The bestselling NZ author you may not have heard of

Alex Braae ,
Publish Date
Sunday, 11 June 2017, 1:05PM

Deep in suburban Mt Roskill lives one of New Zealand's best selling authors who, despite awards and international acclaim, remains little known at home.

Nalini Singh conjures up worlds of psychic manipulation and illicit love, under the wide umbrella of paranormal romance. She has sold more than six million books, her passionate fanbase ripping through her novels like the proverbial bodice.

Her next book, Silver Silence, is set for release on Tuesday . Previous releases include Slave to Sensation, Caressed by Ice, Tangle of Need and Hostage to Pleasure.

LISTEN ABOVE: Nalini Singh speaks to Andrew Dickens

Finding fame as a writer has always been difficult, making sales is arguably even harder.

When former Prime Minister John Key infamously said New Zealand writers would never get the recognition given to All Blacks, he wasn't exactly wrong. It's a sentiment Singh understands.

"The big books tend to be sports books, or where it's a celebrity writer. There's very few fiction writers who get that kind of coverage."

But for Singh, the cultural obscurity runs even deeper. New Zealanders may laud the likes of Eleanor Catton and Lloyd Jones, but conversations about New Zealand authors almost never include genre fiction writers, despite their successes.

The subjects might be crime, romance, or cowboys, but the coverage remains absent.

Singh said she often reads articles about how it's difficult to make a living as a writer, "but they've not actually interviewed a single person in the genre writing community".

She's not short of examples either, straight away naming Yvonne Lindsay, Toni Kenyon, Wendy Vella and Karina Bliss as some of the locals "quietly making an income and paying their mortgages with their writing".

Singh said there were more writing under pseudonyms, but she didn't want to out them publically.

So, should the starving artists of our literary scene simply abandon their dreams of a Man Booker prize, and start pumping out pulp? Is genre fiction a sure-fire route to riches?

Probably not, said Singh.

"Once you start trying to tailor a book for a particular market, you're going to totally dilute it so it pleases everybody, which is actually not going to please anybody. For me as a writer it's really important to be true to my voice and tell the stories as they come."

If that sounds similar to the process used for more highbrow fare, it's probably because it is.

Singh doesn't believe there is much of a divide between literary fiction and genre fiction, and that which exists comes mainly from the expectations of readers and publishers.

Despite the paranormal trappings, Singh said her books are fundamentally about human relations, or in the case of her latest book Silver Silence, something more like a human-bear relationship. Besides, for her, success isn't defined by critical acclaim.

"Some people put value on awards, or getting reviewed in certain publications. For me it's always about the readers. If my books are working for my readers, that's how I measure success.

"I think at this point in my life I don't necessarily pay much attention to those who don't respect it."

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