Roma Brooks talks about setting the scene for her books.
I have always loved books that took me far away from my surroundings, transporting me to places unseen. Tales of action and adventure thrilled me, and I found myself preferring to read books set in idyllic locations. Exotic Caribbean islands, quaint British villages, rustic European spots, small mountain towns in the Rockies – I have devoured many books simply based on their setting. Maybe it has something to do with my insatiable wanderlust. Or maybe books provide the ultimate escapism.
I promised myself long ago that when I wrote a novel, it would be set in a place everyone wanted to visit. I knew that the stories I wrote would deal with regular people, people like you and me, the kind you come across in life. Well, regular people come with their share of problems. They battle adversity and get drenched in the rain. I wanted to talk about that. At the same time, I didn’t want to make my readers sob. Or feel hopeless. I wanted them to identify with the characters they were reading about, smile when something struck a chord, laugh out loud when they read something funny, and maybe shed a tear or two when something sad happened to the characters. But above all, I wanted my readers to have fun, be happy. I wanted them to close the book, or hit the power button on their ereader with a smile on their face. So I decided to take them to paradise.
I grew up listening to my granny’s stories of life in a small seaside village, so the coastal setting was a given. I knew it had to be a small town where people knew each other, and had done so for generations. There are several different coastlines I just love, and many different beaches that call to me. But nothing has affected me as much as the Eastern Shore of Virginia. This is a lesser known region, connected to land by a 17-mile-long bridge. Time and again, I have driven across this bridge, hassled by some curve ball life threw at me. Every time, I have experienced something magical the moment I cross over to the shore. It’s like the clamor and clangor of the city dies down, the sun shines brighter, and a thousand violins play a jaunty tune in my head. Considering how besotted I am with this part of the world, I didn’t have to look far when I created the fictional seaside community of Cape Harriet.
Cape Harriet is a place everyone will want to visit, a place everyone will fall in love with. And once they do so, they will never want to leave. The Chesapeake Bay, Chincoteague Island, Atlantic coast and many things mentioned in the books are of course real. But the specific location of Cape Harriet and its features are purely fictional.
Once I had the setting, I thought of the Rising Tides Inn. The inn was built in Victorian times and a large part of Book 1 is the story of the sea captain who built it for his beloved wife. The history of Cape Harriet and the Rising Tides Inn will be part of a larger plot or back story that will be part of some of the upcoming books.
The Rising Tides Inn is a luxurious property spread across several acres. It faces the Atlantic Ocean and has some private beaches. The gardens are ablaze with colorful flowers, infusing the air with their fragrance. Handmade soaps, farm raised food, organic produce, local wines – visitors to the inn will find themselves in the lap of luxury. A portly old couple run the inn and they pamper their guests, feeding them gourmet morsels day and night. And oh yes, they don’t hesitate to gently nudge a troubled guest in the right direction. Readers will pick up on that very early in Clipper Beach. When Sandhya has to suddenly leave the inn, Zadie makes sure she has something for the road, and also insists on giving her a keepsake from the inn. How can one not want to be around such people? Most of the first book, Clipper Beach, focuses on the Rising Tides Inn with just a couple of characters from Cape Harriet coming into the narrative.
Ensconced in luxury, and lovingly cared for by Zadie and Pete, James and Sandhya dare to venture out of their cocoon, letting go of the walls they have built around themselves. We find that the sea side setting, the blooming cherry trees, the promise of spring and the lavish food have gone a long way in making them take a respite from all that’s bothering them.
Book 2, Wicked Summer, introduces a few more characters from the town of Cape Harriet. The three sisters who run Seaside Books, an ancient bookstore, ol’ Gus who makes hand churned ice cream, Cathy who creates fancy cakes, the local vintner couple, old Fern with the dairy farm – I hope readers will become familiar with all these characters and want to know what is happening in their lives.
The extended Bloom family has descended on the inn, and Zadie’s busy dishing up summer delicacies. Sibling rivalry is at its peak, and so is teenage angst. The Bloom sisters are busy being one up on each other and Mary, the soon-to-be-60 birthday girl is taking it all in with her usual inscrutable smile. The Rising Tides Inn becomes their port in a storm when all hell breaks loose.
Future books in the series will feature stories about guests who come to the inn, and people who live in the town of Cape Harriet. For now, let’s join the Bloom family in celebrating Mary’s 60th birthday. I promise you plenty of fun in the sun and sand, and nonstop thrills that will leave you a happy camper this Wicked Summer.
Sandhya, a haughty Wall Street executive, faces a tough decision that will affect her life. She arrives at the Rising Tides Inn for a brief vacation. James is a handsome, enigmatic guest at the inn whose unpredictable behavior puts Sandhya on edge. Both are imprisoned by what happened in their past, and are drawn to each other inspite of a mutual hesitation to get involved.
Pete and Zadie Strathmore are proud owners of the luxurious Rising Tides Inn. Their hospitality extends beyond catering to their guests’ physical comforts. They go the extra mile to pamper their souls.
Welcome to Cape Harriet, where you can slow down and breathe in the salty breeze, and smell the roses.
Roma Brooks writes stories featuring real life characters, the kind you would come across in your own family. She dreams of retiring to a seaside town like Cape Harriet where the gentle waves of the ocean lull you into sweet dreams.