The Husband's Secret
by Liane Moriarty
by Gillian Flynn
The Best Man
by Kristan Higgins
The Perfect Match
by Kristan Higgins
When Beauty Tamed
by Eloisa James
Rumor Has it
by Jill Shalvis
by Kathleen Windsor
Now that Robyn Carr has earned the #1 slot on the New York Times list many times, the creator of the wildly popular Virgin River and Thunder Point series laughs when someone refers to her as an overnight success.
“The truth is, I was first published in 1978, and it took me thirty years to make it to The New York Times bestseller List,” she pointed out, referring to 2007’s A Virgin River Christmas.
But once Robyn became that popular, she stayed that popular. When Bring Me Home for Christmas, the 16th Virgin River novel, was released in November 2011, it debuted in the #1 slot not just on the New York Times roster, but also on the Barnes & Noble and Publishers Weekly lists as well. Her last seven books, including her three 2013 Thunder Point novels, have all earned the coveted #1 New York Times slot the first week on sale. Her newest milestone: The Hero, her September 2013 Thunder Point novel, debuted in the #1 position on seven national bestseller lists: USA Today, Publishers Weekly, New York Times Mass-market Fiction, New York Times eBook Fiction, New York Times Combined Print/eBook Fiction, the Wall Street Journal, and Bookscan.
After thirty-plus years of hard work, life is very, very good for the Las Vegas author who began writing when her two children were babies.
Those who try to explain Robyn’s “sudden” success might say it was because she was on the leading edge of a trend toward small-town romances. The truth is, Robyn’s Virgin River and Thunder Point series, like her earlier Grace Valley books, are a blend of romance and women’s fiction—books that not only entertain but also address sensitive issues, such as domestic violence, health risks and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anything that can compromise a woman’s happiness because she’s female. And there’s no denying that Robyn has a way with words. Her voice is unique and takes her readers into the hearts and minds of the brave men and women who have served in the military, into the families left behind, and into those who confront challenges head-in in their search for love and fulfillment.
Surprisingly, Robyn didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. She had planned to become a nurse. She married her high school sweetheart four weeks before he left for Air Force Officer’s Training School at the peak of the Vietnam War. Because she found herself following Jim from base to base, Robyn never had a chance to pursue nursing. Her husband worked long hours and often traveled. To pass the time Robyn read. When doctors instructed her to stay down and keep her feet up during a complicated pregnancy, her neighbor began bringing her ten paperbacks a week.
“I was reading more than one a day. Nothing short of labor pains could snap me out of it,” Robyn said.
Since the books she’d been devouring were by Anya Seton, Kathleen Woodiweiss and Rosemary Hawley Jarmen, Robyn says it only made sense that her first efforts to write were in the historical romance genre as well.
There was no training program available at the time for writing romance. At the first writers’ conference Robyn attended—back in 1976—a novelist who wrote in a different genre critiqued Robyn’s third manuscript and suggested she go home and find something to do for which she had talent.
That same manuscript was published in hardcover two years later as Chelynne, a novel which Robyn has reissued as an e-book. Her second manuscript was eventually published as well. But Robyn says her first was simply a tool for learning and will remain buried and “never seen by human eyes.”
Robyn has always written about strong women, no matter the period in which they live. For the first fifteen years of her career she wrote romance, the early books of which were all historical, but later included contemporaries. Needing a change, she branched out and wrote a thriller, which she said she’ll never do again because, for her, it was too creepy. She also tried her hand at non-fiction and what she smilingly describes as “several brilliant but as yet unsold screenplays,” in addition to articles and short stories.
“I jumped all over the place, not really aware that I was working on reinventing myself and redesigning my craft,” she says. “I began to develop my own brand of women’s fiction, a style that most closely resembles my take on life. I want to laugh through a book, but I don’t want a book that’s a big laugh. As a reader I want to have a genuinely good time, but I don’t want the book to be a joke. I want real women’s issues, real humor and teeth in the story.”
She says that reading is important because people need a safe place to deal with the emotions they’re stuck with, and a book is a safe place to do that. She believes there’s great value in her novels dealing with real issues in a realistic manner.
Robyn’s settings are so richly drawn they function like characters. Virgin River—a fictional town in the rugged, remote Humboldt County of northern California—is a location that Robyn describes as a brave and adventurous spot.
“It’s not a cute and easy place to live,” Robyn explained. “It calls on my characters’ deepest sense of adventure to live there.”
Asked if she’d enjoy living in Virgin River, Robyn’s quick to say that even if it were a real spot, she’d never move there.
“I have an overwhelming need to live in a place where I can get my eyebrows waxed,” she explains.
After writing twenty Virgin River stories, Robyn is now taking her readers into another fictional community, a picturesque coastal town on the Oregon coast she calls Thunder Point. Like her Virgin River novels, the Thunder Point books will make readers laugh, sigh, and fall in love: with a small town filled with people they’ll never forget. In addition to 2013ís The Wanderer, The Newcomer and The Hero, Thunder Point novels on Robynís schedule are three 2014 titles, The Chance (March), The Promise (July), and The Homecoming (September).
Robyn and her husband enjoy traveling, often taking research trips together. Their son and daughter are grown. 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.