Interview with Rose Senehi
What inspired you to start writing, especially your novel, Dancing On Rocks?
Danielle, I studied journalism at Syracuse University and, when I was sent on an assignment to interview a mall developer, I was offered a job paying a lot more money. Fate is a funny thing. Before I walked in that office, I never would have dreamed of leaving my newspaper career, yet, for the next ten years I traveled all over the Northeast opening shopping malls. On my long drives from one mall to the next I would dream about writing a novel, but never had the time to sit down and do it. Tired of all the travel and needing to be home every night now that my son was reaching his teens, I switched over to managing a local mall until fate stepped in again. Out of the blue, a headhunter offered me a job managing a outlet center in Myrtle Beach, SC. I accepted, turned our farm that we rented out over to my son, who was now grown and newly married, and left. I remember him saying that I packed like I was running from the cops. As I drove the twelve hours from the cold upstate New York winter to the sunny south, I made up my mind. I told myself that it was never too late to follow the dream I had harbored for almost thirty years, and a couple of weeks after I hit the beach, I started my first novel. Dancing on Rocks is my seventh novel and the fourth in my series of stand alones that take place in the mountains of North Carolina where I now live.
Can you tell us readers a little bit about, Dancing On Rocks?
This is a story of a family shrouded in the mystery of a child gone missing for twenty-five years, and the love, courage and feeling of community that helped them get through it. Simmering beneath the skin and hiding around every corner are a family’s painful memories of a child who disappeared in the middle of the night 25 years ago. Nursing her mother back to health wasn’t all that drew Georgie Haydock back to the mountain tourist town of Chimney Rock. The summer roils as her mother thrashes in her bed, insisting that the strange woman stalking her store downstairs is Georgie’s missing sister. Georgie aches to reunite with the hometown boy she never forgot. But she fears all the summer’s turmoil will force her to unveil the secret that drove her away from him 13 years earlier. For his part, naturalist Ron Elliott doesn’t care what Georgie did all those years back. She’s the one creature he’s always yearned to possess.
Anita Lock for IndieReader says: “Filled with sadness from hardship set right at the edge of hope and love, DANCING ON ROCKS is riveting from beginning to end.” PUBLISHERS WEEKLY says of Dancing on Rocks: “A bit of mystery, a touch of romance, a good deal of local history, and vivid descriptions of dramatic scenery distinguish Senehi’s well-crafted fourth Blue Ridge standalone.”
Who is your favorite character from your novel? And why?
Definitely, Ron Elliott, Georgie’s lost love. He’s a mountain man and botanist who lives a lonely life managing a 3,000 acre preserve. Publishers Weekly says: “Georgie’s beau is the sort of thoroughly decent man rarely portrayed in contemporary fiction.”
Which one of your characters was the hardest one to write? And why?
Georgie Haydock was the most complex. She doesn’t know it, but it was more than her mother’s accident that made her come back to the place that all her childhood she yearned to escape. What secret is she hiding? She’s a nurse specializing in wounds, yet does she realize she’ll never be happy until she heals her own? A doctor who is a good man wants to marry her, yet she tells him she needs to think about it over the summer while she takes care of her mother’s wound. Is she running away from him, or running toward her last chance to connect with the man she’s always loved? Or, does she realize that she must heal her own wound that concerns her sister’s disappearance once and for all.
Which one of your characters did you enjoy writing the most? And why?
Oh, Danielle, that’s an easy question. The mother of course. She’s spunky and it gave me a chance to portray a naughty but nice character, which is always fun.
What advice would you give to other writers in your genre?
My genre is basically general fiction with a love story and mystery running through the plot. Whatever genre one writes in, a good plot is basic…then you find intriguing, yet real, characters to populate it. Of course, your main character has to be on some kind of journey and someone who the reader will connect with.
What tips would you give other writers, when creating a romance novel of their own?
In my romantic scenes, I find it’s best to put in just enough to get your reader’s imagination soaring. That way, the reader will visualize that which they find alluring more so than you might. After all, different strokes for different folks. Also, I feel that it’s more suspenseful and sexier to have the couple yearn for each other over a protracted period of time…with a few devastating bumps along the way to build tension.
What is the latest project that you are currently working on?
I am recording all seven books. I had someone set up a studio in my house because I can only read effectively for 2-3 hours a day and don’t want to travel to a studio every day over the winter.
Who is your favorite author? And why?
Charles Dickens. I read him all the time. By now, I know all the plots and read him for mostly style and character development. It’s always a good lesson.
What books have you read besides your own?
I’m pretty much hooked on John Grisham and have read all his novels. Since my books are historically accurate, I have to do a great deal of research that requires a lot of reading.
Did you always know that you wanted to be an author?
Storytelling kind of runs in the family. My grandma used to rock me to sleep every night telling me stories of Poland during WWI. I can still remember the exact images I conjured up all those years back when she told me about how her family was working on a haystack when a Polish cavalryman came galloping on his horse to tell them that the Germans would be there the next day. They were told to burn down all the hay and the barn and take their stock to the woods. These cozy times in my grandmother’s lap imbedded a life-long appreciation for the value and impact of a good story.
Where can readers find your novel the Dancing On Rocks?
Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com have both the paperback and eBook versions of all my novels. Your local book stores, if they don’t have it, can get it from their distributor in a couple of days.
Can you tell us readers a little bit about your next book?
It will be another standalone that takes place in the southern Blue Ridge Mountains. It has apples, a love story and a struggle to hold on to the land.
This summer your novel was given the 2014 Indie-Reader Discovery Award for Popular Fiction. How did that feel?
Needless to say, I was thrilled and greatly honored. However, when my sixth novel, Render Unto the Valley, was given the 2012 IPPY Gold Medal for Fiction-Southeast, I was so thrilled that I cried so loud that my 80 lb. dog got on my lab and kept licking my face. After years of being nominated for awards, I had finally gotten one! An award is a welcomed pat on the back. It says, “You done good, girl.”