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Monday, December 5, 2011
interview with Author Melissa Ann Goodwin
Melissa Ann Goodwin treasures fond memories of a happy and carefree childhood growing up in beautiful Andover, Massachusetts. She is especially grateful for the many wonderful teachers there, who encouraged her to read the books that inspired her to become a writer. She now lives in Santa Fe, NM, with her husband, artist J. Richard Secor. Melissa has written many stories, poems and articles for children’s magazines, and her non-fiction work has appeared in national magazines that include Guideposts’ Angles on Earth, Caring Today and The Caregivers’ Home Companion. The Christmas Village is her first novel for children.
The Christmas Village story summary: When Jamie Reynolds comes to his grandparents' Vermont home for Christmas, he just wants things to go back to the way they were before his dad disappeared. Time and again he is drawn to Grandma's miniature Christmas village, where he imagines that life is perfect. Late one night, the village comes to life before Jamie's eyes, and his fantasy of escaping into it becomes very real indeed. He discovers that the village is called Canterbury, where the year is 1932. Jamie becomes fast friends with Kelly and Christopher Pennysworth, and is taken in by Ida, who runs the local boarding house. But he also makes a dangerous enemy of the mysterious and menacing Jim Gordon, whose return to town is nothing but trouble. As Jamie desperately races against time to find his way back home, he is suddenly faced with a terrifying choice: to go ahead with his plan to leave, or to stay and help his friends, at the risk of never going home again. The Christmas Village is an adventure the whole family will love, filled with suspense, secrets and surprises to the very last page.
The Christmas Village is available in paperback from Amazon.com and select independent bookstores and as a Kindle e-book on Amazon.com. It is also available for a wide variety of digital downloads (Nook, Kindle, IPad, etc. from Smashwords.
There is a really fun video book trailer that my nephew, a film student at Columbia created:
Blogs and Facebook:
Book blog: http://thechristmasvillagebook.blogspot.com
My personal blog: http://writeryogini.blogspot.com
The Christmas Village Facebook page: www.facebook.com/pages/The-Christmas-Village/243381569015162
Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Melissa: As a kid I loved to read – everything! I have a very distinct memory of being around age eight or nine, having just read, The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, and thinking, “I want to write books like this.”
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Melissa: Even though I knew that I wanted to be a writer from a young age, I didn’t really get down to it until about 10 years ago (age 45!). Before that, I worked in the corporate world for 25 long, tedious, painful years. Did I mention tedious? And painful??
I started by writing stories and articles for children’s magazines and expanded to writing for magazines that deal with aging and caregiving, because I worked for a non-profit in that field. I was fortunate because my work was accepted quickly and often. So, in a way, it took a long time for me to get published because I started so late, but once I got going, things happened quickly.
I started working on The Christmas Village about four years ago. It was sporadic, because my parents were failing and it was a sad time for my family and me. Then last year, I committed to finishing the book by fall. I did finish, and fairly quickly, two agents offered to represent it. I chose one, and earlier this year we edited and got it ready for publishers.
About two months into the submission process, I started to think seriously about self-publishing. I could see that the traditional route might be possible, but that it would take a long time and would most likely drive me crazy. A friend of mine has successfully self-published three books and he offered to be my mentor. So I decided to take the leap and do it myself. It couldn’t have been easier and smoother. The book is doing really well, and I have absolutely no regrets.
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Melissa: My discouragement actually occurred more during the long time in my life when I wasn’t writing. I felt like I was letting myself down; that I wasn’t fulfilling the promise of my potential. Once I started writing, I had enough regular success to keep me encouraged. I sometimes feared that the dream of seeing my books in print might not happen, but honestly, deep down I always believed it would.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Melissa: For me, it doesn’t work to be strict about schedule. I’m self-motivated, so I don’t feel the need to set goals for a certain number of hours or words written. I write until I’m tired – that might be two hours or it might be five. I actually think that rest and escape from a project is very important. I often take several days off and then come back to my writing with a sense of lightness and renewed energy.
Deirdra: Can you tell us a little about your book The Christmas Village?
Melissa: It’s about 12-year-old Jamie, whose world has fallen apart because his father has left under rather mysterious circumstances. Jamie is hurt and furious with his dad. He and his mother decide to spend the holidays with Jamie’s grandparents in Vermont. Grandma has one of those miniature Christmas villages, and Jamie becomes fascinated with it because he imagines it to be a place where everything is perfect, bad things don’t happen and nothing ever changes. He wishes he could live there, and …..
Magically his wish comes true, and from there it’s an adventure to get him back home in time for Christmas. Along the way, his experiences teach him some important things about people, life, family, friends and forgiveness.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Melissa: Well, first of all it’s a good adventure filled with suspense and surprises all the way to the end, so I hope that readers of all ages will be thoroughly entertained. Kids will love the magic, the adventure, and the fact that the kids are the heroes. Adults will like the nostalgic feeling and the positive and hopeful themes. They’ll be able to feel good about the messages the book has for the children in their lives.
Now a little more personal question I noticed your husband is an artist. What is a marriage like with two incredibly creative and talented people? Do you ever compete artistically against each other? Do you work on projects together? How do you manage a creative life-style and a creative marriage?
When we first met 30 years ago, we worked for a bank! We both worked in the corporate world into middle age. Our careers took up most of our time, so I don’t think we even knew the depths of each other’s creativity until much later.
Dick started painting when he retired early from banking at age 54. I started writing when I left the corporate world 10 years ago. I think that because we worked at other things for so long, we realize that no one thing in life should be everything, all the time. Now we have pretty good balance – we are industrious for a while and then we like to goof off.
We never compete and we are each other’s greatest supporters – which includes being each other’s most honest critic. We depend on each other to say when something isn’t quite right. Sometimes we react defensively, which is human nature. But usually, once we’ve thought about it, we realize the other person picked up on something that needed fixing.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents or hobbies do you have?
Melissa: I love to read, of course. But I also enjoy gardening and I really to decorate! If I could have lived parallel lives, I would have lived one as an interior decorator.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Melissa: You can do it! If other life demands are getting in the way of your writing, don’t despair - look how late I got started! I’ve learned that everything counts and I honestly believe that my book is better for having the benefit of my life experiences. And, I’d tell them that the world of writing and publishing has changed in ways that empower writers and enable them to be the masters of their own destinies. You can choose to stick to the traditional path, or to publish on your own. One is not better than the other, but now you have real choices. Don’t be scared to make them.
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Melissa: My next book will be young adult historical fiction, inspired by my mother’s experience as a 14-year-old in England at the start of WWII.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Melissa: My book is available in paperback and e-book on Amazon, and for every kind of digital download on Smashwords.
Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Thank you so much for letting come here and visit with you. I love how the world of blogging has opened the doors for people to connect and share their common interests. I can’t wait to chat with your followers, answer any other questions they might have for me, and make some new friends.