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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Interview of NY Times best selling author, Robyn Carr

Hello readers, writers and everyone else who has stumbled upon us today. It’s a special day here at Romance Books 4 Us because we have New York Times best-selling author, Robyn Carr visiting us. Get comfy because Robyn is about to share with us a little bit about her work and herself. 

About Robyn:

Now that Robyn Carr has earned the #1 slot on the New York Times list many times, the creator of the wildly popular Virgin River and Thunder Point series laughs when someone refers to her as an overnight success. 

“The truth is, I was first published in 1978, and it took me thirty years to make it to The New York Times bestseller List,” she pointed out, referring to 2007’s A Virgin River Christmas.

But once Robyn became that popular, she stayed that popular. When Bring Me Home for Christmas, the 16th Virgin River novel, was released in November 2011, it debuted in the #1 slot not just on the New York Times roster, but also on the Barnes & Noble and Publishers Weekly lists as well. Her last six novels, including the first two books in her new Thunder Point series, The Wanderer and The Newcomer, have all earned the coveted #1 New York Times slot the first week on sale.

After thirty-plus years of hard work, life is very, very good for the Las Vegas author who began writing when her two children were babies. 

Robyn’s Virgin River and Thunder Point series, like her earlier Grace Valley books, are a blend of romance and women’s fiction—books that not only entertain but also address sensitive issues, such as domestic violence, health risks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anything that can compromise a woman’s happiness because she’s female. Her voice is unique and takes her readers into the hearts and minds of the brave men and women who have served in the military, into the families left behind, and into those who confront challenges head-in in their search for love and fulfillment. 

Robyn didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. She had planned to become a nurse. She married her high school sweetheart four weeks before he left for Air Force Officer’s Training School at the peak of the Vietnam War. Because she found herself following Jim from base to base, Robyn never had a chance to pursue nursing. Her husband worked long hours and often traveled. To pass the time Robyn read. When doctors instructed her to stay down and keep her feet up during a complicated pregnancy, her neighbor began bringing her ten paperbacks a week. 

“I was reading more than one a day. Nothing short of labor pains could snap me out of it,” Robyn said. 

Since the books she’d been devouring were by Anya Seton, Kathleen Woodiweiss and Rosemary Hawley Jarmen, Robyn says it only made sense that her first efforts to write were in the historical romance genre as well. 

There was no training program available at the time for writing romance. At the first writers’ conference Robyn attended—back in 1976—a novelist who wrote in a different genre critiqued Robyn’s third manuscript and suggested she go home and find something to do for which she had talent. 

That same manuscript was published in hardcover two years later as Chelynne, a novel which Robyn has reissued as an e-book. Her second manuscript was eventually published as well. But Robyn says her first was simply a tool for learning and will remain buried and “never seen by human eyes.” 

Robyn has always written about strong women, no matter the period in which they lived. For the first fifteen years of her career she wrote romance, the early books of which were all historical, but later included contemporaries. Needing a change, she branched out and wrote a thriller, which she said she’ll never do again because, for her, it was too creepy. She also tried her hand at non-fiction and what she smilingly describes as “several brilliant but as yet unsold screenplays,” in addition to articles and short stories. 

“I jumped all over the place, not really aware that I was working on reinventing myself and redesigning my craft,” she says. “I began to develop my own brand of women’s fiction, a style that most closely resembles my take on life. I want to laugh through a book, but I don’t want a book that’s a big laugh. As a reader I want to have a genuinely good time, but I don’t want the book to be a joke. I want real women’s issues, real humor and teeth in the story.” 

She says that reading is important because people need a safe place to deal with the emotions they’re stuck with, and a book is a safe place to do that. She believes there’s great value in her novels dealing with real issues in a realistic manner. 

Robyn’s settings are so richly drawn they function like characters. Virgin River—a fictional town in the rugged, remote Humboldt County of northern California—is a location that Robyn describes as a brave and adventurous spot. 

“It’s not a cute and easy place to live,” Robyn explained. “It calls on my characters’ deepest sense of adventure to live there.” 

Asked if she’d enjoy living in Virgin River, Robyn’s quick to say that even if it were a real spot, she’d never move there. 

“I have an overwhelming need to live in a place where I can get my eyebrows waxed,” she explains.

After writing twenty Virgin River stories, Robyn is now taking her readers into another fictional community, a picturesque coastal town on the Oregon coast she calls Thunder Point. Like her Virgin River novels, the Thunder Point books will make readers laugh, sigh, and fall in love with a small town filled with people they’ll never forget.

Be sure to visit Robyn's author page on the RB4U website:

Now... onto the interview questions! 

Q: Thanks for stopping by today, Robyn. You’ve had a lot of releases throughout the years. With your Virgin River series alone, you have tantalized readers with 20 books, and that doesn’t include your anthologies, standalone titles, your Grace Valley series, or your newer Thunder Point series—you’ve brought us nearly 60 stories. As you reach this milestone, can you tell us your thoughts on reaching this amazing accomplishment? 

A:  What immediately comes to mind is how lucky I am.  All I wanted was to be able to write for a living and here I am, 35 years later, still doing what I love.  

Q:  I read that you once had aspirations of becoming a nurse, but like with so many of us in modern times, life got in the way. Have you ever considered living vicariously through your characters by writing in a nurse here or there? Or have you already done so? If so, please tell us which book(s).

A:  First of all, I did attend nursing college, right after high school, but I only worked in nursing for a few months after getting married, as my husband was in the Air Force and we began moving around during his pilot training.  The main character who anchors the Virgin River Series is Mel Sheridan, a nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife.  She appears in all twenty books in the series.  The Grace Valley Series is led by Dr. June Hudson, the town doctor.  A large percentage of my stories feature medical practitioners in the spotlight.  

Q: Was it difficult to make the transition from avid reader to aspiring author? What inspired this leap? 

A:  This happened so long ago I can barely remember.  I was a young Air Force wife, reading almost a book a day, particularly drawn to historical novels and romances.  I was so in love with them!  I had the passing thought, ‘I bet anyone can do this.’  Well, not everyone can, and it’s not as easy as I first thought it would be, but I was immediately hooked on the process.  Having a book keep me up late was fun, but actually making up the stories that fill the book was fabulous!  It started there and hasn’t let up since.  It was my love of reading that led to my love of writing.  

Q: You invented a timeless series with Virgin River, bringing us into a world that the readers never tire of.  Do you find it difficult to come up with new and exciting characters to draw us in? Or have you found a trick to keep things fresh?  

A:  Writing about a town gives me a large canvas on which to paint.  A town is fluid; it grows and shrinks, and the stories are endless, as are the character possibilities.  A community is never static—it’s always in motion with people moving in, visiting, leaving.  The only question is who to focus on next.  Sometimes a character who has only had a few lines in previous books has a story to tell and takes the stage.  Sometimes the continuing stories of several characters beg to be resolved.  The possibilities are endless, really.  

Q: Have you ever considered trying a new sub-genre? Are there any that interest you that you haven’t tried yet? 

A:  I’ve always been focused on romance and women’s fiction in both historical and contemporary settings—that’s my favorite thing to do.  And I’ve always enjoyed working with ensemble casts—lots of characters.  Not surprisingly, my favorite chick flick is Love Actually, which I think has 10 plotlines that converge.  Although I enjoy reading other genres, like the occasional paranormal or thriller, my true home is in women’s fiction and romance.  

Q:  Out of all your books, is there one that still calls to you? Maybe one that you wouldn’t mind picking up again and telling a new chapter to their already told tale? 

A:  To the contrary, I’m always on the lookout for the next story!  The real beauty and joy of what I do is that I can keep writing until I run out of ideas or time.  I’m blessed with work, and it’s an awesome feeling that I always have something to look forward to.  

Q:  Your characters seem to have one thing in common. They have incredible charisma. How do you keep your mind constantly flowing to come out with these characters who make us laugh and smile?

A:  I’m fascinated by people and relationships—there are as many stories as there are people in the world.  I guess if I find a person fascinating it’s easier to raise those questions to the reader.  And when it comes to the dilemmas people face in their relationships, there are so many situations I don’t really understand until I write about them.  I work things out in the writing!  I answer my own questions; that’s part of the fun.  

Q:  Your second book in the Thunder Point series, The Newcomer, came out June 25. Can you tell us a little bit about this one? Do you have a favorite character from it? 

A: Characters are like children—you rarely feel one is your favorite.  I do have a soft place in my heart for Ashley James, the sixteen-year-old girl with a broken heart.  Who doesn’t remember feeling that youthful ache?  So much of her life changes in that year; her growth through her pain is just stunning to me.  And that’s the way of life—our biggest challenges bring us our greatest growth as human beings.  


With humor and insight, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr looks at letting go of the past—and knowing when you’ve found something worth building your future on. 

Single dad and Thunder Point’s deputy sheriff “Mac” McCain has worked hard to keep everyone safe and happy. Now he’s found his own happiness with Gina James. The longtime friends have always shared the challenges and rewards of raising their adolescent daughters. With an unexpected romance growing between them, they’re feeling like teenagers themselves—suddenly they can’t get enough of one another. 

And just when things are really taking off, their lives are suddenly thrown into chaos. When Mac’s long-lost—and not missed-ex—wife shows up in town, drama takes on a whole new meaning. They’re wondering if their new feelings for each other can withstand the pressure...but they are not going down without a fight. 

Step into the world of Thunder Point, a little town on the Oregon coast where newcomers are welcomed, hearts are broken and mended, and the dramas of everyday life keep the locals laughing, crying and falling in love. 

Thank you so much for joining us today, Robyn. I’m sure all the readers here will agree with me that today has introduced us to some books we just have to add to our shelves. Before you leave, would you mind sharing an excerpt of The Newcomer with us? 

EXCERPT from The Newcomer

Chapter One
It was a warm, sunny afternoon in early April, a rarity on the coast for this time of year.  Spring meant rain, which resulted in wildflowers—the best in the country.  Cooper sat out on the deck of Ben & Cooper’s in his white T-shirt and jeans, his feet propped up on the deck rail.  Hamlet, a harlequin Great Dane, sat beside him, watching the sea, his ears perking sometimes when a person, a boat or bird caught his eye.  Cooper was enjoying a heavily creamed coffee and watching Sarah Dupre out on the bay, paddle boarding.  She wore a wet suit that he’d given her for Christmas—short sleeves, knee length.  The water hadn’t warmed up; it was icy cold.  The Pacific was always cold, except maybe down San Diego way.  But Sarah was an expert; she barely got her feet wet.  
The way that wetsuit hugged her body—it was like art.  She had incredibly strong legs, a perfect round tush, breasts about the size of his palms.  She’d been born in a coastal town and was probably as comfortable on the water as she was on the land or in the sky—diver, swimmer, surfer, helicopter pilot.  Ham was in his charge, and he’d been watching Sarah for an hour; she’d gone all the way out to the mouth of the bay and back.  She was finally coming in, just ahead of the fishing boats headed home to the marina.  
This life was the furthest thing Cooper had ever envisioned for himself.  He had come to Thunder Point last October to look into the death of a good friend, Ben.  To his surprise he had inherited what was Ben’s falling down bait shop with a bar.  For lack of a better idea, he renovated, turning it into a first class beach bar, and had found himself a new home.  He also found a woman, another surprise—he hadn’t been looking for.  After all the women in his life, short or long term, it was as if Sarah was everything he’d been waiting for.  
He had officially opened the beach bar—no more bait—in late February.  Now, as the proprietor, there was plenty of time to visit with folks from town, let the gentle lapping of the bay soothe him, watch his woman on her board, gently gliding across the calm water between the huge off shore boulders in the bay. He had a farmer’s tan, stronger shoulders from lifting and hauling bar supplies and a lot of new friends when he’d always considered himself a solitary kind of guy.  
Sarah leaned her board and paddle against the dock and came up the stairs.  When she reached the deck, he tossed a towel at her, and she dried her feet.  
Hamlet stood to his horse height and wagged.  
“What are you doing?” 
“Absolutely nothing.  Just watching my mermaid.” 
She laughed.  “Hamlet behaving?” 
Cooper nodded.  “He said he’d prefer to live here, with me.” 
“Did he now?” she asked with a laugh.  “Get your own dog.”  
“There isn’t room for another dog around here.  Come here,” he said, pulling her onto his lap.  
She went to him, sat down, picked up his coffee and helped herself to a sip.  
“Want me to make you a hot cup?” he asked.  “You cold?” 
She shook her head.  “It’s nice out there.  Breeze gets a little chilly sometimes, but the sun is so wonderful.  You start to crave sun around here after winter rains and winds.” 
Her cell phone rang.  She’d left it on the deck with Cooper when she took her board out.  She picked it up and said, “Yes, little brother?”   Then she listened and laughed.  “I’m at Cooper’s.  I just took my board out—the bay is beautiful.  I have the Razor and the dog.  Then yes, have fun and I’ll see you later.”  
She clicked off.  
“How many times a day to you talk to Landon?” he asked.  It was just Sarah and sixteen-year-old Landon; they were a family of two and kept pretty tight tabs on each other.  And with Sarah being a Coast Guard Search and Rescue pilot who worked out of the North Bend station, sometimes it wasn’t easy.
“As many as it takes.  Now that he’s dating Deputy Yummy Pants’s daughter, I don’t worry so much.  Well, I worry that Mac might shoot him if he gets too frisky with Eve, but I figure that’s a long shot, forgive the pun.  I think we check in three or four times a day.”  
“At least,” Cooper said.  “Did I interpret that last call to mean you’re now free for dinner?” 
She grinned at him.  “Is the chef preparing something special?” 
“It won’t be busy here tonight, at least after seven—weeknight, sunset over.  I have some steaks in the freezer, potatoes in the cooler ….” 
“Do you have anything green?” she asked.  
Cooper ran the bar menu on deli items purchased from Carrie’s deli in town—simple things from pizzas to sandwiches as well as some desserts—things that could be served cold or warmed.  This was not a restaurant.  Cooper bought himself a grill for his own use but didn’t use it to serve patrons.  
Cooper had also inherited a helper, Rawley Goode, a Vietnam Vet who was not overly friendly, and while he might be a good cook, he wasn’t pleasant enough.  And he was needed for other things—maintenance, cleaning, purchasing and delivery from big box stores like Costco that were out of town.  Therefore, personal groceries were often on short supply.  
“I bet you have something green,” he suggested. 
“I live on green things,” she said. 
“I know this.” 
“And you eat like a fourteen-year-old boy.  You’d live on steak, hamburgers and home fries if it weren’t for me.  If I go home to shower and change and bring a salad or a vegetable back with me, will you clean your plate?” 
He loved her.  He was frequently shaken by the intensity of his passion for her.  He’d clean his plate and then he’d tune her up for good measure.  He knew his eyes glowed and knew she interpreted him correctly.  When the ‘Closed’ sign was on and the doors were locked, they’d eat steak in front of the fire and then retire to the playpen, his large bed upstairs.  

Be sure to check out all Robyn’s work by visiting her website.
You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook

And don't forget to look for her the third book in her Thunder Point series of novels, The Hero, which went on sale August 27.


Sandy said...

I love your excerpt, Robyn, and I like to write using a cast of characters. lol We like people! Smile!

Cara Marsi said...

Really enjoyed getting to know you, Robyn. I've read some of your historicals and loved them. Your two series sound terrific. Your writing journey is inspirational. We have something in common--I prefer to live in a place where I can easily get my eyebrows waxed.

Congratulations on your success!

Melissa Keir said...

Thank you for sharing your life story. I think it will inspire many of us who are also struggling with outside forces and negative feedback. But writing is what we love.

The Newcomer is a story I can identify with. Divorce brings up so many different feelings.

Thanks for all the advice!

jean hart stewart said...

Great advice for any writer. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Marianne Stephens said...

Thanks for being here with us today at RB4U! What a wonderful career you're having...such an inspiration for writers.

Molly Daniels said...

Thanks for sharing your journey with us Robyn:) Your books sound wonderful and I definitely want to read more of The Newcomer!

Rose Anderson said...

I enjoyed your interview and the excerpt Robyn. Thanks for sharing your experiences and for joining us today.

Paris said...

Thanks for sharing your very inspiring writer's journey with us, today!

Cynthia Arsuaga said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us at RB4U, Robin.

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