A Chat with Awards Luncheon Speaker Robyn Carr
You were first published in 1978, and you’ve had more than 45 books published since. What’s inspired you to keep writing throughout the past 30-plus years?
It’s pretty simple — I’m still having a good time. When I started, untrained, I can’t count the number of people who said, “Shouldn’t you begin with a short story or something?” But I didn’t read short stories, I read historical and romance novels. Why would I attempt to write something that wasn’t fun for me to read? So I plunged in and that’s my best advice to this day – write what you love to read.
What is it about the romance genre, especially the small-town contemporary romance, that appeals to you?
I love to work with ensemble casts, whether it’s a town, a family or group of friends. I like groups of people, more than one story, some characters and stories more prominent than others. I’m drawn to a sense of community, of people working together to resolve issues. And the thing I love best about romance is the hopefulness and emotional impact of falling in love, or more to the point, finding and holding on to real love, enduring love. I think it’s what everyone wants – to find that soul mate and partner. Best friend for life. I’m fascinated by how relationships work and how differently they work for every individual. When I meet people I always want to know, “How did you meet your wife?” or “How long have you been best friends with him/her?” etc.
You’re published in print and e-book format with a traditional publisher and have self-published some of your older historical romances. Do you have any plans to self-publish more books in the near future? If so, what about self-publishing appeals to you?
I plan to release more of my historical backlist in digital, yes. My motivation probably isn’t like everyone’s — my early books are quite old and I’ve grown and changed a lot since they were originally published. But I feel very strongly that they should be available, accessible to the readers who want to see them. Out-of-print books can be impossible to find and at a prohibitive cost. And, I don’t intend to rewrite them. They are what they are; that’s what I knew and the limit of my talent and experience 35 years ago. When I’m curious about an author and her history, I don’t want to read one of her 30 year old novels that she rewrote last year! I want to know who she was then and who she is now. It’s very librarian of me, (and I’m not a librarian) but that’s my interest.
You’ve been an RWA member since the 1980's. At this point in your career, what keeps you renewing your membership each year?
I was a member from 1984, I think, to some time in the early 90’s — I won a RITA (then a Golden Medallion ) in '86. I let my membership slack off when I found I wasn’t reading the magazine, attending conferences or meetings and it was because I was giving considerable time to other writer’s groups and attempting to write suspense. But then I was back to my romance roots and back in RWA. With RWA there is always some community of writers who match you in philosophy, process, genre, style, publishing needs and goals. Something for everyone from the contemporary to the historical, from the erotic to the inspirational. It’s fiction primarily for women readers at its best — and it’s the sense of community that draws me. The national convention is also the one place where all the publishing professionals gather every year.
Can you share an instance when a fellow romance author, or a community of romance authors, has provided support or advice that made a difference in your career?
I learn or am inspired by things all the time! Every conference, whether regional or national, gives me something, whether it’s just in conversation in the lobby, coffee shop or bar or something I heard in a workshop or speech. I remember way back, WAY back, when a writer was complaining about not having time to write and Parris Afton Bonds (one of RWA’s founders) said “I have four (or was it five?) sons; I put my typewriter on a TV tray and sit on the edge of the bed and write. If I can manage with all those people, you can manage. Work hard! That’s what you have to do!” Someone always has something to say that lights a fire under me, and I’m so grateful for every small word of encouragement.
Do you have any favorite RWA Conference memories that you can share? Or, what’s the thing you most enjoy about the RWA Conference?
In ’86 I won the Golden Medallion, which is now called the RITA. Back then the winners were told ahead of time and I had a special table for myself and my friends. My husband and some other husbands came. Now think back — this was over 25 years ago. Nora Roberts came over to our table, leaned down and said to me, “This is such a great gimmick, I wish I’d thought of it!” She was holding a pink business card size paper in her hand and on it was printed, With Love From Robyn Carr. Stapled to the back was a condom. A CONDOM! We hadn’t even started writing about them yet!! I shrieked and grabbed it and said, “Where did you get this?” And she very coolly said, “There’s a huge box of them in the lobby.” And one at a time around this table for 12, people pulled identical cards out of their pockets and purses — even my husband! I’ve got mine, they each said. It turned out there were only 12, but seriously — what a gotcha!
What does it mean to you to be the awards luncheon speaker at the 2012 RWA Conference?
Shock and awe. To be asked to speak to this assemblage is not only the highest honor, the expectation of the speaker is enormous. I’ll bet every single speaker since the first national conference has been intimidated by the prospect. To be called upon to encourage and inspire other writers – it’s a very large task and one I hope I can deliver on.