First time author Melissa Ann Goodwin has written a wonderful story just in time for Christmas. Her new book The Christmas Village is a heartfelt story about friends and family. I had a chance to ask her a few questions about her story and writing process.
The Neophyte Writer Interview:
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been dedicated to writing for about ten years now. As a kid, and throughout my life, I’ve always been “writing in my head,” but I didn’t devote myself to putting things down on paper for many years. I veered off in other directions, as many of us do. In business, I wrote a lot of reports and proposals, and even though it was Boring-with-a-capital-B, it taught me how to revise and edit. Over the past ten years, I’ve reversed my priorities, and creative writing has come first.
Have you always written for children?
Yes – I don’t know why I took that direction, it wasn’t really intentional. It’s just that the first thing that came to me was a story about fairies. Then I began writing for children’s magazines. But I’ve also written a fair number of magazine articles about aging and caregiving, because I worked for a non-profit that helped older adults. And, I’ve written memoirs that have appeared in magazines and newspapers. I don’t see myself always sticking with one genre in particular – I’m interested in everything. When I write for children, I feel like I am writing books for my 10-year-old self.
What drives and motivates you?
I am driven by wanting to realize my full potential as a writer. I feel like it took me a long time to get to a place in my life where I could commit to writing, and now I don’t want to waste any more time. I’m also driven by a desire to put something positive back into the world. I feel like there is a lot of darkness out there, and I want to be someone who puts out hope.
What advice do you have for new writers?
When I was younger, I tended to think that I could write one draft, clean it up a little, and I’d be done. But it’s not like school, where you might be able to get away with that – the standards for published work are so much higher! My advice to new writers is to accept on faith that their first, and even their second drafts, are probably not going to be good enough. Your work will need multiple revisions. Learn to revise, and learn to love it!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Well, first of all, I hope that I’ll be sitting on a beach with my toes in the sand. I hope that in five years’ time, I will have published a second novel and working on a third.
The Christmas Village
Jamie Reynolds is only twelve and his dad has done something that has turned the town against him and as a result his dad leaves town. Jamie’s best friend Tommy can’t hang out with him anymore because of the terrible thing Jamie’s dad has done. With Christmas just around the corner his mom whisks him away to her parents home in Bell’s Crossing. At grandma and grandpa’s, big breakfasts, festive decorations and a surprise Christmas village make him wish for simpler times where nothing ever changes.
After Jamie’s grandmother surprises him by showing off the little village. His mother tells him all about the people who live there. She explains that its 1932, and how some of the people survived the great depression. Grandma calls the little village Canterbury. Jamie’s mother made it seem so real. The smells of Christmas filled the room, pine trees, burning wood in the fire place and an apple-cranberry candle made Jamie wish that he could live in Canterbury and longed to forget his troubles.
Asleep on the couch, Jamie is suddenly awakened. It was midnight and he could hear voices coming from the little Christmas village. He leaned in barely breathing watching two children ice skating on the village pond. It was Kelly and Christopher, the two his mother told him about. He felt as though he knew them. He watched the miniature villagers. On the far side of the pond the ice breaks and Kelly sinks into the icy water. Jamie panics and is not sure how to save her. Before he knows it he is catapulted into the village.
Jamie has nightmares that he is being chased by a dark stranger. As this story unfolds, Jamie is forced to choose between staying to help his new friends or going home. This is a wonderful story that family and friends can share around the hearth with a cup of hot chocolate. Little listeners will root for Jamie and his friends in the little town of Canterbury.
Goodwin has done an excellent job of introducing characters and weaving a tale with so many twists and turns that readers will get to the end and read the story all over again. The vivid imagery puts readers right in the midst of the story.
Melissa Ann Goodwin treasures fond memories of a happy and carefree childhood growing up in Andover, Massachusetts. She is grateful for the many wonderful teachers there who encouraged her to read the books that inspired her to become a writer. She now lives in Santa Fe, NM, with her husband, artist J. Richard Secor. Melissa has written many stories, poems and articles for children’s magazines, and her non-fiction pieces have appeared in national magazines and regional newspapers. The Christmas Village is her first novel for children.