Monday, January 23, 2012

Meet New York Times Bestselling Author, Robyn Carr (US Giveaway)

Robyn's Story

Because I published my first novel at the age of twenty-seven, it might seem as though I fulfilled a childhood ambition, or at least pursued a career I prepared for in college, but neither was the case. I was an average high school student with greater interest in cheerleading and boys than academics and for a college endeavor I chose nursing. But then I come from the tip of the baby boomer generation; our mothers were usually more concerned with whether we'd get married than whether we'd have successful careers. Many of us chose from the Big Three - nurses, teachers, and secretaries.

Writing for me came later, but not much later.

I married my high school sweetheart four short weeks before he left for Officer's Training School in the Air Force. It was the peak of the Vietnam War and he had been assigned to pilot a helicopter. As soon as I could, I followed him from base to base where I was kept busy with wives' activities while he either worked long hours or traveled. And this is where it all really began for me - because of the instability of our lives, I didn't work in nursing. But nothing bridges the gap between loneliness and worry like a good book. Then came the children, or maybe I should say the pregnancies. Miserable and big as an ox, I was instructed to stay down and keep my feet up. My neighbor brought me ten paperbacks a week; I was reading more than one a day. With ankles the size of a normal woman's thighs, I spent my afternoons with Kathryn Swynford and John of Gaunt....with Heather and Brandon Birmingham....with Elizabeth, The King's Gray Mare. Nothing short of labor pains could snap me out of it!

I cut my teeth on Anya Seton, Kathleen Woodiweiss, Rosemary Hawley Jarmen. It made perfect sense that when I applied my own imagination to the blank page, it would be in the genre of Historical Romance. This was before the days of RWA; there was no available training program. In fact, the first conference I ever attended for writing contained no workshop on romance writing and the novelist who critiqued my manuscript boldly told me to go home and find something to do for which I had talent. That manuscript was sold to Little, Brown and Co. two years later, published in hardcover and titled Chelynne.

I spent the first decade and a half of my writing career on romance, historical and contemporary. Then, needing a change, I wrote a suspense novel, a non-fiction, and several brilliant but as yet unsold screenplays. I wrote articles and even short stories, jumping all over the place, not really aware that I was working on reinventing myself, redesigning my craft. During the course of this transition, which was by no means short, I had a great piece of good luck. I went to San Diego State University to teach a novel writing workshop and met a woman who was the editorial director for a publisher who focused on women's fiction. The range in this genre is remarkably broad - from pure romance to adventure to political intrigue to girlfriend books to small town fiction.

This was a good place for me to develop my own brand of women's fiction, a style that most closely resembles my take on real life. I want to laugh through a book, but I don't want a book that's a big laugh - and that's a tall order. As a reader I want to have a genuinely good time, but not a joke. I want real women's issues, real humor, and real teeth in the story. This is a genre with lots of room for growth.

In the meantime, with all this writing and reinventing going on, I was raising a family. My son and daughter are adults now, reading my fiction and making snide remarks about how I have used family scenarios to my advantage.

The greatest compliment I have ever received came from one of my readers who labeled me "a woman's woman." She told me I wrote as knowingly about being single as being married, about being old as young, about the happily married and someone suffering from spousal abuse. In short - my goal achieved according to one reader - I can cover all women's concerns. And my women laugh as often as they cry.

I've found my home.

Book Description:

Sick of running into her cheery ex-husband and his new wife, Leslie Petruso accepts a job at the Virgin River branch of Haggerty Construction and takes the high road right out of town. Now she’s got Paul Haggerty’s business running like a well-oiled machine. In fact, things are so busy Paul jumps at the chance to hire an extra set of hands.
Just like Leslie, Conner Danson has been burned by love. But Leslie was disappointed by her relationship going bad, Conner was decimated. He’s got no time for woman...although he spends an awful lot of time pretending not to notice Leslie. And she’s pretty busy “ignoring” the chemistry between them.

According to Conner and Leslie, they have only one thing in common—they’re done with love. But everyone in Virgin River can see that things are heating up at Haggerty Construction. And as far as Paul Haggerty can tell, the best thing he can do is hang on to his hard hat and watch the sparks fly!

Robyn, Thanks for joining us at Romance Author Buzz and participating in the Q&A.Q: Every writer has her own routines and methods. How do you spend a typical writing day?

A: All the adventure happens in my head, believe me. I wake up early, stumble to the coffee pot, then to the computer and write in my pajamas till at lease mid-morning. I fluff and buff (that’s a Robynism for primp and put on clothes), maybe do a few chores – but not too many – and write until dinner time. About ten hours a day, every day. I take breaks for appointments or the very rare lunch out. Otherwise it’s constant writing and except for my wonderful family, the best part of my life. I’m still having fun every day.

Q: What would you tell someone who wants to start writing romance or women’s fiction? I’m sure you get a lot of questions like this. Is there one piece of advice that you always share with aspiring writers?

A: This is a difficult job that more often than not doesn’t pay well. Embarking on it to become rich and famous would be a mistake. Taking on the writing profession because of a deep love of the craft is the only reason that makes sense. To me, anyway. I wrote for over 30 years before getting a bestseller – that takes either profound stubbornness or a overpowering love of the craft.

Q: Do you work with a specific ‘image’ in mind when creating your characters? Do you base them on people you’ve met or know, or are they more composites of real-life and your imagination?

A:Never a specific image – that’s cramping for me. I love to take a few dominant characteristics and build the character throughout the story. Watching them evolve is the fun. And they’re never based on people I know, but certain characteristics from people I’ve known or met are completely useful and fun to blend. Composites – alwayss.

Q: How much of your actual life gets written into your fictional stories? Do you ever use real people as inspiration for your characters?

A: 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. In Virgin River Jack’s sisters are remembering when Jack and his best friend hung their dolls by the neck—mean big brother stuff. My son and his best friend did that to my daughter’s cabbage patch dolls. Don’t worry, they’re all fine…. Well, I’m not sure about the dolls, but my son, his best friend and my daughter have persevered.

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

A: 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.

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!!

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

A: 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.

Q: What is the underlying message you want women to take away from this new Virgin River trilogy—Hidden Summit, Redwood Bend, and Sunrise Point?

A: As in all Virgin River novels, it’s never too late to create your own happy ending. You are the heroine of your own life and you never never never settle for less than the most optimal experience, the most perfect partner. Men and women thrive when they find positive, mutually respectful relationships.

Robyn, thanks for joining us at Romance Author Buzz.

Where can readers find you?

Robyn on Facebook:
Author Website:
Robyn  Carr on Twitter

To win a copy of HIDDEN SUMMIT (Open to contestants from the Continental US only), follow Robyn Carr on Facebook and comment about her Q&A at Romance Author Buzz, come back here, comment and leave your email address.  The author and publicist will choose and contact the winner.  Contest will end February 14th, midnight PST.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like a wonderful book, as all other Robyn Carr books are. I know I've enjoyed every one of them that I've read!

I am always so surprised when Authors talk about how much they read, I am just a stay at home mom and I can usually manage to get in a few pages every night before my eyes close, but my TBR pile is just getting bigger and bigger on me. I just don't know how authors have time to write and do all the other day to day life things and read too! LOL Amazing!!

4hrjc (at) mchsi (dot)com

Laurie G said...

I enjoy all of the authors she mentioned. I'm actually new to the Virgin River scene. I recently purchased A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS. I've heard so many wonderful things about this series.

I just visited her FACEBOOK page and commented about her interview here at the Buzz.

Thanks for the chance to win HIDDEN SUMMIT!

I'm going to read A VIRGIN RIVER CHRISTMAS next.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

Laurie G, you're the winner.

Italia said...

I enjoyed this book so much! I enjoyed reading about Nora and how hard she worked to make a good life for her children and herself after her hard life growing up and her ex boyfriend.
Tom started off alittle slow, but ended up to be a great guy. One of the best things he said was with his "Talk" with Darla. I loved it!!!


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