New author Ruthie Knox debuts with this month's lighthearted, sexy contemporary romance Ride With Me. When cyclist Lexie places an ad for a someone to bike across the country with her, she's hoping for a fun companion. Instead, she gets Tom, her polar opposite. But as the two journey across the country on their bikes, sparks fly and soon it's clear that Lexie and Tom may just be the perfect pair. Today we take readers inside the story with an author interview, and then give you a chance to win a copy of Ride With Me!
Ride With Me is all about extreme cycling. What made you think about writing a romance that literally takes place on the TransAmerica Trail?
It started out as kind of a whim, actually. I was flipping through the magazine of the Adventure Cycling organization, which is the body that created the trail back in the '70s and is now responsible for issuing the official trail maps that all the riders use. They have this "Companions Wanted" column in the magazine, which is like personal ads for long-distance cyclists: "Riding the Southern Tier east to west in August, looking for two or three people to share the journey," that sort of thing. At the time, I'd only been writing romance for a few months, and I was seeing romance novel hooks everywhere I looked. So I thought, that would make a great story! Two strangers meet through this column, and they hate each other, but they have to ride 4,200 miles together. Score!
At the time, I didn't have an agent or an editor or anyone giving me advice, so while I did pause a few times and wonder, "Will anyone actually want to *read* a book about people riding across the country on their bikes?" I didn't worry too much about the answer. I really wanted to write it, which was the main thing.
It is obvious from the incredible realism of the story that you are a bike rider yourself. How did you get into this? And how was your experience different/similar to your heroine's?
My first big ride was the Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure, which I did the summer I was twelve with my parents, my brother, and some of our family friends. That ride is three-hundred-odd miles in five days of cycling around Ohio — Ohio's answer to the more famous RAGBRAI in Iowa. It was a really formative experience for me, because I was not at all a sporty kid, and at twelve I was as uncomfortable in my skin as most eighth-grade girls are. I gained a lot of confidence on that trip. Afterward, I would be stuck in the Purgatory that is middle-school gym class, and I'd think, Hey, maybe I'm never going to be any good at this, but how many of these people have ridden three hundred and fifty miles on a bicycle? I took some time off in high school and college, but as an adult I've done rides with my parents, husband, and brother in Montana, Colorado, Vermont, and Door County, Wisconsin.
As for the comparison of me to my characters, I'm not nearly as uptight as my heroine, Lexie (thank goodness)! But nor am I as laid-back as Tom, the hero. I have a bike computer, and I like to know where I'm going and how fast. I do get a little antsy when plans change and I'm not sure what's going to happen next. But on the other hand, I also firmly believe that the best adventures are always unplanned (and often unpleasant). Life and love both knock us on our ass sometimes, and I think, on the whole, that's good for us as human beings. It's how we grow.
Lexie is such an open, friendly person; it is hilarious to see her paired up with the distant Tom. Do you have a favorite scene in the story that highlights their differences?
There's a fun scene in Corvallis, Oregon, where they walk into a Mexican restaurant and Tom heads straight away from the chatty hostess to sit in the booth. Lexie is stuck standing there talking to the hostess for quite a while, irritated with him for abandoning her but smiling and being polite because that's how she was raised to be, and that's her nature. Tom, meanwhile, is sitting there thinking about how incredibly talkative Lexie is, and how he can barely stand to endure these conversations she's always seeking out. I like how the scene highlights their different approaches to people, because Lexie is friendly, but she also feels obligated to be polite in a way that Tom doesn't, and he doesn't really understand that about her yet. And then, of course, the scene that follows, where they engage in a silent hot sauce-eating duel, is one of my favorites in the book. :)
Tom is a dynamic hero and undergoes some major changes throughout the course of the book. Do you think he actually changes or is Lexie just able to remind him of who he once was and bring out the best in him?
Definitely the latter. I always thought of Tom as a grouchy guy, stuck in a rut, but never a *bad* guy. In fact, the whole reason he gets stuck with Lexie to begin with is that he's unable to resist helping her out of a jam. His heart is always in the right place. He just needs a little help remembering what the point is of being part of humanity.
Okay, he needs a LOT of help. Lucky for Tom, Lexie is very skilled at jogging his memory, even when it requires hitting him upside the head with a (figurative) two-by-four.
Tom's sister Taryn is a great character. Please tell us we will get her story next!
Thanks! I liked writing the sibling conversations between Taryn and Tom. They made me smile. I have two older brothers, so the brother-sister dynamic is a lot of fun for me.
It never even occurred to me to write Taryn's story until the release week of Ride With Me, but then someone told me how much they enjoyed Taryn, and I thought, "Hey! This could be fun!" So now the plot bunnies are hopping around in my head. Give me a little time ... I'm on it!
GIVEAWAY ALERT: We're giving away five copies of Ride With Me. To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us what ususal hobby you'd like to see a hero or heroine enjoy. You can also e-mail your answer here with the subject "Ruthie Knox Giveaway." Giveaway ends March 14. U.S. mailing addresses only please.
BLOG UPDATE 3/15: Winners: derna4u, E.K., Leni, Melissa Madani, Robyn Tieman