It’s February, spring is just around the corner and love is in the air! So, what better way to interview my next guest on Rock Paper Spirit than by crashing a wedding! I’m here with romance author Jessica Goodwin at the most glamorous society wedding you could imagine to do some writing research. I brought a toaster and added it to the gift pile so I don’t feel like a freeloader. The venue is gorgeous; chandeliers everywhere, wall-to-wall designer outfits and…oh champagne! *takes a glass* Can I tempt you to a canape Jessica?
I probably shouldn’t, because I’m struggling to lose these stubborn holiday pounds, but… one won’t hurt. Okay, maybe two.
*passes a glass of Moet & Chandon* So, tell us a little bit about your books. You’ve released four novels, am I right?
Five, actually! My latest book, Starting from Scratch, is available for pre-order now! Release day is April 20th! Starting from Scratch is the story of Cookie, a mom of three who is trying to figure out what to do with herself after her husband passes away. She lives in a small town that’s full of gossip, so she kind of wants to show everybody that she can be more than “just” a mom. She gets close with Cooper, a family friend who is going through a divorce… and everyone starts talking about them.
That sounds like something I would love to read. What motivated you to start writing romance?
If I’m being perfectly honest… it was because I was desperately unhappy in my first marriage. I started writing romance novels as an escape. Writing became my way of bringing some life to all of the “what if’s” I’d ever had. I wanted my characters to find the ones they were meant to be with so I could live vicariously through them and their happily ever afters! It sounds crazy, but the end of my marriage in 2012 was my happily ever after! I finally realized that I deserved so much better… and I have been so happy ever since!
That’s great! Oh, the bride looks lovely! But she’s giving us a strange look, like she doesn’t recognise us. I’m just going to smile back. Have you ever gatecrashed an event before?
*waves at bride* No, but if this was 2012, I’d probably be screaming at her, “DON’T DO IT! RUN! SAVE YOURSELF!” *giggles* I’ll behave myself, though. I’m not as cynical as I used to be.
I read and thoroughly enjoyed The One Who Got Away, but it wasn’t a typical boy-meets-girl romance since it involved some complex relationships. Do you find you try to give readers something different from the usual romance novel set-ups or do you ever strive to deliver tried and tested formulas?
With The One Who Got Away, I tried to show that sometimes it’s not always meet-cutes and love at first sight. Sometimes there are other people involved, and sometimes people get hurt. I love a happily ever after, though. I know that’s not always real life, but it’s really hard for me not to write one.
It’s time for the happy couple’s first dance! How sweet! What do you think is the most romantic song ever written?
Ooh, I’m a sucker for a good love song. James Morrison – “You Give Me Something” still gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. Give a guy a guitar or sit him down in front of a piano, and I just swoon. I love pretty much everything by Matt Nathanson. He’s my favorite.
I’ll have to check him out. This wedding looks expensive. *whistles at the sight of yet another tray of free champagne* What would you say the best money you ever spent as a writer was?
In 2017, I decided to go back to school to pursue my master’s degree in creative writing and literature. I’ve tried a little bit of everything – fiction, creative nonfiction and memoir, journalism, television… I have been having so much fun, writing like crazy, and loving every second of it. Being back in school has totally reinvigorated me as a writer.
Can you tell us about an early experience you had where you discovered that language had power?
Hmmm… The first thing that pops into my head was an article I wrote a few years ago. It was after the birth of my son, so I was reading mom blogs and parenting sites like crazy, constantly thinking, “Is this normal? Is this supposed to happen? It is? Okay, whew. I’m glad I’m not the only one…” I decided to write an article for Scary Mommy, had no idea if it was anything they’d be interested in, but they published it. And they published a few other things of mine, too. Seeing other people go, “Yeah! Me, too!” in response to something so personal was such an amazing feeling.
As an voracious reader of mom blogs, I get that! What does literary success look like to you? Do you feel like you’ve achieved it yet or do you still have work to do?
I have no idea. I’m still figuring that out. And there’s always work to do! That’s what’s so much fun. I’ve written romance novels, I’ve dabbled in journalism, I’ve done work on mom and parenting blogs, I talk about family travel on my blog Go With The Goodwins. And I love it all. I think just getting to do what I love is a success!
This is a really great party. I’ve danced so much my feet ache. I’ll just sit here for a while and people-watch to get ideas for new characters. How do you build new characters? Do you have a process or are you one of the lucky writers who has them just walk into your head without much effort?
A lot of times, a character will spring from something I’m dealing with in my personal life. A woman who is unhappy in her relationship. A mom who doesn’t really know what she’s supposed to be doing with her life. Cookie, the main character in Starting from Scratch, is a mom like that – you think as an adult you’re supposed to have things your ducks all in a row, but then things change, and a lot of times you just have to… well, start over. I took that even further with the main character in the book I recently finished writing. It’s about a mom and her friends who are all at different stages in their lives, and they’re all a little envious of some aspect of each others’ lives, because it seems like they have that area all figured out. Do we ever have things all figured out, though? I don’t know…
What’s the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?
Managing my time. My son is almost 4 and I am constantly scrambling to get things done in the small window of time that I DO still have when he’s at preschool or when he’s supposed to be napping. There are always school assignments to do, blog posts to write, books to promote, tweets to tweet, so if I have a few minutes to myself, I’m planning, plotting, or writing. Even on the days when I’m exhausted and would much rather curl up under a blanket with a book or Netflix, I know these books and blog posts aren’t going to write themselves!
They’re cutting the cake! What’s your favourite type of cake? And because no Lacey interview would be complete without this question, what’s your favourite biscuit/cookie?
Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! My favorite cookie is a chocolate chip cookie that is buttery-crispy on the edges with big hunks of gooey chocolate in the middle.
I’m craving them now! Oh no, the father of the bride is talking to the manager of the venue and pointing at us. Time to leave. I just hope they like their new toaster. Thanks for joining me on this research trip. Can you finish by telling us where we can find you online and where your books can be downloaded or purchased?
I’m all over the place. Come find me and say hi!