being a child and then waking up and being the lord and master. So he had all the power but he’d never been corrupted by the world. He’s both a total alpha hero and an innocent at the same time.
LE: Total badass and innocent child.
NS: Yes, and very honest. He says what he thinks and he means what he says. That’s an interesting way to write. In a lot of cases, a lot of the tension comes from people hiding things. Or trying to protect their feelings and with Micah it was all out there. In the end, his honesty created the tension. Because the heroine’s saying, “I can’t believe you just said that!” He was a fun character to write.
LE: I’ve heard a lot of people say that Lord of the Abyss was their favorite of the series just because of him. Micah is one of a kind. Would you ever do something like going back to him and creating a short story?
NS: I always keep my mind open for things like that just because like I said before, obviously I have this inability to leave my characters behind. So who knows? I would love to see him and Liliana (as well as the secondary characters) again.
LE: So what else is there? Will we ever see Teijan? You once said ‘Teijan will not get his own book.” Could he get his own side story?
NS: With a cast this big I have to be quite disciplined about who’s in each book.
LE: The Rats have a big important role.
NS: Yes, but they only come in during their part in the storyline. When there’s a storyline that includes San Francisco, information coming out of the city etc, which they’re involved in, then it’s natural to have them in the book. So, if that happens, if we are in that kind of situation then yes, you will see Teijan more.
LE: Could he just be one of those characters that ends up in a novella? ‘Cause he’s just kind of a side character.
NS: Yes, he is. So we’ll see. He’s more likely to get a story within the story line. Maybe over the course of multiple books rather than one book. I definitely haven’t forgotten Teijan. He’s a cool character.
LE: Speaking of the side characters, will the kids grow up and get their own story? Would they be in a different arc you could go back to later?
NS: I don’t like doing big time jumps and that would include a couple of really big ones to get them to adult ages. I don’t think I’d like to do that because the whole world would have changed and developed – the politics, the lives of the characters. I guess it all depends on how long the series continues.
LE: No, I meant once you end this arc. You could come back in the future, after they’ve grown up, with a new story arc. Hawke saw his mate when he was their age, didn’t he? Could they end up the same way? Or something else?
NS: With Hawk it was an unusual situation and right now I see them as children. They’re going to grow up at a natural pace.
I want to see the flow of development of everything that’s going on; the detail, it’s so interesting. For example, Kit. He’s 19, 20-ish. He has real possibilities. I don’t want to skip time and see him as an alpha – I want to see how he gets there, and I think that’ll be interesting for readers, too.
LE: There’s also the question where he could be another alpha like Lucas and there might be some head-butting at some point. Will that ever come up or is that still going to be the adolescent trouble making child?
NS: He’s moved past that at this point – he is a novice soldier with responsibilities and the trust of the older members of the pack. He’s a lot more stable now than he was before – also, I can’t see him trying to challenge Lucas because he respects Lucas too much.
LE: But could he go out into the world?
NS: The fact is he could choose to stay, but it’s rare that that would happen. I think it’s more likely he’ll form his own pack one of these days. But he would remain deeply connected to DarkRiver because he wouldn’t have been forced to leave – in spite of the fact he is a “baby alpha”, there is a great deal of trust there. No one expects him to destabilize the pack by challenging Lucas, and they all know Lucas is in his prime as an alpha. So if Kit leaves, it would be a choice, and because it would be his choice, they’d remain family.
LE: Free will.
NS: Yes. At the same time, as I said, he’d retain those bonds of family with DarkRiver, even to the extent of asking Lucas’s advice.
LE: A very tight alliance.
NS: Yes, there would be a natural, tight alliance there, the trust between Lucas and Kit is so deep.
LE: Are you going to have an offshoot series of Kit and his pack?
NS: That could happen, for sure. That’s a possibility and there’s another pack mentioned earlier (in Blaze of Memory) that I’m interested in exploring further – Remi’s pack. They’re a new pack and unusual in the way they started out because Remi basically brought together a whole bunch of loners.
LE: Speaking of the leopards, the last few books we’ve focused on the wolves. Are we ever going back to DarkRiver? Are there any more DarkRiver books?
NS: Yes, when the storyline swings back to them naturally.
LE: When you wrote Tangle of Need, Riaz and Adria. Riaz found his mate but he was too late. She was already with someone else and that. Does that make things complicated between him and Adria?
NS: Yes. It was an intense book to write. The fact that Riaz has found his mate and also the fact that Adria has been in a bad relationship and come out of it no longer wanting to be in a relationship, are both critical factors in the book. So they have a lot of things to work through.
LE: Speaking of being intensely emotional, your Harlequin Desire books. They’re standard romance books and they’re all about emotions. How does it compare to the others?
NS: I’m really proud of my Silhouette Desire novels because as you said, they’re all about emotion. You learn to write very strong romances writing category. It’s all about character and emotional punch.
But I was always also writing paranormal. What I write now is pretty much my perfect mix – I get all the elements of romance and paranormal together.
LE: I was always sucked into those books.
NS: I think it’s the case of finding the author’s voice that you like.
LE: Was it Secrets in the Marriage Bed that had the couple already together?
NS: Yes, and they’re on the brink of divorce when the book opens.
LE: How was writing that?
NS: It was interesting. I said to my editor, “I want to write a book about the ‘Happily Ever After’ and what happens next and what if the couple is not ready for the Happily Ever After?
So the book really came out of that idea. The hero and heroine fell in love and married but they weren’t ready for each other and they couldn’t have that trust that you need if a relationship is to survive and grow. Even though the love was always there, there was also all this other stuff was pulling them apart. So, it was an interesting book to write. It was very emotional.
LE: Was it difficult to write any of your other books because of that?
NS: It was just different; a different kind of romance. Because in most romances the question is if the couple is going to get together / how they’re going to get together, and in this one, they’d already been together. In a sense it was almost like a courtship again, which is important in a romance. This time, it was about falling in love with the reality of who they are; about seeing the secret things about each other that other people don’t know.
LE: Would you ever go back and revisit those characters?
NS: Probably not because the Desires were written to stand alone. But who knows with me…. ;-)
Meet Nalini Singh!
I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and all of my stories always held a thread of romance (even when I was writing about a prince who could shoot lasers out of his eyes). I love creating unique characters, love giving them happy endings and I even love the voices in my head. There’s no other job I would rather be doing. In September 2002, when I got the call that Silhouette Desire wanted to buy my first book, Desert Warrior, it was a dream come true. I hope to continue living the dream until I keel over of old age on my keyboard.
Want to purchase Nalini’s novels?
- Slave to Sensation at Amazon | Book Depository
- Visions of Heat at Amazon | Book Depository
- Caressed By Ice at Amazon | Book Depository
- Mine to Possess at Amazon | Book Depository
- Hostage to Pleasure at Amazon | Book Depository
- Branded by Fire at Amazon | Book Depository
- Blaze of Memory at Amazon | Book Depository
- Bonds of Justice at Amazon | Book Depository
- Play of Passion at Amazon | Book Depository
- Kiss of Snow at Amazon | Book Depository
- Tangle of Need at Amazon | Book Depositor