Wade Rouse is as warm and genuine in real life as the charming characters in his novels. The 56-year-old native of Missouri is in love with Michigan, his adopted home since 2006, and the “throwback, old-school” knotty-pine-paneled cottage on seven acres near Lake Michigan in Fennville that he shares with his husband, Gary Edwards.
“I’ve written almost every one of my books from that cottage,” the author says. And even though he and Edwards winter in Palm Springs, Calif., he says no other state is as beautiful as Michigan in the summer. “Michigan resonates and reverberates in my soul,” the prolific writer proclaims. “The towns have such fascinating histories.”
It’s been a highly emotional time for Rouse. The COVID-19 pandemic took one of his dear friends, as well as his father-in-law. “That shook me to the core,” he says, explaining that it made him re-evaluate his life, his priorities, and especially his connections with childhood friends — many of whom he’d lost touch with over the years. “They knew us when we were our true selves — our simple selves — and the simplest things in life mean the most.”
The past 12 months have also been exhilarating for Rouse, who recently signed a four-book deal with prestigious publisher Harper-Collins. Three of his novels are scheduled for release in 2021; the first, “The Clover Girls,” made its debut in May. Early reviews say it’s a novel “you will forever savor and treasure,” and it’s been called “Viola Shipman’s (the author’s pen name) most beautiful and most important novel.”
Rouse calls his book “a love story about friendship and a love story about Michigan, where four very different girls who become friends at summer camp in the 1980s lose touch, then reconnect, reunite, and reclaim themselves and their dreams.”
The Clover Girls’ summer camp is outside Glen Arbor, and the novel prominently showcases the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Leland, and the historic log cabin that’s now the Cottage Book Store in Glen Arbor, of which Rouse — who grew up in libraries and bookstores — says: “If there’s one bookstore in America that screams ‘I’m Michigan,’ that’s it.” The book also takes readers on a scenic, sentimental ride across Michigan, and Rouse says “the four friends in the book are based on dear friends of mine.”
The Clover Girls is certain to inspire readers with its message about the true meaning of living — and loving. Simplicity, as Rouse reveals, is the answer.
“The Clover Girls” is available everywhere books are sold. It’s been selected as a Summer Target Recommended Book and will be available in all Target stores from June 27-Aug. 28.
No.1 international best-selling author, humorist, and writing teacher Wade Rouse has written 12 books, and his works have been translated into 20 languages. He uses the pen name Viola Shipman for his novels, honoring his grandmother, whose heirlooms and family stories often inspire his fiction. Writer’s Digest declared Rouse “The No. 2 Writer, Dead or Alive, We’d Like to Have Drinks With” — he’s sandwiched between Ernest Hemingway and Hunter Thompson.
Rouse’s novels include “The Charm Bracelet,” a 2017 Michigan Notable Book of the Year; “The Hope Chest”; “The Recipe Box”; “The Summer Cottage,” the No.1 best-selling novel in Michigan in 2019; and “The Heirloom Garden.” He’s also written four well-received memoirs, and hosts the popular Facebook Live show, “Wine & Words with Wade, A Literary Happy Hour,” every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. EST on the Viola Shipman author page. For more information, visit violashipman.com and waderouse.com.