Tani Hanes has authored dozens of books and has left her mark in the literary world! Read more about her books, writing journey and everything in between!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am 54 years old, believe it or not, nearly 55, and I didn’t start writing until my 50th birthday! So never let anyone tell you it’s too late to start doing something, because it’s not. I was born in Japan, and lived in Central California until recently. I now live in New York City with my husband and kitty cat, Moss.
Wow! Totally agree. I’m so happy you found something you enjoy doing and even found success in it.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book? And where can we read it?
Well, most of my books are what I call “smexy” romances lol, as in they’re sexy and smutty, and I think that’s what most of your followers will know me for.
My latest book, however, is called “Obachan,” and it’s a short memoir about my Japanese grandmother and the early part of her life, growing up in Japan shortly before and during WWII. There’s no smut or romance, it’s just about her struggle to be free and independent during a time and in a place when women were allowed to be neither.
All of my books are on Amazon, and all but Obachan are on KU!
I’m a huge fan of Asian literature! This is definitely on my reading list now 😀
“Write a book that you would like to read.” Writers often hear this saying. What was your first idea that made you pick up your pen and start writing?
I’ve always had ideas that I wanted to write about, but it was actually One Direction going on hiatus that made me start writing! I was a substitute teacher in California, and my students were seriously flipping their sh*t about it.
So I started making up a story for them about a girl who meets a boyband, a sort of fantasy wish fulfillment kind of thing that would while 1D was gone. The band in my story was perfect: they never fought, never did anything wrong, loved the girl without reservation, and never, ever, went on hiatus, you see?
And in this way my first books, my UK Crush series, was born. I had no idea at the time that it would grow into SEVEN books, or that the series would go to such a dark place as it ended up going, but it was so fun to write.
It’s so interesting to learn how writers begin their journey. Your story is definitely an inspiration for all the new writers.
When did you realize that writing was more than just a hobby?
When I started getting feedback and reviews from strangers, and I realized that people I didn’t even know were actually buying and reading my books! It was a marvelous feeling. I mean, at the point that you actually spend money on publishing and publicizing your books, it stops being a hobby, but when you earn money at it, even it’s a little, I guess you feel successful and that it’s more than just something fun you do.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? And how has it evolved over the years?
I suppose interacting with fans. I still get a thrill when someone on Twitter posts some kind of fan art or something, I love that. I love hearing from them, or seeing on any kind of public media that they’ve read my books and enjoyed them. And seeing reviews where they really talk about the book, or discuss the characters as if they’re real? That makes my day. When I first started I just enjoyed the writing aspect of it, it never occurred to me that anyone would actually read it and love it.
If there was one book that you wished was written by you…which one would it be and why?
“Lolita,” by Vladimir Nabokov, I think is sublime. It’s kind of funny, I guess, because it’s nothing like what I write. But I’m not stupid, I can certainly tell the difference. I write smexy beach reads that are fun, Nabokov wrote art, pure and simple. He wielded his pen in a way I never could, and in what I believe was his second language. Absolutely incredible.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex/different ethnicity?
I don’t know. I don’t find writing from a man’s POV difficult, and I try not to appropriate too much (different ethnicities, different sexualities, etc.), so I’ve been very careful about stuff like that. I have gay characters, people of color, etc., and one of MCs right now is on crutches because he had polio, but I don’t discuss it much, because, like I said, I don’t want to be accused of appropriation, so it’s just kind of there, so they represent, but not with any depth.
As far as men, I mean, I understand what’s attractive about a woman, and I’ve heard enough complaining from them about what they find irritating about us, etc., that I think I’ve done an okay job lol?
Yes, totally makes sense!
The power of words is undeniable! Have you used your platform/books to raise awareness about an issue? If yes, how did you weave it into your story?
Oh yes. I’m very into women’s issues, animal rights, things like that. So the women in my stories never, ever change their names when they get married, it’s not even discussed, and they’re always referred to as “Ms.” I always make a point of explaining why they don’t want to get walked up the aisle by their fathers like they’re bicycles being handed over to their new owners, and what the significance of “Ms.” is, because most readers don’t know.
And I always talk about the importance of adopting animals from shelters, and about how they must spay and neuter their pets, it’s in nearly every book.
That’s amazing! I’m sure many readers appreciate your initiative. And I learned something new today too!
What is the most interesting scene you edited out of your book?
In my UK Crush series, the MC, Tinker Bell, gets together with Theo pretty quickly, but for some reason I kept wanting her to get together with a different character, a lot. Like, a lot lol. And in the second book there’s actually a scene, after she and Theo fight, where she kind of does get together with him.
But I felt weird after I wrote it, and I knew it would change the whole feel of the series if she actually cheated on Theo, so I cut it, and even just knowing that the scene existed messed with my mind for a while. I think I still have it somewhere, though…
OMG! The fans of UK Crush series are in for a shock!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I don’t do a lot beforehand, because if it’s too complicated, I don’t even go there. Like I’d never write about someone who was a brain surgeon, because I’d be afraid I couldn’t pull it off. The one thing I never want to do is be inauthentic. I’d never try to write a character who was fluent in any language other than Japanese or English, because those are the two languages I speak, you see?
If it’s something simple, like geography, I can do that online as I write, and make sure to add all the senses (how things smelled, how things sounded), to make it feel real, and even ask on social media for people who’ve really been there to give me some firsthand accounts to make it as real as possible. Or I could make it really simple and pick a place I’ve really been to make even more real.
A wise approach. That’s why some of the best scenes come from life experiences!
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I suppose I’d have to pick my main man Moss, my kitty cat who lives with me. He’s a feral rescue, he was born in our backyard in California.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Probably a novel called “A Girl in a Swing” by Richard Adams. He wrote “Watership Down,” which is very famous, but no one’s heard of the other one, and I think it’s absolutely amazing. It’s sad, and terrifying, and deals with themes that no one wants to talk about, but it’s so beautiful.
Kiss, Marry, or Kill! But you can only choose from your characters. Which one and why?
Kiss: I guess Henry, from the Nanny books. He’s the only one close to old enough for me lol!
Marry: Of course I’d have to marry Pete, from the Flower Series! The most perfect man, a rock star, a wonderful dad who never wants his kids to grow up and worships his wife? Yeah, Pete for sure.
Kill: I can’t kill my characters (crying)! Unless it’s one of the bad guys! Can I pick a bad guy? I choose Sumire’s stepfather Marcus from “Finding His Touch.” I kill him.
What does literary success look like to you? And what advice would you like to give to all the aspiring writers out there?
To me, success would be being able to live just on the money I made from writing, and I’m not even close to that yet. I’m able to write full time because I married a very smart and kind man who makes a lot of money doing what he does, and he said I could just stay home and write, so I’m lucky.
But on a personal level, being on a bus or a subway, and sitting with someone who’s reading my book, and having that person recognize me? That would be success also, a much more fun kind of success, I think. Yeah.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start sooner! Don’t wait until your life’s half over, like I did. I was fifty! What was I waiting for? In this day and age, you don’t even need an agent or publisher, or anything. Of course, you do need money for a good proofreader and editor and covers and all that (NO ONE CAN EDIT THEIR OWN WORK—NO ONE CAN EDIT THEIR OWN WORK). But yeah, I wish I’d started sooner, I could’ve enjoyed this for so much longer.
Golden advice! ❤
Thank you Tani for joining us this week!
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