Today I’m happy to post a Q&A with author Robyn Carr. It was provided by Little Bird Publicity and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Stop back tomorrow for my review of her new novel The Life She Wants.
Q: On the surface, it seems like Emma Shay had the life that a lot of people would want—a rich husband, a beautiful home, expensive clothes, a full household staff. But we soon learn that her life was not the fairytale it appeared to be. What made you want to explore the darker side of that kind of monetary and material wealth, and what do you think it actually means to have a “rich life?”
A: Money can be fun but it’s a tool, nothing more. There are so many wise sayings that apply – “It is a wealthy man who knows he has enough.” Or one of my favorites, “If you marry for money you’ll earn every dime.” Why? Because money is a convenient tool but the love of money is soulless. When Emma is finally free of the burdens and complications of wealth, when she earns her money and simplifies her life she feels richer.
I think one has a rich life when one has people who love her, friends and hopefully family, or at least the family one collects, when one has health and a positive outlook on life. Some of the happiest people I’ve known didn’t have much material wealth. Real wealth comes from knowing who you can depend on, who you can trust, who will be there for you when you need someone – maybe just to talk.
I know that billionaire romances are very popular but I’ve never been enamored of them. I find the problems of the incredibly rich to be boring and lifeless. There’s joy in challenge and I take pride in hard work. In a job well done. People are not important to me if they’ve amassed wealth – they’re valuable to me if they’ve collected wisdom. Professor Cornel West said he didn’t necessarily admire intelligence – Hitler was brilliant after all. He admired wisdom.
Q: After losing her husband and washing her hands of his sullied fortune, Emma returns home to California to rebuild her life and start over from scratch. Part of this involves reconnecting with old places and people she has not seen in over a decade. What inspired this idea of reconnection, of a prodigal returning home after a long absence?
A: I’m fascinated by relationships and one of the stickier ones we grapple with is women’s relationships with other women. There is no way to describe the heartache when best friends split up – it’s almost as bad as a divorce. I wanted a close look at that – both Emma and her former best friend, Riley, did unforgiveable things. Can they overcome it? Should they? Sometimes we pass our time with a friend and have to move on; sometimes it’s not too late. I never know how these issues will be worked out until I write about it. I have to spend some time with the characters, find out what they need, what kind of people they are, what they need.
Women behaving badly fascinates me, also. We’ve all experienced deep hurt from a friend and we all know how hard that is to overcome. How would Emma and Riley deal with their betrayal? That’s what I wanted to know.
Q: Emma and Riley are both people who have suffered betrayals and trauma in their romantic relationships. What makes Emma so open to finding love again, and what makes Riley so wary of it? Was it fun to write the two different sides of that coin?
A: I think Emma is surprised to find love and with, of all people, an old friend who she feels safe with. She was so alone in her marriage, so unloved and neglected. Riley, on the other hand, sees falling in love as a danger – the one and only time she fell for someone it destroyed her cherished friendship and left her adrift in a very difficult world as a single mother.
It was much more fun to write about a lost friendship than it is to live it! Everyone has had the experience of being dumped by a best friend and it’s horribly painful. And there’s always two sides to every story but we’re usually so determined to be right, we never try to understand the other side of the story. In this book I get to look at both of their perspectives without prejudice and it’s something to learn from. And I think the reader, like the writer in this case, will wonder to the very last page if they can resume their friendship.
Q: You’re known for your fantastic book series—at every event you do people beg you to write more Virgin River and Thunder Point books! Does this novel have any characters that you want to explore in future books? If not, what was it like working on a self‐contained story like this, and how does writing a standalone novel differ from, say, writing the first book of a planned series?
A: I love both – the stand alone and the series. In the stand alone novel there is a beginning, middle and end and there’s no continuing story. There’s a reason I don’t write about these same people up to their death. Novels are about conflict. A reunion story, as so many of my readers suggest, is about a lot of people in the process of living happily ever after and it’s very sweet, and very boring. Once my characters have reached their satisfactory happily ever after, we should be able to imagine them living contentedly, without great conflict. We don’t really want to see these beloved characters who have become friends struggle endlessly – that becomes frustrating and we’ll ask ourselves “Why can’t they get a handle on their lives?”
What I love about the standalone is that a specific set of challenges has been overcome and there should be satisfaction. Now the rest of their lives belongs to the reader and the reader’s imagination.
Q: We have to ask, what’s next for you? What are you working on right now?
A: I’m at work on the second Sullivan’s Crossing novel, no title yet. It should be ready soon and out the beginning of April 2017.
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