Robyn Carr (l.) is beloved by fans for both her romances and her mainstream women’s fiction. Here, she discusses her latest release, Four Friends, with Rachael Herron (r.), who also writes a small-town romance series (“Cypress Hollow”) and mainstream fiction (Pack Up the Moon). See the review of Four Friends.
RH: I’ve read and enjoyed your small-town romances (in the “Virgin River” and “Thunder Point” series), and I was so excited to see you moving into mainstream fiction. What has that leap felt like to you?
RC: I love romances and especially love my long-running series, but I’ve always written women’s fiction, which is more mainstream, even if a little romance is included. I love “girlfriend books,” and I think my first was The House on Olive Street. Four Friends is such a book—four women who depend on each other at a time their lives seem to be in transition, when their comfort zone is cracking around the edges. When women have issues or crises they tend to talk to each other. You know why? Men have the same issues—parenting, relationships, health issues, divorce, etc., but they don’t want to talk about it! Women friends will help each other get through the tough times with compassion, nurturing, and mutual understanding. And since we’re all unique, every combination of women as friends is unique, yet there are so many qualities in common.
While your new book is about four women, it very much hinges upon one: Gerri. She’s a wonderful character and so real I could almost picture her walking on the treadmill next to me. What’s your favorite thing about writing such strong (yet vulnerable) characters?
Making a character real enough that anyone can relate to her on some level is the challenge and the fun! I knew when I was writing about Gerri that if my reader hadn’t personally experienced some of her trials, she knew someone who had—a sister, cousin, neighbor, coworker, or friend. As for being strong yet vulnerable, we all have our strengths and areas of vulnerability, the only difference is the equation. As for Gerri, she was struck in her strongest spot—her successful marriage! The one thing she always depended on and had the most faith in was her relationship with her husband. To find that threatened, to find she had been wrong brought her to her knees. Frankly, I wasn’t sure how that was going to turn out until I spent some time with Gerri (and [her husband] Phil). How does an intelligent, loving, courageous woman handle infidelity? I knew that in order to succeed in telling this story well, by the end of the book my reader(s) must respect Gerri.
I love the narrator of the audiobook, Therese Plummer, and I especially adore the way she voiced the male characters. Were you involved in casting her?
In a way I was involved. Therese has been narrating my books for a long time, and I’ve gotten so many letters praising her talent. I’ve listened to her and her fans are right—she’s phenomenal. I made sure the publisher knew that listeners were growing more and more attached to her and sang her praises.
After so many books, do you still get nervous about a release?
I almost said no, but the truth is I do. Not because I have a hunger for success, but because I always hope I hit all the right notes! I want each book to reach the readers, to speak to them. I hope they’re emotionally involved. I hope they laugh and cry and get angry, relieved, worried, excited, and, most of all, completely satisfied.
I’ve recently embraced flipping between the audio version and the e-version of books, and I love that we live in a time in which this is possible. What’s your favorite way of reading these days?
I really love all media, but the one major change is space. Seriously. Now I’m able to read everything digitally (unless someone gifts me with a print copy), but I only buy print copies of books I know I must have in my library. Through digital and audiobooks I can download and read or listen and own those books forever without running out of space to store them. I used to pack several books for travel; now I take my ereader and smartphone and still have room for clothes and shoes in the bag. And I still keep an impressive library of beautiful books at home—all the most beloved books.