Author Interview: Samantha Goodwin

Samantha Goodwin Author Photo

Tell me about yourself? And what made you want to be a writer?
I live in Leeds, England, with my husband, Chris, and our young son, Jack. I’ve written professionally for my business career as a Chartered Marketing Manager for over a decade before turning my hand to fiction. In my day job I work for a national charity that supports people with learning disabilities and I am the editor for a UK-wide magazine.

I’ve always wanted to write a book since I was about 5 years old, but it was my husband, who finally convinced me that I could do it. Also, it ended up being the last proper conversation I had with my Dad before he died suddenly of encephalitis two years ago so I felt very driven to finish it as a tribute to him. I found the whole process of writing very cathartic during grieving, it was helpful to be able to pour my energy into something positive.

What attracted you to the particular genre you are involved in? And do you stick with it consistently or do you change it up?
Crime is the perfect genre for me as I love all things crime-related, from books and TV shows to murder mystery games! I love that whodunnit element of crime books, so the reader is going on a journey trying to work out what happened. There is such a sense of satisfaction in trying to identify the culprit, especially when there are lots of twists and turns as new clues turn up.

To date I’ve only written crime fiction, but I am definitely keeping an open mind for future projects, especially as I love reading dystopian novels too.

What is your writing process like? And how important is research to you when writing a book?
I always have a one-page outline which provides oversight of the whole story arc. I find that really useful so I can pick up writing from where I left off, which is important as inevitably I usually end up with very short writing sessions.

Research was really important for the police procedural element of my book. Happily I do actually have two friends who are police officers so I set up interviews with them in order to pick their brains on how everything would work. Plus, I definitely think all crime writers must be on an FBI watchlist somewhere given all the things that we end up researching online!

Have you ever experienced “Writer’s Block”? And do you have any tips you would like to share to overcome it?
I think all authors get writer’s block at some point. For me the best cure is to read, read, read! Especially books outside of the genre I’m writing in. I find those tend to spark ideas and get me motivated to pick up the pen again.

Can you share your writing routine? (e.g. How do you carve out your writing time? Where do you normally write?)
When I was writing my novel I carved out time to write every day, but it usually ended up being only 30 minutes in the morning before work or 1 hour during my lunch break. At first it seemed completely impossible to write an entire book with such little time, but before long I found I could get into the swing of it and write pretty quickly.

I also handwrite everything as I find the ideas flow better! It’s great because it means I can write anywhere, my favourite location is outside on those rare sunny English days. It is however, not the most time-efficient way of writing as then I have to spend time typing everything up as I go along and start editing.

Since finishing my first novel I’ve had a baby, so that’s a new challenge to balance with writing – I tend to love naptime as I get some time to myself!

So tell me about what you’ve written, and has it been published?
I’ve just released my debut crime mystery novel, Murder at Macbeth, which is now available to buy on Amazon. It centres around a talented, young actress who unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with. Suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates and the detectives have to figure out who had the motive to kill the show’s leading lady. Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story…

If you’ve had your writing published, how has it been received?
Murder at Macbeth was longlisted for an international debut novel award and has received a lot of advanced praise from a number of other authors, including Carol Deeley, author of the Britannica series, who said it is “a classic whodunnit that entertains in true Poirot style and read like a really good episode of a prime-time crime series.”

Is there anything you’d change or do differently now that it is published?
There isn’t actually anything I would change. I’ve spent a lot of time over the last two years getting it to a stage where I am really happy with it.

Speaking of publishing, how did you go about getting you book(s) published, and what was your publishing journey like?
I worked really closely with a fantastic team of beta readers who really helped to shape the story and then also worked closely with my editor and proofreader who both had really valuable inputs to make.

I recently became a new mum, so the publishing journey was definitely a bit of a balancing act. During the editing process, I had to do a lot of one-handed typing while holding a sleeping baby!

Where can potential fans find your book(s)?
Murder at Macbeth is currently available on Amazon as a paperback and Kindle eBook.

Did you do your own artwork for the book cover etc, and if not how did you go about getting it done?
I’m incredibly lucky to be married to a professional Graphic Designer, Chris Goodwin, who designed my book cover for me. I’m so thankful for his talent as he was very skilled at taking my vision for the cover and transforming it into something far better than I could have ever imagined.

Have you taken on board anything from a review (good or bad) that you’ve later incorporated into your writing?
All my advanced reviews have been really positive so far, which I’ve really appreciated. However, I found the early constructive criticism from my editor and beta readers really useful and definitely incorporated their ideas into my writing to help flesh out the characters in the novel and make them more multi-dimensional.

Are you working on something new at the moment? And can you tell us anything about your current projects?
Currently I’ve been mainly focusing on my book launch for Murder at Macbeth, so have been working on numerous guest posts and author interviews to help spread the word. I do have a few other projects in mind to work on next, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more.

How active are you on social media? And if you have social media as an author/for your books then please share links?
I’m very active on Instagram and have been overwhelmed by the support of the online writing community. I have over 4,000 bookish followers and as I’m keen to support new and upcoming authors I recently launched the #IndieWritingWisdom initiative to collate and share inspiring, original quotes from a wide range of different writers to encourage others.

You can follow me on Instagram here: @samanthagoodwinauthor

Tell me about some writers you really like and/or admire?
I really admire Paula Hawkins, the bestselling author of The Girl on the Train because I Love how her stories unfold through different narrators’ perspectives and the mystery is gradually revealed. That writing approach is definitely something that influenced my own novel. Other favourites include J.K. Rowling, Dan Brown, LJ Ross, Harlan Coben and Tess Gerritsen.

What advice would you like to give writers who are struggling with their first novels?
Just write! It really is that simple…and that hard! It’s important to have a support system in place, such as a writing group, online author community and encouraging friends and family members. It can make all the difference to ensure you keep going when it gets tough. And don’t get bogged down in trying to write a flawless first draft – that’s what editing is for! If you aim for perfection first time, you’ll never end up writing anything.

And let’s end with something a little different…Which of your character(s) would you take with you to spend the night in a haunted house? Why?
Ooh interesting question! I would go for Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra as I think she would have a very no-nonsense approach to a haunted house, so that would help keep me calm. She’s a strong female character too, so I’d find her fascinating to talk to as she would be an interesting conversationalist with a unique take on things.


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