Thursday, June 9, 2022

Q&A with Taylor Hahn




Taylor Hahn is the author of the new novel The Lifestyle. Also a lawyer, she is based in Los Angeles.


Q: What inspired you to write The Lifestyle, and what do you see as the book's relationship to Jane Austen's Emma?


A: I did have a eureka moment where I thought a book about swingers would be hilariously fun. There was so much inherent tension there – love, sex, secrets, jealousy, meeting new people, testing boundaries. Then as I started researching, writing, and developing my characters, my reasons became much deeper than just wanting to write a fun book. 


Don’t get me wrong, the book is still hilariously fun. There’s sexy Manhattan real estate, glitzy nightlife, swingers’ parties, sex clubs, an indoor hot tub full of naked people, a Janet Jackson dance party, role playing, secret rooftop kissing, and so much more. 


But it’s also a story about a woman exploring what she wants in the bedroom and outside of it with zero shame around her sexuality, which is really the story I wanted to tell. It’s a very sex-positive novel in that the main character learns to enjoy a side of herself that she had always shunned, and that is celebrated.


The book’s relationship to Emma is in the main character, Georgina Wagman. Her meddling but loving approach to helping her friends is directly inspired by the iconic character of Emma Woodhouse.


Jane Austen’s famous character is adored, even though she is a bit conceited and naïve. We love her because she has a pure heart, and I hope readers feel the same way about Georgina. She doesn’t always do the right thing. She makes a lot of mistakes. And ultimately, she learns she doesn’t have life figured out as well as she thought she did. That makes her human.


Q: The author Kristy Woodson Harvey called the book “An honest, open-hearted look at marriage and friendship and a reminder that, sometimes, the messiest parts of life are leading us where we’re truly meant to be.” What do you think of that description?


A: It’s absolutely PERFECT! When I read those words for the first time, I knew that Kristy Woodson Harvey understood exactly what I wanted Georgina’s journey to be.

She thought she had the “perfect” life. Of course, there is no such thing. She learns that lesson the hard way when she catches her husband in a compromising position with a much younger woman. Everything she knew is shattered.


She realizes that she needs to try something completely new in order to regain control in her life—hence, swinging. If she changes the rules, then her husband can’t break them anymore. But it’s in that experience that she realizes the best parts of life are those that scare us, test us, put us out of our comfort zone so we get to know ourselves better.


Q: How did you create Georgina?


A: Lots of time spent digging into her psyche, psychoanalyzing her, writing and rewriting! I also read Emma multiple times so I could draw from Emma Woodhouse and what motivated her. Eventually she became a fully formed person on the page and took on a life of her own!


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the book?


A: I hope readers have a blast while reading this book, first and foremost. But secondly, I hope it helps readers think about the lifestyle and the reasons why it works for a lot of couples. Most readers are probably not swingers themselves, so they might be coming into the book with preconceived notions about the lifestyle!


While I don’t expect readers to finish the book and immediately become a swinger (although that is also welcome!), I do hope that it helps readers understand the lifestyle better, so they may think, while the experience is not for me, I get why it works!


Couples in the lifestyle report that the experience helps them build trust and communication, and divorce rates among couples in the lifestyle are lower than among monogamous couples.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m writing novel #2! It’s a holiday family dramedy in the vein of one of my favorite movies, The Family Stone.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: This book is meant to be a blast! Kick back with an upside down pineapple cocktail and get ready to laugh out loud.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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