We are very proud to recommend THE CLOVER GIRLS as The Best Ever You Network's pick for Best Summer Read. The book was written by author Wade Rouse, whose pen name is Viola Shipman.
Over on The Best Ever You Awards, we recently issued our Gold Seal of Excellence to The Clover Girls and would love for you to learn more about author Wade Rouse in this 1:1 interview.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m the internationally bestselling author of twelve books, which have been translated into 21 languages. I chose my grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, as a pen name to honor the woman whose heirlooms and family stories inspire my fiction. My latest novel is The Clover Girls about four very different girls who meet and become best friends at summer camp in northern Michigan in the 1980s before life and adulthood distances them. It’s a summer ode to our forever friends, forgiveness and the fragility of life. My novels have been selected multiple times as Must-Reads by NBC’s Today Show, featured in the Washington Post, USA Today and on Chelsea Lately and chosen three times as Indie Next Picks by the nation’s independent booksellers as well as a Michigan Notable Book of the Year. My writing has appeared in a diverse range of publications and media, including Coastal Living, Time, All Things Considered, People, Good Housekeeping, Salon, Forbes, The Washington Post, Writer’s Digest and Publisher’s Weekly. I’m also a noted humorist of four memoirs, I was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards in Humor (he lost to Tina Fey) and was named by Writer’s Digest as “The #2 Writer, Dead or Alive, We’d Like to Have Drinks With” (Wade was sandwiched between Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson). I earned my B.A. from Drury University and his master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. I divide my time between Saugatuck, Michigan, and Palm Springs, California, and am also an acclaimed writing teacher who has mentored numerous students to become published authors. I also host the popular Facebook Live literary happy hour, “Wine & Words with Wade,” every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. EST on the Viola Shipman author page where I talk writing, inspiration and welcome bestselling authors and publishing insiders.
How did you get to be where you are today?
A mix of talent, hard work, perseverance, and learning to believe in myself and overcome the fear that tends to hold us all back from pursuing our passions and dreams. I was also raised by good, strong, kind, hardworking women. My grandma (Viola Shipman, the pen name for my novels) was working poor, a seamstress who stitched overalls at a local factory until she couldn’t stand straight. Her sacrifices are a big reason I am a writer and the person I am today. She understood what was most important in life – “the simple things,” she always said, like family, friends, our health, a sunrise and sunset, the things we’ve been reminded of this past year – and I never take that for granted, no matter how hard things get. My grampa raked rocks off farmers’ fields in the Ozarks, and he always said, when life got tough, “Just put your back into it a little more, and you’ll get it done.” They keep me grounded to this day.
Have you ever been fired?
Ha! YES! Twice. Both were summer jobs I had in college when I wanted to live in my fraternity house and have fun with friends. I worked in men’s wear at Sears, and a businessman ran into the store with coffee all over his dress shirt and asked where he could buy one. Instead of selling him one where I worked, I told him to head to one of my favorite stores in the mall, which did not go over well with my boss. I also wasn’t very good at laying away the layaway.
What are your real passions?
I’m blessed to do what I love. I always wanted to be a writer. Always. And I wake up and rush out of bed every morning excited to get started.
If you won the lottery, what would you do?
Yell! Re-read the numbers a hundred times to make sure they were right! Then I’d establish a fund to help talented, emerging writers get started (time to write without worry about bills, etc.). I’d help fund indie booksellers across the nation, which have been hurt financially – like so many small businesses around the country – so that they can continue to remain the hearts, minds and souls of our communities. And I’d also buy a home in Capri (lol). I mean, right?
What do you do to help others be their best?
I teach writing workshops where I help emerging and established authors on their craft and their manuscripts. I am proud to have helped numerous writers have their manuscripts published by major publishers. But it’s much more than that: I not only encourage and hope to improve their skills/manuscript but I also work to heal their souls and overcome the fear that is holding them back in their lives and in their writing. I am more proud of the fact that I help souls overcome the fear that keeps them from not only pursuing their passion but also keeps them from channeling that unique voice that calls to them. I always say that awful things happen from head to hands, from mind to finger to laptop, when we let fear consume us, when we worry about those things we'll never be able to control, like whether we're good enough, whether we'll make money, whether those we love and know – and don't – will like our work. Fear is a beast we cannot see that eats slowly at our souls. That is, sadly, how I believe most people live. Too often in our world today, we let fear consume us: It drives our daily lives typically more so than passion. We worry about Money. Time. Health. Aging. Our parents. Our children. The future. But how often do we nurture our now, which helps nurture a healthy future? Fear is the worst thing that can happen to a person and an artist because it holds us back from channeling our voice and our individual uniqueness, which is the only thing that separates us as humans and writers.
How do you help yourself be the best you can be?
I exercise, eat well and try to stay positive. I so wasn’t that person at one point in my life. I lost 120 pounds and have kept it off for over two decades. I truly believe in the philosophy BEST EVER YOU because we are constantly evolving, and I believe the best is always yet to come. You just have to believe in yourself, know that you are worthy of good things and that being unique and different is powerful.
What do you like to do in your personal life?
I love to read (of course); a good writer is always a good reader. I love (and miss) traveling: Next up is Greece. I love to exercise and be outdoors. I’m a big runner (4-8 miles a day), because the more physically exhausted I become, the more mentally alert I become (as I run, I work through everything I’ve written that morning and then come home and sweatily make notes/revisions). I love to hike and trail run in Palm Springs, and I run and boat in Michigan (and love to go to our beautiful beaches). I enjoy cooking, baking, boating, movies, theatre, and good wine and coffee. And I most love to spend time with my two rescue dogs (Mabel and Doris), my friends and family, and my husband, Gary.
What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
How much time do you have? I see every day as a gift, and I cannot wait to create. I have two more books out this year (including my first holiday novel) and three books next year. I want to continue writing both fiction and nonfiction. I would love to continue building my weekly literary happy hour, WINE & WORDS WITH WADE. I want to see my books and memoirs adapted into screenplays. I plan to start an online shop (with great gifts) on my web sites. I can’t wait to begin touring again, so I can talk to and hug on readers. And I hope to be happy and healthy.
What is a book or two that you recommend?
If you’re a writer, read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird (she is one of my all-time favorite writers). And I always recommend Erma Bombeck, who was inspirational to me growing up. When I say her name to high school and college students, I hear crickets, but she was (and is) one of America’s greatest humorists. Her humorous memoirs, like The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, still hold up today and remind us that the best and funniest things in life are right in front of our very eyes.
Please give us one or two shameless plugs.
I truly hope your incredible followers buy a copy of THE CLOVER GIRLS, which Library Journal called “a blissful summer read for fans of Kristin Hannah’s Firefly Lane and Elin Hilderbrand.” It’s also received endorsements from New York Times bestselling authors Mary Alice Monroe, Kristy Woodson Harvey and Nancy Thayer. I also have two books out this year – THE SECRET OF SNOW, my first holiday novel, on Oct. 26 a well as my first holiday e-book novella) – and three books out next year, including a new summer novel (THE BUTTON JAR in May) and my first memoir in a decade (MAGIC SEASON in June). And I hope your followers check out my weekly literary happy hour, WINE & WORDS WITH WADE, which airs live every Thursday on my Viola Shipman Facebook Page (follow me there!) at 6:30 pm ET. I welcome bestselling authors, publishing insiders and talk about writing, books, inspiration and hope.
What are some of your favorites? (books, websites, etc..)
One of my all-time favorite books is THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. I re-read it every couple of years, and it speaks to me more now as an adult than it ever did as a teenager, regarding what conformity does to us. Same goes with ‘80s books like LESS THAN ZERO and BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY as well as BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES. And there a few things that have gotten me through the last year: Food from The Barefoot Contessa (https://barefootcontessa.com), cocktails (I love Colleen Jeffers on Instagram because her posts aren’t just pretty they teach you how to make wonderful, unique drinks: colljeffers) and laughter (Leslie Jordan, how I love you! thelesliejordan on Insta)
Why do you do what you do?
Writing is how I make sense of the world. It’s how I’ve always made sense of the world. It allows me to ask and answer questions I’m struggling with and that I believe readers are struggling with as well. It’s also a way to put myself and my readers in other people’s shoes in order to view the world from a different perspective, which changes who we are and ripples outward. In addition, I want readers to feel hopeful again. We need that desperately. I want readers to remember that the simplest things -- as we’ve been reminded this past year -- are the most important: Our family, our health and our friends. I hope readers understand the importance of our elders in our lives. The main characters in my novels are all women much like my mother and grandmothers: Good people trying to do the best they can in this world, working hard and sacrificing to give their families better lives, kind, honorable souls who are the foundations of our families and society but are too often overlooked in life and literature. I hope readers reconnect with friends. And I hope that readers remember the power and magic of the friendships and dreams we had as kids.
What are a few of your goals?
My red envelope includes hitting the New York Times bestseller list, the USA Today bestseller list, having a book turned into a movie or TV show, writing forever, traveling again, and being as happy and healthy as I can.
Purchase your copy of THE CLOVER GIRLS.
What do the words "Best Ever You" mean to you?
Oh, this is a great (and BIG) question. First, too few of us ever fully become our best selves, and that is a shame. My grandma (Viola Shipman, my pen name) was working poor, a seamstress who stitched overalls her whole life so that her family could have a better life than she did. My mother, a nurse and hospice nurse, was diagnosed with cancer not longer after my first book was published. I had quit my safe, secure, well-paying job to write full time. I was thinking of giving up. During her chemotherapy and when she was ill, she used to tell me, “Life is short as one blink of God’s eye. You have to make every moment count. You must build on your grandmother’s legacy. You must do what you were born to do.” Just before she passed away, she was able to see one of my books featured on the Today show. “What a blink you’re going to have,” she said to me. “It’s what happens when we refuse to give into fear.” She inspired me to keep going. She taught me to build upon the legacy of my elders. My grandma taught me to work hard, never give up and leave a legacy. That’s Best Ever You: Work hard, be yourself, leave a legacy, because it will impact others in ways you never imagined. Now, no challenge seems quite as daunting any longer. I know I am blessed, and I am inspired every day to do what I love and to be the best ever me I can be.