Living in the Shallows
by Tani Hanes
GENRE: New Adult/Romance
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Aileen is a bilingual music student with a chronic case of poverty. She gets a dream job as an interpreter for a boy band making a movie in Japan. Having spent her life as a sheltered, shy only child in the rarefied world of classical piano, she is utterly unprepared for this new world, these boys and their frank physicality and openness. Theo, especially, the known playboy and unrepentant flirt of the group, makes her uncomfortable in a way she's never felt before, and ultimately Aileen, or Tinker Bell, as she's known to the boys, has to decide if she's ready to leave the sidelines and become a participant in her own life.
Minutes, hours, or months later, Teddy was gently shaking me awake. "Foster? Foster. We have to stop for food. We're hours away from the hotel because of the traffic, and everyone's starving. Do you need any food? Will you be okay if I leave for a sec to get something to eat, or do you want me to stay with you?"
I shifted and felt his leg under my head and his hand warm on my hair. I swam up to the light and tried to focus on his words. "No."
"No, you don't need anything, or no, you don't want me to go?"
"No, you don't need to go. Sandwiches for you guys in my bag. From the kitchen this morning. Ten of them. All kinds. In the seat behind Geth." I stopped trying to chin myself on the bottom rung of consciousness and let go.
Later. Warm breath in my ear. The bus was humming along smoothly, and that was what had awakened me. We were actually moving. I shifted a little, and felt the familiar firmness behind me, the arm around my waist, gathering me in, pulling me all the way to him. The walls of privacy I tried to put up when awake seemed to desert and betray me in sleep, as my legs were tucked intimately around his; we were fitted together as tightly as two spoons in a drawer, and I had his arm clasped firmly in my hand.
My stirring had roused him a little, and he shifted his head against mine, pulled me even closer against him, if that was possible, touched his lips to my ear. "Shh, darling, it's okay, it's only me," he whispered softly in his sleep, exhaling warm air in a puff. I drifted back to sleep, pondering what he could possibly have said that I'd misheard as "darling."
Q & A with Tani Hanes
Honestly, the hardest part was making it all fit! I cut so much, and it still ended up so long. I’m sure I’ll look back in a bit and see so much more I could’ve eliminated, but editing is hard; it’s like amputating a limb, one inch at a time. I loved the characters in Living in the Shallows so much, and I loved the way they loved each other. All of Geth, Matty, Ronan, Theo, and Birdie’s interactions were precious to me, and taking any of it out was so, so hard.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved talking to my students every day about what was happening, what they’d read. I was substitute teaching a lot while I was writing, and I wrote it with them in mind, based on what they wanted to read. And getting tearful texts about what they’d just read was so fun and satisfying. I wanted my young readers to be satisfied.
What inspires you?
The vibrance and youth of the kids who surrounded me during the writing of this were what inspired me, especially the girls who loved a certain boyband who were “taking a break”. I wanted them to feel better about the whole situation, to give them a surrogate band, of boys who really cared about each other, and about the heroine.
What do your plans for future projects include?
Well, what started as a one book experiment somehow morphed into a seven book series about these boys and this girl, so it’s all one, ongoing project at this point! I didn’t know it would turn into this, but I really want to get all seven out there, so I’m editing, rewriting, and looking for typos every chance I get.
Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I actually have an answer for this one! The only writing teacher I’ve ever had (hello, Wayne Wightman!) said to never, ever, leave off writing when you’re stuck. It makes you dread going back to it, sometimes to the point where you just give up. He said have your next paragraph, or chapter, or whatever, ready to go in your mind, at least, if not on paper. That way, you’re just on fire to get back to your writing. So many people write until they’re stuck on something, then leave, hoping inspiration will strike, but you know, it rarely does :o)
Have you ever had one character you wanted to go one way with but after the book was done the character was totally different?
Kind of. Hmm. When I started writing Living in the Shallows, all of the characters were high school age, or late teens, maybe? But once they got on paper, they, and by they I mean Birdie and her love interest, got naughty. I mean, even kids in high school and their late teens get busy, of course, but once I saw how these seven books were going to play out, I decided to make them older, in their early twenties, just to be safe. Obviously I can’t control the ages of my readers, but I wanted to take certain moral judgements related to age out of the equations. These guys are all legal adults.
But their feelings are universal, I think, to romantics of all ages.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
My name is Tani Hanes, and I am a 51 year old substitute teacher. Im 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!