INTERVIEW: Kaira Rouda | REVIEW: Best Day Ever

Best Day Ever - Kaira Rouda
Published by HQ on 17th September 2017.
My rating: 4/5
Book depository purchase link.

Today I'm excited to welcome Kaira Rouda to the blog, an award-winning author of contemporary fiction with an exciting new thriller called Best Day Ever. She's a USA bestseller with a backlist of women's fiction, romance and now domestic suspense. 

Her newest novel, Best Day Ever, is about a couple who seem to have it all. Plenty of money, a nice house and two beautiful boys. As Paul and Mia leave the city for the countryside, the tension between them starts to grow until it's impossible to ignore.

I have a few questions for Kaira and afterwards you can check out my review!

So, Kaira...

How did the idea behind Best Day Ever evolve?

Hi! Thank you for having me. Paul appeared in my subconscious fully formed. A character ready to tell his story. I followed his lead.

Paul is such an egotistical character and he is so self-unaware. How did you get into his head?

He is. And as I noted, since he appeared as a full character, with a very strong point of view, he took over the writing. It’s such an amazing process when writing a novel happens that way. It’s my favourite part of being an author when a character is so strong, he or she takes over and leads the creation. I know, it sounds a bit crazy, too.
How do you find writing a male perspective as a woman?
I enjoy it. As an author, you’re creating characters all the time. It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s a male or female character. For Paul, I think his character traits are an amalgamation of all the bad bosses I had in my career. His tone comes from their voices that still linger in my head. Opinionated, always right, superior. 
Paul and Mia have such a tense relationship. What are the most important lessons you’ve learned about writing these kinds of scenes?

For tension to seem real, both parties in the scene need to be holding back, keeping secrets. To me, that’s the secret. As the writer, you need to know the secrets but not reveal too much.
When it comes to writing, are you a planner? Do you like to map your chapters out or go with the flow?

I like to go with the flow. And for Best Day Ever, Paul dictated the flow. 
How did you find the experience of getting an agent and working with them?

I had my agent before Best Day Ever was even an idea. My agent and I were working together on a contemporary “women’s fiction” series set in the suburbs. I finished the first book and she was reviewing it when Paul popped into my head. So I wrote Best Day Ever. I finished it before she got back to me with revisions for the series. When I told her about Best Day Ever, she told me she didn’t read male narrators written by women. I was bummed, and went back to work on the series. A couple of weeks later, my friend who is a beta reader and runs a popular Facebook group for authors and readers asked to read it. She stayed up all night to finish it. She loved it. She encouraged me to push my agent to read the story. She did, and stayed up all night, too. The next day, BEST DAY EVER went out on submission.
Did Best Day Ever change much in the editorial process?

My editor is great, very detail oriented. We did add a few scenes, to up the stakes. The narrative arc of the story stayed true to Paul’s vision.
What have you read recently that you’ve enjoyed?

So many books! I loved B.A. Paris’ The Break Down and had a chance to meet her at Harrogate Crime Festival. I am reading Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath after I had a chance to hear her speak with Paula Hawkins and Erin Kelly at Waterstones recently. Such a dream team of female crime writers. Oh, and just finished The Girlfriend by Michele Frances. Loved it.
Finally, and this question should not contain spoilers, I LOVED the ending of Best Day Ever, but if you had to re-write it, what would happen? 

Originally, Best Day Ever didn’t have an epilogue. I’ll just leave it at that. 

My Review

A solid thriller, Best Day Ever is definitely a domestic suspense story that I'd recommend to my friends. 

Paul is one of the most sinister characters I've read about.  A large part of the novel takes place in his head as he over-analyses his relationship with Mia, reflects on his life and plots to create the best day ever. Right from the offset his arrogance and ignorance are impossible to ignore. I found myself completely intrigued by his thought processes and how he saw the world. It's hard to write about him without spoiling the book but lets just say I don't normally root for protagonists the way I did for Paul...

Meanwhile, my perspective of Mia completely shifted throughout the book. I started off thinking of her as a weak, vain character. Perhaps a little self-obsessed too. Yet, as they tension thickened I began to have more empathy for her until I was completely wrapped up in her life. Kaira Rouda has planted seeds early on in the novel that unravel at a remarkable pace until everything seems out of control. The last 50 pages have to be devoured in one sitting.

One of the best aspects was the structure and pacing. Told over the course of one day, the tension builds and you know that before morning comes, someone is going to snap. The feelings of immediacy kept me turning the pages and the use of flashbacks meant that the story didn't feel ridiculous. Not everything happened during the day, it just unravelled that way.

I really hope I see more thrillers from Kaira Rouda!

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