We had a chance to talk to Robyn Carr at our local
book club meeting to catch up with some of our favorite characters in her
renowned series: Virgin
River. Some of our questions could be of interest to other Robyn Carr
fanatics. So settle back, read our interview and then click for a chance to win
her latest: SUNRISE POINT
Between Jack and Preacher - two key and kingpin central characters of the Virgin River series - there
is always a ready connection or shall we say welcome wagon for anyone at loose
ends after leaving the military. Was your own family's history with first a
military life and then moving on the impetus for these two characters?
Actually, no. My real military experience came with my husband. He was in his
last semester of college when the US instigated the draft lottery. He hadn't
planned on the military, but if I remember correctly, the word was that the
first 200 numbers (assigned by birthday) would be called, and we were in the
thick of the Vietnam war. His number, I think, was 53. There was no choice but
to enlist or be drafted. And then there was little choice for us but to either
get married or go our separate ways! So he enlisted in the Air Force, went to
pilot training and we spent ten years moving around from base to base,
assignment to assignment.
I've known some heroes in my day and like everyone, I've heard stories of
amazing military men and women. Jack and Preacher are composite characters
meant to put a very positive spin on our men and women who serve.
In each of the Virgin
River series there is someone with challenging issues - always diverse as is
life - but none the less a bridge to cross. How difficult is it to come up with
an obstacle that can be dealt with in a compassionate manner and be dealt with a
hopefully optimistically ending?
Not hard, not hard at all. All I have to do is listen to people, observe, pay
attention. In addition to relationship issues we have women's issues and I'm
fascinated by both. The statistics alone are staggering – the percentage
of people who have survive abuse, divorce, assault, death of a parent or child,
it goes on and on. I never write about specific people or a specific problem
that's been shared with me, but the things I hear about or have personally
experienced fill the well. Add to that, my editor and I have long conversations
about what "issues" haven't been dealt with in my stories. What my readers love
is a blossoming relationship in balance with real-life challenges that can be
overcome in (I hope) a positive and intelligent manner.
I love a happy ending but life doesn't always work that way. Have you ever
developed a character and realized there just was no happy ending in their
future? And if so did it end up on the cutting floor or were you gutsy enough to
Oh gee, I'm sorry – I didn't get the memo! You mean real life comes with
occasional unhappy endings? No, no – real life comes with difficult
challenges, sometimes horrific challenges, but everything but death can be
turned to a useful lesson. And death – I hate to be the one to break it
to you, but it's not an ‘if' – it's a ‘when'. As far as I know, no one
gets out of this alive. And there are so many lessons to be learned along the
way. To be fair, if we ran a poll we would find an unfortunate number of people
who insist life sucks or is hopeless. But my God – I have known people
who have survived in POW camps or Auschwitz who have gone on to lead full,
productive, happy lives!
But let me stop – perhaps I misread the question. Certainly there are bad
people in my books who come to bad ends, but that's what we call consequences.
And I will add that there are some issues I won't confront – not because
they're hopeless but because I'm just not qualified.
Family relationships are key in Virgin River even though most of the
characters come there to relocate due to some problem. Military life also means
moving around a lot - was that the source for the wanderlust or nomadic
background of some of these characters?
Lest you think I'm delusional, I know that Virgin River is an ideal. A
fantasy. My readers know it, too – that it's the place they'd like to go
if it existed. A town buried deep in the mountains where people pull together
and is just coincidentally filled with drop dead gorgeous men. Right. But wait
– the values are not necessarily idealized. These values of helping,
pulling together, doing the right thing, commitment – these are things
that can be recreated in any neighborhood. The women are beautiful and the men
handsome because these are romance novels, but the traits that draw the men and
women together aren't limited to only handsome/beautiful people.
A large percentage of the military who've gone to war are women. So far all
your books have male veterans, will there ever be a female veteran coming home
from the war and some of the things she would face?
Well, you're dead wrong – ANGEL'S PEAK featured a
female veteran in Franci. She served as a flight nurse, transported wounded
from the front and that's where she met and fell in love with Sean Riordan. And
right now I'm writing a heroine who is still in service – I hope I can do
More of veterans now survive to return home due to the advances in treatment.
Some of your books include stories of veterans who've lost a limb in service.
Is there someone close to you that has gone through this?
No one, but let's face it – it's daily news. My son is an orthopedic
surgeon in the Army, a veteran of Iraq, and he was a great help to me in the
writing of that story. And since writing PARADISE VALLEY I've gotten
lots of letters from amputees, appreciating that storyline as it's their lives.
Virgin River is filled with characters we get glimpses of during the
individual novels but only a couple in each gets the detail treatment. Let's
talk about some of our favorite secondary characters: do Cheryl and Brady have
their book? Or Rick and Liz as more than secondary characters?
I answer this question a lot. Not every character who crosses the stage gets a
book dedicated to them and by 20 books, Rick & Liz, Dan Brady and Cheryl
have appeared in many, many books; they've had many conflicts to overcome and
have. Take Rick and Liz – they've lost a baby, been separated by war,
Rick's been disabled by war – what more should we do to them? It's
impossible to write a book my publisher will publish or my readers will read
without conflict, without drama; I can't just write HEA's from page 1 to page
350! Once characters have reached a resolution – whether it's a final
admission of true love or have overcome a serious problem or are ‘settled' in
some way that sets them up to be happy from now on, it's time to move on to the
next troubled character or couple. The only way to keep writing about those
characters is to do something to them, put them up a tree and then bring them
down safely. No one, not even our favorite fictional friends, deserves to be
troubled over and over and over again.
I do, however, let several of the most beloved characters back on the scene from
time to time so my readers can check on them and see that they're perfectly all
right. But I can't do that with every character who ever crossed the page
– I would have books so populated no one would be able to follow them.
You build very detailed worlds in your Virgin River series and
include glimpses to other series from your past work. Loving the two communities
of Virgin River and those in "DEEP IN THE VALLEY,"
will there be more books set in both?
I don't know. The Grace
Valley series was a trilogy, a three book story arc that was completed over
10 years ago. When I finished the 3rd book, I felt it was done.
Many of those Grace Valley characters have appeared in Virgin River novels. If
I continued to write those books, those characters, over and over, readers would
be so bored. The idea is to create new stories. And while I never say never,
right now I think it's time to spin off one of the characters from Virgin River
into a new town, a new challenge, a new relationship and environment. That's
what I'm working on right now.
Tell us how it's best to have readers connect with you.
Through my website – www.robyncarr.com
Thank you so much Robyn for answering our questions, and as a special gift we'll
be giving away a copy of SUNRISE POINT. All you need
to do is answer the question: What book features a female
falls in love with Sean Riordan?
16 comments posted.
So far I've only read one of the short stories in the Virgin River series. I've been trying to find all your first books and read those. Luckily, our city library must have/had a dedicated Robyn Carr fan since we have most of your older books, though some of them may have disappeared. Is there any chance that these might appear as e-books? I've enjoyed them so much and I'd love to have them myself.
I commented on the blog today, too, Tracey Devlyn, a new author. It made me think about some things. Some of it fit in quite well with your observations here. If I don't forget I'll write you at your site.
(Sigrun Schulz 1:56am April 28, 2012)
Excellent interview! Thanks for the contests you have for your fans...I know they all appreciate them as much as I do. :) The book you are refering to is called "Angel's Peak" . It sounds like another great book by you and I am hoping I will win it....although I will still wish everyone luck! Hope you are having a Wonderful Spring!!
(Cheri Minott 2:28am April 29, 2012)
I believe the book is "Angel's Peak". The book series is great based on all these characters coming together and the problems slightly intermingle.
(Wilma Salas 1:25am May 1, 2012)
I so enjoy Virgin River - I feel like I live there with the rest of the characters!
(Felicia Ciaudelli 2:07pm May 2, 2012)
I love this series and am hopeful it never has an end Name of book is Angel's Peak
(Lynne Hankins 10:25am May 3, 2012)
I love your books. Our son is in the Navy, 12 years & has just re-upped for another 4. Proud of him!
(Susan King 8:19am May 10, 2012)
Angel's Peak. I love your books and so does my husband Which is a good thing because he doesn't read alot of books.
(April Kirby 12:24pm February 5)