To look at the covers of Nikki Rashan’s books, Double Pleasure, Double Pain (2002) and You Make Me Wanna (2005), can make one’s temperature rise! But a cover is just a cover; its Nikki’s passionate and insightful writing that has made these books such a great success and has made her an important voice in the Queer community and among contemporary authors. Her books chronicle Kyla, who in her late twenties comes to an understanding about her sexuality and after accepting herself, discovers that coming out is only the beginning!
Nikki has just completed her third book (which will be out in 2010) and she has appeared twice on the Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss her own journey of self-realization. She was kind enough to answer a few questions about her writing, her upcoming new book, and reading the steamy scenes in front of an audience.
Prove&Confusion: I know writers tend to hate this question, but personality-wise, in which ways would you say you are similar and/or different to Kyla?
Nikki Rashan: This question I’m asked most! Kyla and I definitely had similarities when I first created her back in 2001, though we both have grown over the years. I can say that we share the same clumsy demeanor; I swear some things jump out of my hands onto the floor. We also both used to have a difficult time expressing ourselves, but that has certainly changed for me. Our greatest similarity is that we both dated a woman for the first time in our twenties, however, the biggest difference is that Kyla’s attraction to women was new to her while mine had been lifelong.
Prove&Confusion: Did you know right away after Double Pleasure, Double Pain that you would write a second book?
Nikki Rashan: Absolutely. I always knew that Kyla’s story would continue in another novel. I love her too much to ever let her go completely. That’s a hint by the way!
Prove&Confusion: Craft-wise, do you have a clear idea of the direction of the plot before-hand or do you surprise yourself as your writing?
Nikki Rashan: Generally, I have an overall idea of the story in my mind. I’ve documented certain main points such as location of the story and character development. However, I tend to create as I’m writing; my story evolves on its own as new ideas pop into my head. Most times I know how a story will end, just not such of the journey that will take place to get my characters there.
Prove&Confusion: Let’s talk about your recent reading at the Center on Halsted’s “Outwrite” series. What is it like to read your work out loud, especially some of the more steamy bits?
Nikki Rashan: I try really hard not to read the steamy bits! Only on two occasions have I read the tamest love scenes I could find, because honestly, most are too hot for me to read without feeling a bit shy. Overall I truly enjoy reading scenes that I feel will capture a potential reader’s attention or a scene that I know some of my existing readers enjoy the most.
Prove&Confusion: I think your book has helped many people through their own journey of coming out. Is there any advise you have for young ladies and young men who are beginning that journey?
Nikki Rashan: The greatest advice I can share is to honor the truth that is within; establish a certain level of self-confidence and self-love through acknowledgment and acceptance of their own truth first. This creates the ability to stand firm and stand tall when encountered with those in disagreement. I also think it’s important to realize that everyone’s journey is not the same and that’s okay. While one person may feel comfortable coming out at a young age, another may not. I suggest patience with themselves and to follow the path that they choose to create. I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way to come out, however, I do believe that the best lives lived are those free of suppression. That’s essential for all of us to remember in seeking to live life to its fullest.
Prove&Confusion: What can you tell us about your upcoming third book?
Nikki Rashan: My third novel, Cyber Case, is a sexy, dramatic thriller about internet illusions. The world of social networking is fascinating and from what I know, can sometimes be disruptive to relationships. I’ve created a colorful new cast of characters and written a story about the confusion and delusions that can occur from online interactions. The story is based out of Chicago and will be released August 2010. I’m very excited about this book!