In Allegiance of Honor, Nalini Singh examines the aftermath of a war between the psychic Psy and the shape-shifting changelings, with ordinary humans caught in the middle.
What inspired the Silence, in which the Psy attempted to suppress all their emotions?
I’ve always been fascinated by the idea that we don’t use our brains to their full potential, or that there’s more we could be doing with them. Like the idea that we could have true telepathy or true telekinesis. I remember thinking one day, “Well, wouldn’t it be cool to be a telepath?” And then I thought, “What if there’s a flip side? What if it drove you insane or it drove you to violence? What would you do to survive?” And that was really the genesis of Silence. In the case of the Psy, they tried to eliminate rage, and they found they had to either eliminate all their emotions or keep them all. And they chose to eliminate everything. When Silence first began, people were like, “It’s this great savior. It’s what we need.” And slowly, as you go along, you start to realize, maybe they replaced one bad thing with another. They did it with a good heart, but as time went on, it became about power and control, and it changed them as a people.
In Allegiance of Honor we learn more about Naya, a child who’s both Psy and changeling. Where did that character come from?
When I was growing up, I was one of the big kids in the family. So I spent a lot of time around younger children, and I think I absorbed how they behaved. But in terms of Naya herself, you know, she’s very much her own personality, and I love seeing that personality develop.
Was she as fun to write as she is to read about?
Oh, absolutely! I mean, she could have taken over the whole book if I’d let her.
Do you feel that you make a difference in the romance and speculative fiction fields with the way you celebrate diversity in your books?
I think so! I think sometimes we don’t realize what’s missing until we read it. Then we think, “Now I know to look for it.” Genre fiction reflects the world as it is, or it should. And I hope, you know, I’m making a small change and that will snowball and have more of an effect, slowly, as more and more people begin to become aware of it. The thing is that diversity is my normal. I live in a diverse world, and I always have.
Is there any other genre or subject matter you’d like to tackle next?
I always wanted to write a historical, which is terrible— I wouldn’t do the research. So I’d just have to make everything up. I’d love to do more science fiction, just a little bit less romantic. I have an idea for that that’s kind of interesting and I want to explore. Within romance, contemporary and paranormal are my two loves. There’s so much room to move. I’ve written mysteries within my paranormal books, and I’ve gone back into the past, and all kinds of interesting things. It’s this huge canvas. I find it does give me a lot of freedom.