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Mega Millions, Mega Yachts, and Mega Murder

The Big Thrill Interviews Kaira Rouda

Book Cover: Beneath the Surface by Kaira RoudaBy K.L. Romo

Bestselling author Kaira Rouda knows “it’s never too late.” In her newest thriller—BENEATH THE SURFACE—book one of The Kingsleys series—Rouda explores extreme wealth and its dangerous effects.

You are cordially invited to an overnight voyage on the Splendid Seas.

New empty nester Paige Kingsley hopes that the invitation to join her husband Ted’s father on his new 67-million-dollar mega yacht, the Splendid Seas, will not only be the trip that will cement Ted’s ascension as CEO of the family business, but that she and Ted can reconnect as husband and wife—their relationship has been distant.

But arriving at the pier, it angers Paige and Ted to see Ted’s brother, John, and his wife, Rachel. Although they expected the purpose of the trip was to finalize plans for Ted to take over Kingsley Global Enterprises, it becomes clear the weekend will be a contest between Richard Kingsley’s children.

Only one can be the winner. But how many will survive?

Author Photo: Kaira Rouda

Kaira Rouda
© Kristin Karkoska

A former magazine editor and society columnist, Rouda shares her thoughts with The Big Thrill about mega millions, author branding, and being authentic.

What drew you to writing about a wealthy family on a mega yacht?

What goes on behind closed doors and what happens beneath the surface of seemingly perfect lives has always fascinated me. This story is about the Kingsley family, and I describe it as Succession meets White Lotus on a weekend trip to Catalina Island, during a storm. What could possibly go wrong? Richard Kingsley, a billionaire CEO, has invited his sons and their wives to join him as he assesses who will be heir to the fortune. Of course, his current wife won’t make it an easy win for his sons.

I had so much fun imagining the setting as I was writing the story. And Catalina Island is such a special place. In my mind, I was on vacation the whole time while working on this book.

Have you ever ridden on a mega yacht?

No, but I’d love to someday. We were once on a family vacation in Montenegro, apparently a hub of mega yacht activity—so many extremely wealthy people hiding out in their own personal floating cities. It was incredible. Our hotel room looked out over the marina, and it was fun watching the comings and goings. There is even an app you can use to find out all about a yacht you spot.

Tell us more about author branding, your book Real You for Authors – 8 Essentials for Women Writers, and what writers should know.

I offer it as a free download on my website, and the thoughts about branding are based on my first nonfiction book, Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs. I took those principles and applied them to the writing career. It’s all about understanding and articulating your personal brand and bringing it through to your author brand and career.

Learn more here. I actually wrote the book during my time writing romance, so I’ll need to update it now that I’m in the suspense and thriller genre. But no matter the genre, the same principles apply to the writing life.

I know many people use pen names, and that’s fine, and it works great for them, but to me, I am who I am. Regardless of whether you use your own name on the cover of your books or not, authenticity is how you are in the world.

What does it mean to create an author brand based on authenticity?

I know many people use pen names, and that’s fine, and it works great for them, but to me, I am who I am. Regardless of whether you use your own name on the cover of your books or not, authenticity is how you are in the world. It is being true to yourself as you articulate your personal brand and, by extension, to others in the writing community and to your readers.

At the heart of it all is that your life, up to this point, has helped you plot a course toward authorship and entrepreneurism. And that’s exciting, whether you have five or 50 novels published or you’re dreaming of getting started. I encourage people to take the time to evaluate where you are with your personal brand and then put your passion into action.

Speaking of, what does your catchphrase “Put Your Passion into Action” mean to writers (or anyone with a passion to be or do something)?

It means it’s up to you to make your dreams come true. And the way you do that is through action. It’s not enough to dream—you must also do.

You’ve been inspirational in your community service activities. Tell us what you’re working on right now.

This year, I’ve learned that life comes at you fast. My husband and I were in Tucson for Left Coast Crime when he fell and suffered a serious traumatic brain injury. That was in March, and since then, I’ve pulled back a bit on my community service and have focused closer to home. That said, he’s getting better, and I’ll be back.

I’m committed to service, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because when you volunteer to help others, you receive so much in return. The California Volunteers Commission that I’m part of encourages everyone in California to give an hour to their community. Imagine if we all did that?

When you put your passion into action to help others, it really is wonderful.


The Big Thrill Interviews Kaira Rouda

K. L. Romo
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