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April 15, 2014 Contest Winners: The Spinebreakers Meet Robyn Carr, Author of FOUR FRIENDS

Posted by Nate

 As the winners of the contest selected  to have dinner with Robyn Carr and discuss her latest book, FOUR FRIENDS, The Spinebreakers book group had their monthly book club meeting last Friday evening at The Monaco Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Joining Robyn, who was a wonderful host for the discussion, was her daughter Jamie. FOUR FRIENDS touched on many different subjects, and it was difficult for the group to talk about them all while containing their excitement at having the author sitting across the table from them. They were trying their best not to cause Robyn to resort to taking a big dose of Dramamine as they were lobbing question after question at her from every side of the table and, heaven forbid, asking numerous questions all at the same time.

The Spinebreakers: Needless to say, we LOVE Robyn Carr. She was so comfortable to be with and so incredibly gracious and kind to us (not to mention patient). She was very forthcoming about her writing style and her daily writing routine. She shared with us how she writes, and she explained how she develops her characters and stories. Robyn spoke about her earlier days as an author, her friends (who are also authors) and how they support each other. We all learned so much regarding what authors today go through and how the publishing process works.

Sitting across the table from Robyn and Jamie was like sitting down to a very nice dinner with a friend who is so interesting and fun that by the end of the night you've forgotten that your paths will more than likely never cross again. On the way home you realize you didn't ask half the questions you had planned to ask, and you feel sad that the evening has ended. It really was such a special evening, really quite magical. The dinner was fabulous, and Robyn has won us completely over…not that we weren't already won over after reading her book! Can you tell us a little bit about your book group, the Spinebreakers?

The Spinebreakers: Our book club has been in existence for 20 years, with member's coming and going. We have two original members still attending, and I believe our most recent member has been with us for two years. We have nine members who range in age from early thirties to early sixties. We have members with grown children who have lives of their own and members whose children are only in their first year of school. Two of our members are stay at home moms, the other seven members work and all have very different and interesting careers. We don't normally see each other outside of our monthly meetings, so when we do get together we are very excited to get caught up on each other's lives. We are always very supportive of each other. I believe the diversity of our group allows us to have very interesting discussions regarding the books we read.

RGG: Can you share with us some of the highlights of the evening?

The Spinebreakers: Well, Robyn brought her daughter Jamie to our evening at The Hotel Monaco and we all felt it was very special. First off, Jamie is a very interesting woman in her own right, and it was so special to see what a close bond Robyn has with her daughter. We really appreciated that Robyn felt comfortable sharing the personal side of herself with us. Also, we were so comfortable with Robyn. She was so incredibly honest and thoughtful towards our questions and in explaining the writing and publishing process. We ended the evening feeling like we had made two new friends.

RGG: What were some of the topics you discussed with Robyn?

The Spinebreakers: We of course discussed Robyn's new book FOUR FRIENDS. We tried to figure out which of the characters in the book most resembled ourselves. We talked about the special friendships women and families can forge when kids are young and how special those friendships are. We also touched on how much harder it is to forge friendships like those as you get older. We talked about the different characters in the book and how they reacted and dealt with different issues. As a whole, we felt the issues raised in the book were relevant to those we had dealt with or witnessed in our own lives.

RGG: FOUR FRIENDS is a book that celebrates female friendship, while still emphasizing independent growth. Did you and your group members identify with that?

The Spinebreakers: We all felt that the issues brought up in the book were very realistic, and we felt the ways that characters worked through issues were well portrayed.

RGG: Did you come away from your discussion with any new insights into the book?

The Spinebreakers: No, we don't think so. This book was about four friends who truly love and care about each other, they are very honest with each other about what they are going through each step of the way. If anything, it might have just reminded us how really special the friendships we have as women are. Friendships like those in FOUR FRIENDS are not easy to find.

RGG: Do you think the book works well for book groups? If so, why?

The Spinebreakers: I think it's an excellent book for book groups. There are so many issues going on within the story that a book group could spend hours discussing them, and I'm sure everyone would have a different opinion on what they would have done differently or how they would react to those situations happening to them or their loved ones.

RGG: I believe this is the first time that your group has met with an author, as part of your discussion. What suggestions do you have for book groups who have an author join them at their meeting?

The Spinebreakers: We actually had dinner with an author many years ago while on a book club retreat. She was doing a book signing at a book store in the town we were staying in, and we asked if she would like to join us for dinner after her signing, which she did. But this was the first organized evening we have ever had with an author. I would tell other groups who might be lucky enough to have an author join them to expect to have fun! Think about questions you have always wanted to ask an author (and try to remember to ask them!), have a good time and relax because you really are in for such a treat.

RGG: We see your group has a website. What made you decide to build it? And how did you go about creating it? Who updates it?

The Spinebreakers: Yes, we are so incredibly lucky to have a website that we can all refer to no matter where we are. Years ago our book club member Leslie asked the rest of the members what we thought about having a website. Leslie had just created one for her and her husband's business, and she thought a book club website would be a great way to archive our meetings and all the various books we have read over the years. Unfortunately, Leslie moved three years ago to Arizona but another one of our talented members, Miranda, was able to pick up where Leslie left off. Miranda does a great job of updating our website each month. We also currently have a private Blog for members only where we can have discussions on various topics ranging from where our meetings are taking place, to planning our yearly book club retreats. Our website is something we share with friends and fellow readers who might be interested in some of the books we have read over the years.

We really did have a wonderful time with Robyn, and we are all looking forward to reading more of her books. Some of us have already picked up a new Robin Carr book to read! 

Thank you so much for picking our book club to enjoy such a great evening. It really was a fabulous new memory for our book club!

Image #1 - From left to right: Jane, Elaine, Robin, Jamie, Diana, Robyn Carr, Merilee, Miranda, RaeAnn

Image #2 - From left to right around the table: Robin, Diana, Elaine, Robyn Carr, Jamie, RaeAnn, Miranda, Merilee, Jane

Image #3 - From left to right: Diana, Elaine, Robyn Carr