Diane Benefiel (Author Interview)
Please tell us something unique about you we can’t learn from your bio.
I was an exchange student to Sweden when I was sixteen. I stayed with a wonderful family in Mockfjard, Sweden, and spent an incredible summer traveling and learning. This sparked the travel bug (or maybe it was already there?), and led to other amazing adventures, including backpacking around France and Great Britain after college.
What inspired you to write romance fiction?
I’ve always loved reading romance. I remember swapping book covers when I was a girl to hide what I was reading. My first ‘grown-up’ book was a Phyllis Whitney novel, The Turquoise Mask, my mom let me read when I was eleven. After that I read anything I could find by Whitney, Mary Stuart, Victoria Holt, and others. I was hooked on the romantic mystery genre that I still read today.
Do you make up settings or use real places and why?
I do a mix of both. I make up settings as with the coastal California town of Bridgewater in Solitary Man, while the city of Seattle was practically another character in Shot Through the Heart. My favorite setting is Hangman’s Loss in A Need to Protect, where I blended real with a fictional setting. The eastern Sierra Nevada mountains are my happy place, so for this novel I blended the Sierra locations of June Lake and Convict Lake to create my own Hangman’s Loss. The cover actually shows Convict Lake. I plan to bring back Hangman’s Loss with future books.
Who is your favorite character from one of your books and why?
This is like having to choose which of your children is your favorite, right? So without saying he’s my favorite, I’ll talk about Ryder. Ryder Bronson is the wounded hero of Solitary Man. In his heart, he knows he doesn’t deserve to be loved, especially not by Brenna McMurtrey. He fell for her when she was married to his army buddy, a man who died on the battlefield despite Ryder’s valiant efforts, so there’s a whole lot of guilt mixed in with the wanting. He’s so dang honorable, all steadfast and heroic, while at the same time trying to protect his heart. Is it any wonder that Brenna dares a second love?
What stories do you have in the works right now?
I’m almost finished with book 1 in the US Marshals series. They feature two brothers and their sister, all US Marshals. The first, tentatively titled Pointblank, is Lincoln’s story. His partner shot him, the witness he had sworn to protect is dead, and his girlfriend dumped him with a text. He’s camping (read licking his wounds, getting his head together) when he finds himself in a fight, rescuing a woman (who really doesn’t think she needs his help) from a knife-wielding assailant. They end up tangled in a tantalizing mix of intrigue and romance that I’m hoping will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
About Solitary Man
After surviving a deadly Taliban attack on his unit, Sgt. Ryder Bronson returns home to fulfill a promise—to keep his dead friend’s wife safe from a scandal so dark that it threatens her life. But protecting her from a distance is essential. To be in close contact with Brenna McMurtrey means fighting the guilt and desire waiting to destroy him. Being honest with her would reveal more than his heart can bear.
Over a year after the death of her husband, Brenna is finally ready to move on. Yet, just as she begins to push past the grief and start living again, danger rises at every turn. Several close calls prove she is the target of a sinister scheme. Nowhere is safe, especially not home. Her next-door neighbor appears to be watching her, a handsome if bad-tempered stranger who seems everywhere at once—and whose gray eyes hold an ocean of tragedy. Even if he is capable of protecting her, a part of Brenna will still be in jeopardy. The part that believes she can never love again.