Hi guys! Both Cayli and I have posted our reviews of If You’re Gone, a fantastic book written by the one and only Brittany Goodwin. Since I am taking a short blog break from writing interviews and reviews and the such for this week, I have decided to share with you this exclusive interview with an author I can’t wait to meet at the SE-YA Book Fest in March! Hope you enjoy!
1. In your own words, what is your book If You’re Gone about?
If You’re Gone is about seventeen-year- old Lillian White at a turning point in her life – but it’s not the turning point she is expecting. What begins as a high school romance story quickly turns into tragedy when her boyfriend, Brad, disappears without a trace. I tell everyone it is a “coming-of-age mystery” because it is a story
about how Lillian’s life and faith are changed once Brad goes missing.
2. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
I have loved writing ever since I was 7-8 years old. I think my love for writing came from my knack for telling stories – I was always coming up with little tales for my dolls or stuffed animals and short plays and films for my friends to act out. I wanted to write the books or movies I wanted to read/see. So I did!
3. Who are your favorite authors, and which ones have had an impact on you? Who has affected your writing style the most?
I grew up reading Ann M. Martin’s “The Babysitters Club” series and was really influenced by her portrayal of seemingly perfect friendships between seven very different girls. I even wrote some of my own BSC fan fiction of sorts, although no one has (or will) ever read it! I think my writing style was influenced by a wide combination of my favorite authors including Ann M. Martin, Alafair Burke (crime fiction), Cynthia DeFelice (MG mystery) and Sara Shepard (YA).
4. What are your favorite genres to read and write? What are your favorite books?
I LOVE any sort of missing person or doll-related mystery and I am always on the hunt for new stories in those genres. If I’m reading anything that is mystery or crime fiction it is typically YA contemporary, but nothing too sad or depressing. Because of my background in film I aim to discover new works by indie authors or old books that didn’t gain popularity in hopes of turning them into films one day. Some of my favorite books I have read over and over are Magic Elizabeth by Norma Kassirer, The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright (also check out the low budget film Secrets in the Attic based on the book. So good. So creepy). Mandy by Julie Edwards, Bunny Lake is Missing by Evelyn Piper, and The Ghost of Fossil Glen by Cynthia DeFelice.
5. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
Writing, as of now, is a part-time job and when I am not dreaming up or typing out a new story I am working for a local theatre where I handle marketing and teach private voice, piano and acting lessons. (Who am I kidding, I am ALWAYS dreaming up a new story no matter where I am!)
6. How long did it take you to finish If You’re Gone? What sparked the idea and how did you turn it into the finished product?
Completing If You’re Gone took longer than it probably should have (lol!) because it was thought up and written over the course of about 15 years. When I was a teenager I wrote a story about Lillian and Brad that was based more on their relationship (or lack of) through Middle School and High School. Like many of my stories, it was just something that popped into my head one day and I stuck with it. I’ve always just loved those two characters, and a few years ago the story began to transform into what it is now. I didn’t have any publishing deadlines at the time so I didn’t rush and the final draft was ready to go in about a year’s time.
7. How much research on missing persons did you have to put in to write your book? Did you stumble across anything that was shocking or surprising?
I didn’t have to do much book-specific research because I have been actively following dozens of missing persons cases for the last 6-7 years, and I incorporated that knowledge into the story. Part of what inspired me to make the missing person element of If You’re Gone so prominent is the fact that many teens that go missing, specifically males, are not actively pursued by law enforcement or even given any media attention. While it is understandable that it’s easy to assume someone over the age of 18 simply chose to walk away from their life, that often isn’t the case.
8. Why did you decide to incorporate faith into the storyline? It’s a nice touch to the story.
Faith is an element that is important to me that I don’t think appears in YA fiction as often as it could, so I always knew I wanted to incorporate it in some aspect. But after reading about and watching testimonials from people who were missing loved ones I found a very common theme among them was faith, whether they relied on it, found it, or in some cases lost it. Lillian asks the question that I think is on many people’s minds – how long can you continue to pray the same prayer without it being answered?
9. Your protagonist made me feel the same emotions she felt, and it wrenched my heart! What is your secret to a main character that connects with the readers?
I love to hear that! I think when you are writing an emotion you have to really feel it yourself, and really get inside your character’s head. My background in acting makes it easy for me to play the scene out like I’m actually in it, so that’s how I find my character’s inner voice and bring the emotions to life. My general rule of thumb is if the words I am writing aren’t affecting me as the author, they won’t affect the reader.
10. Did you sing lead for a rock band named Madd Elaine? What kind of music did you sing, and where did you perform? Does your band still perform today?
I sure did! I fronted Madd Elaine, based in Raleigh, NC, for over three years and we played 80s and 90s pop hits at bars, clubs, outdoor events, private functions, etc. I had some of the absolute best times playing with that group. I moved to Tennessee in early 2014 and we all went our separate ways, but that didn’t stop us from playing two reunion shows in 2015 and maybe a few more in the future… we will see! For now I mainly perform in theatrical productions as well as teaching.
11. You wrote screenplays for two Christian films, Secrets in the Snow and Secrets in the Fall, both which received five out of five doves from the Dove Foundation. Could you describe to us how your career in film went? Do you still do anything with cinema, or is writing now your focus?
I wrote the screenplays for both films and also directed them, which was an amazing challenge and experience. I have a few screenplays in the works (would you like to see If You’re Gone as a film? I would!) and have directed several music videos and promotional films since moving to TN. I’m attempting to split my focus between writing novels and writing screenplays… as of this moment I can’t tell you exactly when will come next!
12. What do you when you’re not reading or doing anything book-related?
I’m a movie lover and if I’m not watching movies I’m probably playing movie trivia or talking about movies or writing movies or thinking about movies… haha! When I’m home I like to work on projects and crafts around the house and spend time with my 3 dogs, 5 cats, and most recently my baby goat, Molly!
13. Have you written any other works? What are also your current plans with your writing career?
I am currently working on a NA contemporary novel and have a few other early drafts in the works. If things go according to plan you will see at least one new book and film from me in the coming years. I’ve also been toying around with a sequel to If You’re Gone that may just come to fruition…!
14. Do you have any tips to any aspiring authors or writers?
As Nike would say – JUST DO IT! Don’t let writers block or fear of your writing not being good enough stop you from putting something down on paper. Every single word you write is one step closer to a completed story or novel. And once you’re done, if you know your story is exactly what you dreamed it would be and you still aren’t getting any bites from that big New York literary agent, publish it anyway! There are so many options with indie publishing and self publishing today, I am not a believer in leaving your work on the shelf. I love to hear from aspiring writers looking for advice or wanting to share experiences so please feel free to reach out to me through my website – www.brittanygoodwin.com.
Thanks so much, Kester!!
Thank you so much, Brittany! It was fun writing this interview and reading your answers!
If you want to check out Brittany’s social media accounts or her books, check out the links below!
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