Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Thanks for hosting me, Fiona. I’m Anne Goodwin and I turned 60 this year.
Fiona: Where are you from?
I live in England, between Sherwood Forest and the Peak District National Park.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I have four degrees (!) and not a single one in creative writing, although my background in psychology is perhaps equally useful in my current career.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I’m now about to publish my third book and first short story collection with micro-press Inspired Quill.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written ever since I could shape my letters with a pencil, but it took a bereavement – a.k.a. midlife crisis – for me to dare to take that seriously. I wrote about this in the week I published my first book.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I ought to have a better answer than this, as I’ve written a few posts on the writer’s identity for my blog tour, but it’s probably when I set up my website to keep track of the various short stories I had published in online magazines.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I can identify three areas of experience that fed into my first novel: the exceedingly long time it took me to make sense of my own painful adolescence; a newspaper report about a middle-aged woman, a high-achieving academic, who had died of anorexia nervosa without any of her colleagues or family being aware of her condition; discovering, halfway through its validity and after travelling to about a dozen different countries, that my passport had the letter M in the box for sex.
My current book came about at the invitation of my publisher at a time when I had around sixty short stories published without considering submitting them as a single-author anthology.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My debut novel, Sugar and Snails, is about a woman with a marginalised identity – and the title is a big clue to what that identity actually is. But as readers have enjoyed the process of discovery, I can’t say any more!
Identity is also the unifying theme of my collection, originally entitled Becing Someone. But my publisher pointed out that the stories encapsulate the process of developing, losing and reclaiming an identity and we agreed the title Becoming Someonewas a better fit.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write accessible literary fiction, also known as book group fiction. Character and situation come to me more easily than plot. I think writing for publication is always challenging, but I hope I improve with each book.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I draw a lot on my own experience for my writing, but it’s much more at the level of themes and emotion than things I’ve actually done(although such experiences do emerge occasionally in my fiction, though not particularly significant events in my life). But, because of the sensitivity of the issues in my debut novel, and I knew readers would wonder about it, it’s an issue I thought about a lot, perhaps best summed up in this guest post from a couple of years ago.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I usually draw on settings and situations I already know, but a return visit was ruled out when I set my debut novel partly in Cairo fifteen years before I got to visit. No such complications when I took a fruitful research tripto Cumbria where I grew up for what I hope will be my next novel.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Vince Haig designed the covers of my first two novels; I had some ideas, which I actually thought were good ideas, but what he came up with was so much better both times. The cover of my latest book was off-the-peg from Paper & Sage Designs. I’m delighted with all three perfect packages for my words.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Not surprisingly, given my background, I write a lot about psychological issues and mental health. But there’s no message; most of all, I want readers to be entertained.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favourite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Reading around 150 newly published novels a year, a five debuts have made it onto my favourites list for 2018: Jaroslav Kalfar’s Spaceman of Bohemia; Olga Wojtas’ Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar; Sally Magnusson’s The Sealwoman’s Gift; House of Stone by Novuyo Rosa Tshuma; and Tracey Emerson’sShe Chose Me. There doesn’t seem to be a pattern to what I like: the first two are funny and quirky, the other three more serious reads.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Probably my publisher, Sara Jayne Slack from Inspired Quill who has been so encouraging and adept at pushing me to deliver my best. But before I connected with Sara, it was my therapist who supported me to follow my dream.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, definitely,and I love that I’m embarking on another career after twenty-five years as an NHS clinical psychologist. Fortunately I also have a pension so don’t have to make money out of it, although it would be nice!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Can I give two contradictory answers? Yes, because even a couple of months, weeks or days since it was last scrutinised, I’m a different person and there’s always something that could be improved. No, because it’s been closely edited – several times – and it’s now for readers to pronounce judgement and for me to move on to my next book.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
That there are hundreds more ways of addressing identity than I’ve been able to cover in my book.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I can’t envisage any of my short stories being filmed but I’ve had my eye on Tilda Swinton for my debut novel.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Don’t listen to advice from anyone who thinks they know what’s best for you – not even this!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
If you’ve enjoyed a book by a relatively unknown writer, do consider posting a review anywhere online. It really helps! Also, if you can’t afford to buy new books, why not borrow a copy from your public library? Not only would you be supporting a valuable community resource that is increasingly under threat, but you’d be making a small contribution to the author’s income at no cost to you. Authors might only get a few pence when their books are borrowed, but that’s more than they get when you buy second-hand.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m about to read The Key by Kathryn Hughes as, according to the blurb, it has similar themes to the novel I’ve recently finished writing and hope to have published next.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Not really, but it was probably the first in the dreadful series of Janet and John primers at infant school.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Hard-core capitalists who complain about specific examples of inequality, as if they don’t understand their own creed. Makes me both laugh and cry.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Once a year, I lead a guided walk through Jane Eyre territory in the Peak District. I’d love Charlotte Brontë to join us one day!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading, walking and singing: the first two also help with my writing and the second keeps me (relatively) sane as I sing soprano in a mixed voice choir. I’m also a volunteer Ranger Peak District National Park.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I enjoy dark comedy but rarely watch TV – too busy reading!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Mmm, so much depends on my mood. But my go-to comfort food which is so easy for lazy cooks like me is a simple dish of rice and lentils. And, as a musical accompaniment, I love classical chorals and Leonard Cohen.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
It’s taken me so long to embrace my identity as a writer, I couldn’t imagine giving it up unless I were incapacitated in some way. As I write with voice recognition software, that might mean I’ve lost my voice; a miserable prospect, given how much benefit from choral singing, but not as bad as losing my mind.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Thanking the people who helped me get this far.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Ha, no need for a stone! I’ll probably be cremated and scattered to the winds.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
If you go there right now you’ll find a few goodies:
- My debut novel is discounted to 99p or equivalent (Kindle version) throughout November at/SugarandSnails
- If you subscribe to my author newsletter before 19th November, you’ll be in with the chance of winning a signed copy of my anthology.
- If you use Facebook, I’d love to celebrate with you at my online book launch where, the more people participate the more I’ll donate to Book Aid. If you’ve a moment to spare on 23rd November, do drop in!
Becoming Someone published23rd November, 2018by Inspired Quill
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-908600-77-6 / 9781908600776
eBook ISBN: 978-1-908600-78-3 / 9781908600783
Amazon author page viewauthor.at/AnneGoodwin
Author page at Inspired Quill publishershttp://www.inspired-quill.com/authors/anne-goodwin/
Facebook launch in support of Book Aid Internationalhttps://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/
Becoming Someone blurb
What shapes the way we see ourselves?
An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.
Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?
Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?
Becoming Someone bio
Anne Goodwin’s debut novel,Sugar and Snailswas shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in 2017. Alongside her identity as a writer, she’ll admit to being a sociable introvert; recovering psychologist; voracious reader; slug slayer; struggling soprano; and tramper of moors.
Becoming SomeoneFacebook launch https://www.facebook.com/events/285314412085573/
An online party to celebrate the publication of my first short story anthology, Becoming Someone.
Drop in at your own convenience wherever you are in the world, I’ll be here to entertain you from morning coffee to pre-dinner drinks.
The more actively people participate, the more I’ll donate to Book Aid International.
Sugar and Snails promotion My debut novel is discounted to 99p or equivalent (Kindle version) throughout November viewbook.at/SugarandSnails