An Interview with B. Lynn Goodwin:
Writer Advice Editor and Author of TALENT
Jill Hedgecock was the first person to interview me about my coming of age novel, TALENT. People wrote back. One, a writing peer, said she learned a lot about me. Another said she got insights into the way I think. I liked Jill’s questions, and writers liked my answers, so I am sharing the interview here.
A bit about TALENT: Fifteen-and-half-year-old Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her driver's license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, Bri, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan.
She discovers that real life doesn’t have a script as she deals with loss, the manipulation of Bri’s best friend, her burning ambition to find her talent and figure out what happened to Bri, and unexpected bits of joy that pop up when she least expects them.
One reviewer said, “Sandee makes lots of mistakes, but emerges as a role model for other students. She is the type of character, I want my students to emulate in their own individual ways.”
Another said, “The author’s insight into the thought processes of teenagers is evident throughout the novel…. Complicated layered characters and compelling plot twists kept me turning the pages…. I didn’t want the book to end. I hope this is the introductory novel of a Coming of Age series about Sandee.” I hope this reviewer is right.
A third one said, “Talent is a page-flipping read!” I’d love to see your reviews added to what is already on Amazon.
Read the interview below. Then get a copy for yourself, a friend, a library, a teacher, or any aspiring thespian. There’s a lot to love in Sandee’s journey. Please help us spread the word about it.
JH: Can you give us some highlights from your new book, Talent?
BLG: Fifteen-and-half-year-old Sandee Mason wants to find her talent, get her driver’s license, and stop living in the shadow of her big brother, Bri, who disappeared while serving in Afghanistan. You can read the first chapter at http://blynngoodwin.com/an-excerpt-from-talent/.
It’s a good book for teens, parents, military families, and those who love shows and drama. There’s no crowd like the drama crowd. I know because I used to teach drama in high school and college.
JH: Describe your most memorable moment as an author.
BLG: Just one? Every time I make a scene work or create a moment that rings true or read a compliment from a reader or a client, I store it away and all of those moments have formed a collage in my head.
JH: What authors have most influenced your writing?
BLG: I’m often influenced by whomever I’m reading. Today that would be Travis Hugh Culley, author of A Comedy and A Tragedy, who is telling a story I wish I had heard before I taught high school. Earlier it was Mary Karr, or Elizabeth Gilbert or David Arnold, whose wonderful debut, Mosquitoland, reinforced my love of the YA genre and of teens discovering who they are.
JH: Describe your path to publication.
BLG: The music for “A long and winding road” just came up in my head. Followed by “To dream the impossible dream…” Followed by a line Cicely Tyson said at the beginning of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. “Where to start? Where to start? So here are My 9 Unique Steps Toward Publication:
Long ago I directed a high school production of Oklahoma!
A few years later I created Sandee, Diego, and maybe Jenn as characters in a series of 9 articles describing warm up and improvisation activities for a high school drama class. It was called “Dear Diary” and published in Dramatics Magazine.
I decided to use those characters in a novel about a high school production of Oklahoma! I used the format of a rehearsal schedule to help me build plot and tension and thought it was good until the rejections came in.
I put it aside while I worked on Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com, interviewed authors, reviewed books, and later used my draft for submissions to an online critique group.
Later still I took a Media Bistro class called “Writing the Young Adult Novel” where I learned the plot of TALENT was thin. I remember typing that the narrator, Sandee, needed to prove that she was as good as her big brother, and as I wrote the words they rang true. The instructor loved the idea.
I put it aside again while I wrote You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers, which had some agent interest.
Went back to TALENT after I blogged for Caregiver Village and Inspire Me Today and continued with Writer Advice. I decided that Sandee’s older brother, Bri, disappeared while serving in Afghanistan. The stakes around sibling rivalry and loss escalated.
Eventually I decided I wanted this published before I died and resolved to put it out to anyone who read YA. I told myself I would take the first offer from either an agent or publisher, so when Eternal Press, now an imprint of Caliburn Press, which is part of Spero Press, sent me a two-sentence acceptance, I took it.
A year and a half later, I have a whole new appreciation for the challenges small publishers face today.
JH: What are the biggest mistakes you see as an editor?
BLG: It’s hard to find my own mistakes because I’m reading what I think I wrote instead of seeing what’s actually on the page. In other people’s writing, I frequently find description for its own sake and erratic pacing. Sometimes characters want nothing. Sometimes I feel indifferent towards them. Sometimes the writing is passionless. Sometimes grammar and spelling are either “creative” or optional.
JH: Do you think a social media presence is necessary for authors?
BLG: Only if you want to increase your sales by letting people know about your book. <g>
JH: What is favorite writing prompt?
BLG: “Today I want…” or “I am proud to say…” or “If only…” or “As we join our story today…” I’ve probably written over a thousand prompt over the last 12 years for a free-writing group I am in. I should do something with them besides keeping them in a file on my computer.
JH: What is your greatest writing weakness?
BLG: I get incredibly tired sometimes, but I’d call that a condition rather than a weakness. Maybe I’m spread too thin, but it’s exciting to have lots to do. I don’t like to focus on my weaknesses. I’d rather not give them any more space, focus, or spotlight-time than they already have.
JH: I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about B. Lynn Goodwin. To learn more visit her websites: www.writeradvice.com and http://blynngoodwin.com, where you can find the opening chapter of TALENT.
TALENT is available at Amazon, and is being added on other sites.
You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers is available at Amazon.
Lynn is open to all invitations for guest blogging and invites those who’ve published a YA, NA, or MG to contact her about guest blogging opportunities on blynngoodwin.com. She’ll open the field to more genres later in 2016. She also runs a Manuscript Consultation Service,
Jill Hedgecock’s award-winning writing has appeared in magazines and anthologies. She serves as the Program Coordinator Mount Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club. Her love of writing is equaled by her passion for reading. Visit her blog.