Interview by Louise with Tani Hanes
about Puppily Ever After.
Puppily Ever After, which I reviewed and awarded it with 4 stars, is a coming of age story, set around a pet shop, with romance and strong values within the themes. At the end of the interview, there is a link to my full review.
Thank you very much Tani for the opportunity to interview you about Puppily Ever After. Thanks also to Cherry Publishing for setting up the interview.
I have 5 questions in total, covering the book, being an author and drawing a little about Tani’s teaching career.
Puppily Ever After is a coming of age story, what inspired you to write within that age group, what are the positives and the challenges you encountered?
I wanted to write about a woman who didn’t end up subjugating herself to a man, even if he was a good man. So many coming of age stories these days are about young women who find true love by compromising on something in themselves and believing they’re happy to do so. I’m not saying they’re not, but I wanted to write a story where she comes out the other side whole, even without the possibility of being with a man.
Puppily Ever After is essentially set in a pet shop. Do you have any pets? If so, can you tell us a bit about them, if not would you like any?
I’ve always had pets, and adopting animals is very important to me; it’s something I put in nearly everything I write. I’m horrified by the lives some of these innocent creatures lead, and always want to do by part to help out. I currently have two cats, both feral rescues (one of them was actually born in my backyard!) [I can provide photos if you want]
There are strong themes that weave through the book, such as staying true to yourself, your values and dreams. How important do you think these values are for people in the real world, do you stand by them yourself, if so, can you give some examples how you do that?
I think these values are crucial to today’s youth, especially to today’s young women. Too many subjugate themselves to men, believing that’s what they’re supposed to do. I don’t know that I necessarily have taken my own advice, but I always knew I wanted to be a parent and a writer, and I never let anything deter me from those things.
What drew you to writing romance as opposed to any other genre?
I’m a girl lol, even if I am a middle-aged woman. I love romance, I love HEAs, and I love exploring the themes in the dynamics between people who are falling in love, because of certain things or in spite of them.
You were a substitute teacher for 15 years, do you still teach and has your experiences working in education inspired any parts in particular in your books?
Unfortunately, I no longer teach, and I really miss it. The first series I ever wrote was based on a certain boy band going on hiatus and my students really flipping their s*** about it. They wanted me to write a wish fulfilment story about a girl and a boyband and have the love story, at least at first, be perfect. And the main thing they wanted was that the band would never, ever, go on hiatus lol. So that’s what I wrote.
I have a review on Lights Out. It is Romance/Suspense. There’s terrorism, spies, betrayal and more in this first book in the series… Discover more in the explosive blurb. Thanks to Love Books for inviting me to spotlight.
CIA analyst Brynn Taylor developed a new program to combat terrorism, and she invited members of foreign intelligence agencies to America to foster cooperation between countries. Now one of them, Egyptian spy Remon Riad, is missing.
Jack Hudson has been working for the Strategic Neutralization and Protection Agency (SNAP) for almost nine years and takes the lead in hunting down the missing spy. But he isn’t at all pleased to find out Brynn is involved. It’s hard to trust a woman who’s already betrayed you.
Every lead they follow draws them dangerously deeper into an international plot. Kidnapping, murder, explosions, poisoning—the terrorists will do anything to accomplish their goal of causing a digital blackout that will blind a strategic US military communications center and throw the world into chaos.
Can Brynn surrender control to a man who doesn’t trust her? And can Jack ever get over what she did to him? The fate of the world—and their hearts—hangs in the balance.
Lights Out is packed full of suspense. It is gripping with characters that will keep many readers glued. Brynn and Jack pull you in so much that you end up so invested in what happens to them at each stage of the book.
Brynn is ambitious and career is just about everything to her. It means relationships outside her work for the CIA is hard.
Jack leads SNAP – a private agency assisting in government agencies.
Romance is sparked between these 2 characters, but there’s the question of can they trust each other or not. Jack isn’t too sure. They find themselves in so much danger though and attraction to each other is clear to see as magentism pull between them attracts.
There is suspense right to the end as there isn’t much time to stop a plan of terror coming into being as prospects of devastation looms and tension, away from some of the humour within the book, increases to keep readers hooked, after the initial scene-setting, which means you can begin to get to know the characters well.
Older young adults/teens and 20 somethings will discover characters in Raumah who have issues to overcome and there is also some lust and a lot of fists flying and other elements of action with family ties, romance and discovery. Find out more in the blurb and review. Thanks to Cherry Publishing for gifting me the book to review
In Raumah, a city where wealth and familial ties rule all, the four Kings of Raumah walk a path seemingly paved in gold. Duante, the protector. Strong, amiable and desperate to keep his loved ones out of harm’s way. Drayden, the golden boy. Smart and resourceful, heir to the country’s largest and most influential business empire. Shohei, the celebrity. Delicate but determined, this fabulous fashion icon is the darling of Raumah. Aqil, the prodigy. Truly gifted and academically dominant, but is it earned or is it his family ties that are the key to his successes?
Everything on the surface seems picture perfect, but dark secrets lie hidden behind the frame. When Duante’s past comes calling, the Kings’ world is thrown into chaos. Faced with the ghosts of his bloody past, Duante’s hard-earned freedom is put in jeopardy, just as Shohei’s love is put to the test. Drayden’s ruthless determination is usually his strength, but this time, will it blind him to what’s right? Can Aqil, the trailblazing son of the Faiz family, face his fears, before the fire burns him alive? Facing their fears is no easy task, will they bow under the pressure or come out stronger than ever?
Themes: Family Ties, Friendship, Love, Lust, Identity, Self Discovery, Self Acceptance Genre: Action – Romance, Queer Young Adult Fiction
Thick and Thin gets off to a strong start. There’s Duante, the protector, Drayden, the golden boy and heir to the country’s largest and most influential business empire and Shohei, the celebrity who is a fashion icon. It’s identifiable to Young Adults. Loki also pops up.
The chapters present themselves as Acts, which adds some intrigue as does the four kings and the characters surrounding them. That makes it sound almost fantastical, but really there are just some average lives too, with pop culture and bookish references, such as Justin Timberlake and Harry Potter. It also has powerful messages about bullies and handling them.
The book is about identity and trying to accept who you are and makes me hopeful that people will become happy in their own skin. There’s also friendships embraced and characters like Aquil who just want to be included in plans. This is so relatable for the Young Adult audience with its powerful themes. It also delves into darker sides of society, such as gun culture. I think there is a lot that young adults will find thought-provoking and some they may debate. There is also part where Aquil has got powerful family ties who are influential, for readers to see if Aquil is working on own steam or if the family has a hand in things, such as a scholarship reward.
There is the occassional bit of humour of the teenage/young adult life. There is also a lot of that teenage angst, as well as a film of sadness going across it.
There is teenage lust amongst a couple of the characters, who pine after each other at certain points and some elements of self-discovery and mostly it is done well.
As much as it isn’t quite the page-turner, it is something that young adults can get their teeth into and to see who comes out of it all well. This would be good for older teens and 20 somethings.
About the Author
Upasa Borah (also known by her pen name glassEyed) is a 21 year old dreamer from a land of rivers and hills, called Assam, in India. Aside from writing stories, she dabbles in poetry and performance art. She is a spoken word poet who has been active in the slam poetry circuit in Delhi, as well as in her hometown, as a featured performer, organiser and judge. A believer of magic and collector of stories, she loves meeting new people and finding inspiration and muses in the mundane.
It’s time to get your dancing shoes with this highly addictive and exquisitely emotional read. Take a look at the blurb and then the rest of my review. Sometimes there are real gems for Young Adults/Teenage readers and this is one of them. Discover more about Nicola Yoon, the blurb and my review as you dance your way on down…
Thanks to Penguin for gifting me the book and The Write Reads for inviting me to the blog tour.
About the Author
Nicola Yoon is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Instructions for Dancing, Everything, Everything and The Sun Is Also a Star. She is a National Book Award finalist, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book recipient and a Coretta Scott King New Talent Award winner. Two of her novels have been made into major motion pictures. She’s also co-publisher of Joy Revolution, a Random House young adult imprint dedicated to love stories starring people of color. She grew up in Jamaica and Brooklyn, and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, the novelist David Yoon, and their daughter.
#1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star Nicola Yoon is back with a new and utterly unique romance.
‘An endearing, affecting portrayal of the journey of love. Everything Yoon touches turns to gold… this cinematic supernatural romance will be no exception’ Booklist
Evie is disillusioned about love ever since her dad left her mum for another woman – she’s even throwing out her beloved romance novel collection.
When she’s given a copy of a book called Instructions for Dancing, and follows a note inside to a dilapidated dance studio, she discovers she has a strange and unwelcome gift. When a couple kisses in front of her, she can see their whole relationship play out – from the moment they first catch each other’s eye to the last bitter moments of their break-up.
For Evie, it confirms everything she thinks she knows about love – that it doesn’t last.
But at the dance studio she meets X – tall, dreadlocked, fascinating – and they start to learn to dance, together. Can X help break the spell that Evie is under? Can he change Evie’s mind about love?
Instructions For Dancing is beautifully and tenderly written, with some of it waxing lyrical, amongst the emotional rollercoaster of joy and heartache of life and dance – sometimes it’s soaring and other times, pounding and grinding down.
Instructions For Dancing is the title of an instruction manual on how to dance many styles of this art form, that inspires Evie. The title, not only means the physical act of dancing at the dance studio, but also perhaps a metaphorical meaning of dancing the steps of life as there are break-ups and make-ups and life in general to deal with and issues to walk through…. So any readers who have come across Don’t Forget To Dance, would also appreciate this, although certain themes differ.
There’s fun in Evie’s life with waffles and brownies and hanging out with her friends, but also her homelife is in a bit of crisis. There’s also music and some romance in the air in the maze of teenage life, but also the breaking up of her family that changes and complicates things and an unexpected romance that also changes everything. It shows so much of the highs and lows of life.
Readers will get a real feel for Evie’s personality and the inclusion of texts that also carry the story along is a fun addition in being immersed into her life.
This is highly addictive, exquisite book that I highly recommend. It is one of those perfectly conceived books for teens/young adults.
Happy Publication Day to Laura Jane Williams for her book The Lucky Escape. It is available in paperback, e-book and audio book. Discover more in the blurb below and you can purchase this feel-good summer read from today. Thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Avon Books for giving me the opportunity to share this with you all.
The wedding? Cancelled. The bride? Heartbroken. The honeymoon? Try and stop her…
The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams is OUT TODAY in ebook, paperback and audiobook. Escape to Australia this summer in this hilarious feel-good read!
Today I am very excited to present to you an interview with Chris Campbell, who, in contemporary poetry, explores human connections, both passing and intimate. The collection was put together in Nottingham and also includes pieces from the former journalist’s time in Bristol, London, Swansea, Glasgow and Gloucestershire, plus visits abroad including a honeymoon in Madagascar and trips to Tignes, France.
In his interview he talks about music, inspiration for writing, wildlife, his former career and more…
With greatest thanks to Chris Campbell for his time and to Isabelle Kenyon for presenting me with the opportunity to interview.
What and/or who inspired you to write poetry?
I wrote one of my first poems as a child in a hotel room. I suddenly thought it was Mother’s Day and that my younger brother and I had forgotten to get anything, so I wrote a poem to my mum on hotel paper. It turned out Mother’s Day wasn’t until the week after. But she still has it framed on her bedside table! I continued to write through my teens and contributed to various anthologies. I enjoyed the process of writing and editing, the downtime and being able to formulate my thoughts and reflect. This also helped me through university, when faced with a lot of life changes. I used to carry around Bob Dylan’s ‘Chronicles: Volume One’, my dad’s ‘The Essential Spike Milligan’ and enjoyed Leonard Cohen’s work. My dad also encouraged me to study the back of record sleeves – lyrics from musicians like Frank Zappa and Eric Clapton. As I got older, I enjoyed the works of Dylan Thomas, ee cummings, WH Auden, and DH Lawrence – who inspired me a lot in my latest collection.
Your title – ‘White Eye of the Needle’ is intriguing, what inspired this title?
The ‘Eye of the Needle’ is a rock formation in Tignes, France. My wife and I met on a ski trip to Tignes and almost had our first kiss inside the landmark; which has a hole through the centre and we had climbed up to. It will always mean a lot to us and we went back a few years later to take more photos and, this time, have a kiss! White refers to the snow – fortunately there was a lot of it that year!
Your poems focus on the natural world intertwined with human emotions, what inspired you to use these as your topics and together and was this a very conscious decision, or was it more organic than that?
Having started as a journalist in my early 20s, I’ve always enjoyed writing about people. I also find nature a wonderful thing to write about, that feeds into a lot of our feelings and actions. The poems in White Eye of the Needle cover a six-year period, and a few different locations during that time, both in terms of where I’ve lived and visited. It has been an organic process, but I often write what I see around me, and this intertwining was perhaps enhanced by lockdown. Whether it’s a walk along the canal by our home, in poem ‘Chimney snorkels’; cardboard sheets being blown across our garden, in ‘Hurdles’; or describing a garden party, in ‘Catch light’, which I wrote while I was enjoying a break in the garden. In the absence of seeing people it can be easier to attribute human emotion to nature, of which I’m lucky to have lots around me despite living in a city centre.
How important is it to you that humans connect with the natural world, since the two meet quite powerfully in your poems?
One thing I noticed during lockdown is how nature seemed to be reclaiming our garden and other outdoor spaces. I’ve been appreciating the wildlife here while spending more time at home. We’ve been in Nottingham for a few years, and before lockdown I spent a lot of time commuting. I grew up near and in the countryside, so have always valued it. As well as writing about my current surroundings, White Eye of the Needle includes poems I wrote when living in other parts of the country, including Bristol, Swansea, London and Gloucestershire, as well as trips abroad. They capture certain moments, whether skiing, away for long weekends, on honeymoon, or in the garden. While I’m not an advocate for needless travel, I do feel it’s important to enjoy new experiences, forming and deepening connections with people and landscapes, whether ones you see every day or for the first time.
When and how did you decide to concentrate your time to writing poetry as opposed to your journalistic career?
I left a national newspaper to move to Bristol with my now wife and to work as a freelance journalist, writing news stories and features mainly covering politics, business and property. I then went into PR a few years ago and still work full-time in the industry. Thanks to less commuting and more hours at home, I felt I was able to dedicate more time to my writing, including editing and putting poems together to form this collection. I was always hoping to release a second collection, but lockdown helped speed up the process. Journalism tended to involve very long hours and it could be difficult to switch off from it. I released my first collection, Bread Rolls and Dresden, in 2013, while a section editor at the Gloucestershire Echo and Gloucester Citizen. PR still involves long hours, but I am now working more of a Monday to Friday job, and I’m able to write first-thing in the morning, in the evening and most weekends.
In a few words, how would you describe your poetry style and your latest book?
White Eye of the Needle is written in free verse and captures moments over a six-year period, both everyday and intimate. It touches on romance, marriage, the birth of a# nephew, passing of a grandad, and recent experiences through lockdown and restrictions, as it seeks to find meaning in places, at a time when we’ve all been forced to slow down and reflect.
If you could pick 3 poems that you would say were your ‘must reads’, what would they be?
I’m particularly interested in Imagism and regularly read the work of DH Lawrence, who has been a big source of inspiration. But I also enjoy a range of styles and admire Dylan Thomas, ee cummings and WH Auden. Lawrence’s ‘Green’ and ‘Snake’ are among my favourite poems, I love his personal and nature pieces. Also, cummings’ ‘now is a ship’, Thomas’ ‘In My Craft or Sullen Art’ and ‘Clown in the Moon’, as well as Auden’s ‘If I Could Tell You’.
Can readers expect further works from you? If so, can you tell us a bit more about this?
I’ve continued to write during lockdown and have started to focus on sonnets. I will be aiming to release a third collection in the future.