Today I am talking with Diane Benefiel, one of my favorite romance writers. She is the author of the High Sierras series, The Jamesons, and she has just begun the Payback Mountain series. I have enjoyed reading her books and am delighted to host her today. So without further ado, here’s Diane in her own words.
Author Interview Questions-Diane Benefiel
What made you sit down and write your first novel? Have you always been a writer? Is it something you’ve done all your life? I’ve wanted to be a writer since college but didn’t get serious about it until my kids were old enough that I thought I could take the time. I have several completed manuscripts in dusty boxes under my bed that shall never see the light of day.
In your stories, you bring the High Sierras to life. Why did you choose to set many of your books there? The Eastern Sierras are my happy place. Throughout my childhood, we spent many glorious summer days camping, fishing, and hiking in the Sierras.My husband and I took our kids to the Sierras, and we still manage a trip or two every year. Using the Sierras as a setting in my books gives me a good excuse to go back.
Many of your earlier books feature heroes and heroines who are law enforcement officers and who are the ‘good guys’ and pillars of the community. But in your most recent story, your hero was served a grave injustice by law enforcement and is portrayed as something of an outcast. How was writing Walker McGrath different from your previous heroes? Writing Walker’s story was a challenge because he wasn’t a conventional hero for me. I created a backstory that would break most men but Walker was able to grow from the injustice he endured. He takes nothing for granted and when he commits to Delaney, nothing can stop him from protecting her – whether she wants protection or not. The hero in my next project is Walker’s brother Sawyer, who is more a pillar-of-the community kind of guy. What’s he supposed to do when the woman who stole his heart appears to be a criminal on the run?
What is your writing process? Are you a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’? I’m in the middle. I plot out my story before I start writing, but as my characters drive the story, I often find myself being taken in directions I hadn’t anticipated. I often rein in the story to make sure I’m hitting my pacing goals, but then the characters pull me on another path.
How do you go about researching your work? For research, Google is my friend. I hope no one ever looks at my search history, because they’d think I was a murderous psychopath. It’s amazing what you can learn with a few clicks of a mouse. I also call on my family and friend network for various areas of expertise. My sister is in law enforcement, my brother-in-law is a retired fire department battalion chief, my nephew-in-law was a Marine, my cousin is a doctor, my son is in law school – I’ve tapped them all to add authenticity to my writing.
What do you do when you’re not writing? I teach AP US History, so during the school year my time is consumed with lesson planning and grading papers. During school breaks, I travel to Rhode Island to visit my daughter and her family. Grandchild #3 had perfect timing as she was born just after Christmas. I was honored to be in the delivery room while Grandpa and Uncle Ethan took care of the two year old and four year old. My grandkids have my heart. In addition to visits to RI, I love camping trips to National Parks in the west.
If you could give one piece of advice to a beginning writer, what would it be? My advice for beginning writers is to join a writers’ group and attend writers’ conferences. I joined an RWA chapter and, in addition to making good friends, received terrific support and feedback from other writers. I also attended local and national conferences and attended workshops that helped me develop my craft. I connected with the two publishers I’ve worked with through local conferences.