Here’s an interview with Amazon Bestselling Author, Nathan A. Goodman. When I first met Goodman on Twitter, we had read each others work, and he gave me some very helpful advice. We have been communicating via email ever since, discussing all the various ins and outs of marketing, editing, editors, and even story content. It was only a matter of time before I interviewed him!
How long have you been writing?
In many ways, I’ve been writing my whole life. But my writing took on a life of its own when I started writing my first novel, The Fourteenth Protocol. Once that first one was released, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities. The fact that I can write something that might touch someone else’s life is so humbling, but it’s also an addiction of its own. Once you get started, you can’t stop.
What do you do in your spare time?
Since I do have a day job, writing is what I do most in my spare time. But, my time away from work is also filled with time with my wife and kids, and church. I’ll be leading a men’s small group through church soon, and looking forward to it.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer?
I write novels part-time as an escape. There are so many possibilities for a writer, that I’ve often thought about making it a full time thing.
What comes to you first when working on a new story: plot or character?
I create neither plot nor character in my mind before I write. Instead, I follow the creative style of the author Stephen King by first creating a single question. The question forms the basis of the entire story and the resulting novel is the ultimate answer to the question. For example, in order to formulate The Fourteenth Protocol, I crafted this question. ‘What would happen if the government, in their efforts to break up a terrorist cell, started funding the cell at the lowest level in order to work their way higher and higher up the chain of command?’ That was the entire starting point of the story.
Do you write at a particular time, or have a specific word count goal during your sessions?
I probably write better in the mornings, when there’s nothing pulling at my time. And I tend to like to hit at least 500 words, but it usually breezes well past that. For some reason, I’m not distracted if I go to the coffee shop to write, or am listening to music. It’s not the surroundings or the distractions that play a role. It’s the fact that I’m sitting down to do nothing but write that makes a difference.
Tell us a little bit about your writing process.
As I said above, I start with the single question as the basis for the story. I don’t plan the story or outline it in any way. Stories are only able to take on a life of their own if you let them. And planning them out does not achieve that goal. I
then put a character into a position that fits into the story, think of who he or she is, what they look like, what they are like as a person, and I start figuring out what they’d be doing right now. Then I close my eyes and picture the scene and begin typing.
As a Christian author, what’s it like for you to write in the mystery/crime genre?
I’ve actually caught some grief over the fact that I am a Christian, and yet The Fourteenth Protocol is not free of bad situations or bad language. And yet, if those readers would have paid closer attention, they would have also seen the small signals pointing to the presence of heaven in the book. Is it real? What might it be like? I might be a Christian, but I wrote that novel with a view of reality. I use language that would commonly be heard coming out of people who have their lives on the line. It’s not pretty, but it is real.
Tell us a little about Twinkle.
I like to think Twinkle came out of nowhere, but that’s not at all true. I was writing the sequel to The Fourteenth Protocol, and all was going well. But then I started hearing the faintest of sounds. The sound kept distracting me; bothering me. When I finally put my self importance aside, I realized it was God whispering to me. He wasn’t angry, he just wanted me to get quite long enough for him to tell me I had something else to do. That something was the novel Twinkle. Twinkle is a Christian story set in the old slave days. It’s about the adventures of a slave boy and the young daughter of the plantation owner. Their unlikely friendship leads them to the discovery of a magical place in the forest that turns out to be a small piece of heaven, right here on earth. What they find inside will change their lives forever.
As a storyteller, how do you measure success?
The first level of success is simply looking at a finished work and feeling good about it. If I enjoyed writing it, it’s a success. The fact that people enjoy reading it is icing on the cake. I think I’m like a lot of other men. We really crave that feeling of satisfaction after having accomplished something. Publishing a novel gives me a real sense of accomplishment.
What’s next for you?
I’m in midst of re-editing Twinkle, and writing the sequel to The Fourteenth Protocol. Those are going to keep me busy for a while. Twinkle really interrupted the writing of the sequel, and some of my readers are getting impatient for that sequel. But, it was something that would not wait and I’m glad I did it.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
If you don’t think you could actually write a novel, you are wrong. Pick up Stephen King’s book called On Writing. It will forever change your mind about what you can write, and how to do it.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Do you have any final thoughts?
I really want to encourage people out there who have written a lot, but are afraid to put any of their work out there for others to see. Your work is better than you give it credit for. Your writing isn’t meant to be hidden, it’s meant to be shared. Your writing might help some person who needed to read just those words. Go ahead, take the chance. It can really be worth the risk.