Underneath by Anne Goodwin. Advance Reader Copy (eARC) from the author included. No affiliate links used. You can read my full disclosure policy here.
I love picking writer’s brains about their writing process(es). It’s such a personal thing and different approaches work for different people, so there is always something new to learn. When Anne Goodwin asked me to take part in the blog tour for her latest novel, Underneath, I jumped at the chance to ask her about writing and the role social media plays in promoting her books.
Thanks to Anne Goodwin for taking the time to answer my questions.
Your latest novel, Underneath, is a psychological suspense story. Did your background as a clinical psychologist have an impact on how you wrote the characters?
While I can’t be completely sure where my writing differs from that of authors without that professional background, I certainly tried to get “underneath” my narrator and understand what made him behave the way he does. I was interested in the vulnerability he carries from early childhood that predisposes him to react badly to loss, along with his lack of insight and detachment from his own limitations leading him to making a bad situation worse. Even though what he does is dreadful, and I wouldn’t want to begin to attempt to excuse it, I do empathise because, in his own mind, he is as much a victim as his captive. As the blurb states, He never intended to be a jailer.
Steve’s girlfriend, Liesel, and the second most important character, is probably more informed by my work, since she works in a mental health unit. Art psychotherapy is a fairly small profession which I probably wouldn’t have known about myself had I not worked in mental health services. Using art materials to help access thoughts and feelings, they are a very valuable and, I think, underused resource for the large numbers of clients who aren’t particularly comfortable talking about themselves. I hope any art therapists who read Underneath will feel Liesel is a credit to the profession and excuse Steve’s misrepresentation of what she does.
You’re also a short story writer, how do they compare to writing novels?
I’m still trying to work that out! It might be that a short story requires fewer characters (so readers don’t get muddled), less character backstory (or often none at all) and only one core conflict. It’s also more acceptable and expected in a short story to leave a lot to the reader’s imagination. But I’m not sure. How it tends to work for me is how the idea presents itself: if it comes with lots of unknowns and thoughts along the lines of that couldn’t possibly work, it’s probably a novel. But then short stories can sometimes surprise me too.
Writing is a solitary process. Do you have a routine so that you don’t get completely lost in the world(s) you’re creating?
I often ponder ideas when I’m out walking, and end up talking to myself as I do so, so I can’t claim that I don’t get lost. But real life goes on, even when we are absorbed in our fictional worlds, and I’ve never been tempted to forego meals and sleep. While I don’t follow a routine, I prefer to work in the daytime, including weekends if I’m not otherwise engaged, and juggle my writing around other priority activities and vice versa. Having no other job now, no dependants and an easy-going husband, I can be quite flexible.
What role does social media play, if any, in promoting your books?
Social media is a boon for the small-press published or self-published author, as it isn’t easy to get our books into the shops. Given that I’m answering these questions as part of my blog tour, I’m also hoping that it’s a very effective means of promotion! But you don’t sell books by shouting Buy my book! on Twitter. It’s a long-term process of relationship building and mutual support. And I love Q&As like this that push me to ponder questions I might not ask myself.
I love hearing what people are passionate about reading, even if they can’t narrow it down to a favourite. Which book do you wish you could thrust into the arms of strangers and demand they read it immediately?
At the moment, and it does keep changing, I’m raving about The Clocks in This House All Tell Different Times, the debut novel from Xan Brooks. Set in southern England five years after the end of the First World War, it’s an extremely quirky story about the unlikely encounters between a ragtag group of orphaned adolescents, four young men who’ve retreated into a twilight world in which they don’t officially exist (having been declared dead) because their injuries are too gruesome for others to behold and a house party of repulsive aristocrats who while away their time snorting cocaine. It sounds awful, but it’s beautifully written and, despite the bleak subject matter, strangely uplifting.
Underneath by Anne Goodwin is published by Inspired Quill and is available in ebook and paperback format from May 25th.