Below are transcripts of some of my recent interviews. Contact me at if you are interested in doing an author interview.
From the blog "The Thursday Interview"
1. Would you break the law to save a loved one and why?
This is an easy one. Absolutely. It could be a law as simple as jaywalking (I would run out into the street to save my son before he was hit by a car), or it could be a big law like stealing (I would take a loaf of bread without paying to feed my starving family). It seems that laws should be made for the protection of people. If a law would prevent you from saving anyone, loved or not, perhaps that law should be suspended. The key word here is ‘save’. As in ‘save their life’. It would be a very different answer if the question were “Would you break the law for the general convenience of a loved one.”
2. What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
My husband is a veterinarian, so maybe I have an odd opinion here. When a dog or cat comes into the hospital, broken and suffering, the doctor can tell the owner that, yes, we can save your pet’s life, but she will never walk again, will be incontinent, will have to be on heavy pain meds and groggy for the rest of her life, and won’t ever be able to run and play. With a pet, most owners feel that this isn’t any sort of life and will choose to euthanize. Now, without getting into any really heavy ethical and moral discussion here, I think most people would agree that they wouldn’t want to simply be left alive at all costs. But for me, to be truly living means that I can use my mind, communicate with people, express my love, and feel fresh air and sun on my face from time to time. Truly living doesn’t mean being happy and healthy all the time – it isn’t some commercial for Viagra or a Ski Resort where everyone is smiling and laughing. Living is taking the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the highs and the lows and learning how to navigate this life.
3. What motivates you to write?
When my oldest daughter started Kindergarten and the two younger children were in pre-school on Tuesday mornings, I found that I suddenly had three whole hours to myself each week! After nearly six years completely surrounded by and focused on the kids, I didn’t know what to do with so much free time. I could clean the house, do laundry, exercise, or finally write that novel. Well, I certainly didn’t want to do some of those, so I dove into writing. I’ve always kept a journal, written poems and long letters to friends, so writing was a wonderful pastime for me. But when I sat down to write my book, I found a new aspect that I hadn’t known before. I could be dark and mean and argumentative through my characters. I could be sexy and flirty and free. You see, I am happy and upbeat and kind around my little children all the time. I sing and smile and dance with them. In my writing, I could swear and plot and deceive. What a lovely release!
4. Why do humans want children?
Biologically, humans want to pass on their genes. Chemically, there is an endorphin rush when you have a baby that bonds you to them and makes you happy (most of the time). Emotionally, you want to feel like something you have done in this life will live on after you are gone. Sociologically, most women in the world don’t have any choice in the matter. It is just what is expected and demanded of them. Physically, most people like to have sex and children are often the result of that. For me, I wanted to surround myself with love. I wanted to create three individuals who would have the courage and support to go out into the world and help people. I wanted to do better than my own parents did, and prove to them that they couldn’t ruin me. And now that I have these three brilliant children, I realize I was a fool to ever think it was all about me and what I want. Maybe their little souls were out there someplace before I even knew them, and they chose me.
5. What was the biggest challenge in creating your book Women’s Work?
I loved writing Women’s Work. The story just flowed out of me and I cherished the time I had to work on it. It was ‘me’ time. However, once the first draft was done, I found it difficult to give it to anyone else to read. I kept re-reading it, finding new places to fix and modify and change. It would never be perfect, and I was terrified of letting anyone see it. It was a big leap of faith for me to find an editor and send my book to them. I had worked on it for so long, and I LOVED the story, but what if the editor wrote back and told me I just shouldn’t bother? That no one in their right might would ever read this? Of course, this didn’t happen, and each editor and reader I gave it to thought it was a fabulous concept and well written, but I still struggle with that self-doubt. My book became such a part of me that it was easy to be really protective about it.
6. What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
Wow. Ever? I suppose each person will have a different answer for this question, since we have all travelled on different paths to get to where we are today. For me personally, I have learned to try to see both sides of an issue. This is something my husband has really helped me with. Before we were married, we had to do a pre-marriage counseling class at church. One of the games we played was to stand along a long tape line on the floor. On one end was written Agree and on the other Disagree. The moderator read a dozed or so statements, and we would position ourselves on the line based on what we thought about the statement. For each statement, I would either run to the edge of Agree or edge of Disagree. After a while, I noticed my future husband seemed to hang out in the middle of the line the whole time. That used to drive me crazy, but after ten years of marriage, three children, and a lot of life lessons, I am finally starting to understand that nothing is as black and white as I used to think. And putting yourself in the other person’s shoes can really help you be a better person.
7. How did you come up with the title Women’s Work?
When I was a child, my father worked a full-time job and my mother was a housewife. When he got home in the afternoon, he would sit in a chair with a beer and watch television until dinner, then sit back in his chair until bedtime. If my mother ever asked him to bring a dish to the table, wash anything, help with homework, get kids ready for bed, etc, he would say, “That’s women’s work.” Even after he was laid off from his job and she was working two jobs to support us, those housewife duties were still considered “women’s work”. I think a lot of fathers from that generation would have had a similar attitude, and most of them were still kind, loving fathers and husbands, but the idea that there were such specific gender roles ingrained in society always puzzled me. In my book Women’s Work, society has changed, and women are now the head of the household. Their new “Work” is to maintain peace and to educate the children in the new ways. They think they have finally established gender equality, but it can never be that easy, can it? Once a group gains control, it is interesting to see what they will do to keep it.
8. How do you handle personal criticism?
Better than some, worse than others. If the person giving the criticism is someone I trust and respect in the field they are talking about, I am usually fine listening to their opinion. After all, I don’t know everything, and there is always room for improvement. For example, my book editors had many comments and critiques about my manuscript, and I really didn’t mind reading them after all because I could see that they were speaking from experience and were really trying to help me. But if someone is criticizing me because of their own feelings of inadequacy, I don’t have much patience for that. I have seen that a lot in parenting. Everyone thinks the way they raised their children is the best way – the only way. There are ‘experts’ who have books and degrees and awards who will swear that their way is the best way. I’m happy to say that I am the only expert on my children. No one else is with them 24/7 and has been attached to them since before they were born. No one else has their wellbeing and interests at the center of their mind all the time. So before you give me that look in the grocery store when my daughter cries over the colorful cereal I won’t buy her, take a moment and go jump in a lake. Please.
9. Why should people read your book?
I don’t think my book is for everyone. Women’s Work is thought-provoking, suspenseful, exciting, and emotional, but to be honest, some men might not be into it. It is a story full of strong women and a deeply-rooted sisterhood, but it also questions traditional gender roles and the mirage of control. I truly believe that most women will find Women’s Work to be a fascinating novel, both relevant and provocative. The reviews I’ve gotten so far have all said that the story blew them away, and that they couldn’t put the book down once they got into it. I would love for this story to start conversations in book clubs all over the world about relationships and family life, but it is also just a great story. The main character, Kate, is forced to face her fears and evolve. The women of her neighborhood are her friends, and she has to risk everything to help a man she knows very little about. She trusts her instincts, but struggles with finding the courage to open up a discussion with her friends about what she is doing. Well, maybe everyone should read Women’s Work. After all, we can only progress in society if we keep the lines of communication open, and this story will really get people talking.
10. Why is there something rather than nothing?
How do you know there is? Ok, this is a rather deep question. I don’t know why we are here. I don’t know how we are here. All I can tell you is what I believe, and belief is trusting in something without having any proof. I believe there is light and darkness in the universe, and we should be ever striving to make more light. When I look around and see all the hatred and violence that still plagues our world, I have to wonder if we will ever evolve to a place of peace as a species. But I don’t have control over the whole species. All I can do it my best. So even if the smartest astrophysicists sit me down and explain string theory and the god particle, I will still try to take a deep breath and let that lady with 15 items go in front of me in the 10-item express check-out at the grocery. And I will still try to find that middle spot on the tape line at the pre-marriage counselling class.
From the blog "The Awesome Gang"
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I’m Kari Aguila, and I have recently sefl-published my first novel, WOMEN’S WORK. I was a geologist for the USGS for many years before I started having children and decided to be a stay-at-home mom. For the first six years of mom-hood, I read several books every day, but they always seemed to have little duckies, pooh-bears, or fairies in them. When all three of my kids were finally sleeping more than two-hour stretches, I took a deep breath and dove back into reading, soaking up so many great stories that I had missed during the baby years.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
When my oldest daughter started Kindergarten and the two younger kids were in pre-school one morning per week, I suddenly found I had three whole hours of freedom! Each week!! I had no idea what real people did with such vast swaths of time — I could clean the house, exercise, do laundry, or finally write that novel. Well, I certainly didn’t want to do a few of those things, so… WOMEN’S WORK is the result of those three glorious hours of freedom.
The story was inspired during a long walk through Discovery Park, along the coast of the Puget Sound. There are all these old dilapidated roads in that park, and I started thinking about a whole neighborhood struggling to survive after the infrastructure falls apart. A couple nights earlier, I had heard an interview with a female member of the U.S. Congress. She was asked why the government wasn’t able to get much done and replied, “If there were more women in Congress, we’d get more done.” The women in the audience cheered, and the man interviewing her was obviously offended. It got me thinking about that idea, and the story in WOMEN’S WORK evolved from there.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I tried to write at home, but was easily distracted. Instead, I started bringing my laptop to a local coffee shop and writing there. I have heard that coffee shops get mad when a person just buys one cup of tea and then sits at their laptop all morning taking up space, so I tried to sit at the bar section, and once each hour I would buy another cup of tea.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
I like books with strong female leads. Unfortunately, strong women are usually overcoming terrible things — rotten childhoods, awful men, oppression — so I have to make sure not to read too many depressing stories. The Outlander was an unusual story that I enjoyed, and of course Handmaid’s Tale was a real game-changer for so many people. When I look at my bookshelf (I still read paper books, so my bookshelf takes up several walls in my house) I notice I have several Cormac McCarthy books. This is very strange, because I never like his books! Yes, they are amazing works of fiction. Yes, they absolutely transport the reader to a time and place. Yes, the characters are memorable. But, they are so bleak and dark and ‘manly’. And yet, every few years, I wind up with one of them in my hand at the check-out line of the bookstore.
What are you working on now?
WOMEN’S WORK just came out about two months ago, so I have been spending a lot of time publicizing that. I don’t have an agent, so I have been reading a lot online to figure out how to go about getting the word out about my book. I have two story ideas in my head that will need a lot of research, but the characters are beginning to take shape. Next year another one of my children will start Kindergarten, so maybe I’ll find the time to start writing again then.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’ve sent out dozens and dozens of emails to bloggers, but have only gotten a few responses. I think they are really inundated with book review requests these days. One blogger is highlighting WOMEN’S WORK on her blog in February when she focusses on the theme of “Smart Is Sexy”. Amazon has a list of their top 1000 reviewers, and I sent emails to some of them asking if they would write a review. Got a couple of hits there. So far the best exposure I have had is on the GoodReads site. I have sponsored two giveaways of my book, and many many people have requested it and added it to their to-read shelf. I will be hosting a Q&A there in March, and hope to hear readers questions and comments at that time.
There are several pay-for-review sites. I have sent WOMEN’S WORK to the Portland Book Review, San Francisco Book Review, Indie Review, and Publishers Weekly PW Select. Each of these cost money, but they guarantee a review in their publication, and will hopefully drum up some readers. Kirkus Review is very expensive, and I was able to get three of these other reviews for the price of one Kirkus, so decided against using them.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
There are often writing groups you can join if you live in a mid- to large-sized town. Check at your local college or university. This would be a great resource for info about writing and publishing. If you don’t have a writing group, start telling people you are writing a book — you’d be surprised how many people you meet have also written something! Bookstores try to have book signings and launch parties — go to them and meet the authors. Writing can feel lonely and it is easy to lose focus, but if you connect with other authors, you will start to feel like part of the community.
Don’t get discouraged when you get your beautiful, perfect, wonderful novel back from your first editor and find it completely ripped to shreds. Almost all of their comments are going to help you make your story even better. And you have to hire a stranger to edit for you. A friend isn’t going to be able to point out all the weak spots without hurting your feelings.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
If god gives you a daisy, don’t try to make it into a rose.
Ok, that’s not necessarily about writing, but it could be. If your work is your daisy, you have to treat it with respect and kindness. Be positive and love it for what it is. Believe in your story and let it grow into what it will — the ending you thought you had when you started your book isn’t necessarily the ending you wind up with.
What are you reading now?
I have read a few great books lately — Blindness, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Transatlantic, Tell the Wolves I’m Home. I have just started West of Here and like it because I live near the Olympic Peninsula and can relate to the setting in the book. I’m interested in learning more about the history of the Pacific Northwest, but don’t usually like non-fiction history books, so this is a compromise.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Ideally, I’d love to find an agent who can help me navigate the world of publicizing WOMEN’S WORK. It’s been like a part-time job for me during the last two months, and I’m not sure I’m spending all my time in the best ways. I really believe this book could take off once sales reach a tipping point — it’s gotten a lot of very positive reviews so far.
As for my next project, one of the story ideas in my head is set in the Philippines. My husband’s family is from there and I have visited twice, but would want to go back again with this story in mind to really do some research. My kids are still a bit young for that big trip, though, so it might take a couple years to get there. I’m also looking into some local writing groups and classes to help me hone my skills and become a better writer. One can always get better.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Leaves of Grass — Walt Whitman’s best book of poems.
A Tale of Two Cities because I love it.
Anna Karenina because I’ve never read it.
A very thick empty notebook and pencils.