Interview with Mandi Benet, Author of To Rome With Love

I am very pleased today to feature debut romance author, Mandi Benet. Earlier this month, Mandi released her first romance novel, a contemporary love story set, as you can guess from the title, in the Eternal City, Rome. Her debut novel, To Rome With Love, is the first in a series entitled Love in the City. Mandi’s heroine is a talented chef who pays a visit to Rome while on the rebound. There she encounters a handsome, irresistible Italian, and despite the fact she has sworn off men, particularly those of the Italian variety, sparks fly. Will those sparks explode into true love?

Please welcome Mandi Benet . . .

Q:   What is your favorite romance genre, and why?

A:   I like "erotic romance." I stumbled on this sub-genre by accident and was very glad I had. I’d heard of erotica and read some, but bondage and submission and whips and butt plugs do nothing for me. I prefer erotic romance where things are good and steamy but where the focus is on the development of a true romantic relationship through sexual interaction. And if you’re like me, you’ll have your "do not disturb" sign handy.

Q:   Is there any romance author you particularly admire, and if so, why?

A:   There are many and they are not all erotic romance writers. I love Rachel Gibson, Candis Terry, Anne Calhoun, Carly Phillips, Melanie Harlow, Laurelin Page, Jill Shalvis, Lexi Ryan, Holly S. Roberts and many more.

Q:   When you craft a hero, are you incorporating traits from men you know, or are you writing about a man you have never met, but would like to?

A:   I think I’m writing about a man I’ve never met but would like to.

Q:   Many authors have said that writing the first pages of a new story are the hardest to write. Do you find that to be the case?

A:   No. The first few pages of a new story are the easiest for me. Then I have to come up with a real plot, and that’s not easy.

Q:   When you begin to write, do you know how the story will end, or does that come to you as part of the process?

A:   I don’t always know how they will end but I have a pretty good idea.

Q:   When you suffer from writer’s block, how do you unblock?

A:   I play solitaire online, watch CNN, go for a walk or read a book.

Q:   Other than one you have created, who is your favorite romance hero or heroine?

A:   I love Anne Elliot in Persuasion, by Jane Austen. There are others but I can’t think of them right now.

Q:   Where is your favorite place to write?

A:   At home, at my computer.

Q:   Do you have scheduled times to write, or just when you are inspired?

A:   I write every single day. I get up at 4:30 and go to the gym. I’m done by 7 and I go to a diner I like for breakfast. A quick stop at the grocery store for lunch stuff and then home to work for the rest of the day with big breaks in between for walking the dog, vacuuming, making dinner, clearing up, and so on. Many days I have appointments that take up a lot of the day or a lot of my energy so some days I don’t get much work done. But if I don’t write, I’m not happy.

Q:   Are your friends and family supportive of your craft?

A:   Yes, very. And it’s not easy to be supportive of any creative artist. We are mercurial and selfish and need peace and quiet, and for our loved ones, that’s sometimes a drag.

Q:   Do you have a pet who keeps you company while you write? Can you share a favorite story about this furry companion?

A:   My yellow lab Lalou, who I call, "Your Majesty," doesn’t so much keep me company as terrorize me and the neigborhood. I have spoiled her and made her very demanding and my day often revolves around her. She’s always wanting to play, walk and eat. She doesn’t sleep much during the day, even though she’s nearly twelve, and her barking is often the playlist I write (or try) to. No person, dog or cat is allowed to walk past our house, and if a bumble bee or humming bird flies through the garden she kicks up such a racket I’m afraid to go out of the house in case I run into my neighbors. She’s one reason for my now and then writer’s block. I can’t hear myself think.

Q:   Beyond the satisfaction of the happily-ever-after ending, in your opinion, what else does reading a romance novel offer its readers?

A:   I think all of us, even though we might not want to admit it, want to be loved and to love. And romance novels suggest that that might be possible.

Q:   In your opinion, is romance read only by women, or do men also enjoy reading romance novels?

A:   I don’t know of any man who likes romance novels but I sure would like to meet any who do.

Q:   What do you think is the most common misperception today about romance novels held by those who have never read one?

A:   I think many people believe that romance novels are silly, badly written trash laden with fantasy and give a view of the world that doesn’t exist. But the millions of people who read romance regularly can’t all be wrong. For people who want verisimilitude and detailed characterizations in books that they read, they will find it in romance. That’s because all of us deal with romance in our lives. It’s a huge part of what makes us human. The good romance novels have the same features any genre has:   good plot, deep characterization and emotional wallop. I’m not saying romance novels are on a par with War & Peace or Madame Bovary, I’m saying they have a place in society just like a host of other subcultures.

Top section of cover has a man and woman wth the sun behind them about to kiss. The lower section is a view of a bridge over the Tiber at night, all lit up.

To Rome With Love   Blurb

When Gaby Conte’s Italian husband, Danieli, abandons her for a young Peruvian waitress at a restaurant they co-own in San Francisco, Gaby seeks refuge in Rome with her best friend Maria. There, she swears off romance for a long while and Italian men forever. That’s until she meets Silvio, who belongs to an old, aristocratic Roman family and lives in a palace alongside the best private art collection in Rome. Silvio, who is the cousin of Maria’s husband, is going through his own divorce. He’s gorgeous, of course, which Gaby doesn’t tell him. And arrogant and condescending, which she does. The last thing Gaby needs is more Italian trouble, but the attraction is instant and powerful, and against the backdrop of one of the world’s most romantic cities, both try—and fail—to resist the chemistry between them. But both Gaby and Silvio have made a rule never to make the mistake of trusting in love again. Will they realize some rules are made just to be broken?

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Author | The Blasphemy Box |