Meg Benjamin (Author Interview)
Please tell us something unique about you we can’t learn from your bio.
I used to be a college English teacher (although I later switched to Communication), and I specialized in Early American Literature. So basically I studied the puritans, who are about as far from the people I write about now as it’s possible to be!
What inspired you to write romance fiction?
I didn’t start off trying to write romance fiction. Actually, I started off with literary fiction (mine was awful), and then tried mysteries. But my mysteries always seemed to end up as love stories, and as I started reading romantic mysteries and thrillers, I began to understand why. Yes, I wanted to know whodunit, but I also wanted to know about the personal relationships between the detectives and their Significant Others. And I wanted to know about them in more detail than I could find in Agatha Christie. Once I discovered Linda Howard and Elizabeth Lowell, I knew where I wanted to go. And even though I ended up doing contemporary romance rather than thrillers, it’s still the relationships that interest me most.
Do you make up settings or use real places and why?
I usually make up settings that are based closely on real places. I do this because I want a sense of realism, but I also want to be able to fiddle around with the reality so that it fits with the needs of the plot. In Running On Empty, for example, I needed a commercial trout pond just outside town for the swimming competition. Now Salt Box is based closely on Steamboat Springs, Colorado, but so far as I know there are no trout ponds in the area. Since I’m dealing with a made-up town rather than the real one, I can invent trout ponds to my heart’s content without annoying any of the real citizens of Steamboat.
How much are your characters like you and in what way?
The quality that my characters and I share most is probably a somewhat ironic view of life. My characters are frequently snarky and sometimes amused by the clueless people around them. That’s a point of view I share, and I’ve probably passed it on. Still, I think being amused is better than being angry. And my characters are pretty easy going.
Who is your favorite character from one of your books and why?
I’m very fond of the heroine of Running On Empty, Ronnie Ventura. I always prefer heroes and heroines who learn and grow through the course of a book, and Ronnie’s had all three books of the Salt Box Trilogy to develop her chops. In Finding Mr. Right Now, she’s naïve and occasionally annoying in her cluelessness. In Love In the Morning, she’s begun to wise up and understand a little more about the world around her, and she helps the heroine stand up to some reality TV bullies. Now in Running On Empty, she’s the heroine. She’s still a sweetie with a big heart and the occasional tearful moment, but she’s also strong, self-confident, and determined. You go, girl!
The author will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter.
About Running on Empty
Ronnie Ventura has every reason to distrust Fairstein Productions: she’s had run-ins with their shows before. But Fairstein’s newest reality show offers Ronnie a chance to redeem herself from looking like a blonde bimbo. All she has to do is win a modified triathlon. Simple, right? Except this is Fairstein, and nothing is ever simple with them.
Ronnie’s boss at the Blarney Stone bar and café, owner Ted Saltzman, is a lot less convinced that another Fairstein show is just what Ronnie needs, particularly when he’s head over heels about Ronnie himself. But she’s determined, and he’s a man in love.
Ted becomes her running coach, which fans their budding romance to a fever. But can Ronnie’s newfound confidence stand up to the usual Fairstein plots? And can Ted find a way to keep his true love in Salt Box if Hollywood tries to steal her away again?
Ted watched Ronnie circle the high school track. It was always a bit easier to train here since the track had quarter-mile markers and he could time her more accurately. Saturdays were the only time they could use it, though, until school was out.
They’d switched to two minutes of running followed by a minute of jogging for the warm-up, rather than the one-minute run, two-minute walk that he’d started with. Ronnie’s stride was really developing.
As he’d watched her over the past few weeks, he’d come to a surprising conclusion. Dick was right—Ronnie was a natural athlete. She loved to run, just like she loved to bike and swim.
He was a little embarrassed about how long it had taken him to realize the extent of her abilities. He was willing to bet that he would have wised up a lot sooner if she hadn’t been, well, Ronnie in all her Ronnieness. He wasn’t sure why the idea that a gorgeous woman could also be an athlete seemed so revolutionary. Probably more evidence of his troglodyte side.
Now she was sprinting down the stretch, knees pumping, arms swinging at her sides. She seemed to be enjoying herself, but lately she always seemed to be enjoying herself. The sight of Ronnie running full-out in shorts and T-shirt did predictable things to his libido.
Of course, the sight of Ronnie doing just about anything did predictable things to his libido these days. Even when he caught a glimpse of her bent over her bike, which was about as unsexy as you could get, he still found himself watching her long legs spin the pedals, her blonde hair steaming behind her helmet.
God she was lovely. And God he was a horny, lust-filled idiot around her.