Featured Interview With Anne Goodwin
Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
I live in a small town in near enough smack in the centre of England, not far from the birthplace of DH Lawrence and the supposed setting for Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
I’m a forty-minute drive from the Peak District National Park, and drew on one of my favourite walks for a scene of parent-child tension in my debut novel, Sugar and Snails. Nottingham is my nearest city and the main setting for second novel, Underneath. The region’s history of coal mining, and the legacy of the pit closures of the 1980s, inspired the final story in my collection, Becoming Someone.
What I hope will be my fourth book, and third novel, Matilda Windsor Is Coming Home, about a brother and sister separated for fifty years against the backdrop of the longstay psychiatric hospital closures, is set in Cumbria where I grew up.
Alongside my identity as a writer, I’ll admit to being a sociable introvert; recovering psychologist; voracious reader; slug slayer; struggling soprano; and tramper of moors.
At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?
I’ve always loved reading and wrote stories more or less from when I could hold a pencil, but didn’t have the time, emotional energy or confidence to take writing seriously until around fifteen years ago. Having a successful career that required a fair bit of (non-fiction) writing, I didn’t realise how much I had to learn and practice to make a success of fiction. My two published novels, and one undergoing edits for publication next year, have all taken about seven years to write from inception to publication.
Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read. Who Inspires you in your writings?
I read mostly literary fiction, or literary lite as some would call it, as I don’t like the story to get lost in the language, but I do appreciate an arresting image or turn of phrase. As a book blogger I read and review around 140 novels a year, both for my own entertainment and to learn how I can improve my own writing. Favourite authors include Alison Moore, Ann Patchett, John Boyne, Deborah Levy, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Colson Whitehead, Georgina Harding, Maggie O’Farrell.
Tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest full-size book is a collection of short stories on the theme of identity, Becoming Someone. Although I think myself more as a novelist, I love writing short stories, and will soon have a hundred published online and/or in print. I hadn’t thought about bringing out a collection until my publisher suggested it. But I enjoyed it so much, I self-published a short e-book of prize-winning stories to give away to my newsletter subscribers earlier this year.
What shapes the way we see ourselves?
An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.
Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?
Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?
What does it mean to have a daughter? How does it feel to be one?
A child carer would do anything to support her fragile mother. A woman resorts to extreme measures to stop her baby’s cries. A man struggles to accept his middle child’s change of direction. Another uses his daughter to entice young women into his car. A woman contemplates her relationship with her father as she watches a stranger withhold his attention from his child.
Mothers of daughters, fathers of daughters, daughters from infancy to middle age. Three award-winning short stories plus a couple more. You’ll never think about daughters the same way again.
Prize-winning short stories from the Polari Prize shortlisted author of Sugar and Snails.
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