PaperBackSwap Blog


Interview with Carla Buckley

Carla Buckley

Carla Buckley

Carla Buckley’s debut novel The Things that Keep Us Here from Delacorte Press has received critical acclaim and a devoted readership.   She is not only a Paperbackswap member but also belongs to SwapaDVD and SwapaCD!  She was kind enough to speak with us from her home in Ohio.

PBS: First of all I wanted to say that I enjoyed your book very much.  I found it unusual in that is it set in a world crisis but we are shown only the limited perspective of one family. I thought it made the book much more personal and scary. Do you think your being a mom informed your decision to tell the story that way?


CB: Thanks for your kind feedback! Yes, being a mother absolutely drove my telling of this story. My husband and I had just moved to Ohio with our three children. We knew no one here and the news was filled with dire predictions that a lethal influenza strain had appeared overseas that scientists were watching closely to see if it would turn into a pandemic. I had read about the 1918 Pandemic years before and had been shocked to learn that twenty percent of mankind perished during that pandemic. But scientists were saying that this particular strain was worse: fifty percent of the human race could be obliterated if this virus became pandemic.

So there I was, home alone as my children went off to school and my husband to work, and I thought about what I would do if the worst came to pass and a pandemic developed. How would I keep my children safe without the support of nearby friends or family? One night I had a nightmare in which the pandemic came to pass, and I was forced to make a terrible decision. The very next day, I began writing the novel that became The Things That Keep Us Here. From the beginning, I wanted to talk about how a global crisis such as pandemic could play out in one average American family, in one average American city. The human story is as important, if not more so, than the pandemic itself.

The Things That Keep Us Here

PBS: Was this the first book you ever wrote?

CB: Far from it! I’ve been writing for fifteen years, while I stayed home to raise my children. During that time, I finished seven novels, all traditional mysteries. For four of them, I was represented by my literary agent, who stuck by me even though none of those books sold. It wasn’t until I put aside writing mysteries and wrote The Things That Keep Us Here that I finally realized my dream of being a novelist.

PBS: What do you hope the reader “takes away” from reading your book?

CB: Discussion! The Things That Keep Us Here is about an unhappily married couple, Ann and Peter, who have been forced back together by circumstance as the pandemic takes hold and the world around them start to crumble. An art teacher and mother of two girls, Ann is completely focused on taking care of their daughters, and would stop at nothing to keep them safe. Peter, a veterinary scientist, has a more global perspective and very much feels his responsibilities to his community and his neighborhood. The two of them battle throughout the novel, culminating in one pivotal scene that lays bare their souls. But who’s right, and who’s wrong? That’s what I hope the reader gets out of reading my novel. What is more important: our obligation to our family or to our community? What happens when those obligations conflict?

And I also want my readers to get the flu shot!

PBS: (hopefully) Do you have another book coming out?

CB: I’m finishing up my next novel, also about a family in conflict dealing with a crisis bigger than themselves. In it, a woman returns to her hometown after a long absence to find her sister on her deathbed, and others in town sick from the same disease. Although I don’t want to reveal the nature of the culprit, I will say it’s a real scientific threat about which I predict we’ll be hearing a great deal about in the upcoming months.

PBS: What’s on your nightstand now? Any great reads to recommend?

CB: I’m a huge thriller and mystery reader, and just finished CJ Box’s latest mystery set in Wyoming, Nowhere To Run. One of the reasons I’m such a fan of Box’s work is because not only is he a wonderful writer, but he also is that rare find: a male mystery writer who wants to talk about family! His protagonist is married with three daughters, and they play just as important a role in the story as the mystery that swirls around him.

I also just finished The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next up is Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay, The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens, and a reader just recommended A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore.

PBS note: we have a lot of C. J. Box books – and  Linwood Barclay books currently available for swapping at PBS.

Comment on the interview!  One lucky commenter will get a signed copy of The Things That Keep Us Here. We’ll do a random drawing and announce the winner on Wednesday the April 21st @ Noon EST.

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52 Responses to “Interview with Carla Buckley”

  1. Angie says:

    I really like hearing from authors, so thanks for putting this on your blog!

  2. admin says:

    Congratulations to Sara W. …You’re the winner of the signed copy! Thanks again everyone!

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