Meet Tina O’Hailey – An Author!

I met Tina through my publisher, Black Rose Writing. We appeared together on a podcast, and we’ve struck a friendship ever since. Having read two of her books, she is witty, has a gift for placing words together in just the right way in the right moment. She has a knack for setting and atmosphere- two separate elements in writing that I will tackle in my next post.

I’ve read both Absolute Darkness and When Darkness Begins. Both are amazing and made me sit back and think for hours. After reading both, I found myself wondering if I would ever be that good!

Tina is a professor by day and a writer by night. In between and as much as she can, Tina explores caves. She has a wonderful sense of humor that oozes out of her writing- yes, even in her dark thriller material. And I am absolutely envious of her mountaintop view from her property.

How did you become an author?

That’s like asking how I became human. Writing is the pounding blood in my veins. To write is to bleed out onto the page, repeatedly.

What genre do you write, and why that particular genre?

I’ve been playing with different genres, actually. Absolute Darkness was Sci-fi/Fantasy to me. The publisher placed it into a paranormal romance category. It did have a love story in it. But not love with a capitol “D”. When Darkness Begins is YA dark fantasy, an origin story of Alexander (the love interest from Absolute Darkness). Both books had time-travel and were very complex. My latest book, Dark Drink, is a thriller with no time-travel, no ancient time-traveling beings, no love interests. It has an ace protagonist, in fact. Because I didn’t want to deal with sex. Instead, it became a twisted tale about why those characters didn’t want to deal with sex. Thrillers and horror are a comfortable place for me.

If you were to name one or two books that you deem unforgettable and that had a major impact on you, what would they be? How did they impact you?

Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy — It was a perfect book to me. I read it once a year. The impact was this: I figured perfection was reached. I might as well write a book. Doesn’t matter if it sucks. Everything sucks by comparison to Blood Meridian.

What authors do you read regularly? Why?

I read anything (except romance and cozy mysteries) and I always read them out of order, just grabbing used books at the bookstore by the armful at whim. If I find an author I like, I will grab everything they have written and try to read it in order. Mainly to see them grow as an author. Koontz — for his dialogue and character relationships. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro — for her knowledge of history. Hugh Howey — world building. Adrian Tchaikovsky — complex world building and multiple styles. Lee Child — pacing. Tess Gerritsen — I like a good medical thriller.

What would be a reason you don’t finish reading a book?

I usually hang on until the end, maybe skim if the author hasn’t quite engaged me. But, the few books I have put down is when the characters spout hateful political opinions that have nothing to do with the book’s plot or the character’s story arc. I see that lens enough in the world and read to escape that. Now, if the plot is to prove this or that, I’ll hang on. Even if it is counter to my own belief or understanding.

What is your writing routine? When you write, are you a planner/outliner or are you a “pantser”?

I’m a planner. I’ll go into research mode for months. Read. Keep an open mind for ideas. Absorb. And then I find a strong character. Or they find me. I sit them down and decide what to throw at them. Ask them how they would react. From that comes the super-tight, beat-by-beat outline. Then another character usually shows up and wrecks havoc and I have to hold on with all fingers as the damn thing takes a life of its own. But here’s the thing that I always do. I write a little. Then I go walk in the woods and think. I come back, adjust the outline, write some more. Repeat. The characters will always show me the way and I trust that reservoir of research that is unconsciously stored in the gray matter. I’ve made peace with talking to my imaginary friends.

Is there something you set out to do, but somehow, it didn’t work out for you?

Failure? Currently, I’m searching for agent representation. That’s proving to be an uphill struggle. That is almost like winning a lottery ticket. But not state-based. A universe-based lottery ticket—there are so many vying for it. Right project, in the right place, presented without a trigger word that results in deletion, in the exact moment that an agent thinks, “Do you know what I don’t see enough of…”, whilst their coffee is on point.

What tips do you give to new or even experienced writers?

Find a critique group that will tear your piece to bloody shreds and help you build it back up. No “attaboys” and no “this is awful” without suggestions on how to make it better. You’ll cry. Birth hurts.

Is there a type of writing/genre that you find difficult to write? Why?

Romance. OMG. I just can’t.

Tell us about your book? How did you come up with the concept?

This latest book, Dark Drink, started because I am an unimaginative drinker surrounded by people who love a beautiful cocktail. Order Jack neat and get a side eye. I set out to understand their love and kill a few of my personal demons along the way. Enter Jude, whose hobby is making drink recipe videos. Each chapter has a drink recipe that corresponds. I’m still working on those.

How did you come up with the title?

All of my books’ original titles differ completely from the one they published with. Pitch Black became Absolute Darkness. Alexander became When Darkness Begins. Jude became Dark Drink. The Darkness books see the fantasy side of things. The Dark books are contemporary fiction unaware of the Darkness worlds. Though they all entangle.

From your book, who is your favorite character? Who is your least favorite character? Why?

I love Jude and Mercedez equally, don’t ask me to pick a favorite child. Jude is face-blind, like me, and the biggest introverted tomboy ever. Mercedez has a lot of secrets. I am uncomfortable asking her to divulge much. She’s black and trans. Quiet and poised. She’s the character that walked into my outline and quietly demanded that I give her an equal voice. “You can do better,” she said.

When does your next book come out?

Dark Drink is in query stage right now. I hope for a 2022 publication date. For now, you can dive into the Darkness Universe with Absolute Darkness and When Darkness Begins.

You can connect and follow Tina at:

Her books can be found at:

When Darkness Begins




Absolute Darkness




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