1. What book changed your life?
Jane Eyre. I read it when I was thirteen, often in the bleachers during gym. I had a note excusing me from gym, but after a while we all knew I was faking it so I could read Jane Eyre. I failed gym that year, thus ending what was surely going to be a promising athletic career, but giving me a life-long love of Gothic, madwomen-in-the-attic mysteries.
2. Was your first published book the first manuscript you ever wrote?
Not even the second. It was the third book I wrote that got published. While I was writing it I kept thinking, what kind of an idiot writes a third book when the first two didn’t get published? Me, that’s who.
3. Stephen King says, “The hardest part is just before you start.” What’s the hardest part of writing for you?
I’m with King here. Every morning, after I finish reading the newspaper and drinking my first cup of tea, when I know it’s time to write, I feel a tiny bit of dread. Even though I am grateful that I get to write, and that I’d be miserable if I didn’t, and that I’ll be happy when I’m doing it, I still feel that little bit of dread. I just have to push through it and begin.
4. Do you know the story’s ending before you start?
I often have an image of the ending. That might change by the time I get there, but it’s something to shoot for. I just began a book and I wrote the last line before I began the first chapter. It’s the middle I’m not so sure about.
5. When you’re having a difficult writing day, what do you tell yourself to get through it?
There’s really nothing else you’re good at (and you blew your chance at the Dodgeball Championship) so you might as well keep going.
6. Do you read your reviews?
I read print reviews and reviews by bloggers who have a reputation for being good reviewers, but I try to avoid reading Amazon and Goodreads reviews. They can be random and hurtful and once you’ve gotten those negative voices in your head it’s hard to get them out.
7. Besides being persistent and correcting your spelling errors, what’s your best advice for a new author?
Read a lot, find people you trust to give you constructive feedback, discard nonconstructive feedback, and yes, just keep going.
8. What’s your definition of writer misery?
The fourteen page single-spaced editorial letter.
9. What’s your definition of writer happiness?
Finishing that last edit and knowing you’ve answered all those impossible queries and the book’s better for it. Also, a reader telling me that reading one of my books got them through a tough time.
10. What’s your favorite book on writing?
11. What book are you reading right now?
The Institute by Stephen King. (Do we see a theme emerging here?)
Carol Goodman is the author of twenty-one novels, including The Lake of Dead Languages and The Seduction of Water, which won the 2003 Hammett Prize, and The Widow’s House, which won the 2018
Mary Higgins Clark Award. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, and teaches literature and writing at The New School and SUNY New Paltz. Her latest novel is The Night Visitors.