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Interview with Nalini Singh

nalini-singh-author-photo-smallI got the unimaginable chance to interview Nalini Singh, my favorite author of my ALL TIME FAVORITE BOOK SERIES, The Guild Hunters Series.

First off, I’d like to send a massive thank out to Nalini Singh for taking time out of her extremely busy schedule to answer these questions. Secondly, I’d like to send a thank you to her assistant, Ashwini, who I was in correspondence with over getting the interview. She was fantastic and pushed it through for me, even though I had to wait a little while. It just shows what a little perseverance and patience can be rewarded with.

Now, without further delay, let’s get to the interview. It’s fantastic with some amazing answers and definitely worth my wait.

Once again, thank you SO much to Nalini Singh and Aswhini.

Check out Nalini Singh’s website here.


 

1. What inspired you to write both The Guild Hunter series as well as the Psy/Changeling series?

With the Psy-Changeling series, it was a “what if” question: What if we had true psychic abilities like telepathy that allowed us to talk mind-to-mind, or teleportation that allowed us to travel at a thought? At first, I thought it would be amazing. Then I began to consider… what if the flip side to all that psychic power was insanity of the worst kind? What would you do to survive?

Those questions drove me to write the books – to search for the answers alongside my characters.

With the Guild Hunter series, it was slightly different. I had an image in my mind of an archangel high in a tower in New York. Only, he wasn’t an angel in the religious sense. He was a warrior, a powerful being with wings and incredible power – and oh, he had a sleek black phone in his hand. An archangel who uses a modern phone? I had to know what was going on! But when I put pen to paper, it wasn’t the archangel who spoke first, but a smart, slightly snarky, and dangerously competent guild hunter.

And the adventure began, all darkness and blood and beauty.

2. Besides the characters in the books who you stated were obviously written for a friend, thus meaning the character was based off that person (or so I can assume; referencing Archangel’s Shadows with Ashwini), were any of your others characters based on real life people that you know or were they all just created/came to life in your head?

All my characters are unique in themselves, even Ashwini. I just borrowed her name. 😉 Like all writers, I enjoy people watching, but when I sit down to write, I don’t base characters on the people I know – I listen for the character’s voice, try to be authentic to that voice and to who they are as individuals.

3. When did you know you wanted to write and what made you want to start to write?

I’ve loved reading from a young age. I remember people giving me books as gifts when I was very young, because everyone knew that was what would make me really happy. And I was also always a daydreamer, happily amusing myself with imaginary adventures – and then at some point, I began to write those stories down. So I can’t pinpoint any one point in time where I realized I wanted to be a writer. It was a very natural process.

4. Beside romance novels, which I hopefully can safely assume you enjoy to read, what other genres, if any, do you like to read and what are some of your favorite books from said genres?

I totally adore romance – I read tons and tons of it across all its subgenres, from historical to contemporary to paranormal.

Outside romance, I really enjoy mysteries and thrillers. Some of my favorite authors in that genre are: Jonathan Kellerman, Kathy Reichs, & JD Robb (who also gets shelved in romantic suspense).

Science fiction and fantasy is also a lifelong love of mine. In those two genres I love: Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Tanya Huff, and a new-to-me author whose books I’ve been racing through, Jack Campbell.

Those are just a few! Like any voracious reader, I can keep going.

5. Are you currently reading anything and if so what is it?

I’m reading Half Share by Nathan Lowell, a science fiction novel. It’s the second book in the “Trader’s Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper” series.

Unlike many of the other sf series I love, this series isn’t about a grand adventure or big politics, but rather, it follows the story of an eighteen-year-old who joins a trading ship because it’s his only option. It shows how he settles in, how he goes from a “greenie” to a valued member of the crew, and his growing knowledge of what it means to be on a trading ship.

It’s a “quiet” story, but I’m really enjoying following along with the hero’s development. It feels like I’m cheering along a friend step by step through his life.

6. What are your writing habits? Such as do you have to have a cup of coffee, a scented candle, etc.

I do like to have a pot of tea every morning as I settle in, but over the years, I’ve learned to write anywhere, under almost any circumstance. On one memorable occasion, I wrote almost half the first draft of a novella while sitting on the floor of an airport, my laptop plugged into the only power point I could find that was free.

7. When you are not writing, what can you usually be found doing?

Reading, hanging out with friends, gardening, planning travel, scribbling notes for stories I want to write!

8. For a more fun question, if you were sent to a deserted island and were only able to bring 5 things (they don’t have to be realistic) and food and shelter wasn’t an issue, what would you bring?

A notebook.
A pen.
A magical ereader that downloads any book I want and that never runs out of battery power.
An outdoor bed with hanging curtains so I could sleep on the beach if I wanted.
And a really hot genie to get me anything else I want!

9. And one final question. As my favorite series written by you was The Guild Hunter series, I am definitely curious as to when readers can possibly expect the next book to come out and if you can give any hints as to who may be featured, or the potential choices. And of course when the next Psy/Changeling novel will be released and any secrets you may be able to divulge to your readers about that book too?

The next Guild Hunter book is titled Archangel’s Heart and it will feature Elena and Raphael, and the story will link back to a mystery in Elena’s past. There are some big surprises in this book!

The next Psy-Changeling book will release in June this year and it’s titled Allegiance of Honor. This book is a reunion book that will feature many of the characters we’ve come to know over the previous books in the series, but it’ll also continue to move the series storyline forward. I had so much fun writing this and I can’t wait for it to be out! You can read an excerpt from it on my website: nalinisingh.com

Also releasing this year is Wild Embrace, a collection of four all-new Psy-Changeling novellas. An exclusive excerpt recently went out in my newsletter, but it should be available on my website soon.

 

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Shannon Cordon Author Info

Shannon CordonBiography
Shannon Condon (1969-) was born in upstate New York and raised in South Florida. She graduated from the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Florida. While she was married she moved frequently to several states. When she got to North Carolina, she fell in love with the state. Soon she divorced her husband and moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. She and her sons were soon joined by the rest of her family who migrated up from South Florida. Shannon comes from a close knit family and with the help of her parents, she is able to work and raise her three sons. Her dream has always been to write books. In 2015 she got that chance and the result is her debut novel, Finding Magdalena. It will pull at your heartstrings from the first few pages and hold you captive until the shattering climax.


BookBear logo Disclaimer: These questions are courtesy of BookBear.

Q & A

1. When did you realise you wanted to become an author?
 
I realized I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school and went to college with that goal in mind. Of course, life happens and it wasn’t until recently that I have had the opportunity to realize my dream.
 
2. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
 
The message I want readers to take away from this book is abuse in teenage relationships and at the teenage level, whether in a relationship or not, is a very real thing. I think girls are particularly susceptible at college when they are away from home and looking for security which is often equated with a boyfriend. Abuse can come in many forms and I knew many girls who experienced it, myself included.
3. What genre do you consider your book(s)?
 
My book has been labeled by the publisher as coming of age/ young adult. Due to the nature of the content, I would recommend it for 15+.
4. What was the hardest part of writing this book?  
 
I think the hardest part of writing this book was keeping the length to a reasonable length. I had a lot more I wanted to add to the book but had been advised not to go over a certain word count. Fortunately, that is what sequels are for.

5. Do you have any advice for other writers?
 

My advice to other writers is not to get discouraged. I received lots of rejection letters before I decided to self publish. I am still sending query letters to publishers. Just because what you write doesn’t strike a chord with one agent doesn’t mean another won’t love it. The most important thing is to believe in yourself and make sure you EDIT your manuscript before you send any part of it to an agent.

6. How long does it take you to write a book?

 

It’s hard to put a timeline on how long it takes me to write a book. I can spend a couple of months developing a book and the characters before I actually put a single word on my computer.  Once I begin writing, however, I would say it takes about six to eight months.  I am constantly rewriting in my head even as I am writing on my computer and this leads to deleted chapters and backtracking. It’s important to me that when I am done, the characters are strong and the story fluid.

 

7. What books have most influenced your life most?
 

I think the books that have had the greatest influence on me are the ones that I don’t want to end. They draw me in so much that I am immersed in another world. Some examples would be my all time favorite, ‘Lord of the Flies’ by William Golding and the Hunger Games series.

 

8. What are you working on at the minute?
 

Right now I am working on the sequel to Finding Magdalena. I am very excited about it because I feel that Maggie is growing as a woman and in strength. There will be a lot of surprises and I hope everyone who has been asking for a sequel will be asking for more!

 

9. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead characters from your book?
 
To be honest, I cannot think of any current actress who could play Maggie. She is such a unique character. I would envision a new face playing her if a movie was made of Finding Magdalena.

10. What’s is your book about?
 
My book is about a girl named who suffers a terrible tragedy at fifteen. As she begins to recover with the help of her best friend, Graham, she meet’s her roommate’s older brother, Eric. He becomes obsessed with Maggie. His obsession becomes violent and he abuses and sexually tortures her. She flees to Spain to attend college and try to find her mother’s estranged family. Just as she settles into what she believes is a safe life, Eric finds her and she begins a journey across Europe to escape him that draws upon all her strength and shows her the woman she is meant to be.
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Get To Know Faisal Ansari

Book Bear is currently doing a book tour for Faisal Ansari’s new book The Prestilence and I was graciously provided with a fantastic interview/answers which Mr. Ansari answered.

His responses are great and his screw up with the first book agent he saw hilariously sad and a great read as well.

Unfortunately I don’t have time to check out this book at the moment but I hope to soon because it looks fantastic! If you give it a shot, let me know what you think.

Now, without further ado, here we gooooo!

Disclaimer: Adult language in the final interview set. Viewer discretion advised.


 

Faisal Ansari headshot

Writers Routine

Faisal Ansari wrote his debut novel The Pestilence in twelve months.  He shares his writing routine with us.

I wrote The Pestilence from October 2014 to June 2015 and was lucky enough to be able to treat writing as a full time job.

Dostoevsky said that one must have the courage to dare.  I think any new writer needs to have the courage to sit down and just go for it.  If you write from your heart, if you write from within; then the without will take care of itself.

When I commenced writing The Pestilence I had just finished a short story which contained the main characters of the book.  It outlined for me who my characters were.  Of The Pestilence itself, I knew the destination the story was headed in, but was not entirely sure of how best to get there.

Internet research told me that a typical first time novel was around 100,000 words in length.  So I planned for 20 chapters comprising 5,000 words each.  I broke this little rule on my very first chapter and the book eventually came it at 85,000 words.

I wrote scene by scene and not necessarily in chronological order.  I asked myself every morning what scene did I feel like writing today.  If I didn’t have an answer I would just continue where I left off the day before.

Keeping track of word count as you write is a small but supremely motivating detail.  I averaged about 1,000 new words a day.  My personal world record daily word count was 2,400 words when I achieved a once in a lifetime Zen like state and entered writing nirvana.

I rarely edited as I went along.  I found that it was too disruptive (and boring).  My focus was to get the ideas out of my head and onto the page/screen.  I shied away from the write, edit, write, edit approach preferring instead to review big chunks at a time. I don’t believe in mentally masturbating over a word, paragraph or sentence.  If I got stuck (which happened a lot) I just wrote something else.

I was lucky in that I had a network of people around me that would review and critique the book as I wrote it.  Importantly they had the courage to tell me when something didn’t work or when what I wrote sucked balls.  I changed large sections of the manuscripts based on the vital feedback I received.

My working routine when I didn’t have any outside appointments was as follows: Get kids breakfasted and off to school. Sit down about 9.30am to write. I took tea and half a packet of digestives at 11.30am religiously.

I wasted an insane amount of time looking out of the window or surfing the internet.  I sometimes disconnected the network cable on the PC and switched off my phone just to find a moment free of distraction.

Due to the sacred digestives I found myself rapidly getting fat.  I started a workout called P90X3.  Which was 30 minutes and day and it helped keep my arse from spilling out of my chair.  Lunch and exercise was around 1.30pm then I would write until kids returned from being educated.  Any creativity dissipates in the face of family onslaught and I rarely wrote in the evenings.

Following editing (the most boring part of the whole process) and amendments the Pestilence was published by Matador on October 31 2015.  The book took 12 months from inception to publication.


 

How I became a writer

Two factors came together that enabled me to write The Pestilence. Firstly, for the first time in my salaried life I had the luxury of time.  I had been working in the City for 16 years.  It was physically and mentally challenging.  The long hours meant you were away from the people who matter most to you.  Looking back it was an excellent experience, but there wasn’t much scope for creative writing.  The closest I got to being creative was trying to sneak inappropriate words into legal documents such as Listing Particulars.  My favourite sentence was saying that a product had a “banal penetration” rate in a market.  Then on the next draft of the document the “b” would mysteriously disappear.  Unfortunately, I never got it past the lawyers.

I had got to the point where I felt I wanted to carve out some time to write, making time is the single most important thing for a writer. I was lucky enough to be able to do so.

The second factor was inspiration.  On an ordinary London street I witnessed a man falling badly. He was old and frail, his face awash with blood. The shock of the fall caused his hands to contract and flex like my daughter’s the day she was born. I couldn’t sleep thinking of that man and his hands, always his hands.

I wished I could have taken away his pain.  I wished I could have given him my strength.  I wished I could have healed him. I got to thinking; what would happen if somebody did?  What would happen if in this 24/7 news cycle a healer came from the east that could guarantee you a long life, free from injury, sickness and disease?

Over the next two weeks I wrote a 2,500 word short story about the healer. Writing it was a horribly painful process far harder than writing the actual book, it was something akin to passing a watermelon.  I have documented my struggles in my Writer’s Diary.  The finished story was raw, but it contained the main characters and was the genesis of The Pestilence.


 

Author Faisal Ansari, took a drastic career change when he went from investment banker to author, and he’s here today, recalling one of his first tentative steps into the publishing world – meeting a literary agent!

It didn’t quite go as planned…

How I fucked up my first meeting with a literary agent

The demigod Zuul, worshipped by the Mesopotamians, Sumerians and Hittites was a minion of Gozer the Destructor; she was also known as the Gatekeeper.  

In the publishing world, the Gatekeepers are the literary agents.  Very few traditional publishers accept unsolicited manuscripts.  For a hopeful debut author the literary agents are the bridge to the promised land.  You want someone to publish your wonderfully crafted prose?  Get an agent.  This is how not to do it.

As a new author seeking to go down the traditional publishing route I had two choices to hook an agent: Write hundreds of submission letters and wait and wait and wait and then watch as the rejections slowly dripped into my inbox; or try agent speed dating.  Writers’ festivals across the country offer the opportunity to pitch your work directly to a real life literary agent.  Prior to the festival you submit the usual cover letter, synopsis and the required chapters of your manuscript and on the day you have a 15 minute slot to discuss your work with an agent.  So I paid my money, sent my submissions and rocked up to the Winchester Writers’ Festival.

In a room full of agents and nervous authors my first interview was horrific and went something like this:

Agent question: What genre is your work?

Answer given:  Errr… it’s a page-turning thriller set in Jerusalem about a healer.  It has strong spiritual, religious and supernatural undertows, but not vampires or werewolves or anything shit like that.  [I actually liked the Twilight series, so no idea why I said the last bit].

Answer I should have given: A commercial thriller set in Jerusalem.

Agent question: Who would read it?

Answer given: Errr…Men and Women.

[Long pause].

[Trying again].  Errr…actually, everyone really.  Most probably anyone who likes reading? [Yes, I managed to turn a stupid answer into a stupid question].

Answer I should have given: As a commercial thriller I believe the book will have wide popular appeal.

Agent question: Which book will it sit next to on the shelf?

Answer given:  Errr…The Hand I Fan With by Tina McElroy Ansa [desperately trying to think of alphabetical shelf listings].

Answer I should have given: Any of the successful commercial thriller writers such as Dan Brown or John Grisham.

Agent question: Are you writing the next book in the series?

Answer given: Errr…no way. I have just emerged from my underground bunker after spending nine months of my short life writing this book.  I am enjoying the sunlight and fresh air.  I will start the next book soon, but right now I would rather eat my own feet than climb back in my bunker again.

Answer I should have given: Of course, I have so many exciting ideas for the next seven books in the series.  I love writing, it is my life, my passion.  I burst from the womb holding a pen.

Agent question: Who is your favourite author?

Answer given:  Murakami.

Agent follow up question: What I have seen of your work it possess nothing like the flair of Murakami.

Answer given:  Err…you asked me who my favourite author was.

Answer I should have given: Go fuck yourself you fluffed up arrogant arse.

You live and learn.

 


About the author:

Faisal Ansari has spent the majority of his adult life strapped into a suit writing marketing and stuffy legal documentation for M&A transactions in the City.

Despite growing up in London, Faisal’s overwhelming preference is to be outdoors.  When trapped indoors he reads until his eyes bleed.

Faisal wrote full time to complete his first novel, The Pestilence.

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Interview with Sarah Fawcett

Sarah Fawcett, author of The Research Project, took time out of her busy life to do a really quick interview for me and the answers are fantastic!

Thank you so much for doing the interview Ms. Fawcett as well as contacting me over the book. I wish you tons of success with your series in your future.

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Courtesy of Sarah Fawcett

1.     What got you interested in writing and how old were you?

I loved the brainstorming aspect of writing that I learned in grade 4.  I would have a short outline of a story and then brainstorm ideas to make a more interesting storyline, the weirder or more unusual the better.  I took 8 different English classes in Grade 12 and OAC, loving creative writing and women’s literature.  

2.    What got you into the erotic genre of writing?

I’m not sure how that happened.  Honestly!  I loved the thought of writing about meeting someone and the initial attraction or spark that comes with first dates and first times, so I knew I wanted to write an entire book about those feelings and those moments, it just became sexual.

3.    How did you come up with the idea for The Research Project Trilogy?

I knew my main character was going to be a smart, professional woman who was organized with OCD tendencies and she was going to evolve in the novels, becoming more relaxed.  When I chose to make her a psychologist, Everything else just fell into place.  There was going to be lots of sex, lots of different men, but in very realistic situations.  

4.    What types of habits do you have when writing (a candle, box of mints, tea, etc)?

I always carry a notebook and would rather write the story and add details when I transfer it to my laptop.  Other than that, once I get started, nothing stops me…the kids had to make their own dinner more than a couple of times.   Oh, and everyday I change location.  My kitchen table, my bedroom, my office, the art desk…Starbucks!  I like change.

5.    What’s your top 5 favorite books?  How bout top 3??!!

Anything Sidney Sheldon- his novels actually inspired me to research different scenarios when my character met men.

Butterfly by Kathryn Harvey
Beverly Hills by Pat Booth

6.    What are 5 things you cannot live without?

Orange Pekoe tea

Peanut m&ms
Aussie Spray Sprunch hairspray (I have naturally curly hair)
EOS lip balm
My iPod

7.     f you could travel to anywhere in the world (money not an issue) where would it be and why?

Galápagos Islands- I have to take lessons first, but it’s the best place to dive in the world.  It’s on my husbands bucket list for good reason.  We might see hammerhead sharks, whale sharks, eagle rays and much more.  Even out of the water, I could see wildlife like blue-footed boobies, albatross and penguins during hikes around volcanoes.  It may be our 25th anniversary trip.

8.     What is the most exotic food you have had?

I love Indian food.  I’ve only been once with a girlfriend and can’t convince my husband to go with me.  Butter Chicken, Lamb Vindaloo, Aloo Gobhi (cauliflower and potatoes)…  It was a great experience and hope to get someone to go with me again!

9.     In your spare time, what can you be found doing?

Since I spend most of my time teaching group fitness classes, like spin, yoga, kickboxing, etc, I enjoy my down time sewing, scrap booking, painting and doing crafts with my girls.  My newest interest is stained glass.  I start a 6 week course this week.

10.  Where do you hope your career with writing will take you and where can you see your writing in the future?

I’m starting small.  My goal is to sell 5000 books at the moment, while writing my next 2 novels.  If I hit my goal this year, then I’ll continue writing.  If not… I’ll have to make a serious decision about a writing career.