- Anna P.
Indie Support Sunday: Hannah Smith
Hannah Smith is a fellow 2022 debut author based in Australia, writing about relatable and interesting heroines based in her home country. Her debut, Hazy Love is part contemporary romance, part romantic suspense with a host of characters that will have you hooked from the moment you meet them.
A huge K.A. Tucker fan, Hannah credits the Canadian author for inspiring her to step into the world of romance writing. While her debut was originally meant to be a standalone, she’s now working on a second book featuring one of my favourite characters from the first book and I am beyond excited about it.
What inspired you to write—was it another author or books you read as you grew up?
I’ve written stories since I can remember. I used to spend hours writing my own versions of Sweet Valley, The Babysitter’s Club and Harry Potter. I majored in writing at university and had a story published in a book, but never went any further with it. In my twenties, I stopped reading for the most part, and didn’t do a lot of writing either.
It wasn’t until I read The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker in Positano in 2019 (humble brag) that things changed. That book ignited a fire in me—I devoured that book in a couple of days and it spurred me on to finally write my own novel.
Why did you choose romance as the genre to write in?
After reading The Simple Wild, I started reading a heap of other romances suggested by my sister. I fell in love with reading again and knew straight away, those were the sort of books I wanted to write.
Why did you choose to self-publish instead of going the traditional route?
Seeing how much success authors have had in self-publishing and how much information is readily available about how to do it, it just felt intuitive to go that direction. I knew I’d have lots of work to do, but also that I’d have a lot more freedom with how things would run. I was also mindful that querying could kill my soul a little bit. I had a goal to get a book published, and I knew self-publishing would be the quickest way to reach that goal.
That all being said, that’s not to say I wouldn’t go down that path one day.
What’s the best and worst part about being an indie author?
Ooohh. The worst part for me was how overwhelmed I got when trying to figure everything out. Whilst it’s great there is so much information out there, at times I felt like I was drowning in it.
The best part? There are so many. The writing community I’ve come to know and love. The feeling you get when you smash through barriers and hit goals. When you see your cover for the first time. When you finally get to hold your book and realise the blood, sweat and tears were all worth it.
That’s the thing. Even though some days are so tough I want to give up, I still wouldn’t change it for anything.
Do you write full time or is this something you do on the side? And would you want to write full time?
I work four days a week in a busy not-for-profit organisation, so writing is something I do before and after work and on Fridays and weekends. Writing full time is the dream.
Other than writing, what is something you enjoy and are really good at?
I’m great at overthinking, napping and snacking. Do these count? Haha.
I do Clue Words (similar to crossword style puzzles) when I’m trying to relax and find that I can fly through them with ease some days. I love puzzles.
If not romance/subgenres of romance, what genre would you like to write in?
While I was at university I wrote a script that would probably be considered contemporary fantasy. I don’t know that I’d be any good at writing a novel in that genre, but I’m open to trying it in the future.
What are some of your all time favourite books—ones that you recommend to people or can reread multiple times?
I could be here all day …
Wild series by K.A. Tucker—I don’t think I can sing K.A. Tucker’s praises enough, but I’ll try
The Wolf Hotel series by K.A. Tucker—if you’re after something addictive and spicy
Ugly Love—it’s still my FAVOURITE Colleen Hoover book.
Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
After by Anna Todd—that book pulled me into a world I never knew I needed
Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
What are your top 5 tips or pieces of advice for aspiring authors?
Set out your goals and then break them down into smaller monthly and weekly goals. Chipping away at tasks in manageable chunks will make things far less overwhelming.
Find people in the writing and reading communities that you connect with. It makes all the difference supporting fellow authors and bookstagrammers, and having them support you as you go on your journey.
Be mindful of burnout. Research what writer burnout looks like and keep an eye out for the signs. It can creep up on you. It’s better to catch it early and take a break from writing, than get so burnt out you have to take months and months off.
Celebrate the wins. I’m still not very good at this, but I’m getting better. Make sure you take the time to celebrate or congratulate yourself when you hit a milestone or finish a task you thought was impossible. You’re working your butt off – you deserve to take the time to recognise how far you’ve come.
Be kind to yourself.
Can you tell me a little bit about your debut?
My debut novel is called Hazy Love. It’s a contemporary romance/romantic suspense set on the south-east coast of Australia, and follows a young woman named Hazel as she deals with heartache, anxiety, finding her passion and following her instincts. She’s obsessed with true crime, but often fails to read the signs when it comes to the tall, dark and handsome man in the picture.
Of the books you’ve written, do you have a favourite character?
Kali Cooper, my protagonist’s best friend. Her sass is something I wish I had.
What inspired your published stories? How and when did you come up with these stories and plots?
I don’t really know how the story came to be what it is. What it started as and what the final product is, are vastly different. I brainstormed ideas, mostly when I was travelling a few years ago and had down time to just think freely. I like coming up with ideas while people-watching.
How much of yourself do you put into these characters?
A lot, especially Hazel. A lot of the scenarios in the book are based off of real-life incidents. I think as authors, we draw on what we know the most and pour that into our work, even if we don’t realise it at first.
When you write these stories, what are you hoping your readers will feel?
I hope they feel a connection to the story or one of the characters, and get lost in the book for a few hours. I hope they forget they’re even reading—that’s what I love about reading myself. Getting sucked into a whole new world.
What is a story/stories that you really want to tell?
I have some ideas for a new series already, set in a completely different place with new characters. I also have some ideas for stories with more taboo topics, but given how busy I’ve been with my debut, I haven’t had time to explore those yet.
What’s next on the bookshelf for you? Anything you can tell us about a future project?
I’m currently drafting the sequel to Hazy Love, which was never part of the plan. Hazy Love was always going to be a standalone. That was until all my beta readers said they couldn’t wait for the next one … I realised quickly that I had to tell more of the story.
What are your most and least favourite tropes?
Not a huge fan of love triangles or soul mate tropes. My favourites are enemies to lovers, friends to lovers and fake relationships.
What are some tropes you want to write in the future?
Friends to lovers, definitely.
What are some topics (sensitive and otherwise) that you think should exist more in romance?
I’ve spoken about this before, but stigma around sexually transmitted infections (STIs). I know they’re not sexy, but I think there’s a bit of shaming that comes in some books. I once read a book where the character went on for two pages about how disgusting/awful it would be to catch an STI, and I thought, if you’ve had/have an STI, and found it to be a barrier to finding your own romance in real life, this sort of rhetoric is so unhelpful. Sexual health is an important part of romance and romance books, and so I think it’s important it’s addressed sensitively.
What is your favourite thing about the romance genre?
The steam, the angst, the happy ever after.
THIS OR THAT
Ebooks or audiobooks
Historical romance or romantic suspense
Single or Dual POV Oooh … this changes depending on the story, but if I had to choose … single.
Standalones or series
Music or silence while writing Sometimes Taylor Swift or movie scores, but mostly silence
Plotter, pantser or plantser
Tea and coffee I live off both to an equal amount.
Cold or warm weather
Morning person or night owl Given how much I’ve been working lately, night owl it is
Illustrated cover or photo cover
You can find Hannah on Instagram, providing you updates on her books and all of the awesome dog content as well.