A couple of weeks ago, I had the delightful opportunity to speak with Kaira Rouda over the phone and ask her some questions about social media, being an author and philanthropy. Kaira is the author of the new novel, Here, Home, Hope. One2One Network members are currently reading and reviewing Kaira’s book on their blogs and we’re excited to read what they have to say about it. Kaira lives in Malibu, CA with her husband and four kids. Her first book, released in 2008, is Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs and Here, Home, Hope is her first published novel.
I’ve been looking over your Facebook page & Twitter feed. You do a really great job of keeping them current and responding to fans. How has social media helped you in your professional life? In your personal life? With your teens?
Social media had been critical to everything that I do. Long before I started writing fiction I found out that the power of connections is just unstoppable. And when I wrote my first book, which is for women entrepreneurs, it was right on the dawn of when women started harnessing the power of the internet, using it both for business and personal life. That’s when the playing field started leveling and you could get your message across but keep in touch with everyone you care about. I’ve made it a part of my life. And I *love* Twitter, I’m not really sure why, and people would make fun of me but it’s just been amazing.
One of the tenants of my first book was that you need to be able to describe yourself in a word and it’s interesting because it was right around the time Twitter was starting. So if you think about it when you can summarize who you are and what you believe in, in as short a way as possible, you can get your message across and Twitter feeds right into that whole notion.
What about your kids? Are they involved in social media?
My middle son is going to be publishing an book in August, too. He’s starting to learn about Twitter, to establish himself on there. They all, of course, are huge users of Facebook and our rule as a family is that we’re all friends with each. I don’t stalk them but we’re on friends on Facebook. It’s a way that we can all connect. My oldest is in college and he’s quite adept at using Facebook to update everything he’s into. He has a class about using Twitter, so he’s out there getting on social media as well.
I also see you have a blog on your website, have you had other blogs?
I’ve been blogging for a really long time. Since I’m a writer at heart, even when I was working in business, I’ve always felt like writing was the cornerstone of everything. My last career I was president of Real Living, a residential real estate company, and real estate was an early adopter of blogging and the power of blogging. I didn’t use blogging as much to promote myself and business until I released my first book in 2008. And I’ve been blogging pretty steadily since then.
You’ve said that writing a novel has been a long time dream of yours. When did the idea for Here, Home, Hope come to you? When did you know it would be more than just an idea, that it would be a full fledged novel?
It’s been a dream to publish a novel since I think fourth grade. This particular novel takes place in the setting where I also have a few other finished manuscripts. It’s a fictive town of Grandville, a suburban setting, a lot like where I was raised and my kids were raised. I think for me, the setting is something that feeds the story but it’s also the basis for the story.
The book came to life when I was sitting in a dentist office (like the opening scene of the book). It’s the notion that if you’re blessed (socio-economically and otherwise) and you live in the suburbs…because of that lifestyle that the characters live they can feel restless and have the opportunity to consider their life and think about what’s next. And then Kelly started coming to life as a character, and to me when stories start coming to life, they keep going. It’s fun, the title will pop into my head and maybe a scene or character and then the story just takes off from there. I’d say it was about 3 years ago that this book came into my head.
You have been involved in helping support and encourage many different charities. Now that you’ve moved to Southern California, are you working with any local organizations?
The first activities that I’ve been involved in started in the kids’ schools because moving and getting them resettled that was where my focus was . I’m part of something called the Shark Fund which is a charity that helps support and fill in the gaps where the public school system has had funding cuts. And volunteering in the kids’ schools.
Just recently, I got tied in with an organization called the Human Rights Watch for my book launch party. They’re a part of Women’s Rights division. I’ve always been a firm proponent of women’s rights. It’s [women’s rights] part of what I’ve done with the homeless shelter [in Ohio] and in trying to keep women in the center of what I hope to touch and reach and empower. I’ve had the opportunity to learn about them and the amazing work they do all over the world.
There’s a wonderful teen center in Malibu, the Boys and Girls club, part of the global organization. And Melanie, in the story [Here, Home, Hope], is a perfect example. We have this opportunity with our young women to support them and help them and that’s what this Boys and Girls club does. A young women, who was helped by the club here [in Malibu], is the Teen of the Year in the state of California. It’s just so amazing what can happen because she had such positive role models at the club. They helped her fully find her voice and her life.
So I tend to focus on organizations that support women and girls. Those two are the ones I’m involved in right now.
Is it a family thing? Are your kids and husband involved?
Yeah absolutely! I think that if you raise your kids that that’s part of what you do, that you give back and it’s an honor to that and blessing to be able to help others then it’s just what’s expected. They’re always a part of whatever I’m doing and I love that we’re together in that.
What kind of books do you read?
I read so much, I’m a voracious reader. I love to read. If you looked around my messy office at the moment, you’d see stacks of books every where. I tend to read, I guess what would be considered women’s fiction, the most and that’s the genre that I write in. I guess you write what you know. I was an English major, so I’ll pop open a classic too. My kids, now that they’re in high school, I look at they’re reading lists. I’ve always been a huge fan of The Great Gatsby, so every time one of my kids is assigned it to read and they roll their eyes about it, I get to read it again. That’s fun. And when they love a book, too, that’s so cool.
The coolest thing about this journey so far has been, if you look at the back of the book [Here, Home, Hope], you can tell the support from these established women’s fiction authors who agreed to read the advance reader copy and endorse it. Which to me was such a kind and generous thing to do for a first time novelist with a small publisher. These amazing women with these amazing careers in fiction. It has been such an example of when women support each other. It’s been so amazing. And when they would write back or call and say “I’d love to endorse your book”, you wouldn’t believe, I would sit here bawling. I couldn’t believe that these women that I respect and have been fans of for so long would actually do that.
Thanks so much to Kaira for taking the time to speak with me! Here, Home, Home is available for purchase in stores and online. Kaira is currently traveling around the country on a book tour, find out if she will be near you!