Saturday, January 28, 2012

Interview With Kristine Goodfellow

  In 2011, I was lucky enough to attend a writing convention in Dallas called DFWcon. It was Amazing! I attended classes about my craft. I mingled with agents and editors. But, more importantly, I met fellow writers and authors. I have kept in touch with several of these authors and it has been a blessing to watch them grow and see their successes.

  Recently, a friend from DFWcon had her book published! Her book has received several amazing reviews. On top of that, she is also a Best Seller on Amazon's Gothic Romance list!
  Because of her success, I asked her if she would let me interview her, so that everyone could get to know her and check out her amazing book. Luckily, for me, she said yes!
  So, without further ado, I would like to welcome Kristine Goodfellow, author of Phantom: Edge of the Flame to my blog.

A little about Kristine...
  Kristine is a 1990 graduate of Cal State and currently lives in Texas wither husband, her contemptuous cat and a formally-stray, sickly Chihuahua that someone dumped at her husband’s office building. She’s the mother of two grown sons who attend school in South Dakota and Pennsylvania. 
  Kristine has written nine novels and is working on her tenth.Only Phantom: Edge of the Flameis currently available.Another gothic romance will be released in early 2012.

Kristine thanks for doing this interview and welcome to my blog.
Thanks for interviewing me, Sarah.  I’m flattered to be on featured on your blog.  I’ve been following your blog for a while now and I enjoy keeping up to date on you, your writing and of course, your wrestling obsession.  I’m glad we met at the conference last year. 

How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing novels for the last ten years, but I’ve been writing stories since the third grade. We had an assignment that was an essay entitled: “I wish I was…”. I wrote three different versions and couldn’t decide which one I should turn in for a grade. At that time I understood just how much I enjoyed writing. Since I never liked having homework before (math was a form of torture for me), I realized that writing released a creative side in me that I had not quite discovered—not in written form anyway. My childhood games were quite resourceful; I had a vivid imagination for make-believe. In fact, I had a whole kingdom in my backyard made from overturned lawn furniture and picnic blankets. My poor dog survived having scarves tied around her head, a few strands of fake pearls hanging from her neck and doll dresses foisted on her. (She was a princess.—what can I say?) And that essay that started it all? I only got an “S” (Satisfactory) grade because in such excitement over verbal creation, some things might have suffered—like spelling and grammar. You know the things that nuns take rather seriously. The only piece of encouragement I received for that paper was the word “Imaginative” written in red across the top—right next to the words “Watch your margins!”

What is the inspiration behind Phantom: Edge of the Flame?
I loved the main character.  In the original novel, Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, “Erik” (the phantom) is a dark, tortured, genius with a disturbing past.  I get chills just thinking of all the depth this character has.  However, I could never get over the love (or in my mind obsession) that he had for a young, beautiful soprano.  I never understood how the hideously ugly genius who’d been hiding in the bowels of the opera house (who surely had seen plenty of beautiful women!) suddenly became insanely fixated on this young teenager.  I just didn’t see the appeal of his love interest, Christine.  I wanted something more than the obvious connection of their mutual love of singing and the even more obvious connection of her being beautiful and him being lovesick.  That wasn’t convincing enough for me.  I went in search of answers.  After reading Susan Kay’s fantastic novel Phantom, (which is the prequel to Gaston Leroux’s Phantom of the Opera) I still needed more answers.  Not finding any real answers there either, I decided to pen my own “short story” giving the Phantom a new love interest more in line with his age, intelligence and personality--someone who would not only challenge him, but perhaps give him a taste of actual mature love.  That “short story” became an 81,000-word novel.

Is the Phantom dark and sexy like the Andrew Lloyd Webber movie starring Gerard Butler? Or is he more like what is described in the book?
He is definitely NOT handsome. Nothing like the 2004 movie where he’s really hunky except for that little bit of his face that has some sort of skin-disorder. In the Schumaker movie, the phantom was still damn-handsome even with that bit of flaw. I liked the movie in and of itself as a form of entertainment and I also loved the Broadway production, on which it was based, but in Phantom: Edge of the Flame, I stuck with the original version of the phantom—a guy who was described as living death. Gaston Leroux depicts him as being extremely ugly, emaciated and well, smelling kinda weird. What I wanted to do was keep the original crazy, ugly character and make him sympathetic, and also give him a love interest. I absolutely love the idea of a crazy, love-starved genius!

If someone has not read “The Phantom of the Opera” will they still be able to follow your book?
Absolutely! I wrote it so the reader did not have to be familiar with the 2004 movie or the original novel. In fact, I’ve noticed several of the positive reviews I’ve received have specifically said they were not familiar with the book or weren’t “Phantom Phans” at all. I wrote it to be enjoyed as a stand-alone piece. All anyone needs to know is the rudimentary idea of a disfigured magician/ventriloquist/musical genius “haunting” the opera house because he has withdrawn from society and has disdain for mankind.

What advice would you give an unpublished writer?
The thing that helped me the most is joining online critique groups. My writing seemed to improve ten-fold by having it critiqued by different writers with varying levels of talent and experience. All kinds of people with different ideas for strengthening our craft read my work and offered their opinions. That’s incredibly useful. Granted, you have to take what you find helpful and dump the rest, but I learned a lot. If I could give one piece of advice, I would say get out of your comfort zone and let other people look at your work--that is people other than your family and friends. It might be hard at first, but after the initial shock, you will grow and learn by having your mistakes called out time and time again. One of the first critiques I ever received told me that I used ‘filtering’ and that I ‘distanced myself from the reader’. First, I was crushed. Then I became angry. I reread my work and thought it was awesome. After that, I concluded the guy was a jerkwad for saying such a negative thing about my precious baby. BUT…after the fourth and fifth person said the same thing, I realized I was being the jerkwad. I have since learned not to use any ‘filtering’ such as “I heard, I saw, I thought…etc.”

What is the best advice you received as a writer?
Grow a thick skin. I’m still working on that one. It’s hard to have someone dislike your work. It’s like someone not liking your kids…but, it happens. I’ve learned that not every story is for every person. As my best friend likes to say, “Honey, not every shoe fits every foot.” That sounds really cute when she says it with a southern drawl, too. So, when I feel down because someone didn’t like something I wrote, I hear that expression in my head and it cheers me up.

Do you have any books coming out?
Yes. I’ve got another gothic romance set to be released at the end of March and a horror with romantic elements due out in early fall of 2012. As soon as I get the okay, I will write more about those upcoming novels. Right now they’re being edited within an inch of their spines.  
Thanks for interviewing me, Sarah. I appreciate the time you took to do this. I can’t wait until DFWcon this year!

Again, I would like to thank Kristine for allowing me to interview her. I hope you all check out her book!


Amaleen Ison said...

Great interview, ladies :-)

Kristine, I'm so excited to hear that you have more books being released this year. You're such a talented writer; it was only a matter of time.

Ruth said...

More books from K! Really pleased for you : )

Sarah said...

It was an honor to interview Kristine! :)