April 10, 2013

Interview & Giveaway: Meg Maguire

Credit: Florin Gorgan

Today, one of my favorite authors, Meg Maguire, is joining us to answer some questions about her books, the Strangers on a Train Blog collection and the Romance genre. Enjoy!

Hi, Meg! Welcome to Romance Around the Corner.

First, tell us a bit about yourself and your work.

MM: Well, I write contemporary romance—generally quite steamy—and my evil conjoined twin, Cara McKenna, writes erotic romance and straight-up erotica. We live just north of Boston with a bearded man who enjoys building bicycles.

Your backlist is rich and prolific; you have written full-length novels, novellas and short stories, as well as Romance and (as Cara McKenna) Erotic Romance. Do you have a preferred genre or format? What are the differences between writing a full-length novel and a novella or short story?
This is Meg.

MM: I wouldn’t say I have true preferences, no… I get restless and tend to flit around from book to book, switching between romance and erotica, between lengths, between first- and third-person, between lighthearted fare and more gritty stuff, urban settings and isolated ones. I have to rely on my voice to lend my body of work any semblance of consistency—everything else is up for grabs! But writing in two different genres has been good for me. Switching gears means I don’t get bored.

You’re the first Erotic Romance author I’ve interviewed (and a favorite!) so I have a question that might sound generic, but I really want to hear your take on it: How do you define Erotic Romance, and how is it different from Romance with explicit sex?

MM: Basically, in erotic romance, the sexual encounters are the main force enacting change on the couple and their relationship. In a regular steamy romance, it’s more tangled up in the external events and plot. Both genres can have both those forces at play, but basically, ask yourself, “If I shut the bedroom door and hid these sex scenes, would the reader still understand why these two characters are becoming so necessary to one another?” In a strong erotic romance, those scenes are as [or more] pivotal as any clothes-on external plot point in the characters’ growth, and without them, the story would collapse, much the way a romantic suspense would collapse if you removed the threatening elements.

One of the reasons I love your books so much is because you write about regular people. Your heroes and heroines are construction workers, bar owners, nurses, and yes, famous sculptors and prostitutes, but let’s focus on the regular characters. Some of them are adrift, some have issues, some are morally ambiguous, but they all feel alive and authentic. Where do you get your inspiration? How do you think that Contemporary Romance benefits from these grittier, more realistic characters?  Do you think there’s a room for reality in fantasy?

MM: Experience has taught me that yes, there absolutely is. I didn’t use to even realize that my “real” characters were a somewhat novel feature, but now I feel proud to see my work described as “refreshingly” or “different” or “genuine.” Before, I just knew I like to write about realistic sex and flawed (aka normal) people. I don’t care for perfect characters and perfect, hands-free orgasmic boinking scenes and perfectly resolved HEAs by page 350 (or the 90-minute mark in a rom com.) That doesn’t resonate with me, or intrigue me. It’s not messy enough for my own personal taste. So my characters tend to have their share of defects and hangups, sometimes the sex fails, they make regrettable decisions, they own and use lube, they make regular-people salaries, they swear a lot and some have quite terrible grammar. Plus I like writing about guys with jobs that explain their unreasonable physiques, hence the blue-collar contractors and lumberjacks and fighters. I find those types much sexier than wealthy businessmen with gym memberships.

And I couldn’t even say where I get my inspiration from, most of the time. But I do know I’m fascinated by addiction and mental illness (from commonplace anxiety issues to truly crippling disorders), so those themes crop up a lot in my books. I find characters struggling with those sorts of challenges exceedingly appealing, for whatever reason. Thank You for Riding is kind of an exception to my usual rule—Caitlin and Mark are both abonormally well-adjusted, for two of my creations!

Let’s talk about Strangers on a Train. I know the series originated in a peculiar way, so I’m curious to see how you guys worked together and what type of help and input (if any) you offered each other.

MM: Ruthie Knox is the ringmaster—she cracked her whip and got the troupe organized. Initially we all grabbed the idea (write a steamy romantic novella about strangers who meet on some kind of train) and ran with it, after agreeing on which types of trains and tropes we all wanted to explore, to ensure variety. (I called subway immediately—any excuse to write another soppy love letter to Boston.) We agreed on a schedule for drafting and revisions, and swapped stories and critiqued one another, then Ruthie polished them up for submission with her magical professional-editor buffing shammy.
And this is her
new book.
I really enjoyed Thank You For Riding. You managed to pack a lot of emotion and character development in a short story that ultimately was a lot of fun. I know the series has a common theme, so did you come up with the story first and the characters second? What else can you tell us about the novella?

MM: Thank you! Usually for me, the characters materialize first, but because of the theme we were working with, this time the setting and circumstances—hero and heroine getting trapped in a subway station overnight—came first. And because my characters meet as perfect strangers then only have 20,000 words to become romantically entangled, there was no room to saddle anybody with major baggage. It’s a really simple love story—strangers meet, flirt, and both fall as hard as anybody realistically could, in four hours flat, locked in an incredibly unsexy, unheated, subterranean brick corridor :-)

What else are you working on? What can we expect and look forward to reading in the future from both Meg and Cara?

MM: Cara’s got her first book with Penguin coming out this Tuesday, April 16—After Hours. That’s a full-length standalone erotic romance, set on a locked psych ward in a fictional approximation of Flint, Michigian. Readers who like my grittier, working-class-type stories may enjoy that one. The sex is pretty rough and raw, but it’s a love story at its core.

And as for Meg, my next romance release will be Taking Him Down, the second book in a series I’ve been writing for Harlequin Blaze, all set in a Boston boxing and MMA gym. That’s an August Blaze, so it’ll be out toward the end of July.

And finally, what’s your favorite Romance novel?

MM: Oh gosh, I’d answer this question differently from week to week, depending on my mood… The splinter that’s gotten lodged the most deeply in my brain since I read it weeks and weeks ago is Charlotte Stein’s Deep Desires. So lovely and beautiful and heartbreaking and unique. She’s so talented, I want to steal her brain…except she’s also so original and distinctive, upon reading any book I wrote by using Charlotte’s purloined brain, everyone would immediately recognize her voice, and finger me as the culprit.

Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to answer the questions.

MM: Thanks so much for having me, Brie! And thanks from the entire SoaT crew as well.

To purchase and find out more about the collection just follow the links:

Connect with Meg:

About Thank You For Riding:

The last train of the night might just be the start of something good. 
A Strangers on a Train Story 
Stung ego or not, Caitlin’s relieved her fizzling relationship is over, even if she’s just been unceremoniously dumped between the copier and a dead ficus tree. At least she has an excuse to ditch the lousy office Christmas party in time to catch the last subway home…to her cat, and early-onset spinsterhood.
Instead of a lonely, chilly ride, she gets an unexpected holiday treat in the form of a nearly familiar face—a handsome stranger she encountered last week at the blood drive.
At the end of the line, neither can seem to let their chance meeting end—until their extended flirtation finds them facing the prospect of spending a frigid winter night locked in an unheated subway station. And they wonder if keeping each other warm is merely a delightful form of rebound therapy…or a memorable first of many more dates to come.
Warning: Contains dorky, harmless flirtation that heats up into some spicy, third-base action

Thank You For Riding by Meg Maguire
Samhain. April 2, 2013.


Meg has kindly offered one e-copy of Thank You For Riding to one lucky reader of the blog. For a chance to win just leave a comment (if you don't include your email, remember to come back and check if you won). Giveaway open to all. It ends on Sunday, April 14, 2013. For more info read our giveaway policy.


  1. I have to admit, a novella featuring to people stuck in the Boston subway sounds delectable.

    I loved Knox's Strangers on a Train story so much, I'm eager to read the rest. Thanks for the great interview, Brie & Meg!

    1. This novella is adorable! Very different and just plain fun.

  2. I have heard great things about this book. Some great authors, love Ruthie's books. Love the whole train setting. I love trains and in a couple of years want to do a train trip with my family. Thanks for the chance to win.
    christinebails at yahoo dot com

  3. This sounds like a fascinating book and one I must read. You are new to me author.
    I have also not read any of Ruthie Knox's books yet, but she is also on my tbr list.

    1. Meg's books are awesome. She's one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, and if you like erotic romance and erotica, her Cara McKenna books are just as good.

      The whole collection is a great way to get familiar with the authors, IMO. Three of them were new-to-me, and I sure will be reading them again.

  4. This series sounds awesome!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing :)


  5. I love Meg's Blazes, but have yet to try her erotic romances.
    janie1215 AT excite DOT com

  6. Hah! I snort laughed at hands free orgasmic boinking scenes :) *G* I'm a big fan of "normal" people characters =) And I've heard a lot of good things about this collection!

    Great interview Brie & Meg!


  7. Great series -- I'd love to win Meg's novella!

  8. Great interview, thx Brie. :)

    No need to include me in the giveaway as I have all the books on my TBR for reading very soon. I have pre-ordered After Hours too. I'm a sucker for these kinds of stories.

  9. Love love love love Meg's MMA Blaze (and can't WAIT for the next one!) so I've gotta check out this Strangers on a Train book. <3


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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.