Since fourth grade, Kaira Rouda’s dream has been to publish a novel and that dream is finally coming true with her debut novel, Here, Home, Hope. Between elementary school, and today, Kaira’s been – well – quite busy. She’s a mom of four now teenaged children, has been married to her husband for 20+ years, has published a nonfiction book – Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs – and enjoyed a full, much-lauded career as an entrepreneur and marketing professional. All of this full life had a way of getting between her and this, her dream. Kaira believes with all her heart the best is yet to come. She’s thrilled to be profiled here in the company of the amazing Debs!
HERE, HOME, HOPE is the absorbing, witty story of one suburban mother’s journey from midlife crisis to reinvention. Available at bookstores and online everywhere, read the first chapter on Kaira’s website at http://www.kairarouda.com/books/here-home-hope/
We’re thrilled to have Kaira with us on the Ball today. Read on, and don’t forget to leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Here, Home, Hope!
Kaira Rouda Takes the Deb Interview!
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
The Debs all wrote about goals this week, and my goal for so long has been to be a published novelist. I’ve been working away, submitting queries off and on for years, but I never allowed myself permission to fully go for that dream – or dare to – until now. So, instead of focusing on my novels, I’ve kept really busy doing almost every type of writing job possible over my career. And what I’ve realized is that each of these jobs added to who I am and what I can write about. The journey adds depth to life, the good things and especially, the bad.
So when I thought about the strangest job I’ve had, I had to think back through a lot of jobs: check-out gal at discount big box before scanners, credit card authorization rep, retail sales, waitressing, waitressing and did I mention waitressing, reporter, magazine writer and editor, ad agency account person, city society columnist, national carpet cleaning chain vice president, co-founder and president of residential real estate company, speaker, and now, author. As you can imagine, I have a lot of strangest job stories, but if I had to pick one moment that I can write about here it would be promoting Frosty Paws Dog Ice Cream at product launch. (Imagine New Orleans, August, grocery store parking lot, hot dogs, photo shoot, melting ice cream, ensuing mayhem.)
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?
I’ve been so lucky to meet several women I idolize. I met Gloria Steinem at an event a few years ago and was awestruck. I still am. I’ve spent a large portion of my life working to empower women and meeting one of the catalysts of change and progress was amazing. I have an autographed photo of her hanging in my office, just above my Rosie the Riveter bobble head. Another dynamo I was thrilled to meet was Katie Couric. She’s just as warm and real in person as she is on television. I can’t wait to see what her next act is – and I’ll be cheering her on all the way. And then there is the unique category of authors. Whenever I meet an author I admire – and I’ve been so lucky to meet several through this journey to become published – my palms sweat and I become an embarrassing wreck. I’m in awe of their talent and word-beauty. Oh, and since we moved to Southern California, I have celebrity encounters fairly often. Seeing Goldie Hawn at a restaurant one night was a huge thrill. I heard her signature laugh in person and it made me smile.
Has anyone ever thought a character you wrote was based on them?
Yes, yes and yes. And even more commonly a woman will tell me, with certainty, she “knows” who one of the characters is – whether it’s Kelly, Charlotte, Kathryn or Melanie – and names someone from her suburb. I love that. I am flattered when a reader says Grandville ~ the fictional suburban setting of HERE, HOME, HOPE ~ is just like where she lives and she knows those people. That is the best compliment. In fact, all of my novels to date are set in Grandville, so there will be even more characters to get to know soon.
Do you have a regular first reader?
My husband, Harley, is my first reader, poor guy. I tease him that over the years – we’ve been married 21 years as of yesterday – he has grown quite in touch with his feminine side through my manuscripts. He is a great sport though – and an amazing partner.
If I was stranded on a desert island, the three things I’d want would be…
My family (ha, snuck them all in there in a lump, including my dogs), cheese and my laptop. My four kids are the center of my life and they are amazing. Now that they’re teens, we could build a great tree fort Swiss Family Robinson style. We’d forage for fresh island food. I’d have their full attention. We’d play board games each night. (Ok, so a mom can dream.) The only character in HERE, HOME, HOPE who is real is Oreo, my mutt. He’s 11 years old and my sidekick. Recently, because I’m weak in the face of teen pressure and puppies are adorable, we added Tucker to the family. So he’d come to the island, too.
I love cheese. I’ve never met a cheese I didn’t like.
And I don’t really need to explain the laptop, since as hinted above, I need to keep working on book number two. (Of course my desert island has electricity and internet access.)
What’s your next big thing?
At present, I’m earnestly learning the art of fiction book promotion, which is quite distinct from nonfiction book promotion. These next few months are filled with events and fun surrounding HERE, HOME, HOPE. My new goal is to make a career of this and therefore, I’m hard at work on rewrites of my second novel. I am having the time of my life!