About the BookTake a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters, #2) by Talia Hibbert
on June 23, 2020
Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral...
Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.
When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?
Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his... um, thighs.
Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?
About the Author
USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller Talia Hibbert is a Black British author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate. She writes sexy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalised identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include beauty, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm.
Dani’s story features characters with very strong personalities who also live with mental illness. What is your process like for putting such sensitive topics into your stories?
Talia: When I’m daydreaming and making notes about a character, I always delve into their mental health experience. I think about specific symptoms they might have, their personal coping methods – whether healthy or unhealthy – and also the parts they might not cope with at all. I research, I talk to people in my life who have similar struggles, and I make sure I’m writing for the characters rather than using the characters for the story.
Were there any scenes cut from the novel that you wish had made it into the final draft?
Talia: I rewrote this book quite a few times, so tons of alternate versions got cut. My absolute favourite is a scene where Dani is wearing a wig and she throws it at Zaf. There is also a scene where they go out and do a pub quiz together, and Dani ends up throwing a drink on someone. Basically, we were robbed of Dani throwing things.
Can you share with us your experience publishing first independently and then what it was like be picked up by an imprint?
Talia: Publishing independently has always been great fun. The flexibility suits my lifestyle, especially since I have a chronic illness and my health is unpredictable. Of course, I’m not a master businesswoman or a publishing expert, so my reach as a self-publisher is quite small – which is fine. But working with Avon has been hugely different because they promote on a major level. It’s also different because, to make that promotion work, they have longer lead times for producing the books. So my writing schedule is planned out months and months in advance, which doesn’t come naturally for me. It’s been a really useful, informative experience, and I’ve learned a lot and grown a lot. I think it’s good to practice different work styles.
Dani’s story features the fake dating romance trope. What is your favorite romance trope to read or write about?
Talia: I’m a sucker for friends to lovers. Whether I’m reading or writing it, I love stories where the protagonists have known each other for a while and they have an easy familiarity. That actually pops up in Take a Hint, Dani Brown, too. When the story starts, Zaf and Dani have been semi-flirting for months, and writing their banter made me smile.
Can you tell us anything about other projects are you working on? Any hints about the last Brown sister’s book?
Talia: Eve’s book is almost finished – we’re just doing the copyedits. I’m kind of in love with it. She’s the youngest sister, very chaotic, kind of spoiled, but she has her own special strength and she discovers it during the course of the book. Things start when she accidentally runs over her mortal enemy and polar opposite, the frosty Jacob Wayne. So she’s forced to help him run his bed and breakfast, but they have very different ways of doing things.
What does your writing process look like? Do you figure things out as you go or do you plot things out?
Talia: My writing process varies from book to book, but I always spend time daydreaming before I write. Once the characters are solid in my mind, then I start writing things down and searching for their story. Sometimes it’s crystal clear, in which case, I’ll plan things out. Other times, I have a vague idea, but I have to start writing to make those ideas concrete.
Which authors inspire your writing the most? Anyone you would love to co-author a book with? Any genres you would love to try writing outside of the romance genre?
Talia: I’m a voracious reader and I’ve been in love with romance for years, so there are many authors who’ve inspired me. Recently, I think a lot about Kennedy Ryan’s prose, Dylan Allen’s structure, Charlotte Stein’s character work, Nalini Singh’s worldbuilding, and Jodie Slaughter’s voice. There are tons of different subgenres I’d like to try, but I don’t think I’ll write anything other than romance.
Did you always want to be a writer? What are some of the books that shaped your love of reading?
Talia: I have always wanted to be a writer, although I didn’t always believe it could happen. My earliest memories are of my mother reading Disney books to me – especially The Hunchback of Notre Dame. It was one of the few children’s stories with a Roma heroine. Growing up, I really enjoyed fairy tales and fantasy. I think their trend toward happy endings influenced my love of romance novels. The first romance I ever read was technically Jane Eyre, but Christ, what a depressing love story. My first genre romance was Splendid by Julia Quinn, and I liked that one far more.
Do you have any reading or writing quirks?
Talia: I think readers and writers are a quirky bunch, so we all seem normal to each other! I saw a meme the other day about skipping over description to read a book’s dialogue, and I’m definitely guilty of that. Sometimes I have to force myself to go back and read the bits without speech marks.
When you are not writing (or reading) what do you enjoy doing?
Talia: Before the pandemic, my hobbies were pretty limited—I was either working, or reading, or at the cinema. But now my days are less full and I can’t go to the cinema, I have discovered a love of house plants, and of crafting pompoms. Most people craft useful things, like knitted hats or pretty embroidery, but my skills are limited to pompoms.
Rapid Fire Questions
Coffee or tea?
Talia: Tea – specifically, fruit tea. Although I do enjoy the occasional cuppa.
Dogs or cats?
Talia: I prefer cats, but I’m horribly allergic to them, so dogs will do.
Favorite place to read?
Talia: I’ll read anywhere, but it’s best done alone. I hate interruptions.
What types of books are in your reading wheelhouse?
Talia: Fun, cosy stories where the characters are in it together, no matter what.
What are some 2020 releases you are excited about?
Talia: So many! A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley. The Jezebel by Dylan Allen. You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria. Written in the Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur.
Lastly, where can our readers learn more about you and your book?
Talia: You can learn more about me and check out all my books at taliahibbert.com – there’s a newsletter you can sign up to for freebies and fun. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram, @TaliaHibbert, and on Facebook, @AuthorTaliaHibbert.
What About You?
Do you have questions for Talia? Post them in the comments and share your thoughts about Take A Hint Dani Brown!