Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Conversation with Robyn Carr

Posted by Susan B James on 12:00:00 AM with 16 comments
 I am delighted to welcome Robyn Carr. Robyn builds towns, character by character. Her writing is a wonderful blend of women's fiction and romance. I discovered Robyn's Grace Valley series in 2005. I went back and searched out every book she'd written to that point. I caught up on the Virgin River series; then pre-ordered each new title.

Her first book Chelynne, a historical romance was published in 1978. In 2011 she became an "overnight sensation" when a Virgin River Christmas hit the New York Times Best Seller list. Robyn's made a home on the list ever since. Her latest book, The Homecoming, the sixth book in her Thunder Point series, came out in September, And yes, you have a chance to will a copy here. 
Thank you for being here, Robyn. I love firsts, so tell me about the moment when you found you’d made your first sale.

We had just moved to CA and, as usual, my husband had to leave town so it was me with two little kids in a house filled with boxes. I didn't know anyone, didn't even know my neighbors. There was no RWA but I had a critique group back in TX. We didn't have cell phones or computers, I had no way to reach my husband and long distance was a per minute charge, something like ten cents a minute which, back in '78, was a lot of money. I didn't even have a bottle of wine in the house. I made a couple of long distance calls and then I think I unpacked boxes. But I unpacked boxes with a smile on my face. The next morning I excitedly told the pre school teacher, the only person I knew. The next day when I took my son to pre school, she gave me a cake she'd made for me in the shape of an open book. It said, "Chelynne by Robyn Carr" Her name is Janet and we're still friends to this day.

How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories? Do you ever use real people as inspiration for your characters?
As inspiration—yes. But as actual characters, no. Real people don’t usually come off well in fiction. I take traits and experiences and emotional reactions from people I’ve met or read about and blend them into composite characters. But experiences and bits of dialogue from my life sneak in—happily.

What’s the most interesting comment you’ve ever gotten from a reader? 

Oh, you can’t print it! My readers never get my titles right—they write and ask me if I’m going to write any more of those “Virginia River” books. Or they want to know where Virgin River really is—they plan to move there and get a big, studly marine. But the funniest one ever was probably a typo: “Are you going to write anymore of those ‘Vagina River’ books.” Typo or Freudian slip.  

 Yes! I love these kinds of slips. I worked for The Theatre Guild in New York while Tom Stoppard's play,Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead was on Broadway. I got some very odd requests.. Someone called asking for tickets to LiederKrantz and Camembert. Another called for tickets for the play about the Jewish butchers.
I did get an email from a reader who was furious about my bigotry against Cubans. I was stunned and confused—I’d never written about Cubans. I suggested she had me mixed up with someone else. She wrote back with the direct quote, complete with page numbers—something about Jack being unable to shower off the stench of stinky Cubans. It was cigars! Cuban cigars! I pointed that out to her, but she was absolutely determined I had been bigoted in my remarks.
On a more serious side, a man who lost a leg in the war wrote me that he was changed by Paradise Valley, the story in which Rick Sudder lost a leg in the war and came home a messed up kid. My reader said that he realized from the book that he was an ass, thought it was a miracle his wife stayed with him through it, and finally understood how badly he needed counseling, which he was going to accomplish. I wrote back and asked him how he came across the book and he said his sister gave it to him—and his sainted wife was most grateful! Bless his heart!!
That's wonderful!
Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to experience? If so, how?

Undoubtedly I’ve both matured and relaxed. I’ve gained experience both in life and writing and I’ve relaxed into telling stories my way, the way that is natural to me. Both things help.

As a writer, what kinds of books inspire you? Do you ever find time to read when you aren't writing your own novels?

I read every day. I work long hours, but in the evening after dinner I read—and I am inspired by everything I read, whether it’s mainstream or non-fiction or some other genre. I have a particular taste for contemporary romance and women’s fiction. My favorite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Kristan Higgins, Jill Shalvis, Susan Andersen to name a few. For my reading pleasure I enjoy intelligent, romantic, humorous, sexy novels with strong heroines. 

Your characters have issues. All of them. And in that sense, sometimes your books feel more like women’s fiction than romance. Is that something you do purposefully?

This is what I love about women’s fiction! Every living woman has either faced those issues in her own life or she has a sister, neighbor, friend, co-worker—someone she knows or knows of—who has grappled with women’s issues. The range of women’s issues is so wide, it’s infinitesimal. Women’s issues are those issues that challenge a woman’s happiness because they’re women—everything from salaries to mothering to friendship to the more dramatic and frightening issues of domestic violence, death, assault. We've seen people who make positive changes in their lives because of these challenges just as we've seen people really blow it, make such bad choices it nearly (or even absolutely) ruins their lives.
Of course men face all the same issues/problems. But men and women think so differently about things. Men are better at compartmentalizing—they have the job compartment, the husband compartment, the father compartment and so on. They don’t think about how their home lives affect their relationship on their bowling team or their success or problems on the job. With women, everything is connected to everything else—their jobs are connected to their relationships connected to their goals and to their fears, et cetera. And while men want a solution to one particular issue in one specific compartment, women tend to examine everything that’s going on within them and around them.
It must be hard to come up with characters and string their life stories through multiple novels. How do you keep everyone straight when you go from book to book?
Notebook! Very LARGE notebook! By now, I live in Virgin River in my mind – everyday is like going home.
Have there been any books, romance or other genres, that have greatly influenced you as a writer? What are they?
Too many to count, really. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy was an amazing adventure; The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher was like falling in love with a family; The Chicago Stars series by Susan Elizabeth Phillips was the most fun I've had in a romance series in forever. 

Me too! 
Robyn's latest series, Thunder Point, is set in a small town on the Oregon Coast. I love these people and the setting. I would happily have them as neighbors. Her latest book is The Homecoming
At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been. 
Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self. 
Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?
AND I have a copy to give away.
Robyn, thank you so much for being here. 
I hope lots of people are going to read this post and I have only one copy of The Homecoming. So as second and third prizes I am offering Time and Forever  - the eBook and the Audio book. Please tell me in the comments if you only want to be entered for The Homecoming.If you are already a Robyn reader, who's your favorite hero? Mine is Jack, but it's a really tough call.
a Rafflecopter giveaway  

You can find Robyn at her Website
Please also like her Thunder Point series on Facebook
Happy readings, friends.


  1. Great interview! I discovered Robyn Carr via the Virgin River series and love her books. Looks like I'll be visiting Thunder Point next!

    1. Thanks Samanthe. It looked to me like the rafflecopter was broken, so I fixed it.

  2. Excellent interview! I'm putting The Homecoming on my TBR list.

  3. Wonderful interview! I'm adding The Homecoming to my TBR list, too. Love Robyn Carr.

  4. I really enjoyed this interview. Well done, ladies! I just glanced at my book shelf and can see Sunrise Point and Hidden Summer, and I know there are a few more Robyn Carr books somewhere in there. I'm looking forward to the new series. And I've already read and enjoyed Time and Forever. : )

  5. I, too, love, love, love reading and writing women's fiction. Thank you for introducing me to Robyn Carr. I can tell I'll love her work. Great interview, ladies!

  6. I love the Virgin River (did I spell that right?? :-) series, and I'm excited about the new series on the Oregon Coast! --Katie O'Boyle

  7. Really loved it. Thank you for the awesome interview

  8. Thanks Susan for this- Robyn is very interesting.

  9. Great interview, loved the "stink of Cubans"!

  10. I loved the interview. I totally want to read The Homecoming. It sounds awesome and my kind of book. Thank you Robyn for the interview. Nice work Sue.
    From Hilde

  11. I love Cubans. Some of my best friends are Cuban. My step-daughter are half Cuban. Cigars? Not so much. Readers say the darnest things.

  12. Enjoyable interview. Thanks Susan and Robin! Adding The Homecoming to my TBR list!

  13. Great interview! Really enjoyed reading this and catching a glimpse into the mind of an excellent author.

  14. How wonderful you had a chance to interview Robyn. Your questions and her answers gave us a peek into the life process of this popular author. Good going!


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