You know how I love my apocalyptic novels! There’s a new one for your list: The Things That Keep Us Here.
About the book
A couple on the brink of divorce struggles to keep their family alive as a deadly pandemic sweeps across the world, food grows scarce, and neighbor turns against neighbor in grocery stores and at gas pumps. Orion in the UK and Wunderlich in Germany pre-empted rights to The Things That Keep Us Here and Buckley's next book, and Random House has purchased audio rights.
What the critics are saying
"A very credible premise . . . operating both as a psychological profile of a family under duress and as a scary, gripping look at the effects of a pandemic."
"With crisp writing and taut pacing, Buckley spins a convincing apocalyptic vision that's both frightening and claustrophobic."
—New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner
"A brilliant debut."
—New York Times bestselling author James Rollins
About the author
Carla Buckley was born in Washington, D.C. and has worked in a variety of jobs, including a stint as an assistant press secretary for a U.S. senator, an analyst with the Smithsonian Institution, and a technical writer for a defense contractor. Carla is the Chair of the International Thriller Writers Debut Program and currently lives in Ohio with her husband and children.
I asked, Carla answered
A. What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you? Bonus question: have you ever used it in a book?
C. When my youngest child was a toddler, she and I accompanied my older daughter to a pool party. One of the girls offered to take my little one into the pool, which was surrounded by a big iron fence, so that I could join the adults on the patio. I agreed. As I was standing there, chatting with the other mothers, I glanced toward the pool and saw the older girl in the deep end, playing with her friends. I didn’t see my daughter. I glanced toward the shallow end and there she was, fully immersed, her arms raised and just the tips of her fingers poking through the surface of the water. Seeing her frozen and helpless like that, and knowing I had to get around the fence in order to save her, was the most paralyzing moment of my life. She was easily rescued and has no lingering phobias, but I did not stop trembling for twenty-four hours.
I have not yet written about this event but the helplessness of a mother unable to save her child is a theme in my work.
A. Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?
C. Although I’m not physically fearless, my biggest fear has more to do with being unable to take care of my children. I constantly dream about forgetting one of them somewhere, or letting one of them wander off into danger. My main character in The Things That Keep Us Here is driven by this fear, and forced to face it as society crumbles around her. Having lost a baby early in her marriage, she’s terrified she’ll lose one of her daughters, and that panic propels her through the story.
A. Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie?
C. How many may I list? I began with Nancy Drew, progressed through Ngaio Marsh and Agatha Christie, moved on to Sue Grafton and Tony Hillerman when they were just starting out. I pore through awards nominations for new writers, which is how I discovered CJ Box and Marcus Sakey. I’m a huge fan of William Kent Krueger, and stalk Laura Lippman and Jan Burke, at conferences. Please don’t get me started on movies!
A. At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask?
C. My publisher summed it up this way: how far would you go to protect your family? As a pandemic rages around them, my characters are forced to confront their own humanity in order to save themselves. Really, the heart of my novel is about what a mother will do in order to keep her children safe.
A. Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
C. The one mystery that truly confounds and haunts me is how a parent can break the sacred trust they have with their child.