There are few things in my life that make me happy. Writing, reading a good book, being marginally overweight and my insane love of country music to name a few. So when I tweeted the talent Mr John Goode, author of the new Dreamspinner Press released novel Taking Chances, and he actually said yes to an interview, I added John-Goode-knowing-who-I-am to that list of happy-makers. Within three hours of receiving my email, he had replied, and what follows documents the hilarity that is the inside of Mr. Goode’s mind. Please enjoy it as much as I did, and if you’re any kind of fan-boy like me, you’ll need a cigarette and a cold shower afterwards too! No? Just me? Naww, shucks.
IO: How did you get into writing?
JG: Well at first it was mainly through blocks, with letters in bright colors but being a smart kid moved up to crayons though I never really nailed cursive. That is not what you meant, damn and there goes my chance to humblebrag about my block stacking skills. I’ve always wanted to write but was deathly terrified of having people read my stuff. Finally in an atypical do or die moment I started a journal and began writing random things, moved through some fanfic where Sue Brown, an incredible writer, read my stuff and told me to submit stuff. I said no, she said yes and I think we both know who won that argument right?
IO: Who are your inspirations as an author?
JG: Neil Gaiman is huge, I mean I can’t even fathom how he creates the things he does. He is like a magician on the page doing the tricks RIGHT in front of you and all you can do is smile and clap. Arron Sorkin is a god, a complete and utter god as well as Joss Whedon, I love their use of dialogue to keep a scene in motion even if nothing is happening. And of course John Hughes, who was the OG in my book.
IO: Can you take us through your process?
JG: Of writing? Good god, well you have an idea, tinker with it until you think it can stand on its own two feet, outline it in your head or on paper, start it, hate it, shoot it in the head, bury the evidence, start all over, read someone else’s stuff, hate them completely for actually finishing, start over, wonder why you wanted to do this in the first place, go back out, dig up the corpse of what you wrote, realize that it isn’t that bad, keep writing, hate it again, tell it to leave and never darken your doorway again, read someone else’s stuff, hate them even more, feel bad, go out and wander the street for you story, bring it back, nurse it back to health, keep writing it, play inspirational 80’s power ballad as you write, climb those last literary steps, run around in a circle with your arms waived, submit it, regret submitting it, wait the six and a half lifetimes it takes them to get back to you, get your contract, sign it and do a victory dance, wait for edits, see the first edit of your stuff with the editor’s first pass.
Realize you were right and should have just shot this thing and left it buried.
IO: Where did you find the inspiration for the characters of the Foster High Series?
JG: Well I suppose I wanted to write the book I wanted to read in high school. The story I needed to hear growing up that said Hey you, confused gay kid, yeah you the one that think no one sees. Hey you, guess what? You’re right this all sucks but don’t worry cause in four years you graduate and then things get much worse.
Honestly I wanted the book that I needed to read as a teenager growing up and the book I think that some people need to read now to understand what gay kids today are going through. And instead of doing it the normal way, because I mean normal, who does that any more? I decided to make it a little Ferris Bueller where the characters talk to the reader, a little Breakfast Club where no matter how bad it gets there are human beings under all that hair somewhere and a little bit and a little Sixteen Candles, where you can imagine that people like Jake Ryan are ok and actually fall in love with normal people.
IO: What can we expect to see from the series going forward? Will the books still focus on Brad and Kyle, or will there be more books, like Taking Chances, on the other characters?
JG: Well the next book is 151 Days which is the last Foster High book. It is the last time
we will wander the halls of Foster High school and deal with the problems that are intrinsically high school problems. The real life person Robbie is based on is writing a book about Robbie and his adventures after Foster and there is a story about Brad and Kyle in college that will not go away so will most likely get written just to shut the voice up in my head. And I am not sure about another Matt and Tyler story yet, I’m not even close to being there.
IO: In Taking Chances, you narrate the book, at one point or another, from five different characters perspectives. How do you tackle the issue of giving all your characters distinct narrative voices?
JG: You don’t have dozens of voices wandering around in your head telling you to do things? Really? Just me? Huh, that’s gonna fester. Honestly it is just a matter of seeing how they see the world. If you can, even for a second, see the world through their eyes you’ll find these people will open up and share things you never imagined about themselves. Every writer I know studies people and squirrels away little nuggets of characters as they talk, so they can patch together a Frankenstein creature some day.
IO: Who is the most fun character to write and why?
JG: Kyle is the easy choice but I have to say putting words in Robbie’s mouth crack me up. Brad has a sensitivity to him that makes me smile when I see him working through a problem and there in a inherent sadness in Tyler that is like listening to emo music when you’re already sad. It just fits sometimes.
IO: What is your proudest accomplishment in this book series?
JG: Having readers tell me this book changed the way they looked at the world, gay kids, high school, anything really. I had one parent e mail me saying she read the books on her kindle in the bathroom and ended up crying so badly because she had no idea how bad it could be and it started a dialogue with her son, who was straight, about how things were REALLY going in his life. Things like that are stunning and are worth so much more than any accolade can give.
IO: What would you consider the high point of your career to date?
JG: Every day when I see someone else has read the books and fell in love with Kyle and Brad, that is a new high point for me. Sounds corny but it’s true.
IO: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors looking to accomplish what you have in the field of M/M Fiction?
JG: What I have accomplished? Wow my advice would be dream bigger. Tell truths, tell unpopular truths, challenge the way things are always done and show people that constancy doesn’t mean infallibility. Find your truth and write from there and people will respond to it every time. I promise you that.
IO: If life were truly The Breakfast Club, which character would you be?
JG: When I was growing up they called it Saturday school, which I thought was mean because what had Saturday ever done to anyone to be lumped in with school. So being the upstanding and never getting into trouble kind of guy I never once had Saturday school. Wait, no, I always had Saturday school because I was always in trouble and I never went. So I would be the character who didn’t show up that week and completely missed the life changing experience they all did and my one chance to meet real friends and show the real me. I would be the asshole who showed up the week after with the new principal and the stricter rules where we didn’t get to get high and dance on the steps.
A huge thank you to Mr. Goode for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk to me *swoon*. You can read my review for Taking Chances by clicking here