Books With Buzz: My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

A new release by Robyn Carr is a fabulous reason to celebrate. When you add into the equation that her latest is a new Christmas release plus it features hunky Patrick Riordan, then it is triple the delight as far as I’m concerned. I had the opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors about her writing career, and her very successful Virgin River series. In addition to some great insights into Ms. Carr’s varied writing history, her publisher Harlequin MIRA is providing copies of Carr’s November 2012 release, My Kind of Christmas for some lucky winners. The details on that are listed at the end of the interview. But enough from me. Let’s get to the good stuff.

Leigh: I am very excited to have you here today, as I’ve been reading your books since the late 1990s. You have been writing a long time, first starting out with historicals like Chelynne published in 1980. Was it the change in the industry that made you switch from historicals to contemporary books or just your own internal voice?

Robyn Carr: Much sooner than that, actually. The first two books I was trying to market were Chelynne and what would later be titled Tempted, a contemporary. I always loved contemporary romance and contemporary women’s fiction, but my publisher was not at all interested in the contemporary stuff, probably because historicals were, as you say, very hot. I did sell Tempted in ’86. many years after it was originally written, but it did not pave the way for a successful contemporary career. In fact, from ’90 to ’98 I couldn’t sell a book to save my life! Zero. Nada. Zilch. But then in ’98 MIRA, a division of Harlequin, bought a women’s fiction from me — The House On Olive Street, and 7 years later I would successfully sell them the first Virgin River novels. Long haul. Many typed pages.

Leigh: Early in your career you usually released a book a year. I know this because I used to search out information about your next release. My Kind of Christmas is the 20th story in the Virgin River series since 2007. In 2010 you released a single title, too, so twenty-one stories in five years. Of course, some readers might say you don’t write fast enough for them but that is quite a change. What has made a difference?

Robyn Carr: The short answer is — technology. I wrote a book a year on a typewriter at the kitchen table with carbon copies or a very, very old fashioned computer with a daisy wheel printer that could knock out a printed manuscript in 8 short hours — and this while I was raising two children. I sold my first book when my youngest was almost 2 years old. And there was no internet, no Google. I went to the library to research, spending hours taking notes and making those very dearly priced Xerox copies from reference books. By the nineties, computers were more advanced, internet research was coming along nicely, and then it became a matter of convincing the publisher to put me on the schedule! They didn’t really want more than one book a year from me — they wanted as many as the bestselling authors could write, but not from me. So — I bit the bullet and wrote the first 4 Virgin River novels before selling them! That was the only way I could think of to convince them I was a more than one book a year kind of writer.

Now it seems the pressure is on everyone to write as many books a year as possible while still watching the quality.

Leigh: You are well into the Virgin River series. Are you the type of author that has the series planned far in advance or do you simply go with the flow?

Robyn Carr: I didn’t think I’d write more than one! By the time I was 100 pages into that first one, I could see a trilogy, maybe four. More than that? It never occurred to me until the publisher asked me if I could. I thought about it briefly, looked at the canvas I had established and realized that really, it could go on for as long as I could keep the characters straight and bring new people to town. Now every time a character walks on stage for two lines of dialogue, my readers expect them to get a whole book!

What makes this fun is that I have always loved working with ensemble casts. Love, Actually is my very favorite movie — ten plots and countless people all coming together at the end. Even back in the historical days, I sometimes loved my supporting characters as much or even more than my hero and heroine. When you’re working with a whole town, you can keep at it as long as your interest doesn’t wane or your enthusiasm fade.

Leigh: You first introduced readers to the difficulties of providing medical care in isolated rural setting and the concept of a close-knit community relying on each other in the Grace Valley series, which I view as a precursor to the Virgin River series. However, the romance is more subtle in the Grace Valley books. Was making the books more romance centered a challenge for you?

Robyn Carr: You’re right, Grace Valley came first. I wanted a sexier book in the worst way — romances were getting sexier and those were my favorites to read. I didn’t want to write erotica, but I did want a sexier book. And YES it was a challenge! I think of my books as steamy while reviewers refer to them as comfort reads — shows you how steamy I am! But I think putting love scenes into the stories really gave them a much larger audience. I say that, but my earlier books that were not as sexy are doing very fine as reissues, so I think it probably keeps coming back to a satisfying story. What’s interesting is the women who most appreciate sexier love scenes are much, much older than you’d guess — 70′s, 80′s and up.

Leigh: You are not afraid of tackling the difficult subjects like death, lack of medical care, returning veterans with PTSD, amputations, and facial deformities. One issue that touched me was in Bring Me Home for Christmas when Becca Timms discovers Megan Thickson’s self-esteem is being eroded by her elementary school teacher. In My Kind of Christmas you write about PTSD and near death experience, and how that can change your life goals. Inspiration can come from many places – the struggles of family, friends, or newspaper articles. Is there one that is especially close to your heart?

Robyn Carr: Any one source of inspiration close to my heart, is that the question? Because I listen. Readers write to me, people tell me stories, I hear things on TV, read about situations that fascinate me on an emotional level and I look further, research, interview. The one rule I most respect is that this ‘issue’ has to be about how it affects relationships. When you nearly die, everyone around you is affected, and always in very different ways! When someone is struggling with self-image, especially a child, everyone within pitching distance is trying to figure out what to do, say, how to act. We don’t and can’t live in a vacuum — life isn’t quite right until we understand how to relate to each other. And one person’s struggle can change the lives of the people around them — that’s happened to me and I’m sure it’s happened to you!

Anyone who has raised children has been up against that mean teacher. My kids had wonderful teachers, but there were two (very small percentage, considering these kids are now raising their own children!) that really threw me with their negative, destructive teaching methods. What an emotional struggle for a child and her parents!

Leigh: The Riordan family and the Sheridan family have been a joy to read about. And now with My Kind of Christmas you brought them closer together as Patrick Riordan and Angela LaCroix met in Virgin River. What was the inspiration for this pairing?

Robyn Carr: I’ll be honest — I caved. I had no intention of writing a book about Patrick! He had maybe 10 lines in the whole series! But readers were insistent and I finally realized the series would feel like it was missing something if I didn’t take a closer look at him. And then, this happens a lot, once I started writing about him, I fell so in love! He ended up being one of the hottest, sexiest, most endearing characters I’ve ever written about. It also gave me a chance to bring the Riordan and Sheridan families together as Angela is Jack’s niece. I love being around the Riordans and Sheridans!

Leigh: While your books constantly make the bestseller lists, Bring Me Home for Christmas, released in 2011, not only debuted in the #1 slot on the New York Times roster but also on Barnes and Noble and Publishers Weekly lists too. How excited were you?

Robyn Carr: I just couldn’t believe it, to tell the truth. What an amazing trifecta! Since bestsellers are all about velocity — large numbers of books sold in short periods of time — I think that speaks to the success of a series more than anything. People must be waiting at the door to get the next book in the series to push it onto so many lists, and that is the biggest compliment I can imagine!

Leigh: While I really enjoy the Virgin River series, I also love your single titles, especially when they include such heartwarming heroes like Walt Arneson from A Summer in Sonoma. Any single titles planned or is your focus right now on the Virgin River series?

Robyn Carr: There is another single title getting ready — another girlfriend book that involves love, drama, women’s issues, all that great stuff. The problem with talking about it is we haven’t settled on a title or pub date yet. But I’ll say this — in a perfect world I get to write books in a series, sometimes a long running series like Virgin River, and also write girlfriend books, women’s fiction. I love both! And I loved Walt Arneson’s character so much that he stepped right out of A Summer in Sonoma and into Virgin River in a minor but very fun way! Talk about crossing over!

Leigh: If other readers are like me, then immediately upon finishing one of your books, they too start looking for news of your upcoming releases. Do you have books in the works for 2013 and if so do you know when they are scheduled for publication? And I sure wouldn’t complain and I doubt the readers here would either if you wanted to give hints about the books.

Robyn Carr: There is a new series on the way for 2013, the first of three to be released in April 2013. There will be three in 2013 — And I’ll start talking about that in a major way in January, with slides, excerpts, teasers, etc. Right now I’m trying to keep my focus on My Kind Of Christmas, out in less than 3 weeks.

Leigh: Speaking of My Kind of Christmas , finally I get to see my name in print with a character name Leigh. However, she is not heroine material. Of course, you could easily change that. How about it?

Robyn Carr: Aren’t names the funniest things? I NEVER associate the fictional names with people I know. Never. And here’s a not so secret secret — the names I’m most drawn to, that feel most right, that I just plain love, appear over and over in my books. Not just first names, last names as well. I have no idea why! Not only is there an entire Riordan clan in Virgin River, there’s a Joe Riordan in Blue Skies which was written 8 years ago and reissued recently. I’ve used Cavanaugh more than once — back in the ’80s and recently. I love the name Leigh and guess what? She’s a heroine in a novella I wrote in ’91. In three years I’ll probably use the name again, so stay tuned!

Leigh:You can be sure I will stay tuned. Thank you so much for spending the time with me and our AAR readers.

And now for the giveaway! As I mentioned above, Harlequin Mira has graciously agreed to provide 5 copies of My Kind of Christmas for 5 lucky readers. If you want to enter, just comment below between now and 11:59 p.m. EST on Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Good luck!

– Leigh Davis

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96 Responses to Books With Buzz: My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

  1. Maggie AAR says:

    I am shocked that from 90 to 98 Ms. Carr couldn’t sell a book. I love her stuff – have read all of it since Cheylene so that makes no sense to me.

    My favorites by her are:
    Blue Skies
    The Grace Valley Books
    The Troubadours Romance

  2. TrishJ says:

    I love this series. You just feel like you have come home when you open up a book. Love to win a copy.

  3. Maureen says:

    I do enjoy this series and it’s wonderful that there is a new story coming out.

  4. Tee says:

    I’m with Maggie. I’ve been reading Carr right from the beginning. Have loved all her stuff (well, most of it :)). Will not miss a book of hers now for anything.

  5. Judy K says:

    This is a fantastic series, I have read and relished 5 of the Virgin River books in the series and would really love to win a copy.

  6. Cheryl R says:

    I have read and reread all of Robyn’s books and would be so thrilled to win a copy of My Kind of Christmas. I am jazzed about the new books coming in April.

  7. Jayne G. says:

    I bought the first four Virgin River books on Kindle earlier this year and have been hooked on them ever since. I am very excited to read My Kind of Christmas! Pick me! Pick me!

  8. Kimberly says:

    Just read Blue Skies, and since I’m in commercial aviation REALLY loved it. I’ve read a couple VR books, but not all of them, so I guess I need to get busy! LOVE Christmas novels, so looking forward to this one.

  9. SandyH says:

    I love Christmas stories and this one looks great.

  10. Dagmar says:

    I love the Virgin River series and I would love to read this book. I’m excited to see another book coming out – especially for the holidays.

  11. Elaine C. says:

    I enjoyed the Virgin River trilogy. I read so few contemporaries. The characters were great! :-)

  12. farmwifetwo says:

    Need to nag the library to bring this one in. They’re very good about bringing in books people have asked for.

    Always looking for a new series to try and will look for your new one next year.

  13. Leslie says:

    I love Robyn Carr.

    Grace Valley, Runaway Mistress and Never to Late, my favs are so

    I just want to say how much I appreciate the fact that I don’t have to wait a year in between books.

    And I just found out Recorded Books has a ton of Virgin River Audios. Yahoo!

    Last but not least I admire the way RC honors our Troops in her stories.

  14. Vanessa says:

    Leigh, Thank you so much for the informative interview. Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series sounds like wonderful reads. My Kind of Christmas would be the perfect novel to have during the upcoming holiday season. Always enjoys books with a Christmas theme. Can’t wait to read these books. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

  15. Julie B. says:

    There’s nothing like a cozy chair, a cup of tea and a great book to make the holidays even better! I hope I win!

  16. joanne hale says:

    i have never read this series! and i plan to start today! (well, tonight hubby is gonna be with the guys, and kids go to bed early) i am excited, thank you for the chance! and congratulations on the current publication!

  17. Mervi says:

    I haven’t read Virgin River books, so I hope I win a copy so that I can start reading them.

  18. Sofia says:

    I’m always excited for the start of the year and to see a new set of Virgin River books being published.

  19. Lily says:

    Sounds promising. Fingers crossed for a win. :)

  20. LeeB. says:

    Excellent interview questions and answers!

  21. taurus says:

    Thank you for the wonderful informative interview!

  22. Carol Lowe says:

    I started with the Grace Valley and Virgin River books and then read Blue Skies. Loved them all.

  23. PatW says:

    I’m always intrigued to know an author’s history with publishing. This was a terrific interview. Thanks, Leigh and Robyn.

    Also I’m a sucker for Christmas stories – would love to win this one.

  24. Nikki H says:

    I can hardly wait to read My Kind of Christmas. The people in this series have become like family to me, and I’m always wanting to know more about them.

  25. Fran says:

    I would love to win one. You’re amazing.

  26. Shannon says:

    I love the Virgin River books… I just got done rereading them all in order since the first time I was out of order.

  27. Amy says:

    Mom and I love the Virgin River series. I would love to win a copy for both of us to read.

  28. Neppie Hay says:

    I have read all of Robyn Carr books and have enjoyed them so much. I love the Virgin River series and look forward to the next book.

  29. Redonna says:

    Such a great escape to virgin river! Love love love these books!

  30. barb says:

    I love all your books and re read them often.

  31. Jayme says:

    I love the Virgin River series… I always imagine the town and people and wish I could visit…

  32. Rosemary york says:

    Absolutely in heaven knowing that she has another book coming out… I have read everything of hers I can get my hands on. She is an amazing writer who draws us love love her books

  33. Kris says:

    I love the escapism and emotional ties that is the Virgin River series.

  34. Karise Edmunds says:

    I have every Virgin River novel, and am eagerly awaiting the newest! I am one of the many who has been waiting for Patrick’s story! Can’t wait!

  35. Linda Thomas says:

    I love Robyn’s books and wouldn’t miss one for the world. Look forward to each one’s arrival. Last year I wouldn’t have my surgery until her book came out so I could take it to the hospital with me. I am Hooked on Robyn Carr and have been since her first ones were published. Keep them coming please.

  36. Celeste P. says:

    I just want to say that I love your books. I have read my way through your Virgin River series. I can’t get enough of them. They are truly wonderful. Thank you and please keep writing more. :)

  37. Agatha says:

    I have always loved Robyn Carr’s books especially Virgin River Series, i mean we would all like to go to Jack’s bar and have a meal and talk with all the characters there!

  38. MimiK says:

    Love the Virgin River Series, but will devour anything Robyn Carr Writes. Her books are spellbinding.

  39. Melissa Anderson says:

    I would love to win a book that would be great! I didn’t know that Robyn wrote stand alone books I will be looking into those I have only read Grace Valley and Virgin River. Thanks for all the juicy info

  40. Caye Youmans says:

    I got a kindle and purchased book 1-4 of the virgin River Series to read now time I finish one I buy another, you can’t put them down.

  41. Angela Tollis says:

    I love the Virgin River series! Thank you for sharing a wonderful interview with us. :)

  42. Marcelina says:

    Robyns books got me through some very difficult times. First while sitting next to my mom’s bed the last year of her life. Then I reread the series while taking care of my dad. And after they were put to rest, my husband asked me to read them out loud to him. I can honestly say, we had a strong relationship, but reading together has brought us that much closer! Wonderful stories!

  43. Debbie Koziel says:

    Love the Virgin River series….I always feel like I’m right there in Virgin River when reading them!

  44. I have read every book in the Virgin River series and several others written by Robyn and can hardly wait until this one comes out. I give away all my paperbacks with the exception of Robyn’s books since I know I will read them again one day!

  45. Mary Villarreal says:

    I first read Blue Skies a couple of years ago and was struck by the reality of the characters and story line. I was hooked and since then have looked forward to more. I have caught up with all the Virgin River residents and I’m looking forward to meeting Jacks niece and the youngest Riordan.

  46. Mary Ann says:

    Roby Carr is my absolute favorite author in this genre and I cannot wait until the next book in the Virgin River series comes out. I was one of those people that encouraged her to bring Patrick into focus. And I can hardly wait to read the book. I have everyone of her books and will not part with them.

  47. Pam Dean says:

    I love the series can’t wait to read this one!

  48. Shari says:

    Love your Virgin River series, keep them coming.

  49. Suzann says:

    ° 。 ° ˛˚˛ * _Π____*。*˚
    ˚ ˛ •˛•˚ */________/~\。˚ ˚ ˛
    ˚ ˛ •˛• ˚ | 田田 |門| •
    Christmas in Virgin River makes me smile!!

  50. Missy Emery says:

    I love the Virgin River series! Thanks for the chance to win My Kind of Christmas!

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