Thursday, September 7, 2017

Interview with Robyn Carr, Author of The Summer That Made Us + Giveaway (continental US only)

I'd like to welcome Robyn Carr to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of The Summer That Made Us from Harlequin MIRA!

Welcome to Books à la Mode, Robyn! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief introduction with us?

Robyn Carr was a young mother of two in the mid-1970s when she started writing fiction, an Air Force wife, educated as a nurse, whose husband’s frequent assignment changes made it difficult for her to work in her profession. Little did the aspiring novelist know then, as she wrote with babies on her lap, that she would become one of the world’s most popular authors of romance and women’s fiction, that 11 of her novels would earn the #1 berth on the New York Times bestselling books list.

Proof of Robyn’s international popularity is also in the numbers. Over the past 17 years, 41 Robyn Carr titles, with collectively 27 million copies in print, have been translated into 19 languages in 30 countries.

Robyn and her now-retired husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their children are grown—her son is an Army surgeon; her daughter, a police detective/hostage negotiator. Robyn says that, in addition to reading her novels and making snide remarks about how she’s used family scenarios to her advantage, they have made her a happy grandmother.


It's amazing to get to feature you today! Readers, here's a bit about the book, which hit shelves just this week:

Mothers and daughters, sisters and cousins, they lived for summers at the lake house until a tragic accident changed everything. The Summer That Made Us is an unforgettable story about a family learning to accept the past, to forgive and to love each other again.

That was then...

For the Hempsteads, summers were idyllic. Two sisters who married two brothers and had three daughters each, the women would escape the city the moment school was out to gather at the family house on Lake Waseka. The lake was a magical place, a haven where they were happy and carefree. All of their problems drifted away as the days passed in sun-dappled contentment. Until the summer that changed everything.

This is now...

After an accidental drowning turned the lake house into a site of tragedy and grief, it was closed up. For good. Torn apart, none of the Hempstead women speak of what happened that summer, and relationships between them are uneasy at best, hurtful at worst. But in the face of new challenges, one woman is determined to draw her family together again, and the only way that can happen is to return to the lake and face the truth.

Robyn Carr has crafted a beautifully woven story about the complexities of family dynamics and the value of strong female relationships.

What made you want to write such a sprawling, multigenerational novel, and what challenges did you encounter while plotting and structuring the story?

That’s what I love—complicated relationships and whether they can be resolved or not. And if they can be resolved, then how? As far as the biggest challenge, the first was, “Whose story is this?” As is typical of my novels, the story usually belongs to more than one person. Writing a story with many points of view is always hard, but in this case it was such a labor of love—the women in this story are nothing short of amazing and each one such a mystery to me. Until they were written out, of course. And then what seemed so unique and mysterious became so much like every woman I know.

Can you tell us a little about the title of the book? Where did it come from, and do you think everyone has a defining summer of youth?

It will be hard to decide whether the summer that made them was that tragic summer long ago or the redeeming summer that brings them all together again. In my mind the characters think that tragic summer that ended their wonderful days at the lake is the summer that shaped the rest of their lives—until they reunite and get to know each other all over again. I think we have many defining moments in the summers of our youth. If you come from a cold, snowy climate like I did growing up, it feels like we slog through the winter months and summer is always a time of rebirth and rejuvenation.

What makes female bonds—familial or otherwise—such a rich topic of exploration in a novel? What was the most rewarding part of developing and digging into these powerful and often complex relationships?

A million years ago when men went off to slay the woolly mammoth, the women were left behind to tend the home fires and, subsequently, took charge of the relationships. Women bond with each other on a deep and complex level. It’s not that they bond on a deeper level than men do (a military band of brothers comes instantly to mind), but they bond differently because women are natural nurturers and because they have always minded the survival of the family and the children and each other, and they have an innate sensitivity and vulnerability to emotions. And because women have such a wide range of personalities and skills, they also have a wide range of dealing with emotional issues. The canvas is very large! A writer of women’s fiction can write as many different female characters as there are females in the world! Finding a new set of characteristics that are not identical to a character already written is the biggest headache and the fiercest joy.

One of our favorite characters is Krista, who has just returned home after a long prison sentence. Having never spent time in prison yourself, did you have to do any research while crafting Krista’s storyline, and what was one of the biggest things you learned from telling her story?

I looked up a few things, did a little reading, but mainly my imagination makes that scenario just terrifying to me. Hard to imagine, isn’t it? Gray and cold and mean. Just surviving it would be astonishing and surviving it well, admirable. I loved writing about Krista. She is an ideal character if ever there was one—her shortcomings took her down about as far as a person could go and her retribution was epic. I left her knowing her life from then on would be wonderful.

What’s next for you? What are you working on right now, and what can readers look forward to next?

I’m writing the next book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. We don’t have a title yet, but we’re close. I’m writing about Dakota Jones, formerly a major in the Army, and let me tell you, he is a good book boyfriend. Yes, he’s at the crossing, with his siblings Cal and Sierra, and he’s stirring up lots of interest. And a little trouble.

Very exciting! Where can you be found on the web?


It was a pleasure to be able to get to know you better today, Robyn! Thank you again for dropping by, and best of luck with future endeavors!

Giveaway!


Books à la Mode is giving away one print copy of The Summer That Made Us—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What was the best part of your summer 2017?
Please make your comment MEANINGFUL. Comments solely consisting of stock responses or irrelevant fluff like "Thanks for the giveaway!" will not be considered for entry. Robyn and I really want to hear your thoughts! :)

A lot happened this summer! I graduated, finished my research apprenticeship, got a job, moved away from my college town, and traveled to Europe. Individually these things weren't a big deal, but put together they kept me busy but productive, just the way I like it!

Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the tour publicist—a huge thank you to the lovely folks over at Little Bird Publicity!
Giveaway ends September 21st at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to continental US residents only—sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar for a list of currently running giveaways that are open worldwide. There are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!