BEFORE YOU READ: The images of book covers that you will come across while reading this article function as widgets, meaning if you want to buy one or more books that are featured on the page, all you need to do is click on the book’s cover image and make the purchase.
Writing had become a true passion for author Lanie Goodell by the time she was a teenager. As a matter of fact, she would narrate stories to her mother, who would, in turn, write them down before Ms Goodell could spell. ‘I have been writing for as long as I remember,’ begins the Denver-based author, speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction. She tells us that somewhere in a box in the state she grew up, she has her first manuscript. ‘It is all handwritten, and the story follows a girl who falls in love with a ghost,’ she says with a smile, adding, ‘Even at that age, I was writing non-conventional endings, so it is a strange story, but I still enjoy it… as much as I can remember.’
Twitter Mate to the Rescue
Talking about Sweet Southern Charm, a short story which was reviewed by the Literary Express recently (you can read the review here), Ms Goodell says she wrote it for a writing contest. ‘It was originally 3000 words exactly because that is what I was allotted. I have always enjoyed that one but never knew what to do with it. After meeting a fellow writer named Victoria Williams on Twitter and reading a short story that she had published, I knew it was time to dust off Sweet Southern Charm and do something with it,’ she shares with us, going on to add that previous to meeting Ms Williams and reading Proxima g, she had not realized there were short stories available via Kindle. ‘I don’t have a lot of time to read since I am a teacher and a single mom, but I can crack out a short before bed and feel satisfied,’ she says with a smile.
Talking about her other pieces, the author tells us that her website (www.meligoodell.com) contains the links to the short fiction pieces she has already published. ‘I have also written several full-length novels. Salvagium was my first. It is a horror/romance mashup about a woman who is fleeing New York and her personal tragedies, only to find she’s stepped into something much worse in Vermont. It’s like what would happen if a horror fan got a hold of a Hallmark movie,’ she explains.
Fan of Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Talking about another book of hers entitled ‘Lunae Lumen’, Ms Goodell, who also teaches art, teaching and creative writing to school children, tells us that it is a modern noir about a police inspector chasing a serial killer and having to work with a police detective to do so. ‘Only he is a vampire. And the murders are recreations of some of his “best” work. Bestienmörder and the following two books in the series are my favourites though,’ she adds, letting on that she is a huge fan of Grimm’s fairy tales and all the modern interpretations and retellings. ‘I’ve done a ton of research on the brothers themselves as well as multiple read-throughs of most of their stories. The Bestienmörder Chronicles is my own modern fairytale, using their work as a basis,’ she states.
‘I Write When I Can’
Having obtained degrees in both Criminal Justice and Psychology, which led to her last position as a federal agent, Ms Goodell, who loves reading mostly indie authors, namely A M Hounchell, Kelly Miller, and Cassondra Windwalker besides some mainstream novelists like Stephen King, R L Stine, Maggie Stiefvater and Janet Evanovich, concedes that she writes when she can. She says, ‘I am a long term substitute, which means I bounce between jobs. It’s often hectic, but I love it. Writing is sporadic. Some days I’ll write just 100 words and call off.’
The author, who hasn’t followed a schedule since the pandemic hit, also shares that she has had the opportunity to work with law enforcement in multiple capacities and study crime scenes in a way most people don’t get. ‘So I use that information while I’m writing,’ she tells us.
RELATED | ‘Through the Eyes’ of a Fantasy Writer
Panster at Heart
Nonetheless, does she plan her stories before putting pen to paper? ‘I never have any idea. I will get a spark of an idea, a glimpse at how a character looks or sounds, or a setting; and I’ll sit down and start writing,’ she responds, telling us that there are occasions when the story unfolds in front of her, making her feel great. ‘And sometimes, I get halfway through, and I have lost the glimmer and put it away for a while. Those generally get finished eventually, but if my interest shifts too far from the genre, it gets locked in the file. I have several of those. But for the most part, I get started and watch the movie in my head and write down what I see.’
Be that as it may, she emphasises that plotting out a story beforehand doesn’t work for her, for she almost always tends to lose interest in it. ‘For me, the story is done then. I know the ending, and I am bored writing it,’ she stresses. Salvagium, however, is the only book that detours from that idea a bit, for the author tells us that she wrote it off a prompt given to her by a friend. ‘However, it barely resembles the prompt at this point,’ she smiles.
Not Just a Writer
While writing was not a conscious decision for Ms Goodell, she states that she always wanted to become a publisher. ‘I wrote my first adult novel for a bored friend. It was supposed to be a short story and 80,000 words later became Salvagium. I love the story. I love the characters. I love having my friends give me crap because two years later my characters are still scaring them,’ she says with a laugh.
But what intrigues us is the fact that she is also an artist and a singer. ‘I do what I am inspired to do at the time. For me, I don’t stress about how much I have written, or when I will get to write. I just let it happen when it can,’ she underlines. ‘I do not want the love of the art to feel like another responsibility. If I produce five books in a year, yay! If I manage to write half a book in a year, that is okay too.’
‘We Learn Something From Every Project’
Currently working on the third and final instalment of the Bestienmorder Chronicles and a horror book inspired partly by scripture and partly by some of her favourite themes on television, the author, who loves studying crime scenes and hopes plenty of that will be thrown in into her works, says she has just one piece of advice for budding writers: Keep writing.
‘When I published my first novel, it was decent. I am a much better writer now. That is not to say I do not get good feedback on Salvagium, but my editorial team recently remarked at how far I have come. With every project, we learn something. Keep writing, keep learning. And don’t lose the fun!’ she says, quickly underscoring that reviews are subjective. Without mincing words, she says that Sweet Southern Charm (which the Literary Express highly recommends) got two five-star ratings raving about it in the comments and a one-star rating with no explanation. ‘The one-star rating stung, but it is one person’s opinion. My brother read it. He told me it is five stars. That is good enough in my book,’ she tells us with a beatific smile.
‘I’d Fix the Economy For Kids’
On being asked if there is something that she would want to be changed, the author states with concern that children should never have to go hungry and that that is something she would want to see come to an end. ‘I was teaching in NC at one point and discovered one of my kids was stealing food from the cafeteria,’ she tells us, pointing out that that is a behavioural issue. She says she instead took it to the school counsellor and got him set up on a program where he would get extra food provided.
Letting on that the child was going hungry on weekends and trying to steal food to store for when he was not at school, she avers that children should not have to steal food, come hell or high water. ‘They should be well taken care of. I would fix the economy so that all kids were well cared for,’ she pronounces, signing off.
RELATED | One Man, Many Faces