Taylor Hahn is the author of The Lifestyle, which is out June 7.
Taylor is a writer and lawyer based in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and Fordham University School of Law. The Lifestyle is her first novel.
Here’s the synopsis:
Georgina Wagman has it all—a great marriage, a great job at a prestigious law firm, and great friends. She’s living the life she always wanted, and everything is perfect. Until, that is, she walks in on her husband Nathan in a compromising position with a junior associate. Georgina has a moment of crisis. But divorce is not a part of the five-year plan, so she comes up with an idea to save her marriage and recapture the spark. She and Nathan are going to become swingers.
Georgina isn’t going to embark on this adventure alone, though. Her friends Felix and Norah and their respective partners decide to tag along for the ride. They’ve got relationship woes of their own that swinging just might fix. Georgina, convinced Felix and Norah belong together, is thrilled. What better place to reignite romance between two people destined to be together than a swingers’ party? Her plan is foolproof, until she runs into a college ex at the first party. When they reconnect, Georgina will find herself torn between her head and her heart, with her very happiness hanging in the balance. Perfect for fans of Jennifer Weiner and Sophie Kinsella, The Lifestyle is a playful homage to Jane Austen’s Emma Woodhouse and an outrageously fun summer read.
Let’s get to know Taylor as she talks favorite novels, her research, favorite part to write and more!
What are some of your favorite novels?
Bridget Jones’s Diary is the book that showed me novels can be laugh out loud hilarious. I’ve read it and listened to it multiple times, and it still kills me. If I want to feel my heart wrenched out of my body, I’d say The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. That book is stunning; it changed me. I also cherish OG Jennifer Weiner: Good in Bed. I love how that novel conveys the complete picture of a complicated woman, layering in friendship, self-love, career, family, dating, motherhood, and heartbreak.
But more recently, I’ve loved In A New York Minute by Kate Spencer, Heartbroke by Chelsea Bieker, and On Rotation by Shirlene Obuobi.
When did you know you wanted to become an author?
I started writing creatively in secret in the sixth grade. In a purple spiral notebook, I wrote my first romantic comedy about a girl who grew up on a farm becoming a lawyer and working in Manhattan, and falling in love with her uppity, elitist colleague. It was actually my mom’s idea for a movie! She always dreamt of writing a screenplay, and I fully stole the idea from her.
I loved to write, but I didn’t know what it was to be an “author” until much later. Books just seemed to appear on shelves. I had no concept of how they were actually made, and how a wannabe writer got to publish one. Fully grasping that process was thanks to my dear friend and novelist, Crystal Hana Kim, who explained to me the process of querying, getting an agent, etc. That’s when it became a concrete goal for me, well into my 20s.
What inspired you to write The Lifestyle?
I was really committed to writing a sex-positive novel in which a woman explores her sexuality and realizes there is zero shame in that. Swinging is still a lifestyle choice that most people view as dirty or adulterous or embarrassing or the butt of a joke. But I wanted to challenge that notion and dig into why couples choose that path and why it works for them.
I don’t expect that every person who reads The Lifestyle will finish the book and tell their husband they want to swing! But I do hope that readers will finish the book and realize they have a new perspective on the lifestyle, and understand why the couples who choose it feel it builds trust and communication between them.
I also just knew the book would be really fun because the possibilities were endless. Sex clubs, love, jealousy, tension, new experiences and new friends. I knew people would expect sex in a book about swinging, so I wanted to make it particularly surprising and tantalizing. That’s where the naked dance parties, the indoor jacuzzi at a sex club, and the treasure chests full of toys came in!
What aspects of Jane Austen’s Emma did you want to include while also ensuring the story is modern and distinct?
The iconic character of Emma Woodhouse herself helped me shape Georgina. Emma Woodhouse is charming and adorable and smart, but also a bit conceited and meddling. It’s hard to write a sympathetic character who can be, at times, controlling and headstrong. But Jane Austen pulled it off seamlessly, so I tried to learn from the master.
I incorporated a lot of Emma’s traits into my main character, Georgina, while maintaining the plot of The Lifestyle as distinct. Also, Jane Austen’s books were quite racy for their times – the early 1800s. So, I like to think that Jane Austen would be proud that The Lifestyle challenges societal norms around what relationships should look like.
What did you learn about the swingers’ scene when crafting the novel? What do you think are some misperceptions about that scene?
I learned that swingers divorce at significantly lower rates than monogamous couples. I think that’s fascinating! Going into writing this book, I too had preconceived notions about swinging. In my mind, I thought there would be so much jealousy and heartache knowing the person you love was with someone else that it would end in disaster for most couples. But that’s not true at all.
Most couples feel it enhanced their relationship by building trust and communication. They had to speak openly about what they wanted in the bedroom, and what they expected of their partner, and they had to respect each other’s boundaries. Those difficult conversations are hard for most couples, but couples in the lifestyle have those difficult conversations regularly, and they learn to feel more comfortable talking about their needs and desires openly. And encouraging each other to explore their sexuality is supportive and empowering.
Once I learned all of that, it really shaped the course of the novel. Every character’s experience in the lifestyle, while different, ultimately empowers them to go after what they really want, both in the bedroom and outside of it.
Without giving away spoilers, what was your favorite part and/or chapter to write?
The first swingers’ party that the characters attend was a blast to write. I knew it had to involve the song Nasty by Janet Jackson, one of the greatest hits of all time. Nothing was off the table. I let my imagination run wild, and it ended up involving role playing, dancing, and staged exhibitionism.
I also love the scene where the characters go to a fancy gala all dressed up and break onto the roof of the building in Manhattan to see the skyline at night. This book is in a lot of ways my love letter to New York, where I used to live, and I got to write into my greatest New York City fantasies.
What are you currently reading and what’s on your TBR (to be read) list?
WAY too many books. I just finished In A New York Minute by Kate Spencer this morning, but next up I am reading: Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman, By the Book by Jasmine Guillory, Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey, and Marrying the Ketchups by Jennifer Close.
Click here to order The Lifestyle on Amazon.