Home Creative writing Q&A: Carol Goodman, author of “The Disinvited Guest”

Q&A: Carol Goodman, author of “The Disinvited Guest”


We chat with two-time Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author Carol Goodman about her latest release The uninvited guestwhich follows a group of lonely friends on a remote island with a history of foul play.

Hi Carol! Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself?

I’m the author of 24 novels and a writing teacher. I’ve been writing since I was nine (see below), although it took me up to 40 years to publish my first book. Since then, I have been writing full-time and teaching literature and writing part-time. When I’m not writing, I’m reading or hanging out with my friends and family, talking about books, movies, TV, and art. I live in the Hudson Valley, it’s fun to write and it’s a great place to write and walk.

When did you discover your love for writing?

When I was nine years old, my fourth-grade teacher introduced us to creative writing, and I happily wrote a 90-page, pencil-illustrated epic called “The Adventures of a Magical Herd.” I was having such a good time that my teacher had to call my mom for a parent-teacher conference to get me to do my other assignments. I’ve been writing ever since.

Quick Lightning Ride! Tell us about the first book you remember reading, the one that made you want to become an author and the one you can’t stop thinking about!

I think it was actually a book I can read because I remember reading those words alone in my room and thinking, “Yeah, that’s right, I box read!” Then I heard my parents and brothers calling my name and looking for me and I thought, “Ha, they don’t realize I’m in my room reading!“It felt like a superpower and a delicious secret. I can’t say I remember the book itself, though. The first book that I really remember having a big impact was Jane Eyre that I read when I was thirteen. Between the book I Can Read and Jane Eyre there were a lot of books on horses.

your new novel, The uninvited guestout July 12e! If you could only describe it in five words, what would they be?

Maine Island Refuge Turns Deadly!

What can readers expect?

Beautiful Maine landscapes, an ominous atmosphere, crackling tensions between friends, a haunting backstory, old and new secrets revealed. And there is a map!

The uninvited guest has ties to the 2020 pandemic. At what point in the pandemic did this story surface?

Soon. I just checked my notebooks and saw that I wrote down notes for the idea on March 20, 2020, just a week after the college where I teach closed and we were all settling in for lockdown. In truth, I had toyed with the idea of ​​a book set on an island off the coast of Maine since the summer of 2019 when I went to a writers retreat, but I hadn’t found the right story. for further adjustment. I had stopped working on an academic mystery, but when the pandemic hit, I realized it would be difficult to write a contemporary novel that didn’t deal with the reality of the pandemic. I felt like I needed to write something about what I saw around me and what my friends and family were going through. I was particularly moved and concerned about the young people – my students, my daughters and their friends – and the impact of the confinement on their lives. It got me thinking about setting the novel in a future pandemic where the characters are still living the aftermath of what happened in 2020.

Can you tell us a bit about the challenges you faced while writing and how you managed to overcome them?

I feel challenged with each book to maintain my faith and belief in the work. This particular book was difficult because there was so much turmoil in the world that it was sometimes hard to stay focused on the writing. In addition to the usual doubts I face (Is he good? Am I an impostor?), I was constantly reading articles that started, “Don’t write your pandemic novel now. So it was a bit daring to write not just a pandemic novel, but a novel that takes place in the future! Luckily, I hate being told what to do, so a lot of the negative advice I was hearing acted more like a catalyst.

Are there any favorite moments or characters that you really enjoyed writing or exploring?

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It was fun to imagine myself back on Norton Island at a time when I couldn’t leave my immediate surroundings. So every day I sent Lucy to explore the island was like an adventure. I drew a map (my daughter drew a better version for the book) and traced her travels. I had brought back some rocks from the island and was looking at them and imagining the many colorful rocks that lined the ocean. I felt transported.

What motivates you when it comes to writing?

Once I’m hooked on a story, I’m pretty obsessed with writing it. It’s the pull of the story itself that keeps me going day after day. Sometimes, however, if that initial inspiration falters, it helps to have input from family and friends. My husband reads my drafts chapter by chapter, so giving him the next chapter and hearing his reactions is rewarding. I have a few friends that I walk with who will patiently listen to my progress and ideas and help me solve problems as they come. Sometimes, too, I like to imagine someone reading it and giving praise with extravagant enthusiasm (The best novel of all time!).

What’s next for you?

After finishing The uninvited guest I took up the academic mystery that I had filed at the start of the pandemic. When I returned to in-person teaching last fall, I felt ready to imagine a post-pandemic world for my characters and felt invigorated by the campus setting. I’m working on final edits to this book for release next summer.

Finally, do you have any 2022 book recommendations for our readers?

Speaking of pandemic books, I really enjoyed Elly Griffiths The closed room. I love her Ruth Galloway series and it was interesting to read about those early months of the pandemic as they were experienced in the UK. I also loved Sarah Stewart Taylor’s. The drowning sea which sits on the Irish coast, another magical place to be transported to. And then for something completely different, I blew on Sarah Gran The Book of the Most Valuable Substancea supernatural thriller about the quest for a magic book.

Will you pick up The uninvited guest? Tell us in the comments below!