Spotlight & Giveaway: What We Find by Robyn Carr

Posted April 4th, 2016 by in Blog, Spotlight / 48 comments

Today it is my pleasure to Welcome author Robyn Carr to HJ!

Join Robyn Carr, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Virgin River and Thunder Point series, as she explores the healing powers of rural Colorado in a brand-new story of fresh starts, budding relationships and one woman’s journey to finding the happiness she’s long been missing.


The setting of WHAT WE FIND is an actual place—set in the mountains of Colorado at a point in the Continental Divide Trail where people are constantly coming and going. What was it about this landscape that appealed to you? How did it shape the characters while you were writing?

What-We-FindI’m fascinated by long distance hikers, for one thing, and the Continental Divide Trail at 3100 miles, is the longest trail in America, longer than the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest trail, and the challenge, which would take six months over snow covered mountains, staggers the mind. There’s more – the Colorado Trail which runs the across the whole state, converges with the CDT for 200 miles. The state is covered with challenging trails, but there’s more going on there – there’s rock climbing, skiing, ice sailing, boating, fishing, all manner of sports and pastimes in the beauty of the Rockies. But the through hikers, those who would be on the trail for months, fascinated me the most, and the CDT draws them. Some hike and camp for a few days, a few weeks, maybe a few months, and the seriously brave or crazy walk from Mexico to Canada. I didn’t really feel like writing about a long hike, but I really wanted to recreate a setting that served as a stopping off camp for those hikers; I wanted to write about the people who created and maintained that space. I was specifically interested in a couple of characters who found themselves in the same camp for the duration of a summer that could change their lives forever.

The Rockies are breathtakingly beautiful. Also adventurous, sometimes perilous, rough and cold, yet beckoning. The people who live in their shadow have many challenges – there’s a price to live in that unrivaled beauty. The threat of avalanche or wildfire; possible floods with the melting of the snowpack. There are wildlife issues not to mention just getting lost back there in the wilderness.

My two main characters fit the landscape and the challenges so perfectly. There’s Dr. Maggie Sullivan, a brilliant and extraordinary neurosurgeon whose life has been turned upside down by a legal battle stemming from a catastrophic night in the ER when she held the lives of five teenage boys in her hands. And California Jones, a drifter, a wanderer and an amazingly beautiful and insightful man struggling with a dark tragedy of his own. For two people who are at a crossroads, trying to figure out the rest of their lives, there’s nothing like the challenge and beauty of the Rockies to show them what they’ve got.

There’s something special about Maggie. She’s a talented neurosurgeon and extremely competent and professional, and yet she’s fragile, too. What inspired her character? How did you balance her strengths with her insecurities?

I know women like Maggie, women who work in a mostly male dominated profession or world, women who are expected to never show vulnerability and yet, if they did life without vulnerability, they’d be lousy at it. They’d be hard and insensitive and unyielding. That’s why Maggie hides to cry – if she didn’t cry, she’d be another kind of woman, and not the kind I’d be rooting for. I remember a congresswoman who was highly criticized as not being tough enough for the job because she cried, yet the Speaker of the House is mopping up his tears all the time – and people call him sensitive. So, my Maggie, oh how I love her – she’s brilliant and gifted and in her specialty she can suffer through some spectacularly painful losses – so she finds an isolated stairwell in the hospital to cry when she has to cry. So the boys won’t see her.

My son helped with some medical research because he’s a surgeon. He read the manuscript and said, “She can’t be crying. omeone is going to tell her she’s not neurosurgery material if she’s going to cry.” And I said, “My point. Thus the stairwell.”

We must bring everything to our performance – that’s the A-game. We must be strong and intelligent and brave and heroic. We must also be soft, sensitive, vulnerable and accessible. That’s why I love Maggie so.

California Jones may just be your best male character yet. (Is it ok if we say that?!) Do you ever find yourself falling a little bit in love with the men you write about, and Cal in particular?

I am seriously in love with California Jones. I think he’s going to be remembered as one of the best book boyfriends of all time. He embodies one of the greatest qualities that can be found in a man – he has the courage and intelligence to be gentle. He’s very strong, very tough, indomitable in fact, but those qualities haven’t overpowered his ability to think, to learn, to understand. He’s so convicted in his core values, so confident in his sense of self that he’s able to give the most understanding to those who are hardest to understand. Wrestling a grizzly to the ground might be sexy, but living an authentic life of honesty and integrity takes more long term strength. What he’s able to give to Maggie any woman would lust after – he cares deeply, never wavers, always watches over her, supports her in every imaginable way. He’s a dream, that’s what he is. If I could live out a fantasy, I’d love to be able to just sit and talk with him for hours, hear about his experiences, hear his advice and ideas, listen to him smoothly and calmly share his philosophies and dreams as he comes to understand what to him embodies a life well lived.

Oh, that’s right, I did!

One of Cal’s literary heroes is Atticus Finch. Did Atticus and To Kill a Mockingbird play a role in shaping his character while you were writing?

A: Not while I was writing, long before. However, I did reread To Kill A Mockingbird while I was writing because I wanted to reacquaint myself with Atticus and the amazing man he was. Here was a man fearless enough to not carry a gun but to rely on his values, on his conscience. He stood up to a whole racist town to do the right thing. And as a widowed father, raised his children to learn the value of goodness and fidelity. He had strict boundaries and wasn’t exactly easy on them, though he loved them completely – but to Atticus the value of a good lesson was far more enduring than an hour of comfort. When I read about Atticus for the second or third time, I knew exactly where California Jones got his greatest influence. Actually, I think Atticus is the greatest literary hero in America, the perfect embodiment of a man who is all strength and goodness.


This is a novel about choices. Choices about the future, who we spend our lives with, if we will be happy or not. Cal has a strong influence on Maggie as she’s faced with so many critical choices in her life. When you started writing did you already know how Maggie would deal with everything or did some of her choices, and Cal’s, evolve as you got into the story?

For me, everything evolves as I write. I start with vague ideas, a kind of emotional roadmap that isn’t exactly clear. I knew Maggie was a strong woman who tried to cover her vulnerability and Cal was a brilliant man looking for redemption. Both of them are seeking stability and comfort and a sense of peace in life, and a little true love wouldn’t hurt. But as I write, more is revealed and I have to go back to the beginning to make adjustments so many times you’d think I’d get bored, but I love that aspect of creating a good novel. I don’t remember the exact quote but Stephen King said something like, plotting is like archeology with a pick ax; the real story emerges with the fine brushing away of the dust. (At least that’s how I remember it.) Big chunks of story don’t work nearly as well as small bits, pivotal sentences, subtle discoveries that lead up to major breakthroughs. Try this from the book:

He put his hands on either side of her face, on her cheeks. “Listen to me, Maggie. I’m going to explore this summer. But I won’t leave you without saying goodbye. We’ll make love, we’ll laugh, we’ll play and when the weather is warm enough so I’m not caught in some damn avalanche, I’m going up the trail to the divide. I’ve been dying for two things. You and that trail. You most.”
“You promise?”
“Yes. Even though I have a bad track record with promises.”
“You break them?” she asked.
“They usually break me,” he said.


Family is a strong theme throughout WHAT WE FIND. Both Maggie and Cal find themselves navigating their pasts and their roles in their families as adults. Do you think men and women deal with their families differently? How important is family to both of them and how does it shape them as characters?

Undoubtedly they do, but I’d be at a loss to explain how because people are so individual. But women probably struggle with trying to make positive family connections because they have historically been the ones left in charge of relationships in general. And of the four existential fears of man (meaning humans) isolation and meaninglessness are two of the great fears. Family represents a connectedness more than biology of DNA. Maggie is trying to understand her place in her odd little family of one mother and two fathers and what roles they played in the woman she’s become while Cal is trying to come to terms with the fact that his family represents a threat to his very chromosomes – his father is schizophrenic. Not only is that situation hard to manage, it’s possibly hereditary. And yet for both of them, probably because of human nature alone, they seek that connection. They both want to make a family; they are both afraid to take that risk for reasons very individual to each of them.

If there were one thing you would want your readers to take from this book, what would it be?

I’d like readers to feel like they’ve been a part of an amazing experience with unforgettable characters. verything will be all right in the end and if is not yet all right, it is not yet the end – The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

You are known for your bestselling series. Do you think WHAT WE FIND will have a follow-up?

I think it’s obvious it will have a follow up, it’s just not obvious who will star in leading roles – I’ve left a number of people with conflicts yet to be resolved.


Thanks for blogging at HJ!


Giveaway: Print copy of WHAT WE FIND


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Leave a comment to this Q: Do you think men and women deal with their families differently? Why?

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Book Info:

Between the urban bustle of Denver and the high-stress environment of a career in neurosurgery, Maggie Sullivan has hit a wall. When an emergency high-risk procedure results in the death of a teenager, Maggie finds herself in the middle of a lawsuit—and experiencing levels of anxiety she’s never faced before. She knows she needs to slow down before she burns out completely, and the best place she can think to do that is Sullivan’s Crossing.

Named for Maggie’s great-grandfather, the land and charming general store at the crossroads of the Colorado and the Continental Divide Trails have been passed down through the generations and now belong to Maggie’s eccentric father, Sully. When she shows up unannounced, he welcomes her with open arms, and she relishes the opportunity to indulge in his simple way of life.

But shortly after arriving, Maggie’s world is rocked once again and she must take on more responsibility than she’d planned. Though she’s relieved a quiet and serious-looking hiker, Cal Jones, is willing to lend a hand, Maggie is suspicious of this mysterious man’s eagerness to help—until she finds out the true reason for his deliberate isolation.

Though Cal and Maggie each struggle with loss and loneliness, the time they spend together gives Maggie hope for something brighter just on the horizon…if only they can learn to find peace and healing—and perhaps love—with each other.

Meet the Author:

Robyn Carr Robyn Carr is a RITA(r) Award-winning, #1 “New York Times bestselling” author of more than forty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr s website at


48 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: What We Find by Robyn Carr”

  1. janinecatmom

    I think it has to do with the way we are brought up. I wasn’t close with my family then and still not. My husband was always close with his family and they still are.

  2. Romance Reader Enthusiast

    I can definitely say that I have first hand knowledge of this. All my brothers left home and I was left to take care of my parents as they aged, got sick, and passed away. They got to spread their wings and become adults and I got to stay home and become the parent. My dad is now working on making it to 88 and we are taking a vacation for the first time in 14 years. He’s had some recent health issues and I thought that I wanted him to have one happy memory instead of thinking about his health all the time. It may sound resentful and at times it is because after my dad passes away what am I left with. I have no husband and no children. All I’ll have is my friends and my work.

  3. Patricia B.

    I do think they deal with them in different ways. Women tend to be the ones who have to keep the home and family together. They are the ones who do the primary dat to day discipline and organize things (of course with more stay at home dads, that is changing). Dads are there for the big events, serious discipline, and sometimes more of the fun activities. It is a partnership that can be very one-sided or work wonderfully.
    I think usually men expect kids to follow directions and do as they are told and forget about the follow-up. Children are not little adults and don’t always follow directions without monitoring. There is a reason mom have “eyes in the back of their heads” – they know it doesn’t work that way and most kids will try to get away with what they can.

  4. glam009

    depend how close are with the family…. I have the fortune to have a close relationship with my family and my brother and sister we are close…. but is not the case with my cousin, …my cousin we barely see each other and he does´n go to the family celebration… just 1 or 2 times a year.. is sad… because several time my brother and sister invite him and family…

  5. lani

    hi, i think it depends how they are with their family, for me, i have a good relationship with my family, and my hubby too.

  6. lorrainereads

    I think it really depends on the person there are some people whether they are male or female that would rather avoid confrontation with family or the people that love the confrontation and maybe even thrive on it. There are also those people male or female who would rather pretend they don’t have a family. or the people who are special occasion families.

  7. Kate Sparks

    Circumstances play a lot into it. There’s still a lot of ‘a son is your son until he takes a wife and a daughter is yours all of her life.’ attitude. But in my experience, generally the daughters are the caretakers not the sons.

  8. Debbi Wellenstein

    I think men and women do deal differently with their families-I think women are more concerned with relationships than men are.

  9. debby236

    Men and women are not raised the same. They do tend to families differently but the gap is slowly closing.

  10. Sue C

    Yes, I think women have more patience sometimes and pick up on how a person feels emotionally.

  11. kermitsgirl

    I think it depends on life experiences. My husband speaks to his parents at least every other day, and I talk to my parents maybe once a month – which is the total opposite of most of our friends.

  12. Marianne W

    Men and women definitely deal differently with family and family issues. It actually is a good thing. It brings balance to a relationship, as well as support.

  13. Ann

    Yes, I think women talk to their family members more often and try to remain close even after they start their own family.

  14. Laurice McClung

    I think everyone deals with their family differently based on the role they play in those families.

  15. kim hansen

    Yes. Some are more stricked and some are very laxed with how they handle the family.

  16. jodi marinich

    i also agree that everyone treats family differently….depends on the family itself

  17. Leanna

    oh yes I sure do believe this. I feel like much more is expected from women than men when it comes to families. We seem to be more patient, tolerant, full time parents……and so on.

  18. Mandy R

    I don’t think gender has anything to do with it. Every person deals with family differently.

  19. Nancy Luebke

    Yes, some women tend to be natural caretakers, but in the end, both need to share the responsibility.

  20. Emily Stemp

    I think it has to do with the way we are brought up. i think it has to do how you were raised. and how close your family is

  21. BookLady

    I think men and women deal with their families differently. They have different perspectives on relationships.

  22. Terri C.

    Yes, they definitely deal with family differently. I’m not sure I could say why exactly.

  23. Amanda Thompson

    Yes but I think it all depends on the values that have been instilled as a person grows up. We see my father’s side of the family (extended family included) more than we see my mothers. I also have a feeling if anything ever happened to my parents, I would be the one to care for them.

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