Author Interview with Robin Benway (eek!)

As detailed in our review post yesterday (click here!), Elizabeth and I are huge fans of Audrey Wait! So a little while back, I e-mailed author Robin Benway out of the blue to ask if she would be willing to make a playlist for our blog. Internet networks apparently make me shameless (and I love it!)

I’d never contacted an author before, but I could tell Robin would be wonderful (and she was!)

I also asked if she could – by the way – answer a couple questions for us. A couple questions ended up being more than a couple, and I loved her answers. Soooo I decided we should feature those today separately and the playlist tomorrow (yayyayyay!)

If it’s not obvious, we’re making this up as we go along.

Robin was incredibly gracious – and just as cool as expected! So without further ado: OUR FIRST AUTHOR FEATURE! Check out her answers to our impertinent questions below!

To what extent would you say Audrey is an extension of yourself?
I think because Audrey was my first book, she’s the character that most resembles me. To be honest, the lines sometimes feel a little blurred. She talks the way my friends and I talked in high school, sort of fast and manic with twenty-five million in-jokes between us. I’m trying to tone down my sarcastic streak a bit and Audrey feels no need to do that at all, ever, but it’s definitely a shared quality. Her parents are also a lot like mine when I was a teenager, very trusting but always ready to protect and fight for me. (Then again, I wasn’t famous when I was sixteen. Maybe my parents would have freaked out and locked me in a tower.)

The biggest difference, though, and the quality that I wished we shared is that Audrey is fearless. She makes mistakes, learns from them, and gets back in the game. She gets put into these insane situations and figures out how to muddle her way through them. Writing “Audrey” made me a little tougher because if I can write a character like that, then why can’t I embody some of those characteristics? Oh, the things you can learn from your fictional friends!

 

People always seem to think of Hey There, Delilah when they read Audrey Wait! but I read somewhere that you were actually inspired by a Rooney song. And now I am so curious, because I used to love Rooney – WHICH SONG WAS IT? 

Right?? How great is their first album? I was obsessed with it one summer. Anyway, the song was “I’m a Terrible Person.” I was singing along with it and thought, “This is the meanest song ever written.” The whole song is just brutal, but the lyrics “I don’t think I’ll wake up lonely ’cause having her around wasn’t all that special” are especially cold. And I just imagined some girl listening to the song and thinking, “Wait, I broke up with YOU, you jerk!” but she never has any way to tell her side of the story. And that’s how “Audrey” first formed in my head. So thanks, Rooney.


Was it weird for you when Delilah started popping up everywhere? (I kind of like to think you had your own April/May/June power in imagining such a scenario)

 

 

It wasn’t that weird at all, surprisingly, because I didn’t start hearing it until I was almost finished with “Audrey” and it seemed like such a nice, sweet song, where as the song “Audrey, Wait!” is all about what a terrible girlfriend she is. I think if any girl had a song like “Delilah” written about them, they’d be all, “Yep, that’s me, right here!” but Audrey doesn’t have that experience at all.

The best thing about that song, though, was when I saw the actual Delilah being interviewed by Katie Couric on the Today show. Up until that point, I was a little nervous that “Audrey” was too unrealistic and no one would buy it, but then I saw that interview and I thought, “Well, there you go. If Delilah can be on the national news, so can Audrey.”

If you had a soundtrack to your life, what would be on it right now?

These are the most dangerous questions to ask me because I could literally go on for pages. It’s actually embarrassing how much thought and detail I have put into this answer.

Right now, I’m listening to Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida” album because I think “Life in Technicolor” is one of the best songs to wake up to in the morning. I also love Frank Ocean’s new album and I put it on while I clean the apartment or straighten up all my messes. I think my dog likes that album, too. In the afternoon, I really like listening to Fleetwood Mac because I think they’re such a summer-sounding band, and I listen to “Rumours” whenever I cook. I started a treadmill running routine at the gym six months ago and I absolutely need top 40 music or my feet won’t move, so my gym playlist is basically just One Direction, Kanye & Jay-Z, and whatever song Pitbull has currently hijacked.

At night, it’s the Beatles’ “White Album” and Leonard Cohen. I actually really enjoy singing along with “So Long, Marianne” (note: I cannot sing) while I wash the dishes at night, but I recently discovered that when the kitchen windows are open, everyone on the street can hear everything. Mortifying! So now I listen to Leonard Cohen and hum.

I saw your new book is about a safe-cracking spy in Manhattan. Which sounds awesome because I love spies and Manhattan and the Italian Job. And your characters. So I’m pretty much guaranteed to love it. Your three books are totally different. And most authors tend to stick to one area – for that matter, it seems like everyone is writing a trilogy these days. Do you purposefully like to switch things up? Or is just a when-inspiration-strikes sort of thing?

I’m glad you feel so confident about “Also Known As”! I hope it makes you happy. I’m dying to introduce these new characters to everyone, especially Roux. Roux is…something else.

I so admire authors that do trilogies because I have NO idea how they do it. For me, I love writing stand-alone books because I love to read stand-alone books. So many of my favorite childhood books were stand-alones–Stuart Little, Harriet the Spy, From The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, all the Roald Dahl and Beverly Cleary books, etc. I read all of the Baby-Sitter Club books and even though that was a massive series, you could pick up any of them and not worry that you were missing some important details. The same with the Ramona books: you could read “Ramona Quimby Age 8″ before you read “Ramona the Pest” and it never felt out of order. (My favorite was “Ramona the Brave.” Stupid Susan and her boing-boing curls.) All of those reading experiences shaped me as a writer.

I’ve thought about making “AKA” a series, but if I do, it’s imperative that each book be a complete and standalone title. There’s something so wonderful about opening a book and thinking, “Oh, good, my friends are back!” and diving into a new journey with them. If I can do that for readers, then I’ve done my job.

 

Thanks to Robin for giving us such wonderful, thoughtful answers! We are even bigger fans of hers now than we were before – and that’s saying something! And we are totally confident! We can’t wait for Also Known As!

For more on Robin, here’s a link to her author page on goodreads. Stay tuned for our summer playlist and a follow-up review of The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June!