I am thrilled to welcome the extremely lovely Hattie C. Cooper to Bookaholic Confessions. Hattie’s debut novel, Silent Memories was released on 3rd January 2015 and it is the first in The Sawmill Cove Trilogy (which sounds fantastic – read how Hattie sums the books up if you don’t believe me!) Click here to get hold of your copy. For now it’s over to Hattie as we chat romance novels, anxiety and Nora Roberts knockoffs…
Thank you so much for having me, Holly! And hello to the Bookaholic Confession family…it’s wonderful to meet you. Thank you for reading! My name is Hattie and I’m a contemporary romance author/poet/blogger who lives in Seattle, WA. Contrary to what people say, the weather here in Seattle in gorgeous. But, then again, I really like overcast days — what’s more romantic than fog!? I grew up in Northern California and my heart is rooted in Redwoods. I love cheese, tea, my loud house cat Scout, and I truly want to believe in Nessie & Bigfoot.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut novel, Silent Memories (released 3rd January 2015)?
Silent Memories is centered around a small, silent, and precious gem that comes in the form of four -year-old Penny Jeffries. It is because of her tragedy that Ryan and Jay are both called to Sawmill Cove, Idaho and it is because of her strength that our characters are all able to find some kind of peace in their own journeys. What surprised me the most while writing Silent Memories was how much I genuinely fell in love with all my characters.
Silent Memories is Book One of The Sawmill Cove Trilogy. Can you tell us a bit about the series what readers can expect from books as a whole?
The trilogy will follow three separate love stories, all of which are intertwined with each other in various ways and all tangled in the complex beauty of Sawmill Cove, Idaho. It is my hope that each book provides readers with insights into the depths of the human heart, and the importance of compassion and honesty. Book two will follow Abby and her quest to rediscover herself and book three will jump forward in time and explore Penny’s heart and her journey to love.
What gave you the idea for the storyline?
When I was 15 I “wrote” a romance novel with my best friend, Sara. It was, to put it nicely, a complete Nora Roberts knockoff. She’s like my romance novel spirit guide so I hate even admitting that I basically stole her work, but I basically did. BUT it also showed me how much I loved storytelling, world-building, and getting to know characters whose hearts I believed in. I thought up the bare bones plot of my next book and proceeded to carry it around with me for a decade. This plot would evolve into Silent Memories. The original concept was sparked by my fascination with how people, and primarily those in intimate relationships, often struggle with clear communication. From the start, Silent Memories was going to be a book about the importance of being heard. And how everyone deserves to be heard and valued. Penny, Ryan, Jay, Floyd, and even Luke and Chloe all deserve to be heard in their own way.
How long did Silent Memories take you to write?
While I’d thought of the basic plot points over a decade ago, I didn’t start writing the story in earnest until late 2013. I’d joked for years that I needed to write “my romance novel.” Then the joke turned into frustration, then anger. I was angry at myself for not having the courage to try and write it.I think creative people have such a tendency to doubt themselves, why do we do this to ourselves? So one day, I just sat down and dedicated myself to giving these characters the storytelling they deserved. It was as if Jay, Ryan, and Penny had been wandering around my mind, walking from room to room, tapping their feet, just waiting for me to share their story.
This question always fascinates me, with any book or piece of literature we encounter. I’ve had fiction professors warn against ever assuming the author is personally in a piece at all. But, if we’re honest with ourselves as writers, our entire life experience influences what we write and what our heart tells us to explore. I definitely see aspects of myself, my parents, and several of my closest friends in each of my characters. And my past, both from working with children and people with disabilities, heavily influenced the way I approached several plotlines. I taught in Northern Idaho for a year and spend a lot of summer weekends there, which obviously affected the setting.
I think that your blog – The Anxious Girls Guide to Dating is fantastic. (http://www.hattiecooper.com/blog) You state on your website that you suffer from Generalised Anxiety Disorder; is this something that you’ve suffered with for most of your life & can you give any tips to any other anxiety-prone readers out there?
This is just so lovely of you to say. Thank you. And anxiety has been present in my life for as long as I can remember, and I come from a bloodline of worriers. As a child, I didn’t know what to call it besides “I worry all the time.” As I grew and matured, I began to educate myself and try my best to understand what I was going through since, at times, it became unmanageable. The best advice I can give someone who struggles with anxiety or depression or mental health issues, is to educate yourself. Anxiety can lead you to feel helpless and hopeless, like you have no control over your life. But you always have the choice to learn, to read, and to take back that control through knowledge. And never, ever, feel unworthy of asking for help.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
I believe the romance writing community is the most supportive and lovely community there is. A dear friend of mine, Emily Poule, published her debut novel “Here for the Cake” back in 2014 and through her experience and wisdom showed me endless support and encouragement to self-publish Silent Memories. There were many days where I felt embarrassment over my book, or felt it wasn’t ready, but the people around me showed so much faith in my words. This, for any writer ever contemplating releasing a book to the world, is is the most important thing to remember: there will always be people who believe in you. Yes, artists can be competitive and there will always be people who try to be negative or tear you down, but keep your focus on those who uplift you. They are there and believe in you.
Who are your favourite authors and what kind of books do you enjoy reading?
This is my absolutely favorite (and most dreaded!) question to be asked! There are so many things I love to read and it’s so hard to name just a few. I believe it’s important to read both inside and outside your genre since all writing teaches us something. My Master’s degree is in poetry and I adore contemporary poets like Matthew Dickman, Dorianne Laux, Kim Addonizio, and Tony Hoagland. I love non-fiction books like the ones by Mary Roach, Hampton Sides, and Erik Larson. I return to Capote’s In Cold Blood about twice a year to absorb his brilliant structuring, language, and storytelling. And I love, always will & always have, deeply love Nora Roberts. I recently reread Honest Illusions and I was like “hot damn this is so good!”
And finally – can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment?
After releasing Silent Memories I gave myself a window to breathe, where I stepped away from my trilogy and spent time working on personal essays and poetry. I think it’s good, sometimes even necessary, to allow yourself some space and time to explore different voices and styles of writing. But now I’m back into book two of the Sawmill Cove trilogy, Quiet Dreams. It’s been such a blast to reconnect with Ryan and Jay, but this time through the lens of Abby’s experience. There are a lot of great new characters I’m meeting while writing this story and I can’t wait to share it with readers later this year!
A massive thank you to Hattie for answering my questions. Don’t forget to download your copy of Silent Memories here. ♥