Describe your latest project.
I wrote a young adult novel called Audrey, Wait! which follows 16-year-old Audrey after she breaks up with her teenage musician boyfriend. In retaliation, he writes a #1 song about her called "Audrey, Wait!" that makes the break-up sound like it's all her fault. Because of the song, Audrey finds that she's suddenly famous, which makes it really hard to do things like go on dates with her new boyfriend, go to concerts, or even attend high school.
What fictional character would you like to be your friend, and why?
"[Audrey] feels completely believable, and readers will find her both sympathetic and funny....Irresistible." Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[W]ell pitched to the target audience of mid-teen girls. A pleasant little romp." Kirkus Reviews
Probably Franny in Franny and Zooey, especially at the beginning of the book. Every time I read it, I always feel like she's unraveling, and she's someone who could probably use a friend. I always want to go up to the table where she's sitting with Lane and take her by the elbow and say, "Franny, honey, let's go to the movies." And when she passes out later in the chapter, I'm like, "Been there, done that, Franny." The first time I read that scene, I was on a train from Connecticut to Manhattan in January, and I remember thinking that that was probably a great place to be while reading Salinger. I always wish his characters were real.
If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
The Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block. I live in Los Angeles now, and I'm convinced that somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, there really is a Weetzie Bat living with her family and friends in a cottage surrounded by morning glories and bougainvillea, listening to Bob Marley and eating amazing food. Those book have a way of making life seem so beautiful, even during times of difficulty or strife.
Describe your most memorable teacher.
Mrs. Newton, in third grade. She was hands-down the toughest teacher I ever had, including all my college professors. I was terrified of her, but she taught me everything I know about English grammar and punctuation. When we were learning about writing sentences with quotations, we were never allowed to use the word "said." It had to be "John exclaimed" or "Carol demanded" or "Susie whispered," but never "said." And the woman never met a comma she didn't like. My mom was a mother helper in the class that year, and she still talks about how much she learned from Mrs. Newton.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
I still cannot read this passage without my eyes tearing up. It's from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, where a dying Iowan minister is writing down his life for his young son. My own father passed away several years ago, and these words brought me so much comfort and at the same time, made me miss my dad so much more.
I'd never have believed I'd see a wife of mine doting on a child of mine. It still amazes me every time I think of it. I'm writing this in part to tell you that if you ever wonder what you've done in your life, and everyone does wonder sooner or later, you have been God's grace to me, a miracle, something more than a miracle. You may not remember me very well at all, and it may seem to you to be no great thing to have been the good child of an old man in a shabby little town you will no doubt leave behind. If only I had the words to tell you.
What was your favorite story as a child?
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. I still have the original book that my mom used to read to me and sometimes when I'm crazy out of my mind with stress, I'll read it to calm down. As a child, I always wanted to live in the Little House and swim in the brook and watch the apple trees blossom through the seasons with her. After all, who doesn't want their home to be happy and kind? I also love the last page of the book where it says, "The stars twinkled above her....A new moon was coming up....It was Spring...and all was quite and peaceful in the country."
What is your idea of bliss?
I could mix and match any of the following and have it be the perfect day: a morning walk for coffee, breakfast with my family, chicken tacos and guacamole at La Sirena in Laguna Beach, exploring through Topanga Canyon, a glass of wine at the Fairfax Farmer's Market, record shopping at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, dinner at Lucques in Los Angeles, going to see Arcade Fire at the Hollywood Bowl, and never encountering any traffic during the day.
Name the best Simpsons episode of all time, and explain why it's the best.
I can't even begin to describe how hard it was to pick an episode. I've actually had serious discussions with friends about which episode is my favorite. I finally had to narrow it down to "Homerpalooza", where Homer takes Bart & Lisa to the Springfieldian version of Lollapalooza, and he ends up becoming a sideshow act where they routinely shoot a cannonball into his stomach. Every time I recount the scene where Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins introduces himself to Homer, I crack up.
Billy Corgan: "Billy Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins."
Homer: "Homer Simpson, smiling politely."
There's too many lines to quote, but that has to be my favorite one. And now I have this insatiable need to go watch it again.
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Robin Benway grew up in Orange County, California, and attended college at both NYU and UCLA. At NYU, she won the Seth Barkas Prize for Best Fiction by an Undergraduate. She has worked at Ballantine, Knopf, Borders, and Book Soup in West Hollywood. Robin currently lives in Santa Monica. To the best of her knowledge, no one has written a song about her. Yet.