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Books with Buzz: Nalini Singh Interview and Five-Book Giveaway (Contest Closed)

tangleThe minute I read Nalini Singh’s Slave of Sensation, I knew we had something special in our hands.  In the intervening six, short years, Nalini has published fifteen stories in her thought-provoking Psy/Changeling series, each of them gritty, passionate, and loads of fun.

With this month’s release of Tangle of Need, we took the opportunity to ask Nalini a few questions, and she’s coming along with some free books in tow.  Five lucky readers will have their pick of any one book from the previous 10 books in the Psy/Changeling series (not including Tangle of Need – sorry), and all you have to do to enter is comment on this post by Friday, June 8, 11:59 p.m. EST.  We will notify winners by email on Saturday morning, and they will have 24 hours to respond.  If we don’t hear from a winner within that time, a new winner will be selected.  If you review for another Web site or blog, please don’t enter.  Unfortunately, only residents of the U.S. and Canada are eligible to enter.

Now, on to Nalini!

Nalini, thanks heaps for joining us today!  Can you tell us about your Psy/Changeling series, and how your new book, Tangle of Need, fits into it?

The Psy/Changeling series is set in a world with three races:

The Psy, who have phenomenal powers of the mind, such as telepathy and telekinesis, but who have conditioned emotion out of themselves in an effort to fight the insanity that often accompanies their abilities.

The changelings, who can shapeshift into animals such as wolves and leopards. They adore sensation, live for touch, and are blood loyal to their families and packs.

And the humans, who are caught in between the other two powerful races. However as the series continues, you begin to see that the humans have an important role to play.

Tangle of Need is very much a series book – it’s not one a reader should pick up if they are new to the Psy/Changeling world. Even if you want to jump to this book, I’d recommend reading at least the first book in the series (Slave to Sensation), so you have an idea of the setup of the world.

The reason for that is that this series has a very strong overarching storyline, and a lot of threads are in play in Tangle of Need. The Arrows, Hawke and Sienna’s continuing relationship, the shifting politics of the world, these are all critical elements of the book.

However, at the heart of the book is the raw, emotional story of two people who aren’t looking for a relationship, and who certainly don’t expect to find it in one another.

Let me start off by saying that I loved Tangle of Need, and its new, more global direction.  One of the more striking things about it is its ensemble nature – Adria and Riaz’s romance is fully developed, but there are also significant scenes from old and new secondary characters.   Does the book represent the beginning of a new story arc?  And will subsequent books follow the pattern that Tangle of Need sets?

I do think of Tangle of Need as beginning a new story arc (or more precisely, the second part of the original arc), but it will be a shorter one than the previous that spanned ten books.

A lot of things are now coming together, so yes, you will see a more ensemble cast – the extent of which will depend on the book in question. However, there will always be a romance at the center, because I love exploring the mysteries of the human heart – emotion is the most powerful driver of my stories.

I don’t want to give anything away, but one thing I really liked about Adria and Riaz’s relationship resolution is that it presented a different…shall we say, possibility, one that I think breaks the previous mold.  Can you speak to that?  And will we see other relationship possibilities in the future?

As you mentioned, it’s really difficult to talk about this without major spoilers, but what I will say is that for me, the resolution is exactly as it should be – it’s powerful, passionate, and true to the rules of the world while being deeply emotionally satisfying.

As for the future – each relationship is unique, and how the couples come together depends very much on them.

This is also the first book with significant scenes outside of North America.  I particularly loved your vision of a partially submerged Venice – it’s both wonderfully imaginative and highly plausible.  That plausibility is a particular strength of your series – you present many issues that are relevant today (e.g. multiculturalism, racism, technology, sustainability).  Do you see your series as ultimately hopeful, or a warning?  And will we see more scenes, or whole books, outside of North America?

Hopeful, of course! It’s what I love about romance – no matter what, there is always hope.

Yes, you will see more scenes set outside North America – how many will hinge on the needs of the particular story. DarkRiver and SnowDancer remain key to the storyline, so at this point, we continue to have a strong anchor in North America.

Your world building is incredible, from the different changeling societies (BlackSea has my undivided attention) to the Human Alliance and all the different Psy designations.  The series shows epic planning and research, which I really respect, but I wish I knew more about the stuff that doesn’t land in the books.  Have you thought of doing a Psy/Changeling Companion, or something along those lines?  Because I’d buy it.

I occasionally think about this, but the fact is, I’d have to cut out big sections because they’d contain spoilers for the future of the series.

So, for the moment, no companion. Instead, I’ll take you traveling with me as I explore different corners of the world (Blacksea is definitely on the radar).

Your cliffhanger was evil.  Evil.  So I have to ask: When’s the next book coming out?  And how many more books do you have planned in the series?  Do Kaleb, Aden or Bo feature in them?

The next book will be out end of May next year, all going well. I already have parts of it written, and have had for some time. I can’t wait to immerse myself fully in it.

As for the number of books, I think it’ll be two-to- four books to the end of the original arc. After which, I have plans to explore aspects of the world/characters that we may not have seen as much to date (such as the falcons).

As for your final question – wait and see. ;-)

Now, you’re also the author of the Guild Hunter series, for which you’ve written four books and three novellas.  Can you tell us briefly about the series?

The GH series is very different from the Psy/Changeling series. It’s much darker, bloodier, but it is still deeply romantic.

It’s set in a world ruled by archangels, with vampires as their servants. The guild hunters are hired to retrieve these vampires when they try to escape the contracts they signed in exchange for near-immortality. The hunters are tough, highly trained, and mortal.

As for the archangels – they are true immortals, and see humans as fireflies whose lives end in but a moment. They can be painfully beautiful, cruel of heart, and magnificent in their power. And in New York, if you look up from the streets, you might just see an angel with wings of silver-edged blue sweeping above the skyscrapers.

Both the Guild Hunter and Psy/Changeling series have many things in common – alpha men, strong women, inherent violence.  But my favorite quality to your books is the multiculturalism.  It’s as if everyone’s color blind.  People hail from all races and ethnicities, and your descriptions of characters’ physical characteristics, especially skin color, tend to be evocative rather than solid (I think you once described Jason’s skin as “whispering of the Pacific”, rather than saying he looked Samoan or something).  Is this deliberate on your part?  And does your own multicultural background (Fijian Indian, New Zealand resident, Japanese sojourner, all-round traveler) play a part in it?

I think this comes from the fact that I’ve pretty much always lived in places with diverse populations, plus yes, the travel has definitely had an impact. I see the world as a vibrant, global village, and that’s how I write it.

So I didn’t plan it as such (with one caveat) – I simply sat down, wrote, and this is what came out. People are people – and in my world, some of them also hunt vampires or have the telekinetic ability to destroy a city. It’s all part of the same package.

The caveat is that with the Psy it was/is deliberate. They play with their genes, negotiate fertilization and conception contracts based on the best chance of high psychic abilities in their offspring, pull from the global PsyNet for information about potential partners. So, one of my Psy characters, for example, has a parent originally from Uzbekistan, while another has ancestry from Russia, Japan, and Scotland.

As for the way I describe things – I love playing with language, with words. So the descriptions are simply part of my writing style, and that style is subtly different between the two series – the “flavor” of each series is unique, and that comes through in the language used as much as in the plots and the characters.

Will you share with us your other plans for this year, publishing or otherwise?

By the time this interview goes live, I will be on book tour in Germany. While I’ve had a stopover in Frankfurt, I’ve never explored Germany in depth, so I’m very excited. Then in July, I’ll be in Anaheim for the RWA conference – I hope to see some of you there!

Publishing wise, I have a new release in September – Archangel’s Storm, which features the enigmatic spymaster, Jason, with his wings of midnight and the mysterious curves and swirls of a tattoo that covers the left side of his face. You can read the first chapter of the book on my website: www.nalinisingh.com/storm.php

In terms of my writing, I’m currently working on a new Psy/Changeling novella, before moving on to the next Psy/Changeling book.

Any last words?

Thank you for the lovely interview!

If anyone would like to find me online, here’s where you can spot me:

Website: www.nalinisingh.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/nalinisingh

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authornalinisingh

– Jean AAR

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