Get to know author Tani Hanes as she answers 10 questions.
If you had a choice to live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?
I can’t answer this!! We very recently moved to New York City, which has been a lifelong dream, and it’s been as wonderful as I hoped it would be. I’ve also daydreamed about living in Italy, in any large city, or in the Lake Como region. And Athens. I like cities, the sounds of traffic, the feeling of life going on around you all the time
What is your writing process?
First I had the idea, the desire to write about this girl I fell in love with. Then I tried it out on my teenaged students and daughter, who all loved it. Then I made a pact with myself that I’d do it, every day. This is easier if you stop at a spot where you already know what you want to write next. Never, ever stop when you’re blocked! I was a substitute teacher, so I had class time most days to write, and students to bounce ideas off, and names for my characters. I mean, especially in high school, which was my favorite, the regular teacher isn’t going to leave quantum physics in the lesson plans lol, so I had time.
Describe your journey as an author so far.
It’s been fun, with a little frustration thrown in. Trying to get an agent is awful. I didn’t know if my work was even being seen, never mind assessed. So I decided to publish online, which was right for me. I can engage with my readers directly. But there’s a lot of work involved because there’s no infrastructure, no team getting things done: it’s all on me.
How do you stay motivated?
The feedback from my beta readers really kept me going. I really wanted to tell Birdie’s story, so it wasn’t hard to work every day. And getting tearful texts from my betas asking why I let (insert drama) happen made me feel motivated too!
What has been your biggest obstacle while writing and how have you overcome it?
Not being able to get an agent was very disheartening. I’ll admit I didn’t try for very long, though! I wanted to write this, I loved my characters, so not being able to share it would have been difficult if I’d kept going the traditional publishing route. Reaching out to readers directly really saved me.
Why did you write this book?
I wanted to share the feelings I had about my characters with readers, with teens and college-aged people. I wanted to comfort the students I had about their trepidation regarding the upcoming hiatus of *that* bunch of boys, and give them something to enjoy while waiting for them to return. Maybe fulfill some fantasies, too.
What do you hope readers would take away from this book?
One of my betas sent me a text about how important it was for young girls, especially, to feel it was okay to be accomplished, to be good at things and not feel like she had to “hide her light”, and that it was okay to be emotional, to be afraid but to want things, and to step out of the shallow end and start living. It was really beautiful. I still have the text. I hope other readers can feel these things.
How long did it take you to write this book?
Not long, once I got going. A few months. However, that first go was word vomit, and finishing it up has taken a year.
What’s next for you?
Rewrites and edits on the other six books! They’ve also been “completed”, so Birdie’s journey is complete in my head, but there’s A LOT of work to be done on them yet.
What genres do you read?
I like lots of stuff, it just depends on my mood. I love Stephen King, who will never get the respect he deserves because he’s so popular (kind of like that band I was talking about!), but I also really enjoy classics, like Lolita. Kind of humbling that someone can write like that in his second or third language, way better than I could ever be in my native tongue! Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch was amazing. And Bridget Jones inspires me, always!
About Tani Hanes
My name is Tani Hanes, and I am a 51-year-old substitute teacher. I am from central California and am a recent transplant to New York City.
The most important things to know about me are that I’m punctual, I love grammar and sushi, and I’m very intolerant of intolerance. The least important things to know about me are that I like to knit and I couldn’t spell “acoustic” for 40 years. I’ve wanted to write since I was ten, and I finally did it. If you want to write, don’t wait as long as I did, it’s pointless and very frustrating!
Title: Living the Shallows by Tani Hanes
Genre: YA Romance
Aileen Foster, a shy, 22-year-old student from LA, thinks she has landed a dream job as an interpreter for some actors making a film in Japan. She gets a surprise when she arrives in Tokyo and finds out that they are UK Crush, the hottest boyband around. She has been orphaned for most of her life, and it’s a shock for her to enter their world of frank physicality. The boys come to love her, and Aileen is forced to look at her life and choices, and decide if she’s ready to be brave and start living.
Purchase Living in the Shallows on Amazon
The laughter and talking had stopped as soon as they entered the room and saw me. They stood, as if unsure what to do. The boy with the long brown hair recovered his composure first and held out his hand.
“Hello, I’m Theo,” he said in a deep voice that didn’t quite match his young boy look. He had a British accent, too, though it was different from Betsey’s. He added a smile as we shook hands, and I saw gray eyes and dimples to go with the perfect teeth.
The blond boy, whose eyes were a dark, rich brown, held out his hand next. “I’m Ronan, nice to meet you.” For a moment, my jet-lagged brain refused to process the words because his accent was so thick. I desperately flipped back through all the movies I’d seen, trying to place it. Irish. This boy was Irish. Just as I was wrapping my mind around that, the redhead stepped forward.
“Hi, I’m Gethin, pleasure to meet you.” He, too, had a lovely smile, but his eyes were green. And his accent was different, kind of British, but more sing-song, with elongated vowels, like English on a graceful roller coaster.
Was there something in my coffee besides coffee?
The curly haired boy stepped forward to introduce himself. I stared at him warily. He had stunning dark blue eyes, which contrasted with his brown skin, and the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen on a boy. Given what had come out of the other boys’ mouths when they’d spoken, if he started speaking Icelandic or produced yet another English accent, I was going to jump right out the window.
He held out his hand, and as I reached for it, he said, “My name is Matthew, and I’m very happy to meet you.” I nearly yanked my hand back. This boy was Scottish, sounded just like Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter, and looked like he should be breaking hearts on the Nigerian soccer team.