Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m a 21 year old pagan from Hertfordshire, a lesbian, and a recent graduate of Bath Spa University. I love shoes, and I overshare.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first book was ‘Me and Mine’, and as I self-published, it was quite easy to get it published. It was hard getting people to read it though.
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
Ah, this is embarrassing. I started writing m/m romance because I’m into fanfiction, and last year I got really into Supernatural. I was really bad at writing m/m sex, but I was reading so much of it that I couldn’t help but try to write it. I also had a serious problem with depression, and writing romance was the only thing I wanted to do. But really, what I love about the genre is writing characters who aren’t as emotionally literate, or expressive as stereotypical heroines.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
I’ve written a few books that will never see the light of day, because I’ve been writing ‘novels’ since I was 14. I self-published ‘Me and Mine’ and then followed it up with ‘Ink’. I’ve also written a children’s story called ‘Cloppers the Unicorn’ and at the moment I’m approaching publishers with a chick-lit novel I wrote this year.
Do you write full time?
No, sadly. I used to write around my job as a housekeeper, but since I’m now unemployed, I spend a lot of my time being ‘inactive’ and then making sudden leaps towards my laptop. I spend most of my time reading.
Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?
I had a wonderful teacher when I was 8, called Miss Doke, and she was the first person who really got me into books. My parents were always taking me to the library and reading to me, and I suppose I grew up turning things into prose, rather than trying to paint them or sing about them. I’d like to say that I can’t stop writing, but, I’ve never actually tried to.
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
Checking my email, drinking tea, shouting ‘Why aren’t you working!?’ and then talking to myself to get myself to write. I impersonate an American accent (not well) and have intense little talks to myself.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
I write the whole thing through, and then I read it through once it’s finished. I also have friends who proofread for me, and who point out that Montana has no coastline, so why are my characters on a beach? That kind of thing.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
I start writing, usually with the aim to get my two main characters together and into bed. And on the way there I get a handle on who they are. After that, all the complicated plotty stuff occurs to me while I’m in the shower, or while I’m cleaning the toilet.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
While writing I usually google as I go. If I need a place name I’ll find a map, if I need a type of car I’ll look that up. The only thing I really sit down and make sure I do is a map of the character’s home, otherwise I end up accidently contradicting myself and saying they have five bathrooms or a purple bed or something.
How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?
I usually imagine a lot of what my characters are like, and try to pretend that I’m them. But they all get influenced by other things, not really people I know, but things I’ve read, or films I’ve seen. They develop when things happen to them, and I have to reassess how they’re going to deal with them.
How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?
It takes…an amount of time. I wrote my chick-lit in around ten months. ‘Me and Mine’ took around six. But however long it takes, I’m never ready to have someone read it – I just get really stressed out and then my friend Vikkie takes the book away and makes me stop.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
I do get it. I have it now as a matter of fact. I tend to just leave it, there’s no point straining, you’ll just get writer’s hemorrhoids. Eventually I want to write enough that I’ll just write, usually fanfiction, and then I can get back to work.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
I love making people cry. For I am Satan. Seriously, I love making sure that I have lots of cliff hangers, dramatic speeches and grand chapter endings. And it’s all geared at making people cry.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
Well, never give up, obviously. Be a little arrogant – because no one is going to read your book if you say ‘oh…it’s sort of OK’. Number three would be…write what you want to read, and you’ll be happy with it. Write for someone else and you might hate it.
Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?
I titled ‘Me and Mine’ when it started life as a fanfiction. I think I was going to come up with something better, but I never did. I give things names just so I know what to call them, and then they grow around their names and kind of turn into them.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I think I’m very sarcastic, and deadpan. I find all kinds of stuff funny, but especially whip smart comedies and good books – ‘Love and other near death experiences’ by Mil Milington made me laugh ‘till I cried.
What is the most frequently asked Sarah question?
‘Shouldn’t you be working?’
What are you working on now?
I’m trying to start a new book. I have no idea what it’s going to be about, or whether it’s going to be m/m. I’m kicking around an idea involving amnesia.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?
First year at university – show, don’t tell. I don’t always obey it, but I’ve tried to show how my characters are feeling, rather than stating it.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I started out telling my fanfiction followers about it, then randomly plugging myself on writer forums. I’ve handed out leaflets and given away hundreds of free copies…short of tattooing the title on my face, I’ve done everything I can.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
I talk to myself. I spend a lot of time alone, just talking to myself, and thinking about things. I buy stupid things like cowboy boots and record players. I act like a total tit, read lots, watch a lot of Grays Anatomy, and generally invite random crap into my day.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Free ones. No, OK, I like good books, because bad books make me angry. I like drama and romance and suspense and cleverness. Most of all, I like books that have lines which stab you in the heart and linger there – books that can slit your throat with a sentence (and make you cry).
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
Unhappy. Or happier, I honestly don’t know. I always wanted to be a hermit. Or a florist.
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
I think of the stories I’d like to read, and if no one else has written them yet, that’s what I write. I look for the most painful things that could happen to a character, and I make them happen, and then look at what’s left afterwards. Mostly, I get my ideas from a lifetime of soap opera watching.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
I like that they’re unique, and drawn by a friend of mine for free. I hate that I can’t draw, and that her versions of the characters never look like the people in my head.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
I love cooking, and singing. But I’m a terrible singer. I love shopping, but I have no money and I have no luck with clothes. Mostly, I enjoy dicking about.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
A friend is currently trying to turn ‘Me and Mine’ into a stage play. I’m looking forward to seeing it.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
Listen to criticism, even when it makes you feel crappy. Unless you honestly think the criticism is utter balls – in which case ignore it. You’re the writer – it’s your choice.
What future projects do you have in the works?
Other than writing? I’m trying to perfect my cherpumple recipe. It’s a three layer cake, and each layer has a pie baked into it (cherry, pumpkin, apple). Tricky.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
I have a wordpress account with the imaginative title ‘Sarah Goodwin – Writer’ and my twitter is @JollySnidge.
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
Ahhh! I don’t know…but, at random, maybe -
The priest drops his head into his hands and says, so quietly that Jude almost misses the words.
“I love you…and I cannot bear to condemn you…not to this…” he looks up. “Jude…I’m…monstrous…I…” Words fail him and tears burn in his eyes.
Jude’s on him in an instant, arms closing around him, bundling the slimmer man against his chest and burying his face against the top of his head. Sebastian’s whole body shakes with his first sob, and he can’t, he just can’t, not anymore. He can’t pretend that he isn’t just a man, that he isn’t scared and lonely and just so, unbearably human. He’s disgusting and he’s weak. Jude rocks him gently, shushing softly with every harsh sob that comes from the other man.
“I love you.” Jude murmur’s against the priest’s hair. “It’s ok…it’s alright…I love you, Sebastian.”
Still, Sebastian can’t stop crying.