Naleighna is a contributing author to a New York Times Bestseller and the E. Lynn Harris Author of Distinction. Naleighna is also the brainchild behind the annual Cavalcade of Authors events which takes place in her hometown of Chicago. Find her on the web at www.naleighnakai.com and www.thecavalcadeofauthors.com
BPM: What drove you to sit down and actually start writing your latest book? Give us an insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
I’ve had a ring-side seat to an Open Marriage that had, what I felt at that time, to be a horrible beginning and a painful middle. I can’t say end, because as far as I know, it’s still going on. I got off that merry-go-round of pain and grew up enough to realize that the w
I love catchy titles, but I love writing about complicated relationships even more. But why would I write this type of novel? What influenced me to explore the outcome of three unlikely people entering into an open relationship such as the one in this novel? Because I’ve had a front seat to one that—in my honest opinion—was the most painful intimate relationship that I had ever witnessed in my life. The only person who seemed to benefit was the man—who was not the primary breadwinner.
Actually I never saw him slide in a crumb. The women brought home the bacon, the eggs, the grits, and even the plates, utensils and everything else that landed on the table. It took nearly two decades for me to wise up and realize one basic thing: these folks are grown and you need to mind your business. The women chose to stay for whatever reason, regardless of his inability to maintain them financially; regardless of how unhappy they seemed or how unfair I thought it was.
When I stopped seeing the legal wife as the “victim” in all of this, it drastically changed, not only how I perceived her, but also our friendship. Not that I didn’t love her, but when I exercised my right to say “no” it was clear that she hadn’t learned that declaration. But what I also learned about myself is: no matter how much I love someone else, I will always love myself more. Hence, I no longer put band-aids on self-inflicted relationship wounds. Am I saying that Open Marriages can’t work? Absolutely not! What I’m saying is, that it should be something that is fair to everyone involved. If you like it, I love it. If you don’t like, then pack your bags, pull up stakes and make another choice. A choice that’s fair to you. Bottom line.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?
My ideas come from “what if?” Like for Every Woman Needs a Wife, my question was, “what if I caught my husband cheating?” Well, most men think there’s only two options that they’ve given their wives: leave or stay. Well, I put a third option on the table. Stay, and bring the mistress home to earn her keep the honest way: on her feet helping the wife, instead of on her back servicing the husband. Infidelity has been done to death, but that’s what made the novel unique. In Open Door Marriage, I wanted to explore the concept in a different way than the one that I knew of in real life. What if the man did have money and actually could afford to support more than one woman. Would it work? That’s what drove me to write the novel.
BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What genre do you consider your book?
Open Door Marriage, is the first contemporary fiction work to launch mega-powerhouse publisher, Brown Girls Publishing created by national bestselling authors, Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley. The story centers around three people caught up in an all too familiar triangle. When the love of Dallas Avery’s life disappeared, she resurfaces years later at the most inopportune time. Oh, he still loves Alicia Mitchell, an older woman who captured his heart, but it’s unfortunate that he’s now engaged to a woman he learns—is her niece. When his fiancée, Tori, lays a proposition on the table, it seems that everyone will get a little of what they want, but maybe a whole lot of what they don’t. The stage is set for them to learn one valuable lesson: There’s no right way to do a wrong thing.
BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
The reasons why women would choose to be in an open marriage. I learned plenty, mostly that I need to mind my own business!!! I learned not to judge what three grown adults decide to do–as long as it doesn’t come spilling over in my life–if it’s floating your boat, keep rowing in that ocean.
BPM: What would you like for readers to take away from your writing?
I want them to be taken on an emotional journey. I want them to identify with the characters or even understand their reasoning or motivation. They might not make the same choices in real life, but I want them to put themselves in the character’s mindset. An overall theme in most of my novels, are healing and forgiveness. That too, is something I want them to have a sense of when they read my work.
BPM: What are your ambitions for your writing career after three books?
In the beginning it was national bestselling author. I achieved that. But I found it amazing that I could practice writing those words–national bestselling author–but I couldn’t write New York Times bestselling author until just recently. My mind couldn’t wrap around that and see that level of success. But what had happened was (don’t you love sentences that start that way?), I finally grew up last November and stopped giving my energy to people who were taking, taking and taking and didn’t realize I was giving. THAT’S when all the good things started lining up. And that’s when this new book deal landed on my plate. So now I’m seeing New York Times bestselling author. I would also like to see Pulitzer Prize for Slaves of Heaven when it releases.
BPM: Do you set out to educate or inspire your readers? Entertain? Illuminate a particular subject?
My goal as a writer is to evolve. I didn’t grow up and say that I wanted to be an author. I kind of fell into it and it was something I do well. I want to keep learning the craft from people who are much better at it than I am (such as Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley who are mentoring me at this point because I’m now under their publishing umbrella). In that way, I give readers a polished work that has been through their standards of writing honed by years of being edited by a major publishing house.
BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author?
Once, a reader was so moved by my work that she came to Chicago to meet now only me, but the minister/sexual abuse counselor that was mentioned in the book. It sparked her own healing. We’ve been good friends to this day. Success has not been monetary before now, but more spiritual in the opportunities that it has given me to heal; and the wonderful readers and fellow authors I have met along the way. Each person is another brick on my road to releasing pain, anger, and onto healing and forgiveness; because in sharing my stories, they share some connection with me.
Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to be writing at a level where I can just do that for a living, but when the money is put aside, what else is there? The people. The experience. The sharing. The healing. That has been very important to me.
BPM: Where do you see publishing going in the future? In your opinion, will ebooks continue to reign?
I’m a die-hard trade paperback woman. But there were two books that made me give in because I didn’t want to wait for them to come via snail or hell mail. I think readers have a problem now that wasn’t around fifteen years ago–they’ve run out of space!! E-books make a lot of sense. But for me, I still buy it in trade paperback if it’s a book that I’ll read a second or third time. With so many authors flooding the market and readers soaking up good books like they’re biscuits and gravy, yes e-books sales will continue to climb.
BPM: What can expect from you in the future? How can readers discover more about you and your work? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
Brown Girls Publishing has picked up some of my other novels. I’m excited to see what will happen with those as they did a phenomenal job with Open Door Marriage. From here on out I believe I’ll be releasing at least two books per year. Readers can connect with me on www.naleighnakai.com or on Facebook and Twitter. The novel is available in all digital formats and in trade paperback as well. I have sample chapters of all of my work on the website.
BPM: Finish this sentence – “My writing offers the following legacy to future readers and authors… ”
“My writing offers the following legacy to future readers and authors in that I have used writing as a medium for healing from child abuse and sexual abuse and it, in turned, has helped me to forgive those who have harmed me. It has given me the opportunity to connect with those who also need the kind of healing that I desired, and that they, in some way, can see themselves in my characters, or if they can look at my life and say, “I don’t have to carry the weight of what someone else did to me all of my life. I too, can be free. Yes, I deserve to be free.”
Purchase Open Door Marriage by Naleighna Kai
Download Link: http://amzn.com/B00I5VFS3K
Available in Print and on eReaders: Nook and Kindle
Primary Topics: Open Marriage, May-December Romance and Polyamorous relationships