This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Meg will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
Tell us a little about how you got started as an author and how you came up with the idea for this book?
I always wanted to write fiction (and be published—that was sort of a corollary for me). My early books didn’t work too well until I started reading and writing romance. I wrote Venus In Blue Jeans, set in a mythical Texas Hill Country town called Konigsburg, and it was contracted by Samhain Publishing. That led to a series of books set in Konigsburg that deal with all the features you find in the Hill Country: wineries (Long Time Gone), honky tonks (Brand New Me), and fine dining (Fearless Love), among other things. Hungry Heart is all about Texas barbecue, which is sort of the state cuisine of Texas. That might not seem like an appropriate subject for romance, but my barbecue chefs are both cooks and lovers.
Where do you get your ideas for characters? In particular, did you steal some characteristics from yourself or people you know for the main characters?
I don’t usually base characters on real people, but I admit to lifting the occasional personal characteristic from myself or people I know. One of my heroines in Hungry Heart, Andy Wells, is sort of an introvert—shy in social situations and nervous about calling attention to herself. I have to admit I sometimes feel sort of the same way. But my other heroine, Darcy Cunningham, is up front and outspoken, not taking any guff from anybody. That’s not me, but sometimes I really wish it was.
Which author/authors or particular books have inspired you?
Linda Howard and Elizabeth Lowell gave me my introduction to romance—I’d been reading (and trying to write) mysteries without much success. But then I stumbled onto Howard and Lowell and saw how they were able to combine romance and suspense in a way that made both work. I also fell in love with Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jennifer Crusie for their humor that never seemed to undercut the poignancy of their romances. I feel the same way about Loretta Chase, although her historicals are far more carefully researched than my contemporaries. All these authors and others have influenced me, and I still seek out their books when I can.
What were some of your favorite reads of the past year?
I love reading historicals since I don’t write them and probably never will. My current favorites are Sherry Thomas and Grace Burrows. I read Thomas’s Ravishing the Heiress in a single day—we were driving from Lubbock to Denver, so I had lots of time. I also love Eloisa James’s Desperate Duchesses series.
For the aspiring writers out there, can you tell us something about how you develop your plot?
I usually start with the germ of a story—what would happen if I had a heroine/hero who did such-and-such? Sometimes it’s just the setting, or something I want to work with, like barbecue in Hungry Heart. Once I started reading about Texas barbecue, I discovered the barbecue contest circuit, which is really big time. Then I had to figure out a way to get my characters involved in those contests, and I had to decide what else was going to happen as they did. Everything just sort of spirals out from that initial choice (i.e., this is going to be a book about barbecue, so what happens next?). Incidentally, I occasionally get stuck when I’m trying to decide what will happen, but if I describe things out loud to my hubs, he can frequently help me get going again.
Tell us about your future? Next book?
I’ve published eleven books about Texas, but I live in Colorado now. It’s a wonderful setting with all kinds of unique activities, and I’d love to write about what goes on here. Right now I’m working on a couple of Colorado trilogies that I hope to have finished soon.
Sous chef Darcy Cunningham is less than entranced with small-town Konigsburg’s obsession with barbecue. But her future career as a chef de cuisine requires expanding her culinary horizons, so she talks the Barbecue King, a.k.a. Harris Temple, into taking her on as his apprentice.
However, learning Harris’s professional secrets wasn’t supposed to include falling for his spicy blend of smoky sexiness and laid-back charm.
Chico Burnside specializes in flying under Konigsburg’s small-town radar, but lately life has been going a little too smoothly, even for him. Hoping to shake things up a bit, he talks Harris into teaming up for Konigsburg’s first barbecue cook-off. But once shy scientist Andy Wells catches his eye, Chico’s got more on his mind than brisket. Like enticing her out of her shell to show her just how tenderly a big guy can love.
As the competition ignites, so does the romance. Until a natural disaster threatens to derail Konigsburg’s dream team before the grills even get good and warmed up.
About the Author: http://www.MegBenjamin.com and her blog is http://megbenj1.wordpress.com/. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.