Open Door Marriage

by Naleighna Kai

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Open Door Marriage by Naleighna Kai

A chance encounter lands NBA star Dallas Avery back in the arms of the woman of his dreams. A woman he hasn’t seen in years. A woman he soon discovers just so happens to be his fiancée’s aunt! But Dallas’ fiancee, Tori Mitchell, isn’t ready to give up all that she’s worked for, so she makes him a shocking offer – go through with the wedding and she’ll still allow him to be with the one woman he now can’t seem to do without. Dallas will get a family, something her much older aunt, Alicia can’t give him. Tori will get the lifestyle she clamors. And Alicia Mitchell will get the love she’s longed for all her life. Everyone will get a little of what they want . . . and maybe a whole lot of what they don’t.

The details of the trio’s love life play out in the tabloids and on talk shows, making Dallas the center of an NBA scandal. And eventually, the doors slam shut on this open marriage and Dallas is forced to make a choice to end the chaos. But moving on is easier than it looks and by the time all is said and done, secrets will be revealed, passions will be extinguished, and everyone’s lives will be forever changed.

“Open Door Marriage is a page-turner from start to finish, uniquely written to explore the emotions of three people who have bonds that seem unbreakable. That is, until they are tested in a relationship that causes their families, religious leaders, and the public to be up in arms. Naleighna Kai has written a provocative novel that is about a relationship that is as complicated as it can get.” —Valarie Prince, author of Lair of the Python

“While a few books have tackled this subject in different ways, the way Naleighna Kai approaches a difficult situation is sure to be fuel for heated conversations for years to come. Open Door Marriage proves many things, but mostly that the title of my novel holds true. —Janice Pernell, author of There’s No Right Way to do a Wrong Thing.

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Intimate Conversation with Naleighna Kai

Naleighna Kai is the national bestselling author of Every Woman Needs a Wife, with a spin-off titled, The Pleasure’s All Mine and Open Door Marriage. Naleighna is also the brainchild behind the annual Cavalcade of Authors events which takes place in her hometown of Chicago.

BPM: I see you on Facebook alot! You are going through quite a transformation. The weight loss looks good on you! You seem to be changing attitude too, what are you working on now?
I'm working on me. Loving myself more. Treating myself right. With that, the excess pounds are coming off and it's attracting the right people in my life. I'm working on sharing the messages in Open Door Marriage with women who should know they too have options.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven? Why?
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: How did it feel to be writing the FIRST book to be launched by a new publishing house? Were you nervous, even though you have your own books published?
Okay, there's a package waiting on me from at my mailbox. It's a copy of Open Door Marriage! As I was picking it up on the way home and I swear to you, my heart was racing. Hell, I wanted to see what everyone's so excited about. LOL. I will say this. I've been writing since December of 1999, kind of fumbled into the process on a serious learning curve. I've been through a few editors and they've toned up my work nicely. But I will admit right here and now, that Victoria Christopher Murray and ReShonda Tate Billingsley, has helped to take my writing to a whole new level. THIS is what I've been waiting for--the type of mentoring that makes a novel that "can't put down" kind of writing. That something that makes people stay up all night to read. I was in love with the concept, but now I'm in love with the novel itself. I can't thank them enough for taking me to the next level.

BPM: You are known for addressing those "taboo" subjects that society dances around. Why do you write about those often times, hard-to-handle subjects?
As an author, knowing readers get my "hard to handle subjects in books" is wonderful feedback. When I first started writing, my characters experienced much of the very same things that I had experienced in real life--and I will only say that it was harsh and violent. Those characters walked through my pain and truthfully, I wouldn't change what I wrote back then, because writing about it helped me to begin the processing of healing, and later I found that it brought healing for some others too. But the process of recovering/healing has moved forward to a point that in my latest novel, Open Door Marriage only has a "reference" to something happening to one of the characters in the novel.

I have to say the change has come because not only has the Creator allowed those wounds to close over, I equally feel no pain when I recount the incidents to anyone--so I don't have as much of a need to put it in print--unless the story really warrants it. I think, when a lot of Black women began to write their stories, so many of us had experienced rape and molestation on a soul-damaging level, that the novels all seemed to have that same "theme" for character backgrounds.

Then, there wasn't any of a filter in the process because someone was finally able to "hear" our pain--in words, in print. It was my son, J.L. Woodson, who was fifteen at the time when he read my novel: She Touched My Soul, who told me, "Mom, you take the reader so low, that they can't get back up again." And it was my son who started me to understanding that I should filter my life experiences that I put in print. It is the fact that I am both healed AND still healing that I can write novels with some degree of depth and show the power of survival and of being a woman who is living and loving her purpose. I wouldn't trade that for all of the world.

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 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: Share with us what the readers are saying about such drama and conflict surrounding open marriages.
Here is a recent review from a FB fan: "I am Team Alicia forever. This book is more complex than three people engaged in a love triangle. It is about choices, family influences whether positive or negative, secrets and distortions of truth. I loved it from the first scene to the finale. All three characters Dallas, Alicia, and Tori engage in a charade that provides the reader with glimpses of love, pain, silliness, and a whole lot of drama. None of them are exempt from the myriad ways they go about proving their love for the others. A couple of great subplots rounds out a great read. If you'd wanted to know how an open relationship works, this is your book. Loved it!" -- Joyce Brown

Here is another one talking about Tori, the younger woman: "I loved the story of Tori, Dallas and Alicia. I'm Team Alicia for sure. Isn't it amazing how one may grow up looking a these types of relationships but never quite understanding the inner workings or dynamics. Tori, Tori, Tori what were you thinking? I really liked her character at first, but as the story went on I wanted to shake he like a dish rag. However you'll have to read the book to find out why.loved it and highly recommend it to others." -- Cassandra Baker-Durham

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: How do you deal with bookclubs or readers who may not fully understand the storyline or message in your books?
Personally, as an author, I LOVE positive reviews, but I can't discount that negative reviews that give pointers HELP as well. Ones that purely criticize doesn't give me cues for improvement. I read each and every review for my novels, and when someone does not like my novel, I look to see the reviews of ones they actually like.

Now, if what they rave about is in a totally different genre than what I write, than I take it with a grain of salt. But if it is, I re-read and see if there are some elements of my work that can be improved. Case in point, while there were tons of positive reviews, one reader wrote about Every Woman Needs a Wife: the book was damn good, but the prose was a little painful. Well damn, that hurt. But what he meant is that I'm wordy and that particular story was slow. So I worked on that.

Another thing I found with Every Woman Needs a Wife is that most people went into it with one idea of what would happen between the wife and the mistress, and that's NOT what happened, because I thought it would take away from the story. People were UPSET. Everything is subjective, and everyone is not going to like what's written, but when saying that you don't like it, please, please, please, give clues as to what would have made it a better read for you. Some authors really grow from that. I am one of them. I do learn from ALL feedback and there's been enough positive ones to keep my ego intact.

BPM: What are your ambitions for your writing career after four 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: What can expect from you in the future? How can readers discover more about you and you 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 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.”

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