We never really know what truly goes on in the suburbs where everyone is trying to keep up with the Jones’s, and what percolates beneath the surface in a seemingly normal family can be very interesting. The need for power, attention and revenge can drive people to do the unexpected and if you love the suspense that might create, you are in for a treat!
Kate and John Nelson built their successful business together, raised a daughter, Ashlyn, and had it all. When Tish became John’s assistant, he couldn’t help but stray from his marriage and fall in love with her, a younger, better version of his wife. Now divorced from Kate and remarried to Tish for several years, the three manage to work together in the same office and are preparing to celebrate the launch of the company’s IPO. In The Next Wife, we follow Tish, the new Mrs. Nelson, Kate, the original Mrs. Nelson, and Kate and John’s daughter, Ashlyn, as they sort out their feelings about one another and their relationships with John.
In the best of the suburban domestic thrillers we question the reliability of the characters, and throughout The Next Wife, I continually tried to identify who was telling the truth and who was the victim. As suspense increased and danger arose, my allegiances flip flopped from Kate, a woman scorned, to Ashlyn, the innocent daughter caught in the middle, to Tish, the young wife who yearned for the attention from her husband. With dropped hints and humorous zingers, there is a combined sense of authenticity and deep-seated evil in each of the characters that kept me on the edge of my seat! I loved this quick escape and highly recommend it for your next weekend getaway!
Author Q & A
Q: I love a fast paced domestic thriller and The Next Wife grabbed my attention from the get go. With the short chapters and the different perspectives, it became impossible for me to put the book down and I read it within 24 hours! How do you go about creating that urgency in your writing?
A: Thank you! That is the biggest compliment when readers tell me they couldn’t put the book down or stayed up past their bedtime. For me, a tight timeline really helps keep my pace flowing. If I’m under the gun, so to speak, my characters are, too.
Q: Do you plan out the plot along with the twists and the ending and do you develop the characters before you start writing or does everything just happen while you are writing? (Are you a pantser or a plotter?)
A: I am a pantser, but my agents would like for me to learn to plot a bit. The Next Wife was written from a pantser’s perspective with the characters leading the way. Tish popped into my head first and as soon as she began to tell her side of the story, well Kate had to have a POV, too. This was a fun novel to write.
Q: Did you always want to be a writer and did you have a career before you released your first book?
A: I wanted to be a writer since third grade and for the most part, that’s what I’ve done. I had a long career as a journalist, magazine editor, copywriter, public relations professional, marketing executive and business owner before finally sitting down and writing my first book. That turned out to be the nonfiction book, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 ESSENTIALS FOR WOMEN ENTREPERENEURS. After that book was published, I toured the country speaking to thousands of women urging them to put their passions into action and live the life and career of their dreams. I decided it was time to take my own advice. My first novel HERE HOME HOPE published in 2011, followed by IN THE MIRROR, ALL THE DIFFERENCE, THE GOODBYE YEAR, BEST DAY EVER, THE FAVORITE DAUGHTER, and THE NEXT WIFE. SOMEBODY’S HOME is out in January of 2022.
Q: How long did it take you to write this book?
A: A lifetime of experiences, and about a year, all in.
Q: One of the things I love is how I find myself trying to decide who is reliable and who I suspect is manipulating others throughout the story. How do you ensure the reader vacillates between the characters in your storytelling?
A: I think the key is to like your characters enough to give them the depth they deserve, even if they are unlikeable and unreliable. I love writing characters who rile up readers.
Q: What inspired you to write about a divorced couple who work together? Is the small town setting a real place and do you have any ties to Telluride?
A: My husband and I worked together for a decade after launching a residential real estate franchise called Real Living, which we eventually sold to Berkshire Hathaway. Grandville is my made up name for the very real suburb of Columbus, Ohio, called Upper Arlington. It’s a wonderful place where we lived for years. Many of my novels are set there. As for Telluride, it’s my favorite ski town and a favorite travel destination.
Q: The women in the story are generally more calculating and take charge, while the men are more manipulated. Is there anything you want your readers to take away regarding the gender differences or is it all in good fun?
A: This novel is all in good fun, but I have spent a career empowering women and girls, so I may have a bit of a slant on things.
Q: You received so many Amazon reviews early on; can you tell us how you accomplished that?
A: THE NEXT WIFE was an Amazon First Read pick for April. It was an amazing experience.
Q: Was there anything in the story that you took out in the editing process that you wish was still in? Any big changes that were made?
A: Ashlyn, the daughter, initially was part of the first drafts of the story and had a speaking role. My literary agent felt she wasn’t needed, so I revised the manuscript and took out her POV. My editor felt the daughter’s perspective was needed — and I agreed. Ashlyn came back stronger than ever.
Q: The cover is spooky – did you have input?
A: My publisher did present two covers and they were both great but as soon as I saw this one, wow. I knew it was the perfect cover.
Q: If The Next Wife became a movie, who would you want to play Kate, John, Tish and Ashlyn?
A: I’m completely terrible with this question. My answer: whoever wants to make the movie will pick the perfect cast. I do love the audiobook narrators. Each of the characters comes to life so much in their wonderful performances.
Q: What have you read lately that you recommend?
A: So many great domestic suspense novels out these days. Recent favorites include You Will Remember Me by Hannah Mary McKinnon, The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer, Six Weeks to Live by Catherine McKenzie and Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica.
Q: What is your favorite Margarita recipe?
A: I like skinny margaritas with lots of salt. I try to stay away from special ingredients like the one Tish uses in her family recipe. ;-D Thanks for the interview!
About the Author
Kaira Rouda is a USA TODAY bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary fiction exploring what goes on behind closed doors of seemingly perfect lives. Her new novel, THE NEXT WIFE, was out May 1, 2021.
She lives in Southern California with her family and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest: @KairaRouda; and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books.
If you’d like to host Kaira at your book club, please reach out through her website KairaRouda.com
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