Nalini Singh. She has continuously won the hearts of romance listeners since Tantor’s release of her first audiobook, Angels’ Blood, Book 1 in the Guild Hunter series, in 2010. Now with two stand-alone titles, thirteen (soon to be fourteen) entries to her Psy-Changeling series, and eight to her Guild Hunter series, yet another Singh series is hitting audio bookshelves over the next six weeks. Rock Addiction, the first in her Rock Kiss series, is being released today with Book 2, Rock Courtship releasing on June 16th, and Book 3, Rock Hard, releasing on May 26th.
I have long wanted to talk with Nalini about her writing in general as I’m fascinated with her world building and character development. Discovering that her Rock Kiss series was set for release in audio format gave me the perfect opening to invite Nalini to visit with us. Although we’re discussing her writing as a whole today, we’re featuring the Rock Kiss series, front and center, with a giveaway.
And then, for your listening pleasure, we have a recording of the entire first chapter of Rock Addiction!
We’re giving away two download sets of the Rock Kiss series – Rock Addiction, Rock Courtship, and Rock Hard courtesy of Tantor Audio. Each audiobook will be available on the day of its release. Entry is simple. Just complete the easy entry form found at the bottom of the page by midnight (CST) Friday, May 8th. No comments are necessary to enter although we’d love to hear your thoughts in our discussion area. You may only enter once. We’ll contact winners on May 9th so watch your email as we must have acknowledgement of your win within 24 hours. If we don’t hear from you, we’ll select another winner.
Talking with Nalini Singh
LEA Hi Nalini! Welcome to AudioGals. We are thrilled to have you with us today.
NALINI It’s lovely to be here!
LEA It looks as though you have twenty-four titles over at Audible and I know you have another four releasing within the next six weeks. Your first audiobook, Angels’ Blood, was released in 2010. Was that your first exposure to audiobooks? Had you personally listened to any?
NALINI I actually worked in a library for a period, and we had a great audiobook section, so I was aware they were very popular. However, I hadn’t listened to any myself at that point.
LEA What was it like – hearing your words performed?
NALINI It’s both fun and a little odd. I enjoy hearing the narrator’s take on the story, but it, of course, doesn’t mesh with what I hear inside my head when I write or read my own work.
LEA Angels’ Blood was my first exposure to your work and it was in audio format so Justine Eyre is part of my experience with the Guild Hunters series.
NALINI Yes, Justine is great.
LEA Fellow Gal Brenda, a longtime Singh fan, inspired me to listen to the Guild Hunters series and we jointly listened to the first few in the series. I was completely captured.
LEA One of your upcoming four audio releases is Book 14 in the Psy-Changeling series and we’ll talk about that in a minute. We’d like to take a look first at your Rock Kiss series. The first audiobook in the series, Rock Addiction, releases today with Books 2 and 3 scheduled over the next six weeks. What is the premise for the Rock Kiss series?
NALINI The Rock Kiss series is a contemporary romance series focused on a band. There are four members: Fox (lead singer), David (drummer), Noah (guitar), and Abe (keyboard). Rock Addiction is Fox’s story, while Rock Courtship is David’s. Rock Hard is a little different, as it features a hero outside the band.
Each book or novella in this series has its own feel, its own rhythm. Rock Addiction is very sexy, while Rock Courtship has a sweeter vibe, while Rock Hard is romantic and funny. So even if readers don’t like one, I’d encourage them to try others. I know some readers felt Rock Addiction was too sexy for them, but they ended up loving Rock Courtship and Rock Hard. Other readers loved Rock Addiction, so it all depends!
LEA I see that Rock Hard was released in print format in March of 2015. Do you have plans to continue this series? Is the next entry on your schedule?
NALINI I’m actually editing the second draft of the next book now. It will feature Noah. ☺ After that, I’ll start work on Abe’s book. I hope to have Noah’s story out in October this year, with Abe’s story following next year.
LEA Good to hear!!
LEA As I heard talk of the Rock Kiss series, I expected each book would feature a Rock Star in some manner. However, I just read Book 3, Rock Hard (which I completely enjoyed), and see neither the hero or heroine is involved in the music industry.
NALINI The connection is between the heroine of Rock Addiction and of this book (they’re best friends). The hero is Gabriel Bishop, an ex-rugby player turned CEO. Needless to say, he’s just as gorgeous and sexy as the rock stars.
LEA Can we expect more of this non-music setup in the series?
NALINI Not in the main part of the series. However, Gabriel from Rock Hard has three brothers and a lot of readers have said they’d like the stories of those brothers (and I totally fell in love with the Bishop-Esera boys!). So I may do their stories as a sort of spinoff series.
LEA I was hoping to hear that. When I read Rock Hard, I was taken with Gabriel and his family. Now I’m looking forward to experiencing it again in audio format.
NALINI I hope you enjoy the listen as much as the read. ☺
LEA Me too! That is what we are all about here. ☺
LEA Now for Book 14, Shards of Hope, of the Psy-Changeling series which releases on June 2nd. Can you briefly describe the Psy-Changeling world to our readers to entice them to start listening if they have yet to do so?
NALINI The Psy-Changeling series is a paranormal romance series, and over the years, many readers have told me that Slave to Sensation was their first ever paranormal romance, so it’s a very accessible book I think.
NALINI The series is set in a world very like our own, except that it has three main races. The Psy, who have conditioned all emotion out of themselves in an effort to fight the violence and insanity that seems to come paired with their incredible psychic gifts (telepathy, telekinesis etc). The changelings, who can shapeshift into many animal forms, including leopards and wolves (the two main packs in the series). And the humans, who are caught in between these two powerful races, but who have an important role to play in the world and the series.
NALINI Oh, one more thing: The changelings are very tactile and primal. They’re as close to their emotions as the Psy are not. This is what leads to the initial conflict between the two races, a case of fire and ice colliding.
LEA Are humans aware of the Psy and Changeling races?
NALINI Yes, this is an alternate world where all three races have always existed and interacted.
LEA I hear there are short stories out there for listening. Doesn’t Tantor have something special coming up?
NALINI Tantor is currently recording one of my Psy-Changeling short stories that they plan to release as a free listen, so if anyone would like to try the series in audio, you can grab that. ☺ You can also find plenty of free short stories set in the world, as well as excerpts from the books, on my website.
LEA Fanastic! We’ll provide our listeners with more information as soon as we find it is available at Tantor. (Note: Tantor confirmed, telling us, “May 15th is the release date for the Nalini short story, Christmas in the Kitchen, from the Psy/Changeling series. It will be narrated by Angela Dawe.”)
LEA I continually see Slave to Sensation at the top of Tantor’s best selling romance titles even after all these years. The stories at your site and the upcoming one at Tantor’s site certainly are great enticements to start the series.
LEA And the setup for Shards of Hope? I assume we have come to know one or both of the leads in previous books?
NALINI (Spoilers ahead if you haven’t read the later books in the series): Shards of Hope features Aden Kai, the leader of the Arrows. The Arrow Squad is made up of the most deadly men and women among the Psy. They are the hunters who track and eliminate the bogeymen. They have a complicated history, and it’s difficult for them to embrace emotion on any level. Zaira, the heroine of this story, is a fellow Arrow, and one who believes she can only ever be an Arrow, her place in the shadows. Aden, meanwhile, wants more for his Arrows, for these men and women who have given up so much for a people who still look upon them with fear and suspicion. Their story is dark, intense, and emotional, and yet I also think it’s full of a piercing hope.
LEA I’m assuming you have plans to continue to write both the Psy-Changeling series and the Guild Hunter series?
NALINI Yes, absolutely. I did a long post on What’s Next for the Psy-Changeling series on my blog last year and in the second half, I talk about book 15 and beyond.
NALINI The Guild Hunter series will likely be shorter, because it has a smaller core cast, and I don’t want to move away too far from that core cast. However, there are still a number of books to go. ☺
LEA You have a lot of fans among our AudioGals reviewers. We discussed your work as a whole last week and they submitted a list of questions for today’s chat. Ready?
NALINI Hit me with them!
LEA Brenda asks, “You write characters that readers/listeners dislike when they are first introduced but then slowly you turn them into either sympathetic characters through the ongoing storyline or even into a hero. It’s amazing how you change a listener’s feelings in that way. How do you pull it off? If it occurs over several books, do you plan that in advance or allow the character to grow naturally as you write each book?”
NALINI It depends on the character. For example, with a certain Councilor, I knew he’d be a hero from the first instant he appeared on the page. I knew his backstory, and I knew who his heroine was. I also knew he would never be black or white. He is gray, a man capable of being both good and bad. He was and is a fascinating character to write, because despite knowing him so well, I can never predict which direction he’ll take.
NALINI Other characters, however, have surprised me through the series. As an example (SPOILERS AHOY!!)……..
NALINI ……Nikita Duncan. At first, I believed she was exactly how she appeared to be in Slave to Sensation, but book by book, scene by scene, I’ve started to see beneath her skin and realized that she is a complex woman of many layers.
NALINI That’s how I try to write all my characters – as real people, with multiple layers and many aspects to their personalities. That means sometimes, I discover something unexpected about a character that totally changes how I, and the reader, perceives him or her.
LEA Along a similar vein, Shannon asks, “On the topic of world building, or maybe it’s more like culture building since your books are set in places that actually exist but with paranormal touches, what is your process for developing the cultures and political structures? Are they completely mapped out in your mind, or do they kind of evolve with every book?”
NALINI It feels as if I have a movie running in my head, and so each time I sit down to write, I walk into that movie. However, what I see depends on the character in whose point of view I am – I see what they see, learn what they learn. So while I go in knowing the overall world, I learn the details along with my characters. I love writing this way because I’m constantly discovering new aspects of my worlds in a very natural fashion.
NALINI However, I will say that I always know where I’m going with my overall storyline. That’s critical. It’s what connects all the pieces together naturally. I’m also very careful about maintaining series continuity and following my own rules, so when I say I’m constantly discovering new aspects, that’s within the confines of the world I’ve set up. There are no magic quick fixes or easy answers.
LEA Another question from Shannon, “What made you decide to write paranormal romances rather than historical, contemporaries, etc.? Your flare for world building is clearly obvious to anyone who has read/listened to one of your paranormal titles. Is this something that came to you gradually, or is it something you always knew you wanted to try?
NALINI I did start in contemporaries (I wrote six novels for Silhouette Desire). However, I was always writing paranormal romance in the background. I have always loved science fiction and fantasy along with romance, so paranormal romance was just the perfect fit for me. But, as you can see with my Rock Kiss series, I also still enjoy writing contemporary. I adore reading historicals, but the idea of writing one terrifies me! (I do still try sometimes, just for fun. .
LEA You try? Hmmm. ☺
LEA From Brenda, “I’ve seen you regularly mention the extremely detailed notes you keep for each book so there will not be any confusion as to a character’s background, features, etc. and to allow you to dive right back into the world you are currently writing. How thick are your series “bibles” now with three ongoing series?”
NALINI The Rock Kiss bible is relatively small, as the series has only just begun, but the Guild Hunter and Psy-Changeling bibles are significant. I did try a private wiki for a while, but I prefer to have folders open around me when I’m working, so I’ve gone old school again. My notes are based around characters: eg. Lucas’s page has his family history, birthday, physical characteristics, notes on his pack etc. Each page is updated after each book with any new info/developments. The bible also has sections for maps of the territories, more general series notes, and research notes. These are no longer all in one folder!
LEA Shannon asks, “There’s a debate as to whether your books are urban fantasy, paranormal romance, or both. Where do you believe your books fall?
NALINI I think the Psy-Changeling series is definitely paranormal romance, while the Guild Hunter series straddles the line. Originally, Angels’ Blood had “Urban Fantasy Romance” on the spine, to signal the fact that while it has an urban fantasy vibe, it also has a satisfying romantic ending. In the end, as long as readers can find my stories, I’m not too worried how they’re defined. ☺
LEA As a group of fans, we are completely impressed by your interaction with your readers. A few questions on that front.
LEA Diana is planning on attending one of your book-signing events in Maryland this summer and asks, “How do you balance your personal and work life with the schedule you keep? I understand that you are based out of New Zealand, yet I hear of you attending RT Conventions, RWA events, book-signings, international book events, etc.“
NALINI When I’m home in NZ, I’m very focused on my writing and very protective of my writing time. I still love it madly and passionately, so it remains my hobby as well as my profession, which means I can happily choose to write even during my down time. ☺ With travel, I generally know in advance what events I want to attend, so I just work out my schedule so that I can have that time away. I love travel too, and because I do, I’ve learned to write wherever I can. I once wrote the entire first draft of a novella while delayed in an airport / on a long haul flight.
LEA For years, Brenda closely followed your blog/website and recalls those Q & A sessions you had after the release of a book, “With three series now going strong, do you still have time to interact with your fans as closely? Do you still have those wonderful question and answer sessions after a book release? “
NALINI Yes, absolutely! Because I have a lot of readers on Facebook as well, I don’t always have the Q&A sessions on the blog. I try to split them between the two so as to balance things out. My most recent Q&A was on Facebook, after the release of Rock Hard.
NALINI I’ve promised readers a Psy-Changeling Q&A and a Guild Hunter Q&A after the release of Shards of Hope and Archangel’s Enigma respectively. ☺
LEA Are those usually 2-3 weeks after the release (seems that’s what Brenda mentioned)?
NALINI Yes, usually around two. I like to give readers a chance to get hold of the book and read it, so they can participate in the Q&A.
LEA I’m stepping back in here with a question from me – I understand these sessions are all archived at your site?
NALINI All the ones on the blog are still there in the archives. You just have to search for them. The ones on Facebook are also still there, but harder to find. When I lose a link, I just Google the details and can usually find it.
LEA Brenda has another question, “As one of the authors with a lawyering background, is there something specific about that career path that lends itself to becoming a writer?”
NALINI Hmm, for me, I went into law because I loved the English language and wanted to do something related to it, and law is all about language. So perhaps that’s the connection?
LEA Now for the audio side. You knew we would get to that!
LEA Kaetrin asks, “How much input did you have or do you have with the choice of narrators? Are you involved with the audio process at any point? Do you occasionally speak with one of your narrators?”
NALINI I didn’t choose either the Psy-Changeling or Guild Hunter narrators, though I think Tantor did a wonderful job there. With the Rock Kiss series, they did send me several choices. I narrowed it down to two whose voices I loved, but I couldn’t decide between them. So I went and looked up reviews of the narrators’ other audiobooks to make my final decision – I wasn’t looking at star ratings, but rather at what readers said they liked or didn’t like about the narration, especially when it came to books in the same genre.
LEA We love hearing that! We are always enthused to hear when an author has input to the selection of a narrator. Knowing you watched for certain aspects in other reviews makes me feel even more confident that her narration will work well for the Rock Kiss series.
LEA I haven’t heard Justine O. Keef but you better believe I’ll be listening to her now!
NALINI I hope so!
NALINI I have also spoken to my narrators on occasion. Justine got in touch with me when she was narrating Archangel’s Storm – she wanted to make sure she was pronouncing Mahiya correctly. ☺
LEA Of course, we think Tantor did a fine job choosing Justine Eyre and Angela Dawe too. ☺
LEA As though you aren’t busy enough with three series, the question begs to be asked, “Do you have any other books or series in the works?”
NALINI Always! ☺ I work on these in the background, because at this point, I can’t release any more series without getting behind on my current series. But one day in the future….
LEA As a sign off, Shannon wanted me to pass this on to you, “As a worshipper of all things feline, I love the fact that so many of her shifters are cats.” And I must say that I agree!
NALINI ☺ ☺ ☺
LEA Thank you, thank you for taking your time today to share with our listeners/readers!
NALINI Thank you for the wonderful interview!
Time to Enter
Enter for your chance to win a set of three Rock Kiss series downloads.
A First Chapter Listen of Rock Addiction
Now is the time to try Nalini Singh if you have yet to do so. Or try yet another of her series!