Everything about the title of Hannah’s debut and the cover was what drew me to the author herself. Plus, all of Hannah’s content is beautiful and really gets you excited about her book. Hey Jude, the first in her Lennox Valley Chronicles series is also an incredible book—definitely one of my favorites from 2023—and one I highly recommend to anybody looking to try a new indie author. Hannah has woven a beautiful world and a set of characters that will stick with you for a long time to come. Olena and Jude were so well rounded and thought out, they were raw and real and their relationship felt so authentic.
And now, Hannah’s working on the second book, Jesse’s Girl which is coming later this year. Bonus, I do love that Hannah has used popular classic songs for her book titles.
Make sure you pick up Hey Jude, it’s available in Kindle Unlimited right now!
BEING AN AUTHOR
Who or what inspired you to write?
Being a lifelong language nerd and a reader, I always had ‘maybe I could write a book someday’ in the back of my mind. My mother is also a writer (of short stories) and I have two friends who are indie romance authors. It was seeing my peers take the plunge and begin writing—at a similar age and with similar-aged kids—that gave me the push I needed to finally try it out. And I’m so glad I did!
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
The best AND worst part is the same thing: you have control over everything. It’s both fantastic and exciting on the one hand, and so incredibly daunting and overwhelming to be the decision maker for every little detail on the other.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
Traditional publishing seemed to me to be full of barriers—you could only share your story if you sales-pitched yourself sufficiently to a powerful decider (literary agent, publisher, etc.) and that seemed so daunting. I also had peers who self-published and who knew a lot about that whole world and were able to guide me through a lot of the learning pieces, which made it seem like a great option. I was attracted to the idea of having creative control over every step of the process, as well.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to get the creative juices flowing?
I’m a verbal processor, meaning I need to talk through my ideas to make sense of them and progress through any stuck places. So I usually call my best friend to talk through my thoughts, or I send my author friends messages for a little brainstorming action.
If you were to recommend books to me (in any genre), what would they be?
Within the romance genre, I loved The Plus One by Mazey Eddings (which weirdly also features a MMC named Jude who’s been through some trauma!). Outside of romance, the memoir Educated by Tara Westover was shocking and unforgettable.
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Just start. Lots of people think they could write a book but so few actually try. Just try. Write just one scene. See how it feels.
Write for yourself. Focusing on the outcome and whether or not you’ll ever be published or successful takes the joy right out of writing. The way I got started was I let go of any expectation for myself and just wrote to enjoy it. I think seeing it through the lens of “play” is really important to give yourself permission to explore it just for fun, without any attachment to the outcome.
Find your people. Connect through social media or otherwise to find people who write in your genre and who understand where you’re coming from. They will be invaluable in championing you along through the harder parts and you’ll be able to help each other as critique partners/beta readers.
Get lots of eyes on your draft. Your story will make perfect sense in your head but having others read it is the only way to know whether your thought translates clearly from the words you’ve written. Multiple sets of eyes will be the best way to make sure issues are caught early, too. Not everyone picks up on the same things as they read!
Don’t hand your voice to someone else. You are the writer of your story—not your critique partner, not your beta readers, not your editor… Ultimately, the decisions you make are yours. This one is really hard to remember when you are in that vulnerable position of sharing your work, but it’s so important. Don’t lose your backbone! It’s your story.
ROMANCE AS A GENRE
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in? What is your favorite thing about the genre?
My editor, Myranda Bolstad, gets credit for this take, but romance is great because it’s so safe… knowing that the story will end up in a happily-ever-after means that you can explore all kinds of messy stuff in the middle and you know it will all work out. I love that.
What are your most and least favorite tropes?
Most: friends-to-lovers, forced proximity, he falls first… Least: surprise pregnancy—it’s been a decade since I had a baby and it’s still too soon for me to find the idea of parenting an infant romantic. It was hard as fuck and extremely unsexy! 😬
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
I’d love to write an enemies-to-lovers story with some real snarky banter and the characters really infuriating each other. I think that would be so fun! Possibly for book 3? 🤔
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
I’d love to see more FMCs having their periods. And other small realistic details like having morning breath or the post-sex aftercare of washing up or disposing of the used condom, washing your hands, taking a shower, etc. Maybe that sounds boring but it drives me crazy when characters just pull their jeans up and carry on with life! Go wash your bits!
If you write open door romance, why did you choose that and what inspires your sex scenes?
I love reading spicy scenes, so I naturally gravitated toward writing them. I think they are such an important way for women to feel empowered sexually in their real lives and I love to hear about people trying new things or discovering new kinks because of what they read (or write)! Sex is such a wonderful way to experience joy, intimacy, trust, and connection, and get those happy brain chemicals. Why wouldn’t you make it the best it can be!? I also deeply love that healthy communication and consent can be represented in spicy scenes and that this can encourage more of that in real-life partners. It’s good stuff!
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I wanted to tell the story of a woman with undiagnosed ADHD, to provide that representation that so many of us don’t know we need. And it was important to me that her love interest was “morally green”—someone supportive and safe who helps fill in the gaps for her. That sense of reassurance and safety is something so many of us ADHDers need in order to feel loved and to thrive.
Can you briefly tell me about your debut?
My debut novel, Hey Jude, is a spicy contemporary romance. I’ve called it a romcom but it’s more of a romantic dramedy—a funny love story with suspenseful and dramatic elements. In the book, Olena has just moved back to her hometown from Seattle, fleeing a traumatic event and a recent breakup. Trying to get her landscaping business up and running, she gets hired for a big project alongside Jude, a rugged and sexy landscaper. Their mutual attraction is something they both struggle to ignore, but they really try—both in order to stay professional and because of their own emotional baggage. But working so closely together soon makes it impossible to deny. Olena’s toxic ex, however, won’t leave her alone, and this tests both her fragile mental health and her new relationship with Jude. It’s a story of growth and healing and loving another person, messy baggage and all.
Do you already have a favorite character from the stories you’ve written?
It’s so impossible to pick a favorite! I loved writing Jude—getting into his head and into his voice. But I have a huge soft spot for his younger brother, Miles. I think I want to write Miles his own HEA. He had a hard time, losing his parents so young and struggling with addiction. I’d love to see him healing and finding love and stability. So his story may be forthcoming, although I commit to nothing! 😅
If you were to cast your book for a movie/television show, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I love this question! The initial inspiration for Jude was a guy like Alcide Herveaux from True Blood, played by Joe Manganiello. But I would love to cast Joseph Cannata as Jude—he’s the actor/celeb that most closely matches the Jude in my head. For Olena, a reader suggested Dakota Johnson and I think she’d be a great fit!
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
A ton of me went into Olena—the wondering if she has ADHD, the anxiety, the being so hard on herself, the perfectionism and people-pleasing, the babbling when nervous, and most especially the difficulty with food logistics. And while Jude (obviously) isn’t based on me, his character is inspired by the kind of partner I needed once upon a time—someone patient, safe, trustworthy, and who had healthy communication skills. So with this book, a ton of my personal experience went into it! With my second book, which I’m still drafting, other aspects of my personality will be infused in the FMC. I find it really fun and empowering to give life to these sides of myself when writing!
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
My work-in-progress is book 2 in the Lennox Valley Chronicles series, which will be called Jesse’s Girl. It’s a brother’s best friend, childhood friends-to-lovers, forced proximity story and it’s very snarky and full of tension and banter. I can’t wait to finish it and be able to share more!
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
I hope they feel seen. I hope they feel like the characters are just like them or like someone who could easily be a friend to them.
Paperbacks, hardbacks, ebooks or audiobooks
I’m loving audiobooks lately (as a hack to get me to tolerate doing chores, and when I’m driving), but basically every format is great and I read them all. Hardbacks are my least favorite, however. Dust jackets drive me batty!
Contemporary, fantasy, historical or romantic suspense
Contemporary lately, with a smattering of fantasy here and there.
Single or Dual POV
LOVE dual POV so much; I love hearing what’s inside a guy’s head and how gone he is for his woman. Yes, please!
Standalones, series or standalones in a series
Standalones give me the most flexibility as a mood reader—I can read a single book and then move on to whatever I feel like next, without feeling like I’m missing out on the rest of a series. I also like standalones in a series or interconnected standalones as well, so if you find an author you like, you can have more of the same vibe.
Open door, ajar door or closed door romances
Open door! I love all the spice.
Music or silence when writing
Silence. Music makes it hard to concentrate, especially if it has lyrics.
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Total plantser. I plot a bit, can’t help but get excited and start writing, then stop and figure out the next bit, and so on.
Water, tea, coffee or….wine?
All of the above!
Cold or warm weather
Pleasantly warm weather forever, please.
Write better in the morning, afternoon or night?
Afternoon or night—I’m a slug for hours in the morning (also an ADHD trait)
Illustrated or photo cover?
Illustrated! I find the photo covers remind me of the Harlequin/Fabio days and that’s just not for me.