Title: Into the Blue
Author: Pene Henson
Release Date: July 7th 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, New Adult
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?
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Pene Henson, author of INTO THE BLUE.
Hi Pene, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.
Q: What is the most satisfying thing about being a writer?
I love carrying these characters around in my head. Writing can be lonely, and I spend more time locked away by myself than I’d like. But at least I have all these people with me, chattering away pleasantly.
Also now and then I read a piece of something I’ve written and I’m surprised because I have no recollection of writing that and yet it somehow seems true of the characters or story.
Q: Do your characters ever take over your writing and make the story go somewhere you hadn’t originally planned?
I don’t tend to plan out a story in detail. I have arcs and character journeys but not a detailed plan of how they get there. So the characters and their conflicts do surprise me. For example, I knew I wanted it to be hard for Tai and Ollie when they came back to the reality of living together in their home. But I didn’t know how that would pan out practically until they started interacting when they got there.
Q: How did you celebrate the release of your book?
Mostly I just kept touching the book. I can’t believe I’ve written a whole novel. And then I put on a launch party with champagne and balloons and I carried around a pen so I could sign things.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
I wanted the book to be largely out of doors in a setting where the characters have significant aims beyond their romance. So I scoured my brain for something I could build on there. I love the ocean and surfing.
Beyond that I don’t really know. Tai and Ollie came fully formed. Then I pieced their world together from many things that are important to me. Found family, sports, gorgeous ocean views.
Q: Have you ever written naked?
Hah. It’s possible. I’ve almost certainly written while wrapped in a towel having leaped from the shower.
Across from them, one of the Brazilians plays guitar. Ollie doesn’t recognize the song even when a couple of others sing along. The beach is wider and the sand finer than on the North Shore, but every beach is a little like home. Ollie misses the Blue House; he misses the surf and the palms and the shoreline he knows so well. He misses Jaime and Sunny and Hannah. Still, though he’s as far from home as he’s ever been, Ollie’s comfortable. These are his people, too. He leans back on his arms and looks up into the dark.
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.
About the Author
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.
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