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 includes a two part interview (click here for part one), 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!
Location plays an enormously important part in this story. Could you please tell us a bit about the place? Could you have envisioned the story through any other lens? What aspect/s of the story, for you, necessitate this particular setting?
Setting is everything to me. In The Goodbye Year it is a gated oceanfront community in Southern California, and a high school with an ocean view. It’s perfect. What could possibly go wrong in this type of place?
Difficult children – and adults! – are often presented in books as simply, well, difficult. You never seem to fall into this trap. Even characters who do the most despicable things (I’m thinking of one husband/father in particular now) have redeeming qualities and are somehow likable. How do you accomplish this? Does it take multiple drafts to get to the heart of each character? Or is there a technique you use to help you flesh them out?
I truly believe that almost everyone means well. Of course, my narcissist characters don’t mean well, but the rest of them do have redeeming qualities. I think it’s a personal perspective about people. An optimistic outlook drives my stories. So even when grown ups are behaving badly, there can be redemption at the end.
The book changes point of view frequently and covers many complex relationships – friends, siblings, parent/child, spouses, lovers – yet each relationship feels both unique and fully realized. How did you go about developing so many relationships and such a complicated story? Did you use any sort of organizing principle or storyboard?
As you no doubt have discovered by now, I’m a writing by the seat of the pants author, so nope. When it was a character’s turn to pipe into the story, he or she would let me know!
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite? Why?
Beginning a story is my favorite part. And I really don’t have a least favorite. I love being able to have a career as a writer. I’m blessed.
Would you please tell us one thing about you or your book/s – The Goodbye Year or any previous work – that you wish your readers and/or fans knew or were more aware of?
I’m especially proud that NEDA, the National Eating Disorder Association, endorsed Here, Home, Hope for its portrayal of an eating disorder. (The teenage girl in the story is suffering from anorexia.) I guess I hope to not only entertain, but also, subtly, educate. Maybe change a readers mind about an issue, or bring an issue to mind. Even in some of my romance novels I sneak some of my themes in. I’m thinking of The Billionaire’s Bid in particular where the story is about deforestation, and The Celebrity Dare deals with a bio-food company. I hope my stories entertain as well as inspire.
Thanks so much for having me here!
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 Wednesday with quick quotes from The Goodbye Year.