Living in the Shallows
by Tani Hanes
GENRE: New Adult/Romance
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.
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.
What inspired you to write this story?
I’m a substitute teacher, and many of my students were what I call FOFOM (Full On Freak Out Mode) over the impending hiatus of a certain boyband. It sometimes got to the point where teaching would stop so we could talk about the impact this would have on our lives lol; even the boys would get in on the discussions, sometimes. One of my girls suggested I write something to prepare us, to “tide us over”, so to speak.
So I thought about it, about the things everyone was bothered about, and tried to incorporate all of those things into the story. They wanted a story about boys who really loved each other (some cracks were beginning to show in the relationships of the real-life boys), and who really loved the heroine, and they wanted a heroine who looked “normal”, who wasn’t a gorgeous, glamorous model, but wasn’t an idiot, just a means to an end for the boys. And they wanted a band who would never, ever, go on hiatus!
And Living in the Shallows was born.
What was your favorite part to write?
I’m a sucker for dialogue. I loved trying on the voices of the different characters, especially the boys. I’m a girl, and an older one at that :o)—it was so fun to try to talk like a Welshman with a temper, or an angelic boy from Scotland. I was so happy when I realized one day their voices had become so distinct that I no longer had to put name tags on everything they said.
And showing things through dialogue makes for better reading, I think. It’s much easier to say that a character is kind, or smart, or whatever, but showing it through speech is more interesting.
What was the hardest part to write?
The romantic scenes got tricky after a while lol! I chose to write these (SEVEN) books in the first person, from inside Birdie’s head, and it became difficult to keep things fresh and interesting. I hope I succeeded.
And some not so nice things happen in the later books. Those scenes were really hard to write. I finally ended up doing them as flashbacks, because I couldn’t do it any other way. By doing it this way I was able to pick and choose which parts to write about.
How did you come up with your characters?
Not gonna lie, a couple of those real-life boyband members are my inspirations for two of the characters! It is of course a work of fiction, but you don’t have to squint very much to imagine your favorite band member as Theo or Ronan. Gethin is kind of an amalgamation of some different actors and musicians I like, and Birdie, the heroine, is a blend of my daughter, me as a youngster, and my son, if you can believe it. Matthew is the only one who is a completely made up character. He is too perfect to be real, possibly. But I don’t care, I love him anyway :o)
Do you have anything coming up and can you tell us about it?
Well, like I said, I wrote seven of these guys, so I’m still in the thick of rewriting and editing the later ones. I didn’t plan this; it was supposed to be a one-shot thing, for my students and me (yes, I love boybands, too!), but once these characters got on paper, they just took off, and I had to race to keep up with them.
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!
Living in the Shallows will be $0.99 during the tour.