Meet the Author


Author PhotoWhat does H.Y. stand for? Is your name a secret?

No, it’s not a secret. H.Y. are the initials of my first name, which is Hsin-Yi. I just thought “H.Y.” would be a lot easier for people to spell, pronounce and remember! Can you guess how to pronounce “Hsin-Yi”? 😉


Did you always want to be a writer?

Well, I’ve always enjoyed writing stories (or letters, diaries, poems, invitations, shopping lists…I’m not fussy. I just like making words and putting them together. Yes, I was one of those annoying kids who actually loved getting English composition homework!) – but to be honest, when I was little, all I really wanted to be when I grew up was Nancy Drew. I loved reading mysteries and she was my hero. I especially loved her “titian” hair and always wished I had reddish-gold hair like her.


Where were you born and where did you go to school?

Do you want the short answer or the long answer? OK, I’m kidding because there is no short answer. 😉 I was born in Taiwan and my family moved around a lot as I was growing up, so I lived in many places, including Hong Kong, London, New Jersey, Taipei and for most of my teens, the United Arab Emirates. This meant that I changed schools a lot – almost every year between the ages of 6 and 10 years old! Having to move around so much taught me to become really adaptable, learn about new cultures and make friends from different backgrounds.

Christ Church - my college at Oxford University, which was also where they filmed a lot of the Harry Potter movies!

Christ Church – my college at Oxford University, which was also where they filmed a lot of the Harry Potter movies!

After my high school years in Dubai, I went to the U.K. for university and read Biology at Oxford University, followed by a Masters degree in Social Anthropology. Then I got a job in London and worked for a few years – before I got married and moved with my husband to New Zealand, and then to Australia. I worked as an English teacher for a while, teaching English as a Foreign Language – and then I worked as an Education Rep for Oxford University Press – and then, I decided I would do what I’d always wanted to do: become a writer! 🙂 I started working as a freelance journalist… and then eventually began to write my own books. And that’s what I do now – I am a full-time author and I write books for both kids and adults.


What gave you the idea for the Big Honey Dog Mysteries?

From my very own Big Honey Dog! 🙂 I was inspired by my own Great Dane, Honey, who has had many wonderful adventures of her own. (You can read more about Honey on The real ‘Honey’ page.)

I also wanted to write the kind of stories that I loved reading as a child – mysteries such as Nancy Drew and The Famous Five and animal stories such as Watership Down and The Trumpet of the Swan – so I thought a mystery series featuring dogs as the stars would be the perfect combination.


What are your hobbies?

Well, I know that every writer says this so it’s kind of boring but I do really love reading so I guess reading would be my No. 1 hobby. I also love dancing and have tried out lots of different kinds of dance, from ballet & tap & folk dance in my teens to ballroom dancing & belly dancing at university, and later on, hip hop, pole-dancing, jazz, burlesque, line dancing…pretty much everything! 😉 Oh, and I also did a kind of ‘doggie dancing’ called Canine Freestyle with my Great Dane, Honey.

ps. I also love eating so I guess you could call that a sort of hobby! 😉




Do you have any brothers or sisters?

Yes, I have one brother and two sisters. I’m the oldest so I’m really bossy! 😉


Do you have pets? What pets did you have as a child?

Well, sadly, I wasn’t allowed any pets as a child even though I desperately wanted one. I promised myself that I would get a pet as soon as I grew up and was independent. I especially wanted a dog. But of course, having a dog isn’t that simple: you need to have the right kind of home for it and have enough time to do all the important things like training, socialisation and taking it for walks every day. It’s really cruel to get a dog and then just leave it home alone all day. That’s when all the problems like chewing, digging and barking start.

So even after I finished university and was all grown up, I decided that it still wasn’t the right time to get a dog because I was working very long hours. It wasn’t until my 30th birthday that my dream finally came true and I finally got a dog… my Great Dane, Honey! 😀 I’m glad I waited, though – sometimes good things happen to those who are patient and wait for the right time for things to happen.

HY+Honey-4weeks    HY+Honey-fernCROP-BIG    HY+Honey-hug

So Honey was my first dog – and we also adopted a calico kitten from the rescue shelter at the same time, who we named Lemon. Honey & Lemon were great friends and grew up together. Sadly, Lemon died of a mystery illness when she was just 5 years old. But after a couple of years after that, we adopted another rescue kitten from the RSCPA – a little tabby and white girl –  and named her Muesli. And Muesli bossed Honey around the house just like Lemon did! 😉


Honey and Lemon


Honey and Muesli

          ** Sadly, Honey has gone to the Rainbow Bridge now. She was a very old dog and had lived a wonderful, full life. She will live on forever in the book series inspired by her.


What are your favourite books? Who are your favourite authors?

My favourite books as a child were almost always mysteries or animal stories. As I said, I loved Nancy Drew and also books like Five Children and It, the Chronicles of Narnia, books by Jack London such as White Fang, the Ramona stories, Watership Down, the Black Stallion series, A Wrinkle in Time books, the Little House on the Prairie books… One of my greatest favourites as a child was The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White (who also wrote the more famous, Charlotte’s Web). When I finally visited Boston as an adult many, many years later, I was so excited to finally see the Swan Boats for real. There is nothing like travelling to a place that you have read about in a wonderful story and seeing it with your own eyes.

HY-6yr-HydeParkAs an adult, my childhood love of mysteries has morphed into a love of crime novels. Some of my favourite crime authors are Reginald Hill, Minette Walters, Val McDermid…and I also love the romantic suspense stories written by Mary Stewart, full of mystery and adventure in exotic countries.

I’ve also discovered many new children’s books as an adult – I LOVE Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy and Suzanne Collins’s middle-grade Gregor the Overlander series  is one of my all-time favourite books; I’ve read the entire series all the way through several times now and still cry at the end each time. I also love Michael Grant’s YA GONE series – I have to put everything on hold every time I pick up one of his books because once I start, I just can’t stop reading! 😉 (but these are probably a bit too scary if you’re younger than 12 years old) Oh, and I still enjoy animal stories and have a lot of the Warriors cats series.

More fun facts:

  • I LOVE spicy food and I put chillis in everything I eat (well, OK, not ice-cream but pretty much everything else! 😉 )
  • I do everything really fast: I talk fast, walk fast, type fast, think fast…although I think I eat at normal speed.
  • I’m a hypochondriac. This means that I always think every headache I have is a brain tumour and worry that my pimples will turn out to be Ebola.
  • I’m really, really scared of cockroaches. I find the way they wave their antennae around really creepy and I’ll freak out & start screaming and doing silly things like flapping my arms and jumping on a chair, if I ever see a cockroach.
  • I love animals and I’m mad about dogs – I’ve been heavily involved in canine training & behaviour, dog sports and photography—and I can even bark like a dog! 😉


Do you have a serious author bio like normal people?

Well, I’ll try! Here it is:

IMGP0314H.Y. Hanna is the award-winning author of children’s fiction and also writes mysteries, romances and romantic suspense for adults. Her books have spent time on the Amazon best-seller lists and she has also won awards for her novels, poetry, short stories and journalism. Under the pen name, “Penelope Swan“, she also writes a romantic Regency mystery series inspired by Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’.

Hsin-Yi graduated from Oxford University with a BA and MA in Biological Sciences and a Master of Studies in Social Anthropology. She tried her hand at a variety of jobs, including advertising, marketing and ESL teaching, before returning to her first love: writing. Her middle grade series, the Big Honey Dog Mysteries, won Gold in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and the Children’s Literary Classics Book Awards, as well as Silver at the Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. She has also won prizes for her short stories, the Thomas Cook Young Travellers’ Poetry Award and also received the Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann Special Feature Award for her journalism.

Hsin-Yi was born in Taiwan and has been a globe-trotter all her life – she grew up in the United Arab Emirates, was schooled in the U.K. and U.S., and worked in London before emigrating Down Under. Currently, she lives in Western Australia with her husband and a tabby cat named Muesli.

You can find out more about me and my adult books on my own website:

13 Responses to Meet the Author

  1. Julie Grasso says:

    The site is looking fabulous Hsin-Yi, hurrahh for you. Can’t wait for your release. OH and OMG, Fringe is our absolute favourite show LOL. Best wishes and can’t wait to hear how it all goes.

  2. Kat says:

    Very nice section! Very interesting! Congratulations! We wish you lots of success!
    Lady and her human Kat

  3. Angi (Princeton's Humom) says:

    I like Fringe, too! Unfortunately, we stopped watching it because the bad science in it got a bit too much for my partner Aine. Even though she knows it’s fiction and the science in the show’s universe is not really expected to be the same as here in the real world, I think she had particular trouble with that show because it tries to be so science-intensive in such a serious way that when the science is really bad, it feels like the show’s makers just didn’t even bother to look things up or even TRY to get It right. Compare to, say, Eureka, where the show is a lot less serious and more light-hearted, and nobody really even pretends that the science there is supposed to be any good. It’s more life silly fun. Or Warehouse 13, where they pretty much just say flat out that their “artifacts” work by sheer magic.

    I’m glad to see you mention Watership Down. That was my absolute favorite book as a child! I read it a dozen times between second and sixth grades (ages 6-11). And a few times as an adult, too.

    If you are open to one small piece of constructive criticism: I think your author bio, at the end, would read a little better if you included Paul’s name (put “my husband, Paul” rather than just “my husband”). Either that, or take the pets’ names out. As it is now, it just seems kind of odd that you name your pets, but not your husband!

    • H.Y. Hanna says:

      Hi Angi – thanks for your lovely comment and I’m always interested in hearing people’s opinions! 🙂 In this case, though, it was my husband himself who requested that I don’t include his name 😉 Although he puts up with being on Honey’s blog, he is actually a pretty private person and prefers not to be named most of the time. And he didn’t think it odd that the pets were named but he wasn’t. Anyway, since a lot of kids will be reading this bio, I think most kids are more interested in pets’ names anyway! 😛

      So cool that you like Fringe too! I’m always delighted when I meet another Fringe fan! And yes, absolutely LOVE Watership Down – have re-read it many times & watched the cartoon adaptation too – and never tire of it.

  4. dawn and mikey the grey hound says:

    Howdy Hsin-Yi,
    I am amazed at how many favorite authors you have. I am going to look up the author you mentioned that writes romances combined with exotic locals.
    One of my favorite past times is eating sweets. I wish eating sweets was in the Olympics because I would do well in the Chocolate and ice-cream category. I feel a bit ashamed to admit such a decadent hobby, especially since it has caused me to gain ten pounds. When I visit Mikey the GreyHOund we walk a lot, so we both benefit. Although, I eat more sweets when I am visiting because Arizona is so Hot.
    I really liked your bio. I was surprised you named the dog and cat by name and not Paul’s. Paul came before the dog and cat and thought he deserved credit. And yes, it is clear you two are a team and love one another, and extremely supportive. I admire how you have helped him get his strength back and coordination with drawing, etc.
    I feel the same way about roaches. When I moved into my apartment the roaches came out of the electrical outlets. They would squeeze their crackly bodies through the smallest of slits without breaking in half and survive to walk on my counters. I was reclining with my knee in a passive motion machine, that would move my leg back and forth, and lulled me in to a deep sleep, and I felt what I thought was a nerve twinge. I thought great, the nerve is regenerating. To my horror, it was a roach crawling up my leg which caused me to recoil in a fit of screams and shrieks at three in the morning. I killed the offending roach and mailed him and several of his friends to the management company with a little note when I paid my rent the next month. As it turns out, it is illegal to mail bugs in the mail. The management company sent the exterminator to my house, although it took a year and a half to get the problem handled. Rats, roaches and bats are God’s creatures I can not find a way to love or even respect.
    Dawn and Mikey the Grey Hound

  5. nancy glenn says:

    I watched the video about your dog and the new cat for the first time yesterday. When it got to the part about your dog as a puppy and Lemon the cat I was hooked. Lemon looked just like my Tabby who we had for 18 years and just died this past year. I still can’t talk about her and not tear up. But, I will be following Honey from now on. A pet is pure love and Honey is now my new on line friend.
    Love to Honey from a Houston Grandma

  6. Hsin-Yi: I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to come across to the Book site! It looks great! Quite frankly I don’t know how you keep up with 3 blogs, several FB pages, and your new books!

  7. Shay Conant says:

    So I just now saw the tribute video you posted about Lemon and it made me cry because I know just how you feel. About 5 years ago, I lost two cats, both Persians, to mysterious illnesses. One of them was named Looney Tunes (“Tunes”) and his best friend was a goldfish. He never tried to eat him but I used to catch him playing with him and it was priceless.
    I had another cat named Little Gizzer, he was half-Persian and was named after his Persian daddy, Big Gizzer. Last month, Little Gizzer was killed after someone deliberately ran him over, which unfortunately was the same thing that had happened to his daddy a year before (sadly was that it was in the same spot and, even harder was that it was also deliberate). He also had a unique friend, just like Lemon and Honey. It was a hermaphrodite Pom named Manly Woman but we just call him Little Man ( They used to play together just like them and it was priceless. Little Gizzer was the only animal in the house, dog and cat alike, that could stand him because he has a lot of energy and often puts his nose in where it shouldn’t belong.
    Thanks for reminding me of what I should remember him for, instead of remembering what happened to him.

    • H.Y. Hanna says:

      Hi Shay – thank you for your lovely comment and for sharing your stories of Looney and Little Gizzer! I’m so sorry to hear about what happened to them – how horrible! It must have been so tough for you – I can understand why you have bad memories. I would too!

      We lost our first cat, Lemon, very suddenly and in negative circumstances – and I had a really tough time with finding “closure” – it was nearly 2yrs before I felt ready to have another cat. We now have Muesli, who is a “princess” 😉 and brings us a lot of joy & laughter – but I can relate to how you feel with a pet who was taken suddenly.

      But I’m pleased if my video helped you a little – and it’s great that you have so many wonderful, unique, happy memories of Looney and Little Gizzer too.

      Thanks again for taking the time to write!

      best wishes,

  8. Sandy Cox says:

    Are you still doing freestyle with a dog? I hope so!!

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