It feels fabulous to kick a Fall full of interviews with my friend, Kaira Rouda. She’s the author of Best Day Ever, and while it’s a domestic thriller, I consider strongly how it also falls under the Women’s Fiction umbrella — and when you read it, I think you’ll agree.
I know many people balk at the label women’s fiction, but I find it more inclusive than exclusive.
As you’ll read below, I was lucky to read an early copy of Kaira’s novel. I don’t know that I’d be reading these page-turning thrillers if my author pals weren’t writing them, so I have to say, LUCKY ME. I’ve stretched my reading muscles lately.
Kaira shares her story, her journey, and some writing advice below. Please welcome her to WFW!
BESTSELLING AUTHOR KAIRA ROUDA AUTHOR INTERVIEW FOR BEST DAY EVER
Amy: I don’t bite my nails but I found Best Day Ever to be a nail biter, along with a story that evoked a lot of compassion. Besides the obvious psychological suspense, what was “the point” of the story for you when you were writing it? Or wasn’t there?
Kaira: I’m glad you don’t bite your nails, but I do hope BEST DAY EVER caused you to flip the pages quickly. Dark women’s fiction, and in this case psychological suspense, is about entertainment, and that in itself is the point. My traditional women’s fiction novels also – hopefully – entertain, but they do have more of a point. HERE, HOME, HOPE was about a woman overcoming her midlife crisis, and IN THE MIRROR was about a young mom facing a serious cancer diagnosis, while THE GOODBYE YEAR tackled a mom’s impending empty nest. But when it comes to suspense, I believe “the point” takes a backseat to the plot. At least it does for me. In my first suspense novel, ALL THE DIFFERENCE, there is a black widow on the loose and the point is will she be discovered before she murders again. In BEST DAY EVER you know from page one Paul Strom isn’t what he seems. The point of the story is the plot: what is he up to and will he get away with it. That being said, I hope there is a bit of poetic justice and empowerment in the pages that could be “the point”. But I certainly wrote this story with plot progression as the primary point. What secrets are unveiled when and how? That’s the fun of writing psychological suspense – and hopefully the fun in reading it, too.
Amy: I’m sure many readers are talking about Paul, one of your protagonists. I’d like to talk about Mia. What or who inspired her character?
Kaira: Thank you for asking about Mia! You’re right, she isn’t the person most people discuss or write reviews about after reading BEST DAY EVER. Paul is so overpowering, so creepy, that Mia, his wife, is a bit in the shadows. Mia’s character is inspired by women who have realized they are in a bad relationship and find the courage to get out. We all know these stories, perhaps it is an unfortunate part of our own life story. The perfect man isn’t who he seems. Mia’s quiet strength is her character’s finest quality. When I tried to figure out how Paul appeared in my subconscious, demanding I write his story, I realized he was inspired by the terrible bosses I endured over my journalism and marketing career. Mia represents successfully rising above them.
Amy: Are there plans for a sequel? And that’s from someone who doesn’t usually read sequels (but would read this one).
Kaira: Paul absolutely wants a sequel. I probably sound crazy but he is such a strong, dominant force that he’s still in my head even as I wrote book two. Of course, he’s hanging out in Palm Beach, dating wealthy widowers, waiting for his chance to return. We shall see! Thanks for saying you would read it! I’d love to write it.
Amy: Previous novels of yours would fit under the women’s fiction umbrella, and I see how this one would as well, though it’s clearly a thriller. What are your thoughts on crossover appeal and genre?
Kaira: Women’s fiction is about relationships and growth, so yes, BEST DAY EVER could be considered women’s fiction. It’s funny. I’ve now written a nonfiction book for women entrepreneurs, two romance series, launched a Kindle world, and written three women’s fiction and two suspense novels. My first novel came out six years ago, and since then, I haven’t followed a traditional publishing or writing path. And I’m glad. I know there are some people who will never read a romance novel, and some readers who are disturbed by psychological and domestic suspense. But I also know there are people, like me, who read widely and broadly, readers who have followed me across genres and I’m so thankful for their support. This novel, BEST DAY EVER, is unique for me because it’s my first “big publisher” book. I was thrilled when my editor acquired it to lead the new Harper Collins/Harlequin imprint, Graydon House. When she called and told me it would be out in hardcover I truly couldn’t believe it. The support they’ve put behind this title has been a once-in-a-lifetime, dream come true for me as an author. I hope we have a long publishing life together in dark women’s fiction.
But that doesn’t mean I haven’t had a great journey with small press and indie publishing. I have. I’ve learned so much, and met so many fabulous authors along the way, in numerous genres. This can be a lonely career, but with social media I can reach out and stay connected to my fellow women’s fiction, romance, thriller authors. I love that.
So do people read cross-genre? Yes. Has the advent of ebooks made it easier for people to discover similar titles as well as popular books in other genres? Absolutely. I don’t have a pen name and that was a conscious decision. I am who I am, and so far, I’ve been able to write what I like. One of my first favorite authors is Susan Isaacs. She inspired the first books I ever wrote, and I believe her novels are the reason why Paul Strom exists. This is my favorite genre, and I’m thrilled (pun intended) to be writing in this suburban suspense space again. I hope to stay awhile.
Amy: What’s the best writing advice you can share with aspiring women’s fiction authors?
Kaira: Don’t give up.
Finish your manuscript. Polish it. Attend writer’s workshops and conferences. Try to sign with an agent, but if you don’t land one, self-publish. Repeat. Or don’t. Some authors find amazing success self-publishing and you may be one of them. No matter what your journey becomes, do not belittle others on a different path. It irks me beyond measure when “traditionally” published authors put down “self-published” or indie authors. Come on people. We’re all in this together and you just never know when you’ll be one, and then the other. So, aspiring authors, be kind and supportive to every author you meet on your journey. Go write a positive review.
Personally, I think each book has its own journey, its own destiny so to speak. Sure, there are people out there with huge brands, continual contracts, gigantic marketing support from their publishers, but those authors are the exceptions. For most of us, it’s a book-by-book journey. Publishing is fickle. We’re in a creative business folks. Success should be measured by your personal satisfaction in writing the best story you can write, not by how big the imprint or advance is. The options for you to get your book into readers’ hands have never been more plentiful. Be open to them all.
And most importantly, don’t give up.
Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction exploring what goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. Her novels include BEST DAY EVER, ALL THE DIFFERENCE, HERE, HOME, HOPE, IN THE MIROR and THE GOODBYE YEAR. Her modern romance novels are set on beaches, including the Indigo Island series and the Laguna Beach series, also its own Kindle World.
She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest: @KairaRouda; and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books. For more please visit wwww.KairaRouda.com.