Author Spotlight: Sally Hanan

  • an award-winning author of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, Irish-expat, mother, and social media addict

Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!

Sally Hanan is an Irish import to the US. She made the eight-hour crossing back in the ’90s with a husband and two young children in tow. Since then she has managed to raise her above-average kids, develop a solid addiction to Facebook, and clean up when someone is about to visit.

Readers have described Sally’s writing as “inspiring,” “captivating,” “funny,” and “profound.” She is a 2021 Readers’ Favorite gold medal winner for her nonfiction and has won numerous awards for her fiction and poetry in smaller writing competitions.

Sally now lives near Austin, Texas, in a gorgeous 1930s home with her “hunk of burning love” husband and their spoiled-rotten doggie.

Sally, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.

If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?

Dogs are my favorite. We’ve had a few through the years, and our current one is a terrier mix who loves to snuggle and bark at cats.

Mankind’s best friend for a reason! Glad you have a good snuggle pupper to protect you from those wiley cats.

What do you write? And how did you get started?

Writing – I write everything. The writing bug got me when I started school and we had to write a daily report with a picture. My first published piece was a poem in a local paper when I was eight. History (storytelling) and English were my favorite subjects through school, but I stopped writing for a while when I studied nursing, got married, and had two kids.

Once the kids were older, I got back into it by joining a writing group that had a weekly writing challenge. I rose in the ranks there with prose, nonfiction, fiction, children’s stories, and humor. I also had a few of my stories published in their anthologies.

Then I began my quest to write a decent novel, and this has been the hardest part of the journey. Novels are a difficult animal, with so many parts to them. Not to mention the blurbs, queries, and angst.

In order:

  1. Write a middle-grade chapter book. Submit it. Rejected.
  2. Self-publish a nonfiction workbook that does quite well.
  3. Write novel #2. Hide it. Not great.
  4. Self-publish a second workbook that does okay.
  5. Write novel #3. Show it to friends. Not great.
  6. Self-publish a third workbook that has yet to make back the cost.
  7. Write novel #4. Submit it to #PitchWars in 2017. Have two requests for it and lovely compliments. Rejected.
  8. Join #pitchwarriors for moral and practical support. A big thank you to you, Morgan, for all your hard work helping writers write better and approach the gatekeepers more easily.
  9. Rewrite that novel ten billion times. Have it read by every possible person who can help you improve it, including beta readers, developmental editors, and more. Rewrite another billion times until no one can find anything wrong with it. Query it after getting the best query ever from Morgan! Rejected 150 times.
  10. Figure that quite a few agents said they loved the fulls but it was too quiet a story. Decide to self-publish.
  11. Edit, typeset, cover, ePub, audiobook, NetGalley, Goodreads, Edelweiss, BookSirens, blurbs, Amazon Ad course, social media, events, and so much more later …
  12. MY HEART WENT WALKING DEBUTED FEB 5.

With some reviews in, I can at least breathe out and know it’s okay. Still waiting for all those reviewers to post on Amazon etc. Right now I’m just relieved those eight months are over, although I just signed a contract to write historical fiction for a publishing company and they want 5,000 words a week!

What a roller coaster! Thank you for sharing your journey because writers who have never tried to walk the publication path sometimes have unrealistic expectations for what it looks like.

What do you like to read?

I love the Outlander series. I mostly read women’s fiction and chick-lit. I like happy stories that have beautiful ways of saying things – lovely settings, great dialogue, nothing cliché.

I hear you on that. My reading has grown to encompass more women’s fiction and chick-lit and I like to enjoy what I read.

Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for youand one that does

There are no rules!

The people saying that there are precise rules to follow when you’re writing is tosh. There are no rules. Just make it as brilliant as you can page by page. Except for the Oxford comma. Always, forever, and a day.

I mean, there are rules, but there are plenty of reasons to ignore them — if you have the skills and technique to get away with it. But, I’m 100% there with you on Oxford commas.


Shameless Self-Promotion time!

My Heart Went Walking

The only man she’s ever loved is seeing her sister.
And now they have to save her together.

Sally Hanan’s sublime debut mixes the prose of Sue Monk Kidd with the dialogue of Maeve Binchy. With captivating warmth, she pulls us in to how it felt to live in Ireland’s changing culture of the ‘80s, and how it often made a woman’s decisions for her.

“I can’t bear to keep walking. But you can’t keep a secret in this town unless you leave with it.”

Kept apart by their love for one man, two sisters embark on their own paths towards survival, love, and understanding, until they finally meet again in the worst of circumstances. And the reality might break them all.


Check out Sally Hanan out across the web!

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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