My hometown is Wichita, Kansas, but I haven’t lived there in many years. Now I live in Colorado, just a few miles from the foothills of the Rockies. I love a lot of things about the area, but most of all I love the sheer gorgeousness. Even on a routine run to the grocery store or the library, I start off with a view of the Front Range that frequently makes me catch my breath. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it—longtime residents tell me they haven’t either.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I really did want to be a writer even then. I wasn’t exactly sure what a writer did, but I loved to read, and it seemed to me that telling stories would be a great thing to do for a living. Of course, I had to go through a lot of other things before I settled on that one once I was grown up, but at least I started in the right direction!
Tell us about your latest book.
Fearless Love gave me a chance to work with two of my favorite things—food and music. Like all my Konigsburg books, it’s set in the Texas Hill Country which has a wealth of wonderful restaurants and live music venues. My hero is a chef at a four-star restaurant. My heroine is a former singer who’s been bruised by her failure in Nashville. He cooks and she sings, which means I got to include a lot of dishes and songs that I love. Things don’t go smoothly, of course. There’s a crooked sous chef and a ruthless great aunt to contend with. But with all those sense in play, it’s still a delicious ride.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
I’m really excited about a book I have coming out next spring—it’s called Bolted and it’s part of a series of four novels I wrote with some of my Naughty Novelist sisters (Kelly Jamieson, Erin Nicholas, and Syd Somers). We started with a disastrous wedding ceremony and then took off from there, with each of us picking up the point of view of one of the wedding participants. My heroine is the matron of honor, who decides to take a week off in the New England country to pull herself together. Adventures ensue.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
The most challenging part of writing is just writing, at least for me. Nora Roberts is famous for her “Ass In the Chair” rule—which amounts to “just do it.” I try to do that myself—a thousand words a day, minimum. But what about days when your brain is on vacation, when you absolutely can’t think of anything to say, when the story suddenly seems so dumb you just can’t face it anymore? We all have those days and the hardest part of writing is going on regardless. I don’t always make my goal, but I do more often than not. And I think that’s the crucial part of it. No matter how bad you think your stuff is, you just keep going!
What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
Don’t work alone—find a writers group. Writing is a sort of isolating activity, and it’s easy to lose motivation if you’ve got no one to talk to. It’s also hard to judge what you’re producing, and all too easy to assume it’s crap when it really isn’t. The San Antonio chapter of Romance Writers Of America saved my butt more than once and showed me how to write a romance. I’ll always be grateful for their help.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Oh wow, I can’t limit it to just one! Like a lot of other romance writers, I’m in awe of Nora Roberts for her output and for the consistent high quality of her work. I also love writers who have a touch of humor along with the romance, which is what I try to do myself. Loretta Chase, for example, does seriously researched historicals that are nonetheless quite funny. And I love both Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the most enjoyable contemporary writers I know. On the other hand, I love Mary Balogh’s stuff, which is heartbreaking (I try not to read her books in public since I always end up in tears). And those are just the romances! I also love Jane Haddam’s mysteries and Donna Andrews’ cozies.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
I bitch to my friends in private and stiffen my upper lip in public. I try not to take it personally, but of course I fail.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Besides a computer? No, I’m not one of those people who feel happiest writing longhand. I’ve had computers for over twenty years, and I absolutely couldn’t function without one. Beyond that, you need friends and critique partners (not necessarily the same thing). You need a sense of humor about yourself. You need a thick skin because not everybody will like everything you do. And you need enough drive to keep going no matter what. Maybe nobody but you likes that urban fantasy you worked on, but that doesn’t mean you give up yet!
by Meg Benjamin
Konigsberg, Texas, Book 7.
MG Carmody never figured her musical dreams would crash against the
reality of Nashville. Now the only thing she has going for her is her late
grandfather’s chicken farm, which comes with molting hens that won’t lay,
one irascible rooster, and a huge mortgage held by a ruthless opponent—her
Great Aunt Nedda.
With fewer eggs to sell, MG needs extra money, fast. Even if it means
carving out time for a job as a prep cook at The Rose—and resisting her
attraction to its sexy head chef.
Joe LeBlanc has problems of his own. He’s got a kitchen full of
temperamental cooks—one of whom is a sneak thief—a demanding cooking
competition to prepare for, and an attraction to MG that could easily boil
over into something tasty. If he could figure out the cause of the shy
beauty’s lack of self-confidence.
In Joe’s arms, MG’s heart begins to find its voice. But between kitchen
thieves, performance anxiety, saucy saboteurs, greedy relatives, and one
very pissed-off rooster, the chances of them ever making sweet music are
looking slimmer by the day.
EXCERPTS (Please choose only ONE to use with your post):
The rooster gave a cackle of triumph and she dove for the gate, fiddling frantically with the latch. Already she could feel the air from his wings. Any second, it would be accompanied by pecks around the ankles and, if she was really unlucky, a few scratches from those talons on his feet.
“Shit, shit, shit.”
“Allow me.” The voice at her side was close to basso profoundo.
MG started so violently she almost dropped the basket, which would have been a victory for Robespierre even if he hadn’t caused it.
The man standing on the other side of the fence was massive. Or maybe he only seemed massive because he was blocking her path to freedom. His bald head shone with perspiration, along with his face and his biceps. Now that she looked at him, she could see the damp sweat marks on his T-shirt stretching down his broad chest. Running shorts. New Balance shoes. Okay, that at least explained what the hell he was doing up and around this early in the morning, although how he came to be standing outside her chicken yard was still a bit of a mystery.
“Who are you?” she blurted.
He gave her a lazy grin. “Darlin’ you’re being attacked by a rooster. Does it really matter who’s getting you out of there?”
Something sharp hit the back of her leg. She glanced over her shoulder to see the enraged leghorn rooster dancing around behind her.
“Ready?” the man asked, his hand on the latch.
MG nodded, dodging around Robespierre’s forays. “Don’t let the rooster out, okay?”
“No ma’am,” he rumbled, then pulled up the latch and opened the gate slightly. MG darted through, then turned to see him pull the gate closed behind her before Robespierre could adjust, flipping the latch across.
“Got yourself a mean one there.” He gave her another slow grin that suddenly made her toes curl.
She nodded. “He’s got attitude.”
“Joe LeBlanc.” He extended his hand in her direction.
MG blinked. “Pardon me?”
The grin became slightly dry. “My name. Which you requested.”