A Conversation with Kaira Rouda
HERE, HOME, HOPE
Though I have not (yet) met Kaira face-to-face, we’ve spent much time online and on the telephone sharing ideas and thoughts on her nonfiction book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED, and encouraging women to find our gifts and talents and share with the world…Now, I feel fortunate to be able to offer a space for Kaira to talk about her first novel, HERE, HOME, HOPE. It has been a dream for Kaira to get her novels published and I’m so excited that the opportunity has come to fruition and this new chapter has begun for her. Kaira is a gifted writer with an unstoppable entrepreneurial spirit, and simply a beautiful individual, inside and out. HERE, HOME, HOPE is an evident expression of her essence and is an inspiring, and entertaining, read. I recommend it, and Kaira, highly and wish her all and ONLY the Best.
Carrie: What inspired you to write HERE, HOME, HOPE?
Kaira: The inspiration for HERE, HOME, HOPE wasn’t one particular instance, it’s more of a continuation of the stories found in all of my novels. This is the first to be published, but hopefully, one of many. My novels have the same underlying theme: Women who have seemingly perfect lives, and what happens behind closed doors or when they are pushed to the breaking point. HERE, HOME, HOPE was influenced by the economy, specifically the complete and utter collapse of the housing market and its ramifications even throughout up-scale suburban communities, like the fictitious Grandville of the book.
Carrie: In general, how does an idea for a book come to you ~ does it perk slowly in your mind or does it come in a flash?
Kaira: My story ideas run around in my mind for quite some time before I start writing. Often, I have several different stories pulsing through and that gets to be confusing. But it’s fun.
Carrie: Give us an idea of the plot of HERE, HOME, HOPE without giving too much away.
Kaira: Kelly Mills Johnson is restless. An appetite for more forces her to take stock of her middling middle-American existence and her neighbors’ seemingly perfect lives. Her marriage to a successful attorney has settled into a comfortable routine, and being the mother of two adorable sons has been rewarding. But Kelly’s own passions lie wasted. She eyes with envy the lives of her two best friends, Kathryn and Charlotte, both beautiful, successful businesswomen who seem to have it all. Kelly takes charge of her life, devising a midlife make-over plan. From page one, Kelly’s witty reflections, self-deprecating humor, and clever tactics in executing that plan—she places Post-it notes all over her house and car—will have readers laughing out loud. The next instant, however, they might rant right along with Kelly as her commitment to a sullen, anorexic teenager left on her doorstep tries her patience or as she deflects the boozy advances of a divorced neighbor. Readers will need to keep the tissue box handy, too, as Kelly repairs the damage she inflicted on a high school friend; realizes how deeply her husband, Patrick, understands and loves her; and ultimately grows into a woman empowered by her own blend of home and career.
Carrie: What is the primary message you’d like your readers to take away from HERE, HOME, HOPE?
Kaira: If the grass looks greener ~ water your own.
Carrie: What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
Kaira: I really like the scenes with Melanie and Kelly – I hope they’re realistic. My house is filled with teenagers right now and it was really important for me to get their interactions right. My daughter, who is Mel’s age in the book, read the manuscript to make sure I got her right.
Carrie: What was the most difficult scene to write? Why?
Kaira: I guess the toughest scenes for me to write are when my characters are suffering. So probably Kathryn leaving, Melanie’s low points, Kelly being attacked, Charlotte in pain.
Carrie: Which character in HERE, HOME, HOPE, do you identify with the most in your book? How much of yourself did you put into these characters and did you realize you showed up in the book? If so, while you were writing or only afterwards upon review?
Kaira: I think there is a piece of me in all of my female characters. Sometimes, it’s more obvious to my friends and family than other times. I really like Kelly. She snorts when she laughs – and I do that!
Carrie: What are you reading right now?
Kaira: I am a voracious readers, so if I answer that question today, I’ll be reading something different tomorrow. I’ve been a huge fan of Susan Isaacs for as long as I can remember, and I like to think of my books, my themes, as heavily influenced by her. If you looked around my office right now, you’d see a world of books.
Carrie: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?
Kaira: My favorite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby mesmerized me from the first time I read it.
Carrie: What is your go-to book–that one you’ve read more than once, possibly over-and-over?
Kaira: A Gift from the Sea.
Carrie: Can you offer a glimpse into your “real life” and share with us a bit of your personal life—Outside of writing, what’s important to you?
Kaira: My husband and four kids are the most important part of my “real life.” Empowering women is another passion, or cause, in addition to writing.
Carrie: Tell us something surprising about you and/or something very few people know about you.
Kaira: My desk chair is an exercise ball.
Carrie: What has been one of your biggest struggles and/or successes (professional/personal) and what have you learned from it?
Kaira: Well, I don’t even know where to start with this. I’ve had a 25 year career in business, working for myself and others, so the struggles have been plenty. I write about many of those in my nonfiction book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. On the personal side, I have been truly blessed.
Carrie: Have you ever had a nickname? Tell us about it.
Kaira: Spaz. Yep, it’s true, that was my high school nickname. I would say that it’s true, I’m enthusiastic. I’ve always believed a smile confuses an approaching frown.
Carrie: Who is your biggest fan?
Kaira: My husband.
Carrie: What was the best advice you’ve ever received—do you follow it?
Kaira: Write down your feelings. And yes, I do.
Carrie: What is your favorite literary turn-of-phrase / quote / word picture?
Kaira: It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.
Carrie: What’s next for you ~ Anything else you’d like to offer?
Kaira: If you like HERE, HOME, HOPE you’ll love IN THE MIRROR, coming next Spring.
Carrie: How do readers get in touch with you?
Kaira: Find me on Facebook at “Kaira Rouda Books;” on twitter: @KairaRouda; and on my website www.KairaRouda.com where you’ll find additional information about the book, an excerpt and book club reading guide.
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Deadline: May 30TH, 2010 ~ midnight, EST