Q&A with Robyn Carr -plus a US Giveaway

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.

the life she wants (9:27)

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.


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

the life she wants (9:27)

Ends September 28, 2016

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

stolen-beauty-march-17  the-whole-towns-talking-1129  pretty-little-world-jan-17-17  christmas-in-paris

Last week on Bookfan:

Absalom's Daughters   the spice box letters (9:13)

Reading plan for the week ahead:

a-most-extraordinary-pursuit-104

Spotlight/US Giveaway: The Spice Box Letters by Eve Makis

the spice box letters (9:13)

About the Book:

Katerina longs to know why her late grandmother, Miriam, refused to talk about the past, especially when she inherits a journal and handwritten letters stashed in a wooden spice box, cryptic treasures written in Armenian, Miriam’s mother tongue. On vacation in Cyprus, Katerina finds the key to unlocking her grandmother’s secrets and discovers a family legacy of exile and loss. Aged seven, Miriam was expelled from her home in Eastern Turkey and witnessed the death of her beloved brother Gabriel, or so she believed.

Katerina sets out on a fact-finding mission across the island and solves a mystery that changes her life and lays the ghosts of her grandmother’s turbulent past to rest. My Big Fat Greek Wedding meets Sarah’s Key in this gripping family saga, set during the tragic start of the Armenian genocide in 1915 Turkey, spanning the ups and downs of a family separated by the devastating aftermath in 1985 Greece.


About the Author:

EVE MAKIS studied at Leicester University and worked as a journalist and radio presenter in the UK and Cyprus before becoming a novelist. Eve is a part time tutor in creative writing at Nottingham University. She is married with two children and lives in the UK and Cyprus.


Praise for The Spice Box Letters:

“Reading The Spice Box Letters is like sitting down to a delicious Armenian dinner hosted by an ebullient family with a riveting and sorrowful tale to tell. Makis’ story goes to some dark places, but her warmth and light touch keeps this engaging novel aloft.  You will come away impressed by the resilience of her wonderful characters—and craving Armenian delicacies. (I devoured a chunk of halva while reading this book.) I deeply enjoyed this novel.” —Sharon Guskin, author of The Forgetting Time

 

“With humor, heartbreak and lyrical prose, Eve Makis has woven a moving tale of resilience in the face of tragedy.  I thoroughly enjoyed The Spice Box Letters.”  —Maggie Leffler, author of The Secrets of Flight

 

The Spice Box Letters is a beautifully evocative novel that moves from past to present and affirms the enduring love of family and explores the tragic, unsettling wake of the Armenian genocide. Eve Makis has written a novel that should be read, contemplated, and read again.” —Peter Golden, author of Wherever There Is Light

 

“Heartwarming, funny, tragic, and uplifting…the story has a feel good factor to equal My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” —Narinder Dhami, author of Bend It Like Beckham

 

“Fans of Victoria Hislop’s prose or Khaled Hosseini’s storytelling will love The Spice Box Letters, for Eve Makis’s latest novel is remarkable. It deserves to be an international bestseller and I have no doubt it will pick up an award or three. Beautifully written with inventive structure, compelling characters, historical horrors, and natural humor, it’s a rich feast.”— Notts Lit (UK)

 

“I would advise buying a packet of tissues before you start reading this extraordinary novel which depicts the human cost of war. The novel is peppered with vividly evoked scenes of the physical, emotional, and mental trauma that many Armenian families went through during the massacre of their people in WWI.” —Pamreader

 

“Makis has done her research, and the historical details of 100 years ago ring true, as do finely drawn characters like Katerina’s great-uncle, the cantankerous, memorable Gabriel. Add some mouth-watering descriptions of food and you have a warm, affecting tale to savor.”— LeftLion Magazine (UK) 


US Giveaway

Please click here and fill out the form

GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

the spice box letters (9:13)

Giveaway ends September 22, 2016

Absalom’s Daughters by Suzanne Feldman

  • Absalom's DaughtersTitle:  Absalom’s Daughters: A Novel
  • Author:  Suzanne Feldman
  • Genre:  Fiction
  • Pages:  272
  • Published:  July 2016 – Henry Holt & Co.
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Self-educated and brown-skinned, Cassie works full-time in her grandmother’s laundry in rural Mississippi. Illiterate and white, Judith falls for “colored music” and dreams of life as a big city radio star. These teenaged girls are half-sisters. And when they catch wind of their wayward father’s inheritance coming down in Virginia, they hitch their hopes to a road trip together to claim what’s rightly theirs.

In an old junk car, with a frying pan, a ham, and a few dollars hidden in a shoe, they set off through the American Deep South of the 1950s, a bewitchingly beautiful landscape as well as one bedeviled by racial striving and violence. Absalom’s Daughters combines the buddy movie, the coming-of-age tale, and a dash of magical realism to enthrall and move us with an unforgettable, illuminating novel.  (publisher)

My take:  Cassie grew up with her mother (Lil Ma) and grandmother in a small Mississippi town. Their walls were papered with magazine pages and that’s how Cassie learned how to read.  One day she learned about her father – a man she’d never met. He was white and her grandmother, wanting a grandchild who could pass for white, had encouraged Lil Ma to let him father her child. But Grandmother’s idea didn’t work –  Cassie’s skin wasn’t light enough. When Cassie meets her father’s white daughter, Judith, the two form an initially uneasy alliance.

After a few years Judith finds out her father (who left his white family) is set to receive an inheritance. She’s going to find him, get some of his inheritance so she can go to New York City and become a star. Since Cassie is also his progeny she convinces her to come with Judith to make her claim. They set off on a road trip that was at times funny, frightening, and magical. The girls learn life lessons along the way – two being to never give up on your dreams and never forget the past.

While I liked the novel it seemed like a book that would be read in a high school literature class. Nothing wrong with that, just thought I’d mention my impression. I think readers in that age group would especially enjoy Absalom’s Daughters.


About the author:

Feldman, Suzanne (Tim Stephens)Suzanne Feldman, a recipient of the Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize and a finalist for the Bakeless Prize in fiction, holds an MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University and a BFA in art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the author of award-winning science fiction titles like Speaking Dreams and The Annunciate, published under the pen name Severna Park. Her short fiction has appeared in NarrativeThe Missouri ReviewGargoyle, and other literary journals. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.

Sunday Post

Book arrivals:  (linked to Mailbox Monday)

being-mortal  the-perfect-ingredient  a-most-extraordinary-pursuit-104

unraveling-the-pieces  the-24-days-of-christmas  on-second-thought-2117

Last week on Bookfan:

the last treasure a gift of love Letters from Paris always a cowboy (9:1)

Reading plan for this week:

the velvet hours (9:6)