Jullie: Interview, Recipe & Giveaway with Author Megan Erickson!

Aside from cooking, another passion of mine is reading. And a genre I've come to love love love this year is New Adult! My younger cousin Samantha (and frequent adventure partner of mine!) started it all when she let me borrow a few of her books, and I've been hooked ever since! These books focus on college-aged characters, who learn life and love lessons while in that 18-25 age range. There are so many New Adult authors who capture the candid humor, sex appeal, and raw emotion from that stage, and they tell their stories with amazingly refreshing voices.

Megan Erickson happens to be one of my favorites, and her Bowler University novels were some of my top New Adult reads in 2014! With the third and final novel in the series releasing in just two weeks, I'm so excited to spotlight the most recent installment, Make It Right. Today's post has an exclusive interview with the author, a recipe inspired by a character from the book, AND a giveaway for a signed paperback copy of Make It Right!


My first stories written in crayon-scrawl on loose-leaf notebook paper were about my childhood pet — a deaf cat with dandruff. And after covering real-life dramas as a journalist, I decided I liked writing my own endings better and switched to fiction. My romance novels, full of humor and heart, are a far cry from those early scribblings about my hygiene-deficient pet.

I live in southern Pennsylvania, with my husband, two kids and two cats. I like a good pint of beer, a greasy bacon cheeseburger, homemade mac and cheese, and a great book with a happily ever after. When I’m not tapping away on my laptop, I’m probably listening to the characters in my head who just. Won’t. Shut. Up.


Bowler University, #1

Bowler University, #2

Bowler University, #3
Coming Soon: January 6, 2015 


The most recent book in the series, Make It Right, is hands down my favorite of the three. The male protagonist, Max Payton, is quite the talented baker...In fact, in the Bowler U world, he has a reputation for baking fantastic chocolate chip cookies...Do you see why I would love him? ;) There are actually a lot of yummy goodies mentioned in this book, and it's what inspired this interview and recipe feature in the first place! In today's interview, Megan and I discuss food, books, and Make It Right!

Jullie Anne: The theme of our blog is Eat. Drink. Adventure. For a fun "let's get to know Megan" question: Share one food that you absolutely love, your go-­to drink, and a favorite travel destination!

Megan: One food I absolutely love is a good mac and cheese. But I’m kind of picky. My absolute favorite recipe is Martha Stewart’s mac and cheese. The only problem is that I call it the Thirty Dollar mac and cheese because it’s so expensive to make! She uses gruyere, which is absolutely delicious but pricey! It also uses white cheddar and is covered with buttery cubes of bread that get all crispy in the oven... oh jeez, now I want to go make it. Haha! My go­-to drink — alcoholic — is a margarita, on the rocks, with salt. No fancy flavored or frozen margarita, I’m all about the original! And my favorite travel destination is the beach. Preferably OBX in North Carolina. I like to relax. :)

Jullie Anne: You told me once that you actually used to have your own food blog. What was that like?! Do you love experimenting in the kitchen...Any cuisines that you prefer to cook...How long did you do it? :D

Megan: Yes, I used to have a food blog and I probably blogged regularly for about two years. It actually started out as a blog about my cats and then shortly morphed into me taking pictures of food. So food and cats. Ha! I love to cook, and back when I had the blog, I hadn’t had my kids yet so I had more time in the kitchen. I loved experimenting with different proteins, ­ cuts of meat and fish and other seafood. I don’t have a certain cuisine preference because I really love trying anything, but I do love hearty soups, stews and chilis.

Jullie Anne: Do you ever turn to food blogs for recipes these days? Where do you like to find new recipes? 

Megan: Yes! I love Smitten Kitchen and The Pioneer Woman. If I want a new recipe these days, I often ask friends and then tweak to how I like it. :)

Jullie Anne: Okay, say we're totally hosting a book club meeting, and...what would you serve?! :P

Megan: What’s a book club meeting without food? HAHA! I would probably serve bruschetta with toasted baguettes. I have this really fabulous recipe that uses a Gazebo Room marinade. Some sort of hot dip would be good too, like spinach and artichoke or a hot cheese dip. And then, we’d have to have sweets, right? I have a great recipe for Oreo truffles that are always a huge hit. (They take a long time to make, but so worth it!)

Jullie Anne: Let's say, at this book club meeting, we're discussing New Adult. Your Bowler University series is New Adult. How would you describe this genre? What do you love about writing it?

Megan: Well, I often describe New Adult in comparison to Young Adult. Young Adult (teenage protagonists) is a lot about finding out who you are. And in New Adult, it’s finding out how you then fit into the greater world. I love writing it because I loved that time in my life, and it’s really interesting to explore mini­-adults on the cusp of real actual adulthood.

Jullie Anne: I have to say... I've seen the book recommendations you throw out on Twitter, and you're a bit of a whiz with the recs. All the ones you've ever sent me have satisfied. *bows down* So, what are some top NA reads for you this year?

Megan: My top NA reads! Wow, this is fun. Okay, well first I would say Lia Riley’s OFF THE MAP series. I think she’s a fantastic writer and she makes really smart, interesting decisions in her books. AJ Pine’s WHAT IF nearly made me cry. Her writing is effortless and she was so in touch with her hero, Griffin. Amy Jo Cousins’s OFF CAMPUS, which comes out the very end of December (I got an ARC). It’s a romance between two men, and the way she got into her main character’s head was fascinating. I had such a hangover after that book! I adored it and I have to hand it to Amy Jo, because she has a winner on her hands with that book. I also love anything by Christina Lee and Kristine Wyllys. I’m probably missing some people. Ack!

Jullie Anne:  Recently, there was a pretty big boom of Young Adult novels getting film adaptations, but NA holds just as much potential to make great movies! College romance, humor, life lessons... What's one NA book or series that you'd love to see on the big screen?

Megan: *taps chin* This is hard.

Jullie Anne: I've read all of Lia Riley's Off the Map books, and I would LOVE to see that story turned into a movie! (Hot Australian surfer + quirky California girl + adventure = YES.) 

But alright, finally, let's talk a bit more about your books! Your BU series is two books in now, with the third releasing in January 2015. How would you describe this series' overall vibe, the kind of ride you want your readers to experience?

Megan: I think the overall vibe is that while our New Adult years are full of changes, it’s also a lot of fun because there are so many fun new things to experience! I really want readers to see that my characters really learned what it means to be in a lasting relationship and what kind of person they want to BE in that relationship.

Jullie Anne: How does Make It Right stand out from the other two? Whether that's in the story itself or maybe what the writing process was like...

Megan: OK, I haven’t said this before, but my original idea was to make this book AFTER Max and Lea graduated college. But it sort of wasn’t working so I took the book back into Bowler U and it grew from there. So It was definitely a different writing process, as I’d already had some scenes written. I really liked this book because I felt SO connected to Max, in a way I hadn’t with other characters.

Jullie Anne: Let's talk about Max Payton now! *claps hands excitedly* His character was a bit of a a "villain" in book one. In book two, he's the male protagonist. The "hero." Max starts out as this tough guy, but there's a sweet and funny side that readers get to discover underneath the surly attitude. What did you like about writing Max's redemption story?

Megan: I loved everything about it. Truly. I loved writing Max. I like complex guys who have this armor overtop of a mushy interior. And when Max took off that armor, he was so sweetly mushy. I adored him. And Lea was such an awesome heroine to write. I loved how strong she was and how she was the perfect pairing (I think) to Max.

Jullie Anne: When you set out to write the BU books, what inspired you to make Max the kind of guy who knows his way around the kitchen? (Makes amazing chocolate chip cookies. Pretty big redeeming quality for me, justsayinjustsayinjustsayin!)

Megan: Haha! You know, I’m not sure. I first introduced his cookie baking in MAKE IT COUNT, in the first chapter, I think, and it just...happened. And then when I wrote MAKE IT RIGHT, I’m not sure if I was hungry the whole time or what, but I wrote a lot of food into that book!

Jullie Anne: Your heroine in MiR, Lea Travers, brings a unique treat into the story, too...Shoofly pie! WHAT is shoofly pie, and how did it make its way into MiR?

Megan: Gah, I love shoofly pie. I wrote that she visited her cousins in Pennsylvania (where I live) and all I could think about was her picking up some Amish shoofly pie. I loved it as a kid, and still love it.

Jullie Anne: There is a lot of food in Make It Right! I loved it! :D How did you pick everything that went in there??

Megan: I don’t even know. I’m serious when I say that I must have been hungry the entire time I wrote it because what the heck? LOL!

Jullie Anne: And before I let you go, I have to ask...Can you hint at what your favorite food-­related moment in the book was? ;)

Megan: Oh, that would have to be the pie. On the counter. When they were... ahem. You know. ;)
And I totally have some food in MAKE IT LAST as well. Apple fritters!

Jullie Anne: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions, Megan! I hope everyone checks out this series and tries Max's cookie recipe!!!

Megan: Thank you so much for having me!


Megan actually posted this recipe on her website, the day that Make It Right released. This is the Max Payton recipe. OF COURSE, I had to try it out!

The first neat little trick in this recipe is to use melted butter! I just melted the butter down in the microwave, then--this is important--I made sure to let it cool to room temperature first. (If you're impatient like me, stirring the butter with a metal spoon repeatedly cools it down quickly.)

Add the butter to the sugars, and whisk together.

The next "trick" in this recipe is to add one whole egg and an extra yolk. Eggs are what make cookies soft and cake-y, so the extra yolk will make rich, chewy cookies in the end!

Finally, add vanilla extract, and whisk the ingredients together until pale and a bit fluffy.
Using a spatula or wooden spoon (wooden spoons for the win because they just feel so homey!), fold in the dry ingredients--the mixture of flour, baking soda, and salt.

Next, add the chocolate chips! I love using bittersweet or dark chocolate!

So. Much. Chocolate. Yummm.

At this stage, you can chill the dough in your refrigerator until you're ready to bake. This is a great make-ahead recipe if you plan on doing multiple batches for a party or a cookie swap!

Or, if your inner Cookie Monster wants to get down already, simply drop tablespoonfuls of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. 

I love soft, doughy chocolate chip cookies with a hint of crispiness on the bottom and edges, though, so what I actually do is bake for 12 minutes. Then, I remove them from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan for another 2 minutes. Finally, transfer to a cooling rack or platter.

*cookie monster noises* If you don't plan on gobbling these up right away (like my niece and nephew did...), you can pack them into decorative cellophane bags or gift boxes, and they'd make a classic sweet treat to give to family, friends, co-workers...Or, you know, leave them out for Santa on Christmas Eve...

These cookies have that perfect homemade cookie flavor and are soft, gooey deliciousness! A perfect reading snack, too! ;)

The third and final novel in the Bowler University series releases on January 6th, and Max's book--Make It Right--is currently on sale for just 99 cents on Amazon! This gives you plenty of time to catch up before the next installment! There are so many baked goodies and foodie moments in this book, but it also has fantastic humor and easy-to-fall-for characters! Bake a batch of these cookies and curl up with Make It Right! ;)

Max Payton's Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes approximately 2 dozen cookies)


2 cups + 2 tbsps All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsps) Unsalted Butter, melted then *cooled* to room temperature (Max says this is essential!)
1 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 cup White Granulated Sugar
1 large Egg + 1 Egg Yolk
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk dry ingredients together, set aside. Mix butter and sugars until combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and chocolate chips. 
  3. Bake for 15-17 minutes.

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