Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Interview with Robyn Carr, Author of The Family Gathering + Giveaway (US only)

I'd like to welcome Robyn Carr to the blog today to celebrate the exciting release of the 3rd installment of the Sullivan's Crossing series, The Family Gathering from MIRA, a Harlequin imprint!

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.

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 just hit shelves yesterday:

An exceptional storyteller, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr beautifully captures the emotionally charged, complex dynamics that come with being part of any family. Readers will laugh and shed a few tears as they discover what it means to be loved, supported and accepted by the people who mean the most.

Having left the military, Dakota Jones is at a crossroads in his life. With his elder brother and youngest sister happily settled in Sullivan’s Crossing, he shows up hoping to clear his head before moving on to his next adventure. But, like every visitor to the Crossing, he’s immediately drawn to the down-to-earth people and the seemingly simple way of life.

Dakota is unprepared for how quickly things get complicated. As a newcomer, he is on everyone’s radar—especially the single women in town. While he enjoys the attention at first, he’s really only attracted to the one woman who isn’t interested. And spending quality time with his siblings is eye-opening. As he gets to know them, he also gets to know himself and what he truly wants.

When all the Jones siblings gather for a family wedding, the four adults are drawn together for the first time in a way they never were as children. As they struggle to accept each other, warts and all, the true nature and strength of their bond is tested. But all of them come to realize that your family are the people who see you for who you really are and love you anyway. And for Dakota, that truth allows him to find the home and family he’s always wanted.

When the book opens, Dakota has been keeping his distance from his family for a number of years, both because he’s been serving in the military and also because of his wandering, lone wolf nature. What is it that ultimately makes him want to reconnect with his siblings and settle down a bit?

He hasn’t had a lot of time for visiting, obviously, and he didn’t rely on his family, though he cared about his siblings and stayed in touch, but once he got out of the Army he decided to visit his brother and sister since they were both in the same Colorado town. He could immediately see they had built stable, functional lives for themselves, a long way from the way they all grew up. They had formed solid relationships. The people they associated with her also stable and functional. It seemed like a good idea to stay a few months to see if he could find stability and happiness of his own so he gets a job. No sooner does the idea form than he meets Sidney Shandon, a bartender in her brother’s pub, and he is immediately taken with her. Besides being pretty, he recognizes her intelligence, humor and independent nature. She is adamant that she won’t date which might even add to the intrigue.

Can you tell us a little about the title of the book? What does it mean for Dakota, and what can readers expect from this particular family gathering?

The Jones siblings are members of a fractured family, having gone their separate ways and built their individual lives as best they can, going off in different directions. Now, with Dakota’s arrival, three of the four of them live in the same town and they begin to get to know each other for the first time in years. They’re very different from the kids who grew up in a converted school bus on their grandmother’s farm. Twenty years later they’ve all changed and they’ve each had to make peace with their childhood traumas. And in getting to know each other as adults, they begin to accept and respect each other, warts and all. Dakota had never counted on his family, they had never counted on him, but all that is about to change.

Sullivan’s Crossing is such a special setting for this series—what’s your favorite part of writing about this town, and do you discover new things about it with each new book?

Colorado really has it all—quaint small towns like Timberlake, the fictional town nearest Sullivan’s Crossing, big cities like Denver and Colorado Springs, chi-chi expensive skiing towns, lots of cattle land and the majestic Rockies. I’ve been building the town since the first book and new people and businesses keep popping up, new stories and characters to explore. In The Family Gathering we meet the amazing Sidney Shandon and her brother who owns the pub where she tends bar. The wildlife is amazing – elk everywhere, sometimes crowding the streets! It’s a wonderful place for outdoorsy types to hike and camp—the beauty of the mountains holds dangers, giving the place that edge of excitement. I can’t wait to see who I meet next. Would you have expected a stalker in Timberlake or Sullivan’s Crossing? Anything can happen!

One of our favorite new characters in this book is Sidney, the wildly intelligent Sullivan’s Crossing bartender who catches Dakota’s eye. What can you tell readers about her character?

Ah, Sid. She’s a PhD in quantum physics, but she doesn’t share that with the good folks of Timberlake. After a crushing divorce, she needs time to be Just Sid, someone who can have ordinary friends, do a regular job, get strong again. So, she has been living with her brother Rob, the single father of two teenage boys. He owns the pub where she tends bar, where most of the patrons know each other, where all the first responders like to stop for dinner. She has taken a break from the UCLA computer lab to massage her personality and form friendships; she has, as a bartender, developed a wicked quick wit. And she doesn’t have any interest in dating. Another relationship or, God Forbid, marriage is just too risky. The way her 7 year marriage ended just about killed her. And she’s very happy living with her nephews, working with her brother. Of course this refusal to date makes her all that much more desirable to Dakota. Did I mention Dakota is hot? Getting a date has never been a problem... till Sid.

By the way, Sid has these stunning though secret credentials and Dakota’s job? He’s driving a garbage truck for the county. They are both, in their private ways, so defiant. I love that.

You’ve penned over 40 novels—many of them debuting at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list!—throughout your impressive career. Where do you get your ideas, and what helps to keep you feeling inspired after all these years?

If you’re focused and always thinking about the story, ideas miraculously come. At least once in every book I think I’ve finally tapped out, that I have no ideas left. Two hours or two days later, I know what to do. I think working everyday generates that. I demand a lot of myself, I work hard, but my writing is my companion—I’d be so lost without it. It’s my best friend and confidant, it’s more than a job or pastime. It’s where I live out my dreams and fears and hopes for the world. I have a chance to create the kind of world I’d like to live in, where people are good to each other and angry and evil people are rejected.

I am inspired because I want to be inspirational. And I learned a long time ago to never underestimate the power of gratitude. When I find myself becoming cynical or ungrateful I write about people who, no matter how stiff and difficult the obstacles, forge ahead. I get to create characters who deserve happiness. Their journey is never easy but so worth the battle. Can you think of a better job? I can’t.


What’s next for you?

I’m at work on the 4th Sullivan’s Crossing novel right now and let me tell you, there are some lovely surprises in store for my readers. There is so much love being negotiated that it seems as if Cupid shot an arrow right into Sullivan’s Crossing. The central characters are two that were just introduced in The Family Gathering but all your favorite characters—California, Maggie, Sierra, Connie, and Sully of course—will be back, all up in each other’s business as ever. We don’t have a title yet but it will be released in January 2019. Then in the spring of 2019 another stand alone women’s fiction, also untitled.

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 Family Gathering—woohoo! To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
When is the last time you had a large family gathering? How did it go?
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! :)

Over the winter, I went on a trip to Vietnam with my entire mom's side of the family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins). It was extremely fun!

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 May 2nd 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!