Tai Talagi and Ollie Birkstrom have been inseparable since they met as kids surfing the North Shore. Now they live with their best friends in a pulled-together family, sharing life and the saltwater in their veins. Tai’s spent years setting aside his feelings for Ollie, but when Ollie’s pro surfing aspirations come to fruition, their steady world shifts. Is the relationship worth risking everything for a chance at something terrifying and beautiful and altogether new?
~ Pride Promotions
He’s watched the night sky since he was a little kid, but down here in the Southern Hemisphere he doesn’t recognize the hundreds upon hundreds of stars. The Southern Cross is up there. Ollie tries to orient himself.
Tai shifts toward him, then looks up and follows Ollie’s gaze. The warmth of Tai’s body settles into Ollie’s heart, grounds him. Ollie leans into him a little, and their arms brush to the elbow. The contact simmers in the air between them.
Unexpectedly, Ollie knows what he wants. “Come back to the hotel,” he says quietly to Tai. He pitches his voice low. It hums across the tiny space between them. No one else can hear him over the pounding surf and the sound of the music. It’s easy to be bold in the dark of a beach where Ollie’s never been before. He’s shocked by that same boldness.
1. If you were to describe your e-book/book in only one word, what would it be?
2. What would you say inspired you to write it? ?
I wanted something summery and outdoors with a found family and protagonists who had a goal beyond their love for one another. Surfing just fit for me.
3. What was the source of inspiration for your protagonist? What about your antagonist? ?
Tricky. I feel like they built themselves. But of the two protagonists one is partly inspired by my young son, who is reserved and incredibly sporty and partly by all broken sporting heroes, and the other perhaps by Eden from Blue Crush and every supportive person I know.
4. Have you ever been hit by the infamous “writer’s block”? What did you do to escape it? ?
My lack of available time seems to protect me from the worst of this, but when I stall for a while I try a combination of working out where I am in the story and what the writing needs to do, taking time away with some poetry or a good view, and just writing the worst prose I can.
5. Your all time favorite book? ?
Today, That Old Ace in the Hole by Annie Proulx
6. What made you pick that one above all others? ?
I’ve been thinking about Annie Proulx’s sense of place as driving a story, and her lovely economical but beautiful prose and that’s my favourite of hers. It’s kind and funny and sad and wise.
7. What’s the longest time you’ve spent working on a project? ?
I guess this book, which took a year. Though my children seem like a project and the oldest is 8. And my relationship with my wife is also a project. That’s been ten years. And my career is a kind of project I’ve been in for 17 years.
8. Would you say becoming an author has changed you? In what way? ?
Definitely. I am far less obviously extroverted because rather than wanting to spend every moment with people, I’m happy with time alone with my characters. I’m more disciplined too, and less patient but probably more aware of the way the world is.
9. Was there ever a time, during your work on the e-book/book, when you felt like giving up? What made you change your mind? ?
I was lucky, because I had a contract before I started writing I never considered giving it up. I was also supported by friends and family so even though the hours were rough it always felt worth it.
10. What does your day-to-day life consist of? What else do you do, aside writing? ?
Day to day is waking up around 5am, doing some writing til the kids are up about 6:30. Then racing around like a wild thing for a couple of hours to get everyone to their places with their stuff and me to work. A day of work, a quick trip home, racing around like a wild thing with soccer training and dinner and baths and books until 9pm. Then dinner with my wife and clearing everything up for round three hundred and seventy one. But that sounds like I don’t love it. I love writing, I adore my kids, and soccer and my job is interesting sometimes, and my wife is wonderful.
11. How do you deal with bad reviews or acid criticism? What would you advise other authors to that effect? ?
I don’t really know yet. I am not looking forward to it at all. But I plan to shed a quiet tear, read any good reviews a hundred times, message my dearest cheerleader and make her tell me that she loves the book, then forget about it as much as possible. Oh and if there’s fair criticism I plan to improve. Next time.
12. Is this title part of a series? Without giving us spoilers, of course, what can we expect from the next e-books/books in the series? ?
It’s a standalone for now, though I do have thoughts about all their futures, and a story in my head about Hannah, the most laid back and uncritical of friends who deserves a tornado romance to knock things about.
13. What do you have stored for us in the future? What are you working on/planning on next, aside this title/series? ?
I have finished a first draft of my second novel which is set here on the east coast of Australia and is the story of an indie rock musician who’s left her life behind and a young journalist who hasn’t found her life yet.
Fun facts: :
1. If you could wish for any one thing, and it would immediately come true, what would you wish for? ?
Can you wish away racism? It’s not even possible.
2. If you were stranded on an isolated island, what’s the one book you’d absolutely wish to have with you? ?
Probably Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Unless there’s a book about how to survive on an isolated island.
3. Name your favorite fruit. ?
Plums. Or nectarines. Or plums.
4. Coffee or tea? ?
Tea. Black. No milk. I am new to tea and slightly obsessed.
5. Favorite season? ?
Summer. Which might be obvious. All my books are set in Summer.
6. How about fav time of 24 hours? ?
Dawn I think. I love early early mornings.
7. Were you a boyscout/girlscout? ?
I was not. But I’d have loved it I suspect.
8. Favorite food for breakfast? ?
All of the food. Mostly tomatoes and haloumi or pancakes.
9. Latest book you’ve bought and read? ?
Huh. Rough Waters by Nikki Godwin
10. Do you collect things like stamps, or key chains, or shoes? ?
I collect nothing at all. I feel like there’s so much stuff here already.
11. Favorite color, you know you want to tell us! ?
Yellow! And yes I do!
12. Drama or comedy? ?
Comedy (with a real underbelly)
13. Have a fav quote or personal motto? ?
There is so much beauty that you haven’t seen yet.
14. Cats or dogs? ?
I love both but cats. Cats.
15. Dinner by candlelight or a night out clubbing? ?
Dinner by candlelight, though I’m happy for a big group of delightful people to join us and chat.
16. What song have you listened to most recently? ?
My son keeps singing “I ain’t yo mama” by J-Lo.
17. What first came to mind after reading question no. 1 of the Fun Facts section? I mean that thing that you reconsidered after giving it more thought 😛 ?
Hah! A football career for my eight-year old as he dreams.
1. Your top secret, uber guilty pleasure is… ?
!!I love stories with complicated and well-worked-out threesomes and I love cheesy romance but I don’t consider either a guilty pleasure.
2. If you could choose to be someone else for just one day, it would be… ?
Someone who’s sailing the Mediterranean that day.
3. Your oldest memory is… ?
The tunnel my parents dug through the snow between our house and the neighbours when we were children. (Obviously this wasn’t in Australia)
4. If everyone would receive a prize for being best at something, you’d be no. 1 at… ?
Puzzling out other people’s motivations. Also not looking like I’m crying when I just did.
5. The one thing you’d do anything to avoid/get out of is… ?
Oh, getting in trouble. Sigh. I’m an adult. Also having to ask for special treatment.
6. Your favorite part of a date is… ?
The quick brush of fingers across the table with both of you bright-eyed with wine.
7. If a character from any book could become real and you could spend a day with them, it would be… from the book… ?
Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s witch books.
8. You were/are a hardcore fan of… ?
9. You’d immediately fall for someone who… ?
Walks into a room like they own it but is emotionally generous.
10. The one thing you could/can never get over is… ?
If I were responsible for my child being hurt. I mean–
11. If you could have any one superpower, it would be… ?
Mind control. Coercion? Complicated and fascinating.
12. The one thing that always brightens your day is… ?
My children. They also destroy it. But they are wonders.
13. The most awkward moment in your life happened when… ?
Oh. I don’t recall one now. I have good skill at forgetting things I want to forget. I did get caught in my long ago boyfriend’s bed by his little brother. And then in the shower by the same brother. That was uncomfortable.
14. The awesomest thing in your life is… ?
The book, the wife, the kids, the friends. I can’t pick one.
About the Author & Links:
Pene Henson has gone from British boarding schools to New York City law firms. She now lives in Sydney, Australia, where she is an intellectual property lawyer and published poet who is deeply immersed in the city’s LGBTQIA community. She spends her spare time enjoying the outdoors and gazing at the ocean with her gorgeous wife and two unexpectedly exceptional sons. Into the Blue is her first novel.