Robin Benway grew up in Orange County, California and attended college at both NYU & 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.
Grew up in?
About Robin Benway
An Interview with Robin Benway
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I was born in Inglewood, California, and then moved to Orange County when I was a year old. I lived there until I was 18 years and 6 weeks old, and then I escaped to Manhattan.
I remember wanting to be an archaeologist, just because I knew how to spell “archaeology”. But I’m terrified of anything dinosaur-related, so it’s probably best that I didn’t go into that line of work.
Desert island book?
See, I’m terrible at picking just one thing. So I would have to say Nabokov’s “Lolita” and Salinger’s “Franny & Zooey.” (Little secret: I always travel with “Franny & Zooey” in my carry-on bag, just because it’s so familiar to me.) But honestly, if I’m stuck on a desert island, I’m not going to spend my time reading. I’ll be too busy figuring out a way to get the heck off that island.
Los Angeles. New York holds a strong second place, but I’ve never been anywhere that feels like LA. An early summer afternoon, driving through the canyons with the bougainvillea, the way the air smells like eucalyptus, it’s so beautiful. It always feels like home, and I like having a home.
“The Royal Tenenbaums.” I saw it by myself in a movie theater and when the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” started to play in a scene, people in the theater sang along. I could watch it and find new details every time.
Where do you write?
I do a lot of writing in my head while driving, but then I’m desperate to jot down ideas before I forget them! There’s a writers’ room in Los Angeles that I use a lot, as well—they have comfortable chairs, free coffee, and silence, so it’s a writing trifecta.
Rotisserie chicken. I know it’s not glamorous, but it’s my absolute favorite. I also wouldn’t say no to figs, honeycrisp apples, and extra-super-dark chocolate. And coffeecoffeecoffee.
Is Audrey like you in any way? Are any of the characters based on people you know?
I think Audrey is who I would have been in high school, if I had had some self-confidence. We both love music, but she’s much braver than I am or ever was. Victoria, Audrey’s best friend, is based on my best friend, Adriana. A lot of Victoria and Jonah’s sayings (“PLU”, “the el presidente of parking spots”) are directly taken from Adri.
I wish I knew someone like James, but alas…
Your characters are pretty online savvy. What’s your favorite way to stay in touch with friends?
Well, I hate the phone with a fiery passion, so any time that I can talk to friends without using a phone, I’ll do it. Email is always handy, text messaging, anything that gives me instant access to my friends. However, I enjoy sending cards to people. I think it’s important to send an actual birthday card, Valentines, etc., and everyone loves getting something fun in the mail.
What adjectives would you use to describe Audrey, Wait?
Oh, God, I’m going to sound like a dork. Okay, um…caffeinated, adrenaline-filled, euphoric, and loud.
Favorite item of clothing?
My blue converse and a black cardigan sweater that was my grandmother’s. I own about 10 different black cardigans, but that one’s my favorite.
Having such a strong relationship with my family. My mom and my brother are two of my best friends.
Most embarrassing moment?
HAHAHA. Oh, how much room do you have?
Well, for starters, when I was 9, I fainted during my aunt’s wedding ceremony, which was being held in a family member’s backyard. Anyway, I fainted, fell into the pool (who gets married next to a pool??), almost drowned, and my mom, my grandmother, and another aunt all jumped in after me, right in the middle of the wedding vows. It’s all on video, too. Good times.
“God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys is one that I can always put on and it makes me feel pretty okay. And the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” is fantastic, especially the first 15 seconds.
Smartest thing you ever did?
Quit my day job to become a writer. It was the hardest, scariest, most terrifying thing I ever did, and it changed my whole life.
I don’t know if it’s a motto, but it’s something that I tell myself whenever I’m tired or frustrated: “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” –from Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata
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