May 20, 2015

Nalini Singh at AWF15

Auckland Writers Festival

Guild hunting with Nalini Singh

Thanks to Joanne Graves from our Central Auckland Research Centre for this guest post.

Nalini Singh is quite likely this country's most successful author that no one has heard of, Graham Beattie remarked as he introduced her to the audience. As a reader of her work from way back -- I remember reading her first Psy Changeling novel in one sitting, and I'm not even a paranormal reader  -- I think he's spot on. Nalini mentioned it took six books doing very well in the North American market before New Zealand publishers cottoned on to her, and she now has a local fanbase that is steadily growing.

At the book signing afterwards, fans waited with piles of books for her to sign, and watching the slow-moving queue, it stood out that she's living a life most writers can only ever dream of. Writing full time, hitting the lists -- USA Today and the Holy Grail that is the New York Times -- awards and nominations, a Kirkus best book, book tours around the world, and an international fan base so eager for her work that her publisher puts her books out in the notoriously-priced hardcover first.

Nalini began writing contemporary novels for one of the Mills and Boon lines, but it's the paranormal books where she's made her name. Add to that, she is indie publishing a series revolving around a Kiwi rock band and it shows just how enterprising she is. She attributes it to discipline, and loving what she does. I remember a Metro article back in 2007 where she described herself as the typical girl at school with her head stuck in a book; a daydreamer who read everything from fantasy to sci fi to romance to literary fiction.

Someone in the audience asked what she puts her appeal down to and she thinks it's because she's got an international voice -- born in Fiji, moving to NZ when she was ten, then living in Japan after she finished her BA/LLB. She also believes that when you're starting out you should "write in isolation" to develop voice - it's the most critical thing. She never showed her work to anyone for a long time, and believes you risk writing your book by committee if you do.

It seems to have worked. In a time when publishers are cutting back on expenses like book tours, Nalini does them. She talked about arriving at airports to find a driver waiting for her, being driven to the hotel, then to the event, then back to the hotel. On New Zealand tours, she has a publicist with her all the time but in the US, she’s on her own. On her second book tour to North America, she took her sister for company.

She likes to get the admin side of writing out of the way in the morning (she jokes how she once tweeted she had zero in her inbox but it lasted about a minute) and as long as she finishes a day reaching her word count – even if that day is 3am – that’s okay. She writes on a computer that has no internet access but she loves social media. Her break times are spent on Facebook and Twitter and she finds them rejuvenating. On the question of illegal downloads of her work, she isn’t precious about it. “They would probably have never bought the book anyway.”

She’s had ‘bites’ from production companies and her agent in LA handles the movie arm of the agency but she says she won't get excited about any TV or movie deal until "its signed in blood, in triplicate, and I’ve been given a cheque.”

When asked how someone so young could write about the depths she goes into of the male/female relationship (she was first published in the romance genre in her early 20s), she noted that emotion is emotion, feelings can be translated, and she’s a very good listener. Although, she quipped, she doubts crime writers get asked how many people they’d killed to write about murder.

Towards the end, someone asked her how she found writing about rockstars compared to writing about the paranormal. Not missing a beat, she joked, “Its not all that different from paranormal romance because - you know - rock stars..."


Ditulis Oleh : Karen Craig // 22:27


  1. Kudos, Auckland Libraries, for profiling Nalini Singh. She deserves more attention at home!

  2. Excellent write-up, Joanne!

    What Cate said: Nalini is a fabulous ambassador for Kiwi writers of all genres. She's always generously shared her knowledge with Romance Writers of New Zealand members at both the annual conferences and Auckland chapter meetings. I've been reading and loving her books for a decade, now, and it always surprised me how little known she was in NZ. I'm thrilled to see NZ is finally waking up to her success!

  3. Agree, Cate and Maree. Its incredible it took local publishers six books to realise they had a star author in their midst - but I guess that's publishing for you!

  4. I was so pleased - at the conference at Rydges in Auckand - to be asked by the sales manager (?) of Whitcoulls if I could point Nalini out as they wished to start stocking her books. I took him over to her and introduced them with the greatest of pleasure. She's so deserving of her success.


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