Monday, 12 December 2016

Coffee chat with (now) Aussie author Laura E Goodin


Christmas is getting so close. I haven't even begun to shop, and the number of days left to finish everything I want finished are running out. But you know what, who cares? It's the end of the year, not the end of the world. so sit down and have a cup of coffee or tea and let life go about its business while you go about yours.

Today on my blog I have American-born and now Aussie author Laura E Goodin who has just released her debut novel "After The Bloodwood Staff".

Welcome Laura,
 
DL: Firstly, since this a virtual coffee chat, how do you have your coffee? Are you a morning or afternoon person?

LAURA: I blush to say I absolutely detest both the taste and the perfidious nature of coffee.  Such a betrayal:  it smells so good, and tastes like burnt things.  No, I drink tea (black) to write or to relax, and Diet Coke when I need to do things that are neither of those.  And if you consider working through to 4 a.m. to be “morning”, then I’m a morning person.  The wee small hours are my absolute favorite time to work, but only if I’ve reached them from the nighttime side.  Incredibly, the world seldom chooses to oblige me in this.

DL: I was at a Conflux session a few years ago where you opened the event and you were fabulously funny. Does humour play a part in your newly released novel "After the Bloodwood Staff" and/or any of your other works?

LAURA: Heavens, thank you very much!  Yes, I really enjoy writing humor.  I don’t particularly enjoy either reading or writing dark stories; God knows there’s enough of that on the news.  I find that humor strengthens the spirit and helps develop the habit of finding perspective and a refreshing ridiculousness in the world – skills that could do with a bit of an airing in the current sociopolitical climate, if you ask me.  So yes, ATBS – and most of my other work – includes a healthy larding of humor.  Problem is, humor is really hard to write, not least because it’s so subjective.  Moreover, just like it’s impossible to tickle yourself, it’s nearly impossible to surprise yourself with what you write, and thus you can’t really get an accurate impression of whether a reader is going to experience the right kind of surprise from your writing that will prompt a laugh (or, ideally, a lengthy guffaw that ultimately subsides in wheezes and tears, only to break forth again at inopportune moments).  I will say that one of my favorite sounds in all the world is someone laughing as they read my writing.  (Assuming it’s one of the pieces I intended to be funny!)

DL: You conducted research into the rise and fall of genre boundaries in fiction. I'm always fascinated by the findings of such studies. Can you tell us a little bit about your findings? And is the research published and available for writers to read?

LAURA: The article that summarizes my research was published earlier this year, and is available here: http://www.lauraegoodin.com/Goodin_UncertainBorders_SF47_pp1-68.pdf.  The thumbnail sketch of my findings is that the strict genre boundaries that publishers insisted on from their writers during much of the 20th century were just that:  constraints that publishers imposed on writers.  This hasn’t been all bad, as genre conventions serve a number of useful purposes for readers, publishers, booksellers, and even the writers themselves.  However, there is nothing inherent in speculative fiction that requires these particular conventions.  In fact, if you go back to the beginnings of what is now called “genre fiction” – fantasy, science fiction, adventure, mystery, and so on – you find that writers not only wrote in any number of what are now considered separate genres, but freely mixed elements of all of them in single works!  Moreover, readers were entirely happy to purchase and read books that in later years publishers would reject for not clearly being in one genre or another.  What’s exciting is that, now that the Internet and other digital technologies have “democratized” publishing – in other words, given a wide variety of people the ability to publish at low cost, and allowed writers and fans to interact without the mediation of a large, centralized publisher – writers are increasingly able to, once again, play within, between, and around readers’ expectations.  Every book has the potential to be a new and deliciously bizarre experience!

Note from D L: This article looks like a fascinating read. I've added it to my reading pile.

DL: The big, bold stamp on many publisher and agent guidelines these days seems to be 'seeking diversity in writers and characters'. Do you think this search for diversity is playing a part in the pushing of genre boundaries?

LAURA: I think it’s hard to separate out which causes which.  Readers’ demands for diversity (and I do believe it’s readers’ demands, not publishers’, that drive this process) grow in parallel with writers’ yearning to tell stories that all kinds of people can identify with and enjoy, and that honor the differences in people while challenging common assumptions of what’s “normal”.  Through what they offer and consume, writers and readers give each other permission to edge a little further and a little further outside the norms; this, in turn, makes greater and greater diversity seem normal, and encourages a bit more edging.  And long may this process continue, I say.

DL: As well as an author, you're a poet, you write plays, and you compose operas and choral works. Am I right to assume that you appreciate the works of bards and playwrights of yonder years. If yes, if you could travel back in time to meet any of these wordsmiths, or even one of their fictional characters, who would you want to meet and why?

LAURA: I would love to have a beer with Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe – I have a lot of questions, largely to do with spying, swapped identities, and other trickeries.  I’d also love to listen to Conan Doyle (who also wrote plays, albeit with indifferent success; see https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Conan_Doyle%27s_Hard_Luck_as_a_Playwright), even though I’m pretty sure he would insist on trying to convert me to spiritualism.  And Aphra Bean would definitely be on my list!  I must clarify though:  I don’t write the music, just the words. My favorite collaborator in art, as in life, is my husband, composer and conductor Houston Dunleavy (although I have, on occasion, stepped out with other composers; only in the most appropriate of ways, of course).

DL: I agree with you that a fit writer is a better writer. (Read blog post here). What type of music would accompany the Laura E Goodin Writer's Workout DVD?

LAURA: I think I may be a bit of an oddball in this (as in many other things), but I find I don’t care to listen to music while working out.  Even when I’m running to the stories in Zombies, Run!, I keep the spaces between the story clips silent.  And my main sports – fencing, karate, horseback riding – are usually practiced unaccompanied.  I like the meditative aspect of it, and I like the feeling of enjoying my own company (and, as applicable, that of the horse).  It also helps me pay attention to how I’m perceiving the exertion and what’s going on around me, both of which keep me safer.

DL: And last question, what is your favourite biscuit and/or cake at the moment?

LAURA: Peanut butter cookies, I think.  They’re a staple amongst my people, and they remind me of my beloved grandma.  I don’t go a day without realizing how much I still miss her.  Peanut butter cookies taste like love, because of her.

 
ABOUT LAURA

Laura E. Goodin is a writer of science fiction, fantasy, old-fashioned adventure, humor, plays, libretti, poetry, and (very occasionally) nonfiction. Her work has been published and/or performed on three continents, and plenty more projects are in the works.

Laura is interested not only in the wondrous and sublime that form the core of speculative fiction, but in how music, drama, and other performance arts can incorporate a bit of surreality, unreality, and hyperreality. Encountering strangeness and wonder in unexpected places and unexpected ways is what she finds most intriguing and exciting about being a writer.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK


The sedentary and impractical Hoyle meets Sybil Alvaro in a used bookstore, and she invites him to follow in the footsteps of her favourite author in a search for the mysterious Bloodwood Staff. He’s spent his entire life reading vintage adventure action, and thinks he knows how these things should go.
 
A deliberate subversion of adventure, fantasy and satire tropes, After the Bloodwood Staff  is a brilliant and unexpected ride.

BUY THE BOOK
 
CONNECT WITH LAURA
 
 
Thank you to Laura for dropping by my virtual cafĂ©, and thank you for stopping by to check out another amazing Aussie author. 
 
Warm regards,
D L Richardson
 

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for a fascinating interview Laura - and Debbie. Interesting thoughts about genre and what readers want or enjoy reading :)

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    Replies
    1. I think it's helpful for authors to understand the market place, so thanks for dropping by Jeanette.

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