Interviewing Alisha Rai

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Alisha Rai is one of my favourite authors – her writing is absorbing and clever, and her stories are sexy and fun. A Gentleman in the Street is her latest and ever since she released that cover on twitter I knew I had to read it as soon as I could. It is the kind of book that I love – a billionaire businesswoman, and a reclusive author? Yes please. The character development and emotional heart of this story really made it stand out and I found myself thinking about these characters long after I had finished the book. And since I mentally couldn’t put it down, I emailed Alisha Rai asking if I could ask her come questions. Not only did Alisha say yes to the interview, she also sent an excerpt of what she is currently writing.

That’s right readers, a teaser from something new.

Go forth and read!

A Gentlemen in the Street has a very successful female businesswoman as its main protagonist. This is very different to other romance stories when it’s the man who has the business and financial success. What made you choose to do this?

I’m not sure if it is incredibly different–I’ve read and loved many romances where the heroine is successful–or if it just seems that way because the billionaire hero is so high profile right now. In any case, there’s no doubt that certain fields can be boy’s clubs. Since I’ve always had to play in those clubs, I can sort of get into the head of a woman who has to do the same.

Plus, girl has expensive tastes, and she would need to make some cheddar to support that shoe habit.

Akira is also incredibly sexually liberated. Again many authors choose to have the male protagonist play this role. What made you decide to do this? 

The practical answer: Akira first made an appearance in my head and on paper as a good friend of another sexually confident character (Tatiana, in my Bedroom Games Series), and so she simply evolved that way.

The more thinky answer: I think female empowerment is sexy, whether that means the female feels empowered to have lots of sex or no sex or in between. The sexiest part about Akira, for me, is that she literally does not care what most people think of what she does with her body.

Jacob has such detailed and rich backstories and by the end of the novel you fall in love with him. (There was one moment in A Gentlemen in the Street when he is plotting his next novel when I couldn’t help but grin – he was so lost in his created world!) How did you go about creating his character?

I rewrote the first two chapters of this book six times (deleting and rewriting about 25,000 words) until I got it right, and I got it right when I realized I kept writing the wrong hero. First he was super cocky and arrogant…then he was a litigator…then he was raised on a commune with nine brothers and sisters…and oh my gosh, on and on it went.

And, then, suddenly, Jacob popped out and he was perfect, since he was just as complicated as Akira but in a totally different way. They complement each other, I think.

Akira is one of those characters which will never leave me and I don’t think I will ever be able to forget her. Can you talk more about how you developed her character and her backstory?

Weirdly, for all the trouble I had pinning Jacob down, I think I can identify with him far better than I can Akira. I say weirdly because Akira was sort of 3D for me from the start. She’s in a couple of scenes in my story Bet On Me, and I had to keep throttling back in that book or she would have stolen the show. I wrote A Gentleman in the Street mainly because I couldn’t get her out of my head (I didn’t have a title for a while, so even my manuscript was titled AKIRA). Every day I would scribble down another little idea of what her backstory could be and what made her into the character she turned into.

I’m so happy people seem to be liking her so much. Maybe we’re all sort of waiting for an Akira to sweep us off our feet.

Every single one of your books features a very ethnically diverse cast of characters. As a reader I love this since diversity in fiction is extremely important. Have you ever received negative feedback from doing this?

Sometimes, but it’s usually so absurd I can snort and ignore it. The most frequent complaint, since I write erotic romance, is that “___ people would never have sex/premarital sex like this!” (Which is…what? White people didn’t invent sex. You’re drunk, go home). I did get a couple of borderline scary emails early in my career, but those haven’t been repeated. *knock on wood*

I don’t really set out every day saying okay, going to write a ____ character today! It just sort of happens, and I’m happy when it does. Diversity in romance is important, but it’s also just a lot of fun. I want to write all the stories, but I only have so many hands. *glares at physical limitations*

Can you explain more about your writing process? Do you plot your novels before you start or does the plot change as your write?

A little bit of both. Each story is different. Usually I go through and make an outline of the major events that have to happen and what I think the scenes will look like. The first part usually stays constant, but the second part will change pretty drastically as I write. I’ve learned to be flexible.

Each novel you write is extremely rich in detail and it’s obvious that you do a lot of research. Has there ever been something that you have really loved researching? And something that was the most interesting?

I wrote a post-apocalyptic novel (Night Whispers) where I had to keep crawling out of research holes I was falling into. For example, the hero lives in an underground communications bunker maintained by the government that REALLY EXISTS. Look: https://whitehouse.gov1.info/raven-rock/

So cool.

Are there any authors which really influence your writing?

I read romance pretty voraciously, in almost every subgenre. Some current favorites: Kit Rocha, Courtney Milan, Kristen Callihan, Tessa Dare, Tamara Morgan, Vivian Arend, Megan Hart, G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston, Nalini Singh, and Alyssa Cole.

(I don’t know if they influence my writing, per se, but if you’re looking for good reads, those are some talented ladies).

And what can you tell us about what you are working on next? And please be very detailed – we want spoilers!

I’m currently working on two books side by side, which has NEVER happened. The first book’s hero is Connor, Jacob’s brother from A Gentleman in the Street. I can’t say much about it yet, but you can expect a troubled, pretty-boy hero and a brilliant, socially inept heroine. It’s tentatively titled A Good Man for Hire.

The second book, Serving Pleasure, has been a long time coming, so I’m thrilled that I was finally able to make it possible: the heroine is one of the sisters of the heroine in my very first novel, Glutton for Pleasure.  I’m writing it as a bit of a standalone so those who haven’t read Glutton can still be entertained, and those who have read Glutton will hopefully be satisfied. I’ll have a release date once it goes to edits, but those who are interested can sign up for my new release newsletter here.

Here’s an unedited quick teaser 🙂 :

Long, elegant, dextrous. His fingers slid over her curves with the greatest of precision, handling each centimeter with expert care. This was a man who knew his way around a female’s body, from the roundness of her breasts and the dip of her belly to the elegant arch of her neck and the musculature of her limbs.

Rana Malik tucked her legs under her body, ignoring her aching feet. After a busy Friday night waiting tables at her family’s restaurant, a hot bath should have been her first priority. But when she’d come home and happened to glance out her bedroom window, she’d had no choice but to abandon all of her thrilling plans for the evening and plop down on her bed, enthralled. 

Happened to glance? Let’s not fool ourselves. 

Fine. In the two months and sixteen days since The Hottie had moved in, peeking outside had become an admittedly bizarre part of her nightly ritual. There was no rhyme or reason as to what nights he would be in that brightly lit room, busy at his craft. She’d been hooked after her first unexpected show. 

He was beautiful, which was unfortunate—Rana’s weakness for beautiful men was infamous. He was a large man, tall and packed with muscle, his shoulders wide. He always wore his wavy black hair pulled back from his face, though she occasionally wished he’d leave it down. Maybe then she’d be distracted from his face.

Unf. That face. 

Fierce, thick black eyebrows arched over dark eyes. As much as she hated to admit it—she was rather proud of her bone structure—his cheekbones were better than hers, sharp and high. A scar bisected his full upper lip, lending his blunt masculinity a more violent edge. 

She wanted to lick that scar.

Pair his face and form with his passionate talent, and Rana was a goner.

The man paused, his pinky resting against a nipple, as if he sensed the voyeur peering over his shoulder, watching him in this intimate act. Rana froze, holding her breath. He couldn’t know, right? Surely he had no idea she was here. He had no idea she had been here night after night, until she could barely remember a time when she hadn’t come home hoping the lights would be on in the room across the small yard that separated their houses. 

“Don’t stop,” she whispered, though she knew he wouldn’t hear. “Not yet. Keep going.” 

Thank you so much Alisha!

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