Thursday, 25 July 2013
A Chat With... Rosie Goodwin
Rosie Goodwin is the author of Home Front Girls, a tale about three very different girls who form a bond during the blitz. You can see my review here and Rosie has kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.
When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?
I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t love to write but I did it purely for pleasure. I led a very busy life as a mum, foster mum and Placement Support Worker for Social Services and I was also an NVQ Level Three Assessor so I suppose it was when the children were older that I started to think about how great it would be to become published. Of course, up until then I had only written short stories and poems but it was my husband who suggested I should write my first novel. In actual fact I wrote my first two and a half novels sitting in our touring caravan which was parked in the garden and I wrote them longhand as I couldn’t type then. I soon realised that it’s very different writing a full length novel to writing short stories but by the time I had finished the first one I was well and truly hooked and things went from there.
Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?
I was absolutely green about the process of publication and had no idea whatsoever about how difficult it is today to become published so when the first book was finished I went out and bought my first Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook. That became my bible and eventually I submitted the first one to a mainstream publishing house. That resulted in my first rejection but it was followed by a phone call from the editor who had read it who said she couldn’t stop thinking about it. She gave me lots of good advice and I also joined the Romantic Novelist’s Association New Writer’s Scheme. I then bought my first computer and very hurriedly had to learn to type. I was fortunate enough then to have two of my books put forward by the RNA for a second reading and this led to me being taken on by my first agent.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I would advise anyone who is hoping to become published to listen to what professionals advise. Publishers know what they want and even how they want a manuscript submitted. A great tip I was given was ‘put it on stage’. Let your characters tell the story rather than you, this helps to bring them to life. Also, ‘less is more!’ if you can move the story on in a sentence rather than a paragraph do it. Every word should be there to move the story forward to a satisfactory conclusion. And never give up! Read the type of book you want to write by other authors who write in that genre and make notes of how they do it. And of course, researching for the era you are writing in is very important. You need to put enough factual points in to make the book believable but not so much that you detract from the story.
What was your inspiration for Home Front Girls?
I suppose the inspiration for Home Front Girls came from the Mr Selfridge series that was on the tv at the time. Also my editor had asked for another World War 2 novel and so I came up with the idea of the three different girls getting together in a large department store. I think I wanted to emphasise how the war affected everyone from all walks of life. I really enjoy writing books in this era although they do require a lot of research. It must have been such an horrendous time and yet the sense of community back then enthrals me. People stuck together more during the hard times and helped each other out, taking in neighbours when their homes were bombed without a thought and sharing what they had with them.
In the book, Annabelle, Lucy and Dotty are all very different girls. Did you have a favourite?
I don’t think I did have a favourite really. When I’m writing a book the characters in it become almost like a second family to me and I grew to love each of the girls. There was poor Dotty, who had grown up in an orphanage and longed to know who her true parents were. I wanted to adopt her! Then there was Lucy with such a horrible secret in her past that she trusted no one and yet she was still fiercely protective of her family. I’d have liked to give her a hug! Then of course we had Annabelle! What a spoiled girl she was but she made me smile. Her biggest concern was where her next pair of nylons were coming from! But of course as the book progresses we discover that none of the girls are quite who they thought they were and once their secrets are revealed none of their lives will ever be the same again. Home Front Girls was almost liking writing three different little books and bringing the girls together to forge an unlikely friendship that would last for a lifetime.
Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
At present I’m working on a historical novel centring around the cotton mills in Nuneaton in the nineteenth century. I find this period fascinating and love writing about the different classes, the poor servants who worked from dawn to dusk and the gentry who led very pampered lives. The book is still in the very early stages so who knows where it will go! I tend to let my characters take over once they have come to life and sometimes the path the book takes surprises even me. But that’s the beauty of writing fiction. I can’t imagine a day without writing now and always get really excited when I start a new book. I think it’s important to put your heart and soul into each one. People often say to me, ‘I cried reading your book, how did you make me do that?’ the answer to that is simple - I cried whilst I was writing it! I feel my character’s happy times and sad times, they are real people to me for the duration of the book. If I don’t feel what they feel how can I expect my readers to? And I always cry when a book comes to an end and I have to let my character’s go – until I start the next one and then it all begins again! That’s the beauty of being an author.