Living in the Shallows
by Tani Hanes
GENRE: New Adult/Romance
"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.
There’s this band, a very, very popular band, who announced a while back that they were going on “hiatus”—my high school and junior high girls (I’m a substitute teacher) were so upset about this. One girl actually cried while hugging me when I told her what a “hiatus” was! I work in a very small district, and have known all of these young ladies since they were very small, as I sub all grades; hence the hugging and opening up to me—we’re very close!
It got me thinking that maybe I could write something for us, a sort of fantasy wish-fulfillment kind of thing, about a boyband, a lot like the real-life band, only better. As in they’d really, really love each other, there would be no question of behind-the-scenes snarkiness. As in they’d be even more attractive, if that was possible; it was, as evidenced by my character Matthew, who is too beautiful for this earth, has a heart of platinum, and a Scottish accent. As in they’d love the heroine, no holds barred, with all of their lovely, huge hearts. And as in they’d never, like, ever, go on hiatus.
And seven books later, here we are! Only the first few have been published yet, depending on when you’re reading this, but once my characters got on paper, they really took on a life of their own, became living, breathing people almost. And they got naughty. Originally, everyone in the UK Crush series was a teenager, but once things started to happen, once I knew how they spoke (who knew Tink would swear so much?), and what kinds of shenanigans they were going to get up to, I had to age them up a bit, to college-age, kind of like the real life band.
As I wrote, the story became more and more clear. I’d get ideas for what I wanted to happen at some point, and I’d write it down, in no particular order, just to make sure it didn’t get lost. It was kind of like pruning a rose bush; the more you prune, the more obvious it becomes what your next move has to be.
I think I did what I set out to do. My baby betas (my nickname for my teen readers) are happy, anyway, and that was my goal.