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Archived / Author Q & A's > SPOILER FREE Q& A / Robyn Harding Author of The Swap

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Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
We are excited to have Robyn Harding join us to talk about The Swap


message 2: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Thanks for having me! I'm excited to chat about this twisted tale.


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Welcome, Robyn! Thank you so much for joining us! I look forward to seeing what you have to say about The Swap by Robyn Harding


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
What an exciting and twisted tale!!! How did you come up with the idea for the story? What came first the plot or the idea of the characters?


message 5: by MarilynW (new)

MarilynW (huecotx) | 20 comments Do you have a vision of the characters after the book finishes? How they might continue on in life, despite or because of the things that happened in the story?


message 6: by DeAnn (new)

DeAnn | 19 comments Hi Robyn! I'm curious if you are a potter since you made that a big part of Freya's life on the island. I'll never think of a kiln quite the same way now!


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
So I think you created a fast-paced page-turner here and one of the things that made it one for me was the sense of dread, foreboding and suspense you created by leaving us little tidbits at the end of the chapter that made it impossible not read one more chapter. Right from the end of the first chapter, I knew I need to know more about these Kindred spirits

How did you go about creating and maintaining that?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
I loved how the story was told from a few POVs and we got to see Freya from them. How did you go about capturing their voices and developing them? Did you focus on one character at a time or did you develop them as you writing and they appear in the book?

Why did you choose to leave Freya's POV out?

Do you feel your characters speak to you or hear them in your head as you were writing?


message 9: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn | 3 comments Hi Robyn, I’m interested in Low’s character and why she is a social misfit and became obsessed with the first person to take an interest in her.

Do you attribute it to her unusual appearance, her upbringing in an unusual family where the parents might have been more wrapped up in their lifestyle than looking out for the kids or is there something innate to her personality or mental health?

Low later feels forced to take an action that can never be reversed. Do you think this will haunt her in the future or will she be able to put that behind her and lead a more normal life?


message 10: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn | 3 comments I’m also interested in the way you included social media in the novel. Could you comment on the effect it has on those who get caught up in it and how that feed their personality and behaviour?


message 11: by MarilynW (new)

MarilynW (huecotx) | 20 comments Did you do any research on how children of parents in polyamorous relationships might feel about the situation?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
You create some unlikable fascinating characters here. How important is it to you to create that balance and how did you go about creating them unlikeable yet interesting enough for readers to want to turn the pages to find out what happens to them?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Was there one character that was more fun for you to create or you struggled more with?


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
Hi Robyn! Just finished The Swap and loved it!

I’m wondering if you plan out your books ahead of time or do you start with an idea and then let the characters take you where they want to go?


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
I thought all the characters were so unique and well done! I was fascinated by them and their inner thoughts. What kind of research did you do to come up with these characters?


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
What is your usual writing routine? Do you set writing goals? How long did it take you to write The Swap?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
How important is the setting to you and why did you decide on the setting you used and go about creating it?


message 18: by Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (last edited Jun 30, 2020 07:17AM) (new)

Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
I love that you take some bold and different storylines and create exciting and entertaining page-turners that are fun to read. So we have to mention The Arrangement by Robyn Harding and we did a Q & A with you for it

Tell us a bit about The Arrangement and how you came up with the idea for it

The Q & A can be found here

https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
How has the journey of writing The Swap to the release and now been like for you?


message 20: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "What an exciting and twisted tale!!! How did you come up with the idea for the story? What came first the plot or the idea of the characters?"

I always come up with a plot first. And then I create characters who I want to spend time with, who I want to see endure the crazy twists and turns that I plan to take them through.


message 21: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments marilyn wrote: "Do you have a vision of the characters after the book finishes? How they might continue on in life, despite or because of the things that happened in the story?"

The character I can really see beyond the story is Low. At the end of the novel, she is making some major changes in her life. Despite what she did and what she went through, I see her moving on and having a fairly normal life. She has a friendship. She’s getting an education. I think she might become a very successful artist or photographer.


message 22: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments DeAnn wrote: "Hi Robyn! I'm curious if you are a potter since you made that a big part of Freya's life on the island. I'll never think of a kiln quite the same way now!"

Ha ha! I took a pottery class for three months and I loved it. I wasn’t exactly a natural, but I have two slightly lopsided bowls that I still use. My pottery teacher actually suggested the unique use of the kiln.


message 23: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "So I think you created a fast-paced page-turner here and one of the things that made it one for me was the sense of dread, foreboding and suspense you created by leaving us little tidbits at the en..."

I had never written like that before, and I wasn’t sure it was going to work. In early drafts, I had too many hints, too much foreshadowing, so I pared it down. I really like that story telling quality, where you feel like someone is sitting down with you and recounting what happened. I’m so glad it worked for you!


message 24: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "I loved how the story was told from a few POVs and we got to see Freya from them. How did you go about capturing their voices and developing them? Did you focus on one character at a time or did yo..."

At first, I was going to tell the whole story from Low’s perspective, but I love writing multiple POVs and I knew it would give us greater access into the lives of the characters. I always write profiles for my characters, so I know them pretty well before I even start writing.

I intentionally left out Freya's POV. She is the object of so much desire, anger, and obsession. Seeing her through the eyes of those who alternately love and loathe her, added to her sense of mystery and intrigue. I wanted her to be slightly unknowable, so that she’s as fascinating to the reader as she is to the other characters.

And my characters don't really speak to me, but I do hear their voices as I write. I can see them too!


message 25: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Carolyn wrote: "Hi Robyn, I’m interested in Low’s character and why she is a social misfit and became obsessed with the first person to take an interest in her.

Do you attribute it to her unusual appearance, her ..."


Hi Carolyn. I think Low’s obsessiveness is a combination of all the things you mentioned. She never quite fits in because of her quirky personality, her unique appearance, and her family’s lifestyle. I also think she has some mental health issues that are exacerbated by her parents, who are loving, but distracted by their relationships and their younger children.

As I mentioned above, I do feel like Low will be able to have a fairly normal life. Despite what she went through, and what she did, I feel like she learns and grows a lot. Her “normal” may not look like anyone else’s, but I think it will work for her.


message 26: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Carolyn wrote: "I’m also interested in the way you included social media in the novel. Could you comment on the effect it has on those who get caught up in it and how that feed their personality and behaviour?"

Social media is such a fascinating place to me. I find the online book community to be lovely, but I know there is another side to social media – especially for young, impressionable people. Social media can stoke envy, jealousy, fomo… It’s impossible not to compare oneself to others, when one spends a lot of time online. And for ‘influencers’ the pressure to stay popular and relevant is enormous. I think social media can foster, in some, an insatiable need for attention and adoration.


message 27: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments marilyn wrote: "Did you do any research on how children of parents in polyamorous relationships might feel about the situation?"

My research was purely anecdotal. I know a young person who has a parent in a polyamorous relationship, and I believe it has affected their sexual choices. The young person I know is celibate and this might be due to exposure to the parent’s sex life. But again, this is just an observation.


message 28: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "You create some unlikable fascinating characters here. How important is it to you to create that balance and how did you go about creating them unlikeable yet interesting enough for readers to want..."

I think I might be the queen of unlikable characters. ;) But I write about people going through drama and strife, and it brings out the worst in them. I focus more on keeping them interesting, while trying to throw in some redeeming qualities. Personally, I love reading about unlikable characters, or watching them on TV. Succession is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen and they’re all absolutely horrible!


message 29: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "Was there one character that was more fun for you to create or you struggled more with?"

Low was so much fun to write because she is so unique, and I find her really funny. She’s so young but so cynical and jaded. Jamie was hard to write sometimes because I wanted her to relatable, but she clearly made some suspect choices, and when the chips were down, her ugly side came out.


message 30: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "Hi Robyn! Just finished The Swap and loved it!

I’m wondering if you plan out your books ahead of time or do you start with an idea and then let the characters take you where they want to go?"


Thank you Lindsay! I always start with a kernel of an idea and build a plot from there. I use screenplay structure to create a loose framework, and write from plot point to plot point.


message 31: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "I thought all the characters were so unique and well done! I was fascinated by them and their inner thoughts. What kind of research did you do to come up with these characters?"

I always write detailed profiles for my characters, giving them backstories that inform the decisions they make and they way they act. I did some research into open relations (talking to people with experience in that kind of situation) and looked into influencer culture. When you spend so much time with characters, you start to innately understand how they would act and react.


message 32: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "What is your usual writing routine? Do you set writing goals? How long did it take you to write The Swap?"

I've always been an early morning writer. I used to be spent by about noon, but lately, I seem to be stretching my productivity later through the day. I've tried setting word count goals but I often forget to.

Yesterday, I started the Pomodoro technique. You write for 25 minutes and then take a five minute break, working up to a fifteen minute break. So far, I haven’t managed to do more than two 25 minutes stints, but they were productive stints!


message 33: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "How important is the setting to you and why did you decide on the setting you used and go about creating it?"

I am Canadian but my US editor prefers I set my books in the US. At first, I was a bit upset, but I've found it works quite well. Some of my books make more sense in a large, US city. But The Swap takes place on an unnamed island and I never specifically say whether it is in the US or Canada. I love the Gulf Islands off the coast of BC. And I felt like they were the perfect setting for a sexy, creepy story like this!


message 34: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "I love that you take some bold and different storylines and create exciting and entertaining page-turners that are fun to read. So we have to mention The Arrangement by Robyn Harding and we did..."

The Arrangement is about a young art student in New York, who is behind on her tuition, rent and bills, so she goes online to find a sugar daddy. It’s only supposed to be a couple of dates, just enough money to cover her costs, but she finds herself falling for the handsome older man. But the sugar daddy already has a family, one whom he will protect at all costs. When he ends the relationship with the young woman, things spiral out of control and take a deadly turn.
I got the idea from a newspaper article I read about the number of young women who are working as sugar babies to pay their way through college. At the time, the University of British Columbia, here in Vancouver, had the highest number in the country. I wanted to explore how women can fall into this lifestyle, and how it can all go so wrong.


message 35: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "How has the journey of writing The Swap to the release and now been like for you?"

I had so much fun writing this book. I hadn't written in first person for a long time, and I enjoyed the change/challenge.

I could never have foreseen that I'd be publishing during a pandemic! It has been quite stressful -- though I know there ware much bigger things to worry about right now. The book has still not made its way into some book stores, but the online support has been phenomenal. I'm so grateful to readers and online book groups -- like this one -- for spreading the word!


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Robyn wrote: "Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "How important is the setting to you and why did you decide on the setting you used and go about creating it?"

I am Canadian but my US editor prefers..."


Oh this is now making sense to me. Knowing you are Canadian I was wondering where this unknown island was. I kept wondering where but I did love the sense of unknown because it really added to the characters.


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
I just realized we never really asked you how did you come up with the idea of The Swap. Can you tell us a bit about where the idea came from?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
I just have two more questions to wrap up the Q & A. Please answer them at your pace

What would you like readers to get from this story? Is there anything you would like us to know?


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Are you working on anything now you can share with us?


message 40: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "Robyn wrote: "Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "How important is the setting to you and why did you decide on the setting you used and go about creating it?"

I am Canadian but my US ..."


The island is a bit like Salt Spring, a bit like the Sunshine Coast.


message 41: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "I just realized we never really asked you how did you come up with the idea of The Swap. Can you tell us a bit about where the idea came from?"

There are a handful of people in my orbit who have open relationships. And I've heard that it's quite common with millennials. It got me to wondering how that would work in reality. And of course (because I write thrillers), how could it all go so wrong.


message 42: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "Are you working on anything now you can share with us?"

I'm currently writing a novel about a family who look perfect from the outside: nice home, cars, the kids go to nice schools. One night, some hooligans pelt them with eggs. Then their tires are slashed. As the attacks escalate, the family denies any knowledge of why they're being targeted. But each member of the family has a horrible secret. And it could be the cause of all the harassment.

I'm calling it MISCHIEF.


message 43: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "I just have two more questions to wrap up the Q & A. Please answer them at your pace

What would you like readers to get from this story? Is there anything you would like us to know?"


Many of my books have a common theme.... If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Superficial things don't bring happiness. When people pine for something or someone -- for the wrong reasons -- it rarely goes well. In real life, that probably won't get you murdered, but it just might in a suspense novel!


Brenda ~Traveling Sisters Book Reviews | 401 comments Mod
Robyn wrote: "Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "I just have two more questions to wrap up the Q & A. Please answer them at your pace

What would you like readers to get from this story? Is there a..."


I love that!!!

Thank you so much for spending time with us Robyn and answering our questions. I enjoyed following along and it's such a treat to get your insight into the story! I look forward to your next book


message 45: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Thank you so much for having me! And for all the fun and insightful questions. xx


Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews (lindsaylivi) | 78 comments Mod
Thanks so much for being with us and answering all our questions Robyn! Looking forward to your next book — it sounds fantastic!!!


message 47: by Carolyn (new)

Carolyn | 3 comments Thanks so much for answering all our questions Robyn. It really is fascinating to know about how writers come up with ideas for their books, the characters and the plot and then pull it all together. I really enjoyed Freya and Low - such unique characters. Your next book sounds terrific too - can't wait to read it!


message 48: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Carolyn wrote: "Thanks so much for answering all our questions Robyn. It really is fascinating to know about how writers come up with ideas for their books, the characters and the plot and then pull it all togethe..."

Thank you Carolyn! Have a great day!


message 49: by Robyn (new)

Robyn Harding | 55 comments Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews wrote: "Thanks so much for being with us and answering all our questions Robyn! Looking forward to your next book — it sounds fantastic!!!"

Thanks so much Lindsay!


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