Q: The book opens with Emma Shay moving back home to California from New York after her financier husband is revealed to be running a massive Ponzi scheme and commits suicide. How much was the premise of this book inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal, and what kind of research did writing this story involve?
A: I asked myself, what would it be like to be Mrs. Madoff? So of course I had to read about it – it turned out to be much more sordid and shameful in Bernie’s case than anything I had imagined. I wanted to create a character who was every bit as victimized as her late husband’s clients and that character was Emma. But the story was more about a relationship between two 35-year-old women whose friendship fell apart when they were young. The question is – how does Emma repair all the damage she suffered when she married a crook?
Q: Emma and Riley are both people who have suffered betrayals and trauma in their romantic relationships. What makes Emma so open to finding love again, and what makes Riley so wary of it? Was it fun to write the two different sides of that coin?
A: I think Emma is surprised to find love and with, of all people, an old friend who she feels safe with. She was so alone in her marriage, so unloved and neglected. Riley, on the other hand, sees falling in love as a danger – the one and only time she fell for someone it destroyed her cherished friendship and left her adrift in a very difficult world as a single mother.
It was much more fun to write about a lost friendship than it is to live it! Everyone has had the experience of being dumped by a best friend and it’s horribly painful. And there’s always two sides to every story but we’re usually so determined to be right, we never try to understand the other side of the story. In this book I get to look at both of their perspectives without prejudice and it’s something to learn from. And I think the reader, like the writer in this case, will wonder to the very last page if they can resume their friendship.
Q: Can you talk a little about the title of the book? How did you come up with it, and what do you think it means to find the life you want?
A: The title was my editor’s suggestion and I love it.
I think it’s the lucky person who finds she’s living the life she wants. During my personal struggles I always ask myself if there’s anyone I would trade places with and invariably there is no one whose life I’d trade for mine. I’ve been rich, I’ve been poor, I’ve been lonely or overwhelmed with friends – my life hasn’t been perfect but what could I change and still remain who I am? My struggles were usually my opportunities, even if it’s hard to see it that way at the time.
What it means to find the life you want is to live authentically. To be true to yourself.
Q: You’re known for your fantastic book series—at every event you do people beg you to write more Virgin River and Thunder Point books! Does this novel have any characters that you want to explore in future books? If not, what was it like working on a self-contained story like this, and how does writing a standalone novel differ from, say, writing the first book of a planned series?
A: I love both – the stand alone and the series. In the stand alone novel there is a beginning, middle and end and there’s no continuing story. There’s a reason I don’t write about these same people up to their death. Novels are about conflict. A reunion story, as so many of my readers suggest, is about a lot of people in the process of living happily ever after and it’s very sweet, and very boring. Once my characters have reached their satisfactory happily ever after, we should be able to imagine them living contentedly, without great conflict. We don’t really want to see these beloved characters who have become friends struggle endlessly – that becomes frustrating and we’ll ask ourselves “Why can’t they get a handle on their lives?”
What I love about the standalone is that a specific set of challenges has been overcome and there should be satisfaction. Now the rest of their lives belongs to the reader and the reader’s imagination.
Q: We have to ask, what’s next for you? What are you working on right now?
A: I’m at work on the second Sullivan’s Crossing novel, no title yet. It should be ready soon and out the beginning of April 2017.
Title: The Life She Wants by Robyn Carr
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 352 pages
#1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr brings together a poignant novel with a rich tapestry of characters. A moving story that will leave the reader laughing and crying, as two friends confront their pasts and move towards their futures.
In the aftermath of her financier husband’s suicide, Emma Shay Compton’s dream life is shattered. Richard Compton stole his clients’ life savings to fund a lavish life in New York City and, although she was never involved in the business, Emma bears the burden of her husband’s crimes. She is left with nothing.
Only one friend stands by her, a friend she’s known since high school, who encourages her to come home to Sonoma County. But starting over isn’t easy, and Sonoma is full of unhappy memories, too. And people she’d rather not face, especially Riley Kerrigan.
Riley and Emma were like sisters—until Riley betrayed Emma, ending their friendship. Emma left town, planning to never look back. Now, trying to stand on her own two feet, Emma can’t escape her husband’s reputation and is forced to turn to the last person she thought she’d ever ask for help—her former best friend. It’s an uneasy reunion as both women face the mistakes they’ve made over the years. Only if they find a way to forgive each other—and themselves—can each of them find the life she wants.
Read my review HERE.
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“I’m frequently asked what it is about my stories that make them so popular. I think it’s
the sense of community and that combination of romance and women’s fiction,” says author Robyn Carr. “I’m naturally drawn to strong, capable female characters, and when I begin a story, I ask myself, ‘What is she up against?’ It’s very empowering to read about women like ourselves as they resolve the issues that threaten their happiness and peace of mind. It’s also empowering to watch smart women choosing and falling in love with men of honor and integrity.” The author of more than 40 novels, Robyn reaches a wide audience with her writing. In addition to her touching novels, she’s written historical and contemporary romance, as well as a gripping thriller. “This is the best job I’m ever going to get wearing pajamas,” she says of her writing career.
Originally from Minnesota, Robyn and her family have seen much of the country, thanks to her husband, Jim, and his career in aviation. After the two high school sweethearts married, Jim joined the air force. They’ve lived in Texas—all four corners—Alabama, Florida, California, Utah, Arizona and Nevada.
The couple moved to Henderson, Nevada, so Jim could explore a new business opportunity. “At first, being a Midwest girl at heart, I said, ‘Oh, no, not another desert!’ It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beauty of Nevada—and the unrivaled spectacle of Las Vegas!”
Robyn well remembers how she began her career as an author more than 25 years ago. “I was trained as a nurse but found it impossible to get work because my husband was constantly being transferred. At the time, I was reading a lot of genre fiction for the sheer entertainment value, and I thought to myself, ‘I can write this!’”
And how was her first foray into the world of literature received? “It was universally panned. I thought I had written Gone with the Wind, but in actuality it was complete trash.” In fact, it was on her third try that Robyn finally succeeded in becoming a published author.
Now that Robyn’s two children are grown—and finally out of the house—she has the luxury of a little free time. “Until my kids grew up, I didn’t realize that a person could have hobbies other than laundry,” she jokes. But it turns out not to be hobbies that keep Robyn busy when she isn’t writing— she has found her niche in community service.
She has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book club chats in and out of state whenever possible and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fund-raising and visiting-author events that bring writers, their books and the community together. “It is the people in my life that fill the well,” she says. “Especially the people who share my love for books and writing.”