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. Chriss B. (litelwumin) says:

    Thank you for the interview! It is always reassuring to know that it may take many attempts at publishing before an author becomes known. I also love to know what authors read. I look forward to reading “The Things That Keep Us Here”!

  2. Cheryl Cleveland says:

    Sounds like my favorite kind of book! I’m always interested in how people react in an end of the world as we know it scenario. Looking forward to reading it!

  3. Sara W says:

    Great interview! I look forward to this read!

  4. Tiffany says:

    Wonderful interview! I have seen a lot of recommendations for The Help and knowing that an author recommends it is meaningful and it will be put on my wish list. Can’t wait to read Buckley’s 2 books.

  5. Debbie B. (Deb) says:

    Love knowing that authors are members here too! I wishlisted this book, it sounds great. I had not heard of it or Carla until I read about it here, so thanks PBS for turning me onto yet another great author!

  6. Len (lens) , says:

    Great job with this interview! I’m really looking forward to getting this book when my turn rolls around at PaperbackSwap. I love the subject matter–conflict of responsibilities to family and community.

  7. Amy Patterson says:

    The interview was great. I really am looking forward to getting the book I know it is going to be a wonderful read.

  8. Kari says:

    Nice interview. Sounds like a very interesting read – I would love to check it out. thanks!

  9. Sirry D. (SirryD) , says:

    Can’t wait to read this book. I enjoyed the interview which gave great insight into the writing of the novel. Glad she is working on her next one too!

  10. Arlene Marrinan says:

    It sounds fascinating! My husband and I moved across the country to a new town with our 6 yr old (7 yrs ago), and I can relate to the problems encountered without a support network. Many things become scary.

  11. Wow, this sounds like a great book. I’m always interested in reading different genres than I usually read. I usually stick to the same genres, mystery, romance, thriller, and fantasy. I look forward to reading this book and the one you are currently writing. 🙂 It’s great to see an author on this site as well. 🙂

  12. Gayle H. (gph102) , says:

    As soon as I read the synopsis on this book, I immediately placed it on my wish list. I am a huge fan of thrillers and family dramas as you would see on my ever growing wish list. I also enjoy medical plots. it is great that we have a member who is also an author. So looking forward to reading this book.

  13. Dona says:

    I am excited to read this novel. I hope there is no foul language or x rated material. We need good authors who write good books!

  14. Becky B says:

    I love knowing a little about how the story came to be.

    The books the author is reading is interesting, and I am going to look into the books that are listed.

    I absolutely love this site!!!!!!!

  15. Ann M. (tootsiepops) says:

    Very interesting interview. I am always curious as to where authors get their inspiration; knowing the background will make the book more personal. I plan to order it and a couple of the other books Ms Buckley has on her nightstand too.

  16. Theresa L. says:

    I love hearing about new authors and their stories. Another one to add to my list!

  17. Rose T. WhiskeyBat says:

    This sounds like a heart wrenching and fascinating read. It is definitely going on my list! Thanks for the interview, it is great to get a glimpse into the background of a story.

  18. Kathryn M. (tragicsoprano) says:

    Yeah! This sounds like a wonderful book — definitely going on my Wish List. Last summer I was on staff at a boys camp where a flu bug (not H1N1 thankfully!) and 1/3 of the campers became ill during the course of 10 days. So the subject matter is very close to home for me!

  19. Sara S. (sirena1124) says:

    This sounds like a really interesting book. Going on my wish list!

  20. Megan M. (meganmc) says:

    This book sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it!

  21. Kim H. says:

    It gives us aspiring writers (and avid readers!) hope to know that she wrote so many other books and kept persevering despite rejection. And that she eventually came through with a winner…..

  22. Cathy N. (morpha) says:

    Sounds like a good read. It’s going on my wishlist.

  23. Missy says:

    I really enjoy author interviews! It is interesting how they come up with their ideas for their novels. I like “end of the world” type stories…I guess because while reading them I can experience the horror safely. But also those novels give us a lot of insight about what could really happen one day….very scary. I would love the chance to win a signed copy of this book!

  24. Kitty says:

    That interview really sparked my interest! I can’t wait until the book becomes widely available. What a compelling story line!

  25. (msroo) says:

    I have a fascination with epidemiology, pandemics, and the potential for a severe global pandemic to bring about the collapse of civilization as we know it. I decided a long time ago that if it came down to using guns or violence to protect my food supply and other essentials, I would not do it, I would rather die along with almost everyone else.

    But – I chose to not have children. Having children changes everything. I can’t know to what extremes I might go to protect my own children. It is not comfortable to contemplate.

  26. Adrienne (starvinArtist) says:

    Sounds very interesting. Will add to my list.

  27. BJDavis says:

    I can’t wait to read this book! I’m wondering if Carla has read Stephen King’s acclaimed novel, The Stand, and whether there are any parallels between it and her new book. Honestly, it is difficult to read stories about pandemics and such because the line between fiction and reality is sometimes a little to close for comfort.

  28. Sandra B. (softlysandra) , says:

    Great interview, I’d love to read the book.

  29. Amy B. (ajbmhb1) says:

    I can’t wait to read this book! It sounds great – not at all the type of book I usually choose so I’m looking forward to it. It doesn’t say in your interview – is this author a Christian author?

  30. Wow, what a wonderful PBS welcome! Thank you all for making me feel so at home, and it’s an honor to hear from you. I’d love to answer a few of your questions, if I may. Dona: I wrote this book keeping in mind that I would someday like my children to read it. They have, along with their friends, teachers, my neighbors, my in-laws (doesn’t that say a lot? lol!), my friends, and so on. BJDavis: I read The Stand a million years ago, and think I need to go back and reread it. You’re not the first person to ask that question! Amy B: I’ve heard from many Christian readers and bloggers, and if you’d like to hear from one of them, you could check out the review of my book on http://www.devotionsandmore.com.

  31. Amy P says:

    sounds like and awesome book! Can’t wait to read this one!! It is on my list already

  32. Kimberly B. (kimberly0508) says:

    Welcome to PBS! This book sounds awesome! It definitely sounds like my kind of novel. I have already added it to my wishlist and look forward to reading it. It already has 122 wishers! Maybe I’ll win the signed copy and won’t have to wait? lol Great interview too, by the way!

  33. Sharon H. says:

    Sounds like a great read…would love to win a copy.
    I enjoyed reading the Interview…Welcome to PBS!!!
    Am adding it to my wish list now…:o).

  34. Dana V. says:

    You had me at “hello” with that striking book cover! And what an interesting idea for a story. We all go about out daily lives with little concern for what could happen – on such a grand scale. Seems like now is the time to consider that possibility!

  35. popokigirl says:

    Sounds very intriguing. As one who has no children, the conflict seems even larger to me. Natural instinct to protect one’s children, a strongly ingrained biological/behavioral factor, versus…well, what? With no children, that instinct is absent, but I feel something else does take its place, although I don’t know how to characterize it.

  36. Kate H. says:

    I’m glad the author kept on writing even without publication. I love these stories, too. Such a scenario always makes us re-examine our priorities…and practice our survival skills too!

  37. Rachel B. (cakewalkingmother) says:

    Congratulations on your novel, I’m looking forward to reading it!

  38. Syrena S. says:

    This book sounds like one I might really enjoy!

  39. Kathy C. (kabell) says:

    I enjoyed your interview and hope to read your book very soon…….sounds awesome!!

  40. Robb T. (primal) says:

    I’m a huge fan of end-of-the-world novels and this one sounds like one I’ll enjoy as well. Thanks for the heads up!

  41. Brean P. (the-book-monster) says:

    I really am interested in reading this book now and this interview help me see a little more into the author’s prospective life before I start reading the book. I found it very entertaining. Thnaks PBS and Carla Buckley for the interview!

  42. (sasssy25) says:

    Thank you, that was interesting. Congratulations on becoming a novelist!

  43. Mark B. says:

    I want to say thank you for the interview. It’s nice to see that you are a fellow swapper. You’re book sounds very interesting and I can’t wait to read it!

  44. Marcia G. (mglv) says:

    This sounds like a really interesting story line. I also appreciate the recommendations for books written by other authors–pretty unusual.
    Thanks.

  45. Ginger S. (ginger) says:

    Thank you for the interview! I can’t wait to read the book!

  46. CHERYL M. (Cheryl-Sam) says:

    great interview. It seems like a lot of authors get ideas from dreams or news events that pique their interest. I have never read any of this authors books but will check one out in the future!

    I hope PBS continues to have interviews with authors.

  47. Vicki K. says:

    As a nurse, I enjoy stories that have a medical themes. Jodi Poucolut is great at that. This book sounds like a book I would enjoy.

    Nice interview. Best of luck in your writing career.

  48. Francine D. says:

    Thanks for the interview. The book sound incredibly interesting.

  49. Laurie says:

    I enjoyed the interview. I always like learning about how a book came into being. I also liked the book recommendations. I’m going to add it to my wish list.

  50. Sherry Carter says:

    Sounds like a great book. I would love to be the one that wins the signed copy. PICK ME!!!!

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