Bookpleasures.com welcomes as our guest one of the nation’s most successful authors of women’s fiction, beginning with the acclaimed six-million-copy bestseller Garden of Lies, New York Times best-selling author, Eileen Goudge.
She has published fifteen novels in all, including the three-book saga of Carson Springs, Thorns of Truth—a sequel to Gardens of Lies—and 2012’s The Replacement Wife. She lives and works in New York City.
Norm: Good day Eileen and thanks for participating in our interview.
How did you get started in writing? Do you have a theme, message, or goal for your books and what keeps you going?
Eileen: I write for the same reason that I breathe: because I have to. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel compelled to write. At age eight I wrote a collection of short stories. In fourth grade my teacher was so impressed by a story I wrote, titled “The Secret of the Mossy Cave,” she showed it to the school principal.
I learned from that experience how writing can touch the lives of others. Words of praise from readers are always appreciated, and not just in terms of my Amazon rankings. I’m happy to know when a book I wrote got someone through a tough time or an illness or the illness of a loved one.
Norm: In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of the writing process? As a follow up, do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?
Eileen: The most difficult part of writing isn’t the writing itself. It’s all the work that comes after a book is published. While I very much enjoy connecting with readers through blogging and social media, I can’t help feeling it’s taking time away from my writing. But it’s nice to have a balance in life, right? Yin and yang.
Norm: How long does it take you to write a book?
Eileen: It normally takes about a year. I do an outline first, and that can take up to eight weeks because my outlines are quite detailed. Then I do another draft after the first draft before I show the manuscript to my editor. After she gives me her editorial notes, there’s another round of revisions. I welcome the process because with each draft the book gets tighter and stronger.
Norm: What do you think most characterizes your writing and how has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
Eileen: I was one of six children and my parents more or less expected us to entertain ourselves and each other. For me this meant endless time to read, games of make-believe, and putting on plays I’d written with my siblings as the cast. One year at Christmas we performed “A Christmas Carol,” which I’d rewritten as a musical. I played Scrooge!
I also write a lot about family secrets, probably due to the fact that my family had its share of secrets. The skeletons in the closet no one talked about. The locked cupboard where my dad kept his liquor supply. The grandmother I didn’t meet until I was fourteen.
Norm: What has been the best part about being published?
Eileen: I means I get paid to do what I love best. I don’t have to have a day job other than writing. I don’t have to wear pantyhose to work or deal with other annoyances in the workplace. Seriously, the best part is the validation I get from readers. It means everything .
Norm: In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?
Eileen: I don’t worry about such things. I have never modeled a character after a real person either living or dead. I take bits and pieces from the people I’ve known, certain characteristics, and put them together sort of like Dr. Frankenstein with his monster. Only my characters aren’t monsters but merely flawed. I believe the best ones are flawed whether they be protagonist or antagonist.
Norm: What advice can you give aspiring writers that you wished you had gotten, or that you wished you would have listened to? As a follow up, where/How do you recommend writers try to break into the market?
Eileen: My advice to aspiring writers is simple: Write something every day. Even if it’s only a blog post. Even if it’s only a paragraph of a blog post. It’s only through practice and discipline that we become published writers. It took years before anything I wrote saw print. If you stick with it, you will be rewarded. If you don’t have the patience, you’re in the wrong profession.
Norm: How many times in your career have you experienced rejection? How did they shape you?
Eileen: I could paper an entire wall with the rejection letters I received in the early days of my career. Even as a published writer who’s known a measure of success, I still suffer the occasional rejection in the form of crummy review. I’ve learned to shrug it off. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And hey, I can always funnel that angst into my writing.
Norm: Are you a plot or character writer and what helps you focus when you write? Do you find it easy reading back your own work?
Eileen: The plot will flow from your characters. First you have to create characters readers will care about and root for. Without that, no plot however tightly paced will result in a page-turner.
I don’t always enjoy what I’ve written after the third or fourth draft. By then, I’m convinced no one else ever want to read it and that my labors were a total waste of time. Fortunately, the feeling doesn’t last.
Norm: What served as the primary inspiration for your latest book, Swimsuit Body and could you tell our readers a little about the book?
Eileen: I live in New York City now, but before that I lived in Santa Cruz , California, which is the real-line town my fictional town of Cypress Bay is modeled after.
I love that I could write about the sights, sounds and smells of the seashore that I came to know and love. My heroine and amateur sleuth, Tish Ballard, is a property manager who encounters all sorts of strange things in other people’s houses.
The dead bodies are usually those of lizards or rodents, but in Swimsuit Body the corpse is that of a bikini-clad starlet who was renting one of her properties for the summer. When Tish’s brother becomes a person of interest, she throws herself into finding out who killed Delilah Ward and why.
Norm: Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?
Eileen: Check out my WEBSITE
Norm: What is next for Eileen Goudge?
Eileen: My current work in progress is a stand-alone romantic suspense novel set in rural Wisconsin, where I spend much of my time.
It was inspired by a real-life murder mystery in the town of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. I’m having fun researching it and the local police have been extremely helpful, going so far as to take me on ride-alongs.
Next up, the Writers Police Academy, where I’ll learn about more about police procedure and ballistics and such.
Norm: As this interview draws to a close what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.
Eileen: I’m often asked where I get my ideas. What’s interesting is that I don’t always know when or how or where inspiration will strike.
Usually it’s when I’m half asleep or doing some mindless task. Which is why my hobby is baking. I get loads of ideas for novels while mixing cake batter or kneading bread dough. It’s no coincidence that the year I published my cookbook Something Warm
From the Oven: Baking Memories, Making Memories I also published a novel.
Norm: Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors.