Please help me welcome Robyn Carr, author of the Virgin River series of best-selling contemporary romances, to Reading Reality today. Robyn is visiting to introduce the latest book in the Virgin River series, Sunrise Point, and to giveaway a print copy of this terrific story to one lucky (US) commenter. (See my review here, the winner of the giveaway will enjoy the book!)
So without further ado, here’s Robyn!
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: Have you noticed your writer’s voice has changed over the years due to experience? If so, how?
A: 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.
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?
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.
Q: What would you tell someone who is coming to Virgin River for the first time? What do you want them to know about the town as the jump SUNRISE POINT?
A: Virgin River isn’t an easy place. It calls on a person’s deepest sense of adventure to live there, which at least partially explains the strong sense of community one finds there. Sometimes neighbors have to rely on each other to get through the day, sometimes for their very survival. Not only does Mother Nature challenge this mountain town with snowstorms, floods, earthquakes and mud slides, the landscape is rugged, the wildlife plentiful and fearless, but there are more illegal (and sometimes dangerous) marijuana growers in that area than anywhere else in the US.
Q: 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?
A: Notebook! Very LARGE notebook! By now, I live in Virgin River in my mind – everyday is like going home.
Q: Have there been any books, romance or other genres, that have greatly influenced you as a writer? What are they?
A: 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.
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.
And now you want a copy of Sunrise Point for your very own! Here’s your opportunity. This giveaway is for a print copy, so the giveaway is open to US residents, or anyone who can make arrangements with someone with a US address. Rafflecopter is waiting!
a Rafflecopter giveaway