Help me welcome special guest author Nalini Singh. Everyone is talking about Nalini’s new release Kiss of Snow – the 10th book in her riveting Psy/Changeling series; and today we get some of your questions answered.
- When you wrote the very first book in the Psy-Changeling Series – Slave to Sensation – did you know then what the complete arc for the entire series would be? I ask this because the mythology and world building of the entire series is so multi-faceted and multi-layered – how do you keep track of it all? Does the series have an end point? Okay, I know that’s three questions.
I’ve always known what the end point of the series would be – I think that knowledge has helped maintain the cohesiveness of the series. Without it, it would be so much easier to go off on tangents.
However, when I do reach that end point, I would like to do some tangent books, exploring parts of the world that may not have fit easily into the main storyline.
As to how I keep track of it – most of it is in my head. The world is so very real to me that I feel as if I step into it when I write. I do keep notes of details like dates, times, hair/eye color etc, and always double-check those details against the books.
- In creating such a unique mythology – and now that you’ve written the tenth book - was there ever a time when you thought, yikes, I wish I could change that ‘rule’; or how am I going to get around a certain criteria that I’ve already established but doesn’t quite work for this hero and heroine? Or do you find a lot of freedom in creating your own mythology and anything goes?
Continuity is very, very important to me, both as a writer and a reader. I think if you change the rules to make things easier, it destroys the tension in the story.
So yes, while certain rules integral to the world(s) might give me a headache at times, working out how to move the story forward without breaking those rules, makes me, I think, a better writer, and the stories stronger.
- In Kiss of Snow we finally get Hawke and Sienna’s story and we’ve been following their story for several books now. As a reader we go on this journey feeling their bond toward each other getting stronger, so when they finally do come together the payoff is not only big but many questions are answered. As an author, how do you pace a book – does it have a certain rhythm that you must stay true to? Or are there no set rules and each book plays out as it must?
There are definitely no rules as such. Each book has its own rhythm and pace. With Hawke and Sienna, they needed to have a serious courtship, needed to first see and accept each other as lovers, before they ever made physical contact.
In comparison, Mercy and Riley from Branded by Fire (Psy-Changeling Series #6) had an explosive encounter in the first chapter, becoming lovers before they became friends.
Each and every character is unique, and they drive how a story moves forward.
- Your heroines are exciting women –they are strong, independent and intelligent, and they always play a big part in saving themselves and the hero. Why is it important for your heroines to have an equal role in ‘saving the day’? Who are the women who most inspire you? And have any of your heroines been based on those women?
I love writing alpha heroes – and an alpha hero needs a mate as strong. Otherwise, there is a risk of the hero coming across as domineering, and the heroine as a wimp. I couldn’t bear that for my heroines and their heroes.
This doesn’t mean all the women are kick-ass. Strength comes in different forms – for example, Sascha, from Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling Series #1) , is an empath, someone who could never harm another being. And yet she has the capacity to take in and neutralize the most dangerous and painful of emotions from other people, giving them peace—even though doing so can cause her terrible pain.
I’m inspired by the strong women around me – normal, everyday women who live strong, loving lives. However, my characters are very vivid individuals from the start, so I don’t base them on people I know.
- I have to ask; what about Xavier, Aden and The Ghost? They have made appearances in previous books and seem to have major roles to play in forthcoming books. Have you already created ‘back stories’ for these characters? As major players in the ever growing conspiracy that is happening within the Psy race will they get their own stories?
Yes, Xavier, Aden and the Ghost all have their backstories, some of which you’ve learned, while other parts are yet to be revealed. They’ll continue to play a strong role in the series, though they might not all get a stand-alone book – however, that doesn’t mean you won’t get to see their stories through the series.
- Max Shannon and Sophia Russo (Bonds of Justice (Psy-Changeling Series #8) ) make a brief appearance in Kiss of Snow. Will Sophia continue to stay hooked up to the Psy Net and what consequences does that have for her relationships with the Changelings?
Sophia’s reasons for remaining in the Net are unchanged. In terms of her future relationship with the changelings, it’s as organic as the rest of the world – so it’ll develop and change as the world does.
- Which of your books' characters have surprised you the most during their evolution? (I’m also asking if your characters have ever surprised you – have they ever started out one way and ended another.)
There is one particular character, but it’s a character I can’t name without giving away several spoilers, so I’ll just say, yes, I have been surprised by the evolution of this character. However, having said that, I’ve always been a writer who lets my characters lead, so rather than calling such a change a surprise, I’d term it more as being allowed to see hidden facets of their identity and personality.
8. One of our readers, SarahDH, asks: I read somewhere that after Kiss of Snow comes out, the next Psy-Changeling book will begin a new arc with different packs (such as the falcons). If this happens, will you ever go back to the DarkRiver/SnowDancer packs for any more books?
I did mention that the falcons might appear in the next arc, but that’s not set in stone. I’d definitely like to write about them, but it depends on the overall storyline, because while I know where I’m going with the series, I don’t plot out each particular book (or step toward that end point) in advance. I prefer to wait and see which characters most speak to me. This time it was a SnowDancer lieutenant and his heroine – their book is next.
Whatever happens as the series continues, DarkRiver and SnowDancer are part of the heart of the Psy/Changeling series, and I can’t imagine ever completely moving away from them—part of the joy of this series for me is being able to see the lives of my characters continue after their book(s). And then there are the characters who haven’t had their books yet, and who I want to see grow into their strength.
9. Maria Rivera asks, I’ve always wondered what Mercy’s babies would be like. Would they be Leopard, Wolf or some combination?
According to the healers, it would depend upon who – Mercy or Riley – was feeling the most dominant at the time of conception, so we’ll have to wait and see!
10. Ok, now for some personal questions:
- If you were a Changeling what kind of Changeling would you be?
I’ve always wanted to fly, so I’d go with a falcon.
- Conversely, if you were a Psy, what ability would you like to have?
Teleportation. So convenient for travel!
- What aspect of writing brings you the most joy – research, writing, editing?
Such a difficult question – it all depends. I love the first draft stage, when I’m racing to find out the story, but I also love the final edits, when I can see the complete book.
- If someone were to write a romance novel of your life – what sub-genre of romance would it be? And what character would you play?
I’ve never before been asked this question, and I must admit that I’m still pondering the answer!
11. If we get on bended knee and promise to send a massage therapist to your house, could you give us a tiny hint about what will happen next? Inquiring readers need to know.
There is a conversation between Judd and an Arrow at the end of Kiss of Snow that’ll give you a good idea of the direction of the next story arc.