Welcome to TRB Lounge. Today, I’d like to welcome author Hilah Roscoe, from Atmosphere Press, for an author interview with The Reading Bud.
About The Author
Hilah Roscoe is originally from Mississippi. She has a love/hate relationship with running, doesn’t deviate from recipes, and should never be left alone with a family-size bag of Salt and Vinegar potato chips. When she isn’t writing, she’s obsessing over her next travel destination, listening to numerous true crime podcasts and taking an obnoxious amount of pictures of friends and family. Currently, she resides in Texas with her husband, daughter and rescue dogs.
Welcome to TRB! Please give our readers a brief introduction about yourself before we begin.
I grew up in a town in Mississippi that was about twice the size of Taloowa (the main setting in the book). I can’t keep house plants alive to save my life, and I read just about every genre of book. I heart audible books just as much as hard copies or Kindle versions.
Please tell us something about your book other than what we have read in the blurb?
I listened to a lot of country music around the time I was writing the book. I actually never listened to a lot of country music before, and now I am a much bigger fan. You’ll see a few actual songs mentioned throughout the book, and those were just a few on my “Sweet Shrub Inn” playlist.
What is that one message that you’re trying to get across to the readers in this book?
Hmmm. Some relationships can be mended even when there are years of hurt behind them? I wrote Cora as a budding therapist, but I am not one myself.
Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
I’d say Coop is my favorite character. She’s the epitome of what you want a best friend to be to help you steer through life—she’s intrusive, funny, loyal and maternal.
What inspired you to write this book? An idea, some anecdote, a dream or something else?
Honestly, I just wanted to write the type of book that I wanted to read at the time. Easy, funny, sweet. Although it touches on a terrible disease (Alzheimer’s) in its very early stages, I think it’s a feel-good book. After the last few years, I wanted to read something that made me feel good because, seriously, what have we been living through?
How long did it take you to write this particular book?
Writing it took about 7 months.
What are your writing ambitions? Where do you see yourself 5 years from today?
I have another book that’s almost complete now, but I’ve been waiting for the last year to write the last few chapters. I feel like writers are the biggest procrastinators in the universe. It’s set in a fictional town (in Alabama, this time) and involves another small-town romance. The main character in this one is a bit younger, and it isn’t a “we’ve known each other for years” type of romance.
Are you working on any other story presently?
What’s funny is—I wasn’t until today. I have a story that includes some characters from The Sweet Shrub Inn. I’ll say it involves a different Mabry brother.
Why have you chosen this genre? Or do you write in multiple genres?
I actually wrote a book that I referred to as “light science fiction for women” a few years ago, but I couldn’t get an agent or a publisher. Rejection emails were in no short supply. When I started writing The Sweet Shrub Inn I was just in a completely different mindset. I wanted to read/write something that would make me feel good. I am an absolute SUCKER for some romance. There are so many subgenres within romance, and there are authors that do amazing things in each of them. I will read just about anything. I would love to think I could branch over into another genre again, but I am a little partial to southern romance at this particular stage in my life/writing.
What is your writing ritual? How do you do it?
I have to be alone (obviously). I love listening to music before or after I write, but I can’t do it while I write. Even instrumental music distracts me. I write best in the mornings. Come late afternoon, my brain just isn’t where it is in the mornings. I also put YouTube on a crackling fireplace channel to make me feel cozier when I write.
How do you prefer to write – computer/laptop, typewriter, dictation or longhand with a pen?
I do take notes in a notebook, but I work on a laptop 90% of the time.
What are your 5 favourite books? (You can share 5 favourite authors too.)
I think Maggie Stiefvater is a super cool writer. Penny Reid and Colleen Hoover are romance champions, but I’m still reading new romance authors all the time. Jack Olsen, Jon Krakauer, Augusten Burroughs. Is that five? I could go on longer than you have time for.
How do you deal with Writer’s Block?
I don’t beat myself up about it as much anymore. I used to try to force myself to write when I was clearly not in the right mindset. If I had a deadline for an editor, I would keep writing from morning until night (often still not making the deadline). The ideas just weren’t coming after a certain time of day, and I started to second-guess everything I had written previously. You can’t get blood from a turnip. Yes, I just referred to my brain as a turnip. I think Writer’s Block is sometimes your mind’s way of telling you to step away. It sucks when you have it for months at a time. Ideas come to me in the most strange (and sometimes inconvenient) situations. I still find myself trying to “make it happen” when it just isn’t the right time.
What advice would you give to aspiring non-fiction writers?
I can’t claim credit for it, but my best advice is probably to write what you know. I have tried to write stories that weren’t based in my own personal experiences, and I struggled with it. Plenty of writers are able to do it. My second piece of advice would be to enjoy the feeling when readers really relate to your story. Some people will hate what you write. Some people will love it. That’s really how it goes. I was so pleasantly surprised by how much some people enjoyed and invested their time in the book. When they reach out to me to tell me how they felt reading it, I am practically giddy.
Thank you, author Roscoe, for your honest answers!
About the Book
The Sweet Shrub Inn
Combining a captivating romance with a cast of all-too-human characters, Hilah Roscoe’s The Sweet Shrub Inn is an unforgettable tale of love, loss, family, and Southern charm.
In less than twenty-four hours, young therapist-in-training, Cora Graham, is dumped by her boyfriend in Chicago and notified that her estranged father is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. It’s been years since Cora has visited the small Mississippi town of her birth, and the wounds she suffered there still ache. Two years earlier, at her best friend’s wedding, she finally made her feelings known for Jensen Mabry, the town heartthrob, only to be turned down.
Despite her anxieties at seeing those who played such an integral role in her flight from home, Cora returns to discover her ill-tempered father has purchased the old Sweet Shrub Inn, which she must renovate and sell to pay for his increasing medical costs. Though Jensen offers to loan her the money through his family’s construction company, something feels amiss. Has reuniting with her long-lost love in a town that holds so many ghosts clouded her judgment? Or is there another, more suspicious reason for his kindness?
As she navigates her rekindled passions and her father’s terrifying illness, Cora must face her heart’s ultimate dilemma: should she return to her old life in Chicago or stay in a town she’s learning to love again?
You can find The Sweet Shrub Inn here:
Goodreads | Amazon | Atmosphere Press
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