Interview with Kaira Rouda

Publication: May 1st 2014 by Real You Publishing Group

 

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, a gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.

In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda's characters "sparkle with humor and heart," and the stories are "told with honest insight and humor" (Booklist). "Inspirational and engaging" (ForeWord), these are the novels you'll turn to for strong female characters and an "engaging read" (Kirkus).

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

"Kaira Rouda has created relatable characters you'll care deeply about. Emotionally gripping and heart-achingly beautiful, In the Mirror will make you think about what's truly important."

                                      ~ Tracey Garvis Graves, New York Times bestselling author

 

Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/vZHsC

 

 

 

Excerpt

 

Chapter 1

Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed.

I looked like death.

I blinked, moving my gaze from the mirror, and noticed the calendar. It was Monday again. That meant everything in the real world. It meant groaning about the morning and getting the kids off to school. It meant struggling to get to the office on time and then forcing yourself to move through the day. It meant the start of something new and fresh and undetermined. But Mondays meant nothing at Shady Valley. We lived in the “pause” world, between “play” and “stop.” Suspension was the toughest part for me. And loneliness. Sure, I had visitors, but it wasn’t the same as being surrounded by people in motion. I’d been on fast-forward in the real world, juggling two kids and my business, struggling to stay connected to my husband, my friends. At Shady Valley, with beige-colored day after cottage-cheese-tasting day, my pace was, well –

I had to get moving.

I supposed my longing for activity was behind my rather childish wish to throw a party for myself. At least it gave me a mission of sorts. A delineation of time beyond what the latest in a long line of cancer treatments dictated. It had been more than 18 months of treatments, doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations and the like. I embraced the solidity of a deadline. The finality of putting a date on the calendar and knowing that at least this, my party, was something I could control.

I noticed the veins standing tall and blue and bubbly atop my pale, bony hands. I felt a swell of gratitude for the snakelike signs of life, the entry points for experimental treatments; without them, I’d be worse than on pause by now.

I pulled my favorite blue sweatshirt over my head and tugged on my matching blue sweatpants.

Moving at last, I brushed my teeth and then headed next door to Ralph’s. He was my best friend at Shady Valley—a special all-suite, last-ditch-effort experimental facility for the sick and dying—or at least he had been until I began planning my party. I was on his last nerve with this, but he’d welcome the company, if not the topic. He was paused too.

 My thick cotton socks helped me shuffle across my fake wood floor, but it was slow going once I reached the grassy knoll—the leaf-green carpet that had overgrown the hallway. An institutional attempt at Eden, I supposed. On our good days, Ralph and I sometimes sneaked my son’s plastic bowling set out there to partake in vicious matches. We had both been highly competitive, type-A people in the “real” world and the suspended reality of hushed voices and tiptoeing relatives was unbearable at times.

“I’ve narrowed it down to three choices,” I said, reaching Ralph’s open door. “’Please come celebrate my life on the eve of my death. RSVP immediately. I’m running out of time.’”

“Oh, honestly,” Ralph said, rolling his head back onto the pillows propping him up. I knew my time in Shady Valley was only bearable because of this man, his humanizing presence. Even though we both looked like shadows of our outside, real-world selves, we carried on a relationship as if we were healthy, alive. I ignored the surgery scars on his bald, now misshapen head. He constantly told me I was beautiful. It worked for us.  

“Too morbid? How about: ‘Only two months left. Come see the incredible, shrinking woman. Learn diet secrets of the doomed,’” I said, smiling then, hoping he’d join in.

“Jennifer, give it a rest would you?” Ralph said.

“You don’t have to be so testy. Do you want me to leave?” I asked, ready to retreat back to my room.

“No, come in. Let’s just talk about something else, OK, beautiful?”

Ralph was lonely, too. Friends from his days as the city’s most promising young investment banker had turned their backs—they didn’t or couldn’t make time for his death. His wife, Barbara, and their three teenage kids were his only regular visitors. Some days, I felt closer to Ralph than to my own family, who seemed increasingly more absorbed in their own lives despite weekly flowers from Daddy and dutiful visits from Henry, my husband of six years. Poor Henry. It was hard to have meaningful visits at Shady Valley, with nurses and treatments and all manner of interruptions. We still held hands and kissed, but intimacy—even when I was feeling up to it—was impossible.

So, there we were, Ralph and I, two near-death invalids fighting for our lives and planning a party to celebrate that fact. It seemed perfectly reasonable, at least to me, because while I knew I should be living in the moment, the future seemed a little hazy without a party to focus on.

“Seriously, I need input on my party invitations. It’s got to be right before I hand it over to Mother. I value your judgment, Ralph; is that too much to ask?”

“For God’s sake, let me see them.” Ralph snatched the paper out of my hand. After a moment, he handed it back to me. “The last one’s the best. The others are too, well, self-pitying and stupid. Are you sure you can’t just have a funeral like the rest of us?”

I glared at him, but agreed, “That’s my favorite, too.”

Mr. & Mrs. E. David Wells

request your presence at a

celebration in honor of their daughter

Jennifer Wells Benson

Please see insert for your party time

Shady Valley Center

2700 Hocking Ridge Road

RSVP to Mrs. Juliana Duncan Wells

No gifts please—donations to breast cancer research appreciated.

#

 At first, I had been incredibly angry about the cancer. Hannah’s birth, so joyous, had marked the end of my life as a “normal” person. Apparently, it happened a lot. While a baby’s cells multiplied, the mom’s got into the act, mutating, turning on each other. Hannah was barely two weeks old when I became violently ill. My fever was 105 degrees when we arrived in the ER. I think the ER doctors suspected a retained placenta or even some sort of infectious disease, although I was so feverish I can’t remember much from that time. All I remember was the feeling of being cut off from my family—Henry, two-year-old Hank, and newborn Hannah—and marooned on the maternity ward, a place for mothers-to-be on bed rest until their due dates. That was hell.

At 33, I was a pathetic sight. My headache was so intense the curtains were drawn at all times. I didn’t look pregnant anymore, so all the nurses thought my baby had died. That first shift tip-toed around me, murmuring. By the second night, one of them posted a sign: “The baby is fine. Mother is sick.” It answered their questions since I couldn’t. It hurt my head too much to try.

By the third day, my headache had receded to a dull roar. Surgery revealed that there was no retained placenta after all. I was ready to go home to my newborn and my life. So with a slight fever and no answers, I escaped from the hospital and went home to a grateful Henry and a chaotic household. I was weak and tired, but everyone agreed that was to be expected. I thanked God for the millionth time for two healthy kids and my blessed, if busy, life.

And then, not two weeks later, I found the lump.

Not a dramatic occurrence, really, at least not at first. I was shaving under my arm, and I happened to bump into my left breast with my hand. I could feel an odd mass that hadn’t been there before. When I pushed on the top part of my breast, closest to my underarm, it hurt. I freaked out and called for Henry.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” he reassured me while his eyes revealed his own fears. “We’ll make an appointment to have it checked out first thing tomorrow, OK?”

Our eyes locked then, and in that moment, I think we both knew.

It wasn’t, of course, fine. When the radiologist at the Women’s Imaging Center read the mammogram, she called my doctor right away. The solid, spider-webby mass had tentacles spreading through my left breast. Deadly, dangerous tentacles full of cancerous cells. Surgery confirmed that what I had felt was a malignant mass that had already begun to metastasize to my lymph nodes. They moved me to the cancer floor and began treatments immediately, and that’s where I’d been, in body or spirit, for more than a year.

Ralph was the one to describe them as “circle mouths”: the initial reactions of family and friends expressing sympathy for our rotten luck. When the doctors finally figured out what was wrong with me, my family was the first to respond with their blank stares and circle mouths. “OOOOOO, Jennifer, we’re sOOOOOO sorry.” But, really, what else could we expect? Before I had cancer, I know I probably reacted the same way.

Excerpt from Uncorrected Advance Reader Copy

About the author

Kaira Rouda is an award-winning entrepreneur and author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women EntrepreneursHere, Home, HopeAll the Difference; and the short story, A Mother's Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.

 

Connect with her on Twitter, @KairaRouda, and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books. And of course, on Pinterest! For more about Kaira and her books, please visit her website KairaRouda.com.                                                      

Giveaway

The US/Canada giveaway on tour is :

 

A cozy throw

 

A scented candle

 

A coffee or tea mug

The International giveaway on tour is:

A signed copy of all of the authors novels, including In the Mirror

 

I’m delighted to welcome Kaira Rouda to Allthingsbookie, author of IN THE MIRROR – out May 1, 2014

Other novels include: ALL THE DIFFERENCE, a Romantic Suspense, and HERE, HOME, HOPE, a Women’s Fiction title.

 

1.    Can you tell us what prompted you to first start writing? What was the first thing you wrote?

 

I’ve been writing since I can remember. My sixth grade librarian helped me publish my first book, called Scooter & Skipper. It was greeted with much acclaim, in my household.

      As a child, I loved books, loved writing, loved poetry. I always knew this was the career for me. After college – I was an English major – I began writing for newspapers and magazines, ending up being the society columnist in the city for a number of years. Every type of writing – and every marketing job I had – led to this. My dream career.

 

2.    Can you summarise your latest work in just a few words?

 

IN THE MIRROR is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind. IN THE MIRROR asks the question: If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? And these: How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

 

3.    What was the inspiration for this book?

 

Unfortunately, too many close friends who have been forced to face cancer, too young. Watching them, their grace under pressure, inspired me and touched me very deeply. This novel has been a decade in the making and I hope I got it right.

 

4.    What are you working on next? Do you have a WIP?

 

Yes! I have two projects I’m really excited about. The first is a romantic suspense novel, LINES IN THE SAND, that will be published by Tule Publishing Group in August. I’m also excited about my WIP, but I can’t tell you about that one yet! It’s a women’s fiction story and I really like how it’s coming together!

 

5.    What has been the best part of the writing process…and the worst?

 

I had major writer’s block last year – that was the worst! Almost a full year of blech. So, now that I am back in the saddle, so to speak, I’m enjoying every minute. The other worst part is how easily I am distracted by social media. I need to get a system around that. Help me remember, ok? Some authors sign in and spend an hour on social media and then go write. Others, like me, peek in all day.

 

6.    Most writers have some quirks – what are yours?

 

My most obvious quirk, if you were to visit, would be the fact I have three dogs! Each time one of my kids leaves me for college I add a dog. My fourth and final kiddo is a junior in high school. My husband says don’t even think about it… but, well, it is a tradition now.

 

7.    Do you plot your novels or allow them to develop as you write?

 

I just let them flow. I usually start with a title, oddly enough, and the main character. Setting is something very important to me as well.

 

8.    Do you have any advice for new writers?

 

Make sure you are writing and reading, reading and writing. Read in the genre you would like to write in, and then read everything else. The writing goes without explanation, because showing up and putting words on the page are the best way – and the only way – to get to The End.

 

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Shaz Goodwin | Reply 04.06.2014 19.03

Great interview ladies!

Thank you for supporting Kaira on tour Julie.

Shaz

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Latest comments

10.05 | 20:40

Mary reading this is fabulous and it will also give help to other people trying to write I love your books roll on 18th may can't wait you are an inspiration x

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10.05 | 11:34

Mary Wood is a fabulous author and definitely one of my favourites. She is a born storyteller, whose characters will live in your mind and heart.

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10.05 | 10:05

Thanks so much Mary x

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10.05 | 09:58

Thank you, Bev, and Julie. Julie, this is a lovely page, so beautifully presented, thank you so much. Much love, Mary x

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