Author Spotlight Interview: Nalini Warriar
Today’s interview is with award winning author Nalini Warriar. Nalini writes steamy interracial and cross-cultural contemporary romances. It was our honor getting to know more about her publication journey, writing style, and life outside of writing!
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
NW: I’m an extrovert with hidden depths I only reveal to those very close to me and so I come off as this la-di-da person who’s always laughing and having fun. This fits very well with my persona as a writer. I slip into my characters with obsessive and relative ease. I open up easily and everyone is good until they are proven wrong. And if they are, boy am I pissed. I speak five languages and have travelled quite a bit, an aspect often reflected in my writing as I love to weave stories about diverse people.
HG: Five languages, wow! Tell us a bit about your publishing journey. How did you know you were ready to take on the “author” title?
NW: I’ve been writing since 1994 and was ‘traditionally’ published in 2003 in the literary fiction genre. I wrote a book of shorts, Blues from the Malabar Coast, which won an award so it all went straight to my head. My first novel, The Enemy Within (sequel being ruminated), was published soon after. Then came a dry spell as I really wanted to write romance but wasn’t sure where to start. Plus, I couldn’t decide whether it should be steamy or sweet. I went with my taste since I love reading steamy contemporary romances, a genre I’d disconnected with for many years. As a young girl growing up in India, I read Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer and Mills and Boon romances. But when I picked up the romance thread again after a few years of research (I took too much time but I was working full time too), I realized I wanted to write romances.
HG: Love that. Thank you for sharing with us. What have been the challenges you’ve faced in your publishing career?
NW: After winning the award, a friend told me that it would get easier to find a home for my books. Alas, no one wanted to publish it and no agent wanted to represent me. I have boxes stacked with rejection letters and a few years (!!) of that and I’d had enough. The long months of waiting for scraps, then resubmitting and again waiting and the tasteless ‘this doesn’t fit our editorial need’ garbage….it was easier and more pleasant to have a baby since bringing out a book and letting it go is painful enough without adding the pile of rejections …unbearable! Who needs this torture? I decided to go the Indie way and haven’t looked back since.
HG: Is there anything you’d do differently? Advice to aspiring authors?
NW: Yes, I would have decided to go the Indie way sooner instead of wasting years. And I should have believed in myself and in my craft and started with romance books much sooner. Forget about publishers and agents unless you have time to waste. Just to hear back about an ‘unsolicited submission’ could take months. The longer you wait, the staler the book gets in your head. You want to finish, be done with it, move on! My advice to aspiring authors is to first pick a genre, read extensively to get an idea what the particular genre is about, find out what kind of writing appeals to you and what does not and read extensively, read, read …..You can’t be a writer without reading. And of course, analyze the books that reflect your taste. I’m a scientist by training so I took the books apart-not physically of course-by researching the word count, page count, length of chapters, pace….I used to teach novel writing and combined with my scientific background, I can get quite analytical. I love a well-structured book. I adore consistent pace and voice. So I try to write structured and consistent books. And that is why I love writing romance where structure, pace and voice are very well defined as opposed to literary fiction.
HG: Fantastic advice! Tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. Does it differ for each of your different series?
NW: My process has evolved over the years. Before, I had to find time to write after work and after the family was taken of. Now, I’m living the dream of being a full-time writer and can write any time. I’m more disciplined and I write every day. If I don’t, I feel something’s missing. It can be thousands of words or just a few hundred. Since I set the time-line, I’m free to stress myself out with deadlines. Writing makes me happy so it’s an addictive and obsessive ride for me. However, the basic process has not changed. I still have notebooks where I plan a book and I’m usually working on two at a time. This is just because the characters just won’t leave me alone. Once they develop, they take on a life of their own.
HG: Tell us a bit about your most recent series, The Wyoming Blues. What can readers expect? What feeling do you hope readers are left with when they finish it?
NW: I love interracial and cross-cultural romance. This is the world around me and my books reflect this world. I’m at home with many languages and I love to cook. I was inspired by Longmire (binged on it) and the words Absaroka Range. And I wanted to bring an unusual culture into it: Indians from the subcontinent. East and West flow through this series with a palace thrown in for good measure. Because what’s a romance set in India with a palace and a king? The first book, Beguiling Julian, is inspired by the guardian/ward theme from the Victorian era. I used this in a modern setting. Plus, I wanted to bring Bollywood into it. The contradictions, the clichés and the immense popularity intrigued me, though I’m not a fan. I just wanted to incorporate certain aspects of it without going in too deep about the social aspects of it. Wyoming appears only at the end of Book 1 as the book is set mainly in India and New York. I created a family/friend circle and built on this theme. Book 2, Enthralling Declan, moves the story to Wyoming and involves a princess who falls in love with a cowboy. Book 3, Bewitching Adam, deals with PTSD and again cross cultural romance, though the heroine was born and raised in America. I hope readers enjoy this series as much as I loved creating it. I would want them to want to read the next one in the series and the next and the next….follow me as I bring out my books. I also hope to bring cultures together, one book at a time, for in essence, we all eat, sleep and love in the same way with slight variations that add to the beauty of humanity.
HG: So lovely. Earlier this month you released the fourth book in that series, congrats! For fun, if it were turned into a movie who would you cast?
NW: Okay, deep breaths…The Maharaja/King…I’d say Sendhil Ramamurthy if Chris Hemsworth is unavailable as the Maharaja, and Pia Sheridan-Jessica Chastain/Christina Hendricks/Alicia Witt.
HG: Nice! Are there plans for a fifth book in that series?
NW: Yes, Books 5 and 6 are in the works.
HG: What can you tell us about any other projects you have going on?
NW: I have a brand new series that needs more and have released Book 1: San Diego Grind-Blue Metropolis Series. Book 2, is not quite there yet. I just have a vague idea but it will coalesce once I have Wyoming Blues behind me.
HG: Fantastic! Switching gears, what do you enjoy doing when not writing?
NW: Kayaking, Pickleball and cooking up a storm in my kitchen and having friends over to share the spicy meal. Pickleball used to be my obsession but I’ve detached myself from it since. I just play for fun and to stay fit. Can’t have too many obsessions, writing is quite enough.
HG: What was your last 5-star read?
NW: Meg Herga’s The Billionaire’s Proposal. It is an enemies-to-lovers, Indian American Billionaire, interracial and just the kind of book I love to read.
HG: If you could ask your author idol one question, what would it be?
NW: I’m tempted to ask how they get thousands of reviews in the very first month of release but will tone it down to just hundreds of reviews. If it’s just their street team and ARC readers doing their job, I’d like to know how they keep them loyal?
HG: For fun, before we wrap up, let’s do a fast five! First one…coffee or tea?
NW: India Chai-with cardamom and cloves.
HG: Bonfire or fireplace?
NW: Fireplace. I used to have one and miss it. We all want what we cannot have.
HG: Tropical beach or rustic mountains?
NW: Can’t choose. I have a spot in my soul for both.
HG: Are you a morning bird or night owl?
NW: Night owl.
HG: eBook or paperback?
NW: eBook. With the number of books I consume, I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Nor do I have the space for it. Of course, there’s always the library but some books are too heavy to read in bed. Plus the instant availability of an eBook is unbeatable.
HG: For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
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