Writer adds conservation message to romantic thrillers
By Deirdre Parker Smith
After years of work in the corporate world, Rose Senehi has settled in as an author who likes to share a message while she’s telling a story.
She describes her newest book, “In the Shadows of Chimney Rock,” as a romantic thriller with an environmental theme.
In this book, a woman fights developers in the Hickory Nut Gorge area when she returns to her roots in the North Carolina mountains.
This is Senehi’s fourth novel, and “most, well, all, have an underlying theme of conservation,” Senehi says.
It’s the first in a planned series of three books on the battle raging in the mountains between developers and those who want to preserve the land as is.
She says it’s doing extremely well, and is featured in the July issue of Our State magazine.
Senehi has been writing since she was 5. Her mother took her to the library for the first time, in white gloves and white Mary Janes, and Senehi was thrilled to learn that if a book was returned late, the library made you pay.
She went home, wrote, drew and stitched together her own books, using her mother’s sewing machine, and then took envelopes out of her father’s trash can and glued them to the back, so the books could be checked out.
When a friend borrowed a book, she told her to keep it a little longer. “When she brought it back, I charged her a nickel!” Her brief life as a librarian ended when her parents found out.
After a short career in journalism, Senehi ended up working for a mall developer ó the only woman on the executive level in the company. That experience prompted her to create strong women characters.
With grown children and a home in Myrtle Beach, where she had managed a mall, she started writing books 14 years ago.”Nobody wanted to publish my books,” she says, so she self-published the first two. That taught her a lot about marketing, as she went around trying to sell her books to independent bookstores. With so many titles on the shelves, she learned she had to have a brand name ó of some sort.
“They have to know your name.” Her sign of success: “When your name gets on the list in the lady’s wallet, you know you’ve made it.”
Senehi sells real estate in Pawley’s Island. One Sunday she got a call from a lady she met at a party. The woman’s husband knew Senehi through her position on a hospital board, and he thought his wife was crazy when she told him Senehi was an author.
The lady said she’d read Senehi’s books, and had her name in her wallet.
So Senehi knows, “people carry their favorite authors names in wallets.”
Now she has a readership. “The key thing is to write a good book.” Then, even if she only sells 10, “people will share it.” Ingalls Publishing heard about her books and republished the third, “Pelican Watch,” and took on “In the Shadows of Chimney Rock.”
“I get two to three e-mails a day saying they didn’t want the book to end.
“In all my books, the woman is the hero. She’s her own hero, she’s not looking for somebody to come save her.”
Senehi came of age just when women were coming into their own. “I was raised to be proactive,” and she made it in a time when men dominated the executive offices.
The women in her books work to overcome whatever challenge they face. “That’s the outlook I have.”
In “Pelican Watch,” the heroine works to save loggerhead turtles; in “Shadows in the Grass,” the theme was saving heritage seeds. That was inspired by a farm she owned in Canada. Her neighbors had seed-saving rallies, seed clubs. Some families had been saving and passing seeds down for more than 200 years.
“I use the story to get across a deeper message. … They all stand alone, and if you don’t scare easy, they’re fun to read.”
Senehi splits her time between the Chimney Rock area and the South Carolina coast.
She loves meeting her readers and has already done 32 book signings in North and South Carolina. She’s a relentless worker, too, getting up at 4 a.m. and writing until 3:30 p.m. “My existence revolves around people who read my books.”
She has visited Salisbury and finds it charming, especially downtown and the historic district. And if a couple of book clubs in the area decide to read one of her books, she would be happy to come and talk.