Today is a very special day on Lacy Literacy. Not only is it my first Author Interview, but I’m interviewing an author whose work I am absolutely obsessed with right now: Talia Hibbert.
If you haven’t seen all of my Twitter updates, I completely died over Undone by the Ex-Con by Talia. At this point, I would read absolutely anything she writes. I adore her writing style, and her characters are impossible to not fall in love with. And she has an upcoming book featuring a fake engagement and royalty. Without further ado, let’s get into it~
About Talia Hibbert
Talia Hibbert is a writer and educator from England, U.K., by way of both the West Indies and West Africa. She wrote her first romance aged 12, and was promptly scolded by her teacher because her story of love in the jungle wasn’t ‘proper’.
Since then, Talia’s romances have improved in quality and hugely increased in heat. She now writes steamy, interracial romance novels set in the U.K. They still aren’t proper, but they are a lot of fun.
In her free time, she eats too much ice cream and watches K Drama on Netflix. She also spends a serious amount of time on social media, so make sure you stay connected!
Talia is proudly published by Nixon House, her own independent publishing company. She is currently working on the Just for Him books , a series of sexy, standalone romance novels set in an interconnected world.
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Q1: For the Talia Hibbert newbies, can you tell us a little about yourself and your writing? What book of yours would you recommend they start out with?
Talia Hibbert: Of course! So, I’m Talia… Hi! I’m a Black British romance author in my early twenties. I like reading, eating, and doing my makeup. Seriously, those are my only hobbies.
I like to call my books Dirty British Romance, because they’re sexy and… you know, British. There’s lots of tea-drinking and friendly insults along with passion and diversity. I write about marginalised people being loved, having fun and generally winning at life, because that’s the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to read.
I’d recommend any new readers start with Bad for the Boss, which is book 1 in my ‘Just for Him’ series. It’s an office romance between an older, British-Chinese man and a plus-size, Black-British woman. There’s a lot of drama and intrigue as well red-hot sex scenes. I do love a good sex scene! Or five.
Q2: On your website, it says that you’ve been writing Romance since you were 12 (And wow!!). Is there anything that specifically got you interested in the genre and prompted you to start writing it?
Talia: I’ve always been fascinated by romantic love. As a kid, I was confused by the idea that two people could go from strangers to family, purely by choice. I couldn’t imagine loving someone enough to, say, marry them, so I became obsessed with understanding the phenomenon. I watched a lot of Disney films trying to figure out the whole romance angle, like it was some kind of mystery. And somewhere along the way, I fell in love with love.
When I discovered romance novels, it was all over! I gained access to the adult section of my local library before I hit my teens, because I’d already read the kids’ stuff a thousand times. When I stumbled across Julia Quinn’s historical romances, I was a goner.
I’d always written stories, but all of a sudden everything was full of hearts and flowers. No matter what I wrote—fantasy, sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, YA—romance would always worm its way into the plot. I felt like writing a romance novel would be really difficult, so I was hesitant to try… but in the end, it just happened! The heart wants what it wants and all that.
Q3: The books you’ve written so far have been Contemporary Romances. Have you considered writing another subgenre of Romance like Paranormal or Historical?
Talia: Yes, definitely! Bad for the Boss actually started out as a paranormal romance (Jen was kind of psychic and also a prescription drug addict), and Lizzie from Undone by the Ex-Con began life as a superheroine. It was all very dramatic. In the end, I used both ideas for contemporary books, because I wasn’t ready to create supernatural worlds. Both stories would have ended up three times as long and eight times as complicated. My ideas tend to run away with me.
For about a year now, I’ve been dreaming up an alternate reality full of gods, magic and paranormal creatures. I have two series planned within that reality: one is historical and the other is contemporary. That’s all I can say, because I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to write and publish them! But it’s happening.
Q4: How did you come up with the idea for the Just for Him series? Was it intentional, or did it just happen when you started writing Bad for the Boss? Do you plan on writing more series in the future?
Talia: I didn’t plan the Just for Him series at all. Bad for the Boss was my first novel (I’d published a short story and a novella previously), so I wasn’t expecting much to come of it. But the response was incredible, and I was amazed; people were actually interested in my characters!
Aria, the heroine’s best friend, was very popular and people wanted to know her story. I was a newbie, so I hadn’t thought to try my hand at a series—but once people asked, I started to wonder. What would her romance look like?
Then there was the hero’s best friend Olu (known as Keynes). I’d developed his character completely, but he barely showed up in Bad for the Boss. I wanted to keep writing him. So I planned the rest of the series, and that was that!
As for whether I’ll write any more series… yep! My Christmas book, Merry Inkmas, hints at two possible romances between side characters. I really want to tell those stories, so I’m thinking about turning that into a series. I’ve already started to write the next book, actually, so I suppose it’s definitely happening!
Q5: One of my favorite things about your stories are the characters. When I read Undone by the Ex-Con, I absolutely fell in love with the hero and heroine along with the side characters like Olu. They felt like real, unique people, and were so fleshed out. How do you go about creating your characters?
Talia: Thank you so much! I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. Olu is one of my favourite characters, and I’m super excited to write his story.
I have autistic spectrum disorder, but I wasn’t aware of that as a kid. I just thought I was a weirdo. Everyone else thought so too, and I learned pretty quickly that pretending to be ‘normal’ would save me a lot of hassle, if I could get it right.
I never did get it right—and eventually gave up trying—but along the way I learned a lot about people. I would observe the behaviour of others, make notes and even draw up charts. I suppose the research stuck, because now I have a database of human characteristics in my head.
When I need a new character, I go through the database and slap some stuff together. I’ll take the resulting draft character and shove them into a dire situation. Like, “Oh no, your house is on fire and you’re trapped in a third floor bedroom!” I watch their reaction. Then I ask them to explain their reaction. That’s the important part. If their reasoning is interesting, I’ll move them on to another situation, and we’ll get to know each other better. If their reasoning is boring, I’ll tweak their characteristics. Then we’ll start all over again.
Q6: If you could spend the day with one of your characters, who would you spend it with and what would you do?
Talia: This is kind of difficult, but I’d have to say Aria Granger. She’s the heroine’s best friend in Bad for the Boss, and I’m writing her book at the minute. It’s called Sweet on the Greek, and it’s about… an accident. I think if we hung out, we’d have to go clothes shopping. She has fabulous style and I have none whatsoever. She dresses the way I would dress, if I could bring myself to care about clothing. I don’t think she’d get anything out of the experience, but this is my fantasy, so there.
Q7: You have an upcoming release called The Princess Trap. Can you tell us about it?
Talia: Oh yes, I most certainly can! The Princess Trap is a royal romance with a fake engagement. There’s an element of insta-lust, but then the heroine, Cherry, finds out that the hero, Ruben, is secretly a prince. She’s not too hot on him after that.
Cherry is the kind of heroine that people call ‘hard to like’. It’s irritating, because a hero can be blunt, brooding, arrogant, promiscuous, even amoral, and people will swoon at his feet. But if a heroine exhibits any of those qualities, she’s ‘hard to like’. Whatever.
Cherry is beautiful, and she’s very aware of it. She uses her looks to her advantage; she isn’t very open or talkative; she isn’t eager to love. She likes sex, and she’s not sorry for it. Women like her exist, but they’re often told that they don’t deserve love. That’s a lie, and I enjoy writing romances that show it’s a lie.
Ruben admires her, and his admiration for her is intertwined with his attraction to her. I really like that dynamic in romantic relationships, but especially M/F. A relationship should be a safe haven from the outside world, and for women, the outside world’s dangers include misogyny. So I need their heroes to worship the ground they walk on. Even if a hero doesn’t like a heroine at first, he has to admire or respect her.
The Princess Trap comes out on the 8th, and I’m really excited to see what people think. And nervous! I’m always nervous.
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