One thing readers should know about Rhonda McKnight is she is willing to try something new. Such is the case with her latest release. I recently spoke with her about The Thing About Home.
Tell me about your latest book.
The Thing About Home is the story of a disgraced social media influencer who flees to South Carolina’s Lowcountry in search of refuge and connection to family she’s never met.
The story is told in dual timeline moving from 1867 Georgetown, South Carolina to 2019, featuring three generations of women, including a 36-year-old social media influencer, her 99-year-old grandmother, and her great-grandmother. The great-grandmother’s story is highlighted during the Reconstruction and Jim Crow eras, offering insight into faith, family, history, and dreams of Black women.
Why did you decide to write it?
The contemporary story was inspired by my love for gardening and my desire to try my hand at book club fiction. I chose to write a little of what I know, which in this case was uncovering your purpose and finding the beauty in the season where you are planted.
The historical story was inspired by my own family, which included teachers and farmers who I’ve admired as I learned little bits here and there about their lives. My great grandfathers—one emancipated and the other born shortly after—were able to acquire land during the Jim Crow era. I always wanted to research the history of those purchases.
Who is your favorite character in the book and why?
I grew to love Casey. We spent a lot of time together, but I think my favorite character is Odessa. Although we don’t see nearly as much of her as I’d like, I imagined she was my great-grandmother, speaking to me, wanting her words shared, so I enjoyed the snippets of her life that made it into the book.
What was the hardest part about writing the story?
The nagging fear that I shouldn’t be attempting to capture historical voices. I love reading historical fiction. Many authors do it well, so I was intimidated because I’ve never even tried before, and I didn’t sell this as a dual timeline story. I didn’t want to disappoint my editor. There were several times when I asked myself, “What are you doing?”
If you were to write a book about your life, what would be the title and why?
I can’t imagine writing a book about my own life. Maybe…Daughter, Mother, Writer. Those things encompass who I am.
What would you tell your 16-year-old self?
Writing doesn’t have to be a hobby. It can be what you do. Oh, and, “Don’t eat that!”
What is something readers would be surprised to know about you?
I share a lot on social media, so I don’t know that there’s much readers haven’t had an opportunity to learn. Anything I haven’t told; I’m taking to the grave.
Tell me about a book that changed your life and why.
Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. I used to suffer from depression and persistent feelings of failure in my early thirties. I closed that book with a new understanding of how much control I had over my thoughts. In my case, my thoughts were the cause of my depression.
What’s next for you?
I’ve outlined my next indie project, All They Loved, and started writing it this week. It’s the 10th romance in my Bennett Family Series. It’ll be released August 15, 2023.
I finished the second book for Thomas Nelson a few weeks ago. The title is Bitter and Sweet, which I’m loving more each time I say it. It is scheduled to be released in April 2024.
Do you have anything you would like to add?
I’d like readers to know that The Thing About Home has a little something for everyone. I blended my three loves: historical fiction, women’s fiction, and romance. I had a conversation with a reviewer who told me she thought the book was special for that reason…it would give each reader what they needed because it was an immersive experience in each of the three genres. I blushed.
Use the Black Fiction Addiction affiliate link to purchase your copy of The Thing About Home.
To learn more about fiction author Rhonda McKnight, visit her website or connect with her on social media.