This week I am delighted to feature Kaira Rouda, author of The Goodbye Year. The Goodbye Year was included in Redbook magazine’s “20 Best Books to Read Come Spring,” as well as being praised by Booklist as a “compelling story and a thoughtful examination of the nature of change and the importance of working to accept it.”
The ‘A Week with Kaira Rouda’ feature will include a two part interview, an excerpt from the novel, character insights, plus some quick quotes. There is also a $25 Amazon gift card giveaway, which you can enter below. Please continue to stop by throughout the week to find out more about this wonderful book and the author behind it!
Kaira, congratulations on all the kudos you’ve already received for your wonderful new book The Goodbye Year. I’m so impressed with your work and all you’ve accomplished. Your genuine kindness, bubbly personality, and love for writing inspires me – and many others, I’m sure. I’m thrilled to host you on my blog! Thank you so much for joining us!
Thank you so much for having me here, Terri!
The Goodbye Year explores a theme – children leaving home – that touches every parent who has ever experienced the bittersweet moment when their children take wing. What (or who) inspired you to write this book?
Life! I’m the mom of four and suddenly my youngest was finishing his junior year in high school. Yikes! As a writer, a way to process emotions is to tell stories, so during his final year in high school, I wrote The Goodbye Year. It actually was a great bonding experience for my son and I as I needed to bounce teenage dialog off of him during the process since the story is told from both the kids and the parents’ perspectives.
As an author who also writes about families and real-life experiences, I’m often asked if my work is autobiographic. While the themes and ideas are based on my thoughts and/or issues I’m curios about, the actual stories and characters are imagined. Do you also hear this question? How do you feel about it? Why? How do you handle situations when the person is insistent – or refuses to believe you could have made up the story?
It’s funny. I’ve had this question asked since my first novel, Here, Home, Hope, came out in 2011. Like you, my stories are grounded in real life and true emotion but they are STORIES! I know some people want to see themselves in the pages – as a character or a situation – but they just aren’t. As you know Terri, once you begin to write, characters take over and tell their own stories. It sounds a little psycho, but it’s the really fun part of the process to me. But is it autobiographical, nope. As you said, the themes are things I’m interested in – specifically what goes on behind the closed doors (or guarded gates) of seemingly perfect lives.
I loved The Goodbye Year, on so many levels. For me, the most compelling aspect of the book were your rich, often quirky, intriguingly multi-faceted characters. Could you please give us some insight into your method/s of character development?
Thank you! My characters develop as the story unfolds… they have an essence from the beginning, of course. How’s that for vague?
Which character, in The Goodbye Year, is your favorite? Why?
Dane. He’s close to my heart. He’s the slacker kid who doesn’t like school, but he’s a great guy. Sensitive, creative, an unlikely hero.
I love that nothing in The Goodbye Year is as it seems. Would you please speak to this? Is this in any way a reflection of the locale? Or perhaps people/society in general?
I love writing about what really goes on behind closed doors in the privileged suburbs of America. People who seem to have it all, monetarily at least. It’s been a theme of mine since my first novel, and continues to surge through The Goodbye Year. People work hard to live the upper middle class dream. It takes a lot to get there, and stay there. And to fit in once you’ve arrived. The social striving, the pretense, the entitlement. So sure, setting drives the story. These types of upper middle class enclaves are the same, no matter if they are in the Midwest, California, or the shores of South Carolina. These places imply a perfect life: but people are people.
To be continued…
Her women’s fiction titles include THE GOODBYE YEAR, HERE, HOME, HOPE, ALL THE DIFFERENCE and IN THE MIRROR. Her bestselling short story is titled, A MOTHER’S DAY. Her sexy contemporary romance series include the LAGUNA BEACH Series, the INDIGO ISLAND Series with a new MALIBU Series launching in 2016.
Her nonfiction titles, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and REAL YOU FOR AUTHORS: 8 Essentials for Women Writers (available for free download on her website) continue to inspire.
Kaira’s work has won numerous awards including the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader’s Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest International Book Awards. She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter @KairaRouda, Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books and on her website, http://www.KairaRouda.com.
Melanie, a perfectionist mom who views the approaching end of parenting as a type of death, can’t believe she has only one more year to live vicariously through her slacker senior son, Dane. Gorgeous mom Sarah has just begun to realize that her only daughter, Ashley, has been serving as a stand-in for her traveling husband, and the thought of her daughter leaving for college is cracking the carefully cultivated façade of her life. Will and his wife are fine—as long as he follows the instructions on the family calendar and is sure to keep secret his whole other life with Lauren, the woman he turns to for fun (and who also happens to have a daughter in the senior class).
Told from the points of view of both the parents and the kids, The Goodbye Year explores high school peer pressure, what it’s like for young people to face the unknown of life after high school, and how a transition that should be the beginning of a couple’s second act together—empty nesting—might possibly be the end.
The ‘A Week with Kaira Rouda’ feature continues on Tuesday with part two of Kaira’s interview!