Welcome to this week’s Sunday interview and my guest is author Anne Goodwin whose latest short story collection Becoming Someone was released in November 2018.
Anne Goodwin loves fiction for the freedom to contradict herself and has been scribbling stories ever since she could hold a pencil. During her career as an NHS clinical psychologist her focus was on helping other people tell their neglected stories to themselves. Now that her short fiction publication count has overtaken her age, her ambition is to write and publish enough novels to match her shoe size. Her debut novel, Sugar and Snails, was published in July 2015 by Inspired Quill and shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. Her second novel, Underneath, was published in May 2017.
Before we take a look at Anne’s books, let’s find out more about her.
Welcome Anne and thank you for joining us, can you share what was the one thing you could never learn how to do no matter how hard you tried?
Swimming front crawl. I didn’t learn to swim until I was almost in my teens, but I managed a reasonable breaststroke. For several years, I would go to the swimming pool a couple of mornings a week before work. It took me a while to realise – well it was early morning – that the pains in my knees were due to that breaststroke kick. So I switched to front crawl, but found myself exhausted after just one length. I wasn’t uncomfortable putting my head in the water, and could more or less manage the sideways breaths, but I covered the distance almost as fast floating on my back. After a few years, I lost interest and don’t even have a swimming costume now.
Have you ever played a musical instrument or sang in public?
There was a time I might have answered “singing” to the above question although, in all honesty, assuming I couldn’t sing, I didn’t try very hard to learn. It wasn’t until my late 40s that I plucked up the courage to enrol for individual lessons. While they helped enormously, I wanted to sing classical, but my teacher thought my voice wasn’t good enough. Nevertheless, a few years later, after early retirement, I approached an all-comers choir and, despite my incompetence and inexperience, I was welcomed in. Although I’ve definitely improved, I still consider myself a struggling soprano (and would never want, nor would I be good enough, to sing solo), singing with others brings out the best in my voice. I’m so grateful to be part of it and I love the classical repertoire. The sound quality isn’t great but I have a YouTube clip of what might have been the first performance I took part in, and still one of my favourite pieces:
Sally here: That is wonderful Anne and how fabulous to have found such an all inclusive choir that sounds to amazing.
Do you prefer the big city or country life?
If only I could have both on my doorstep! At the moment, we live in a small town which sometimes feels like the best of both worlds and sometimes the worst. I’ve never lived in the countryside, but get out there walking as often as I can. I often fantasise about moving to a small village, but I also fear I’d find it claustrophobic. When I lived in a city I appreciated the culture and a choice of restaurants within walking distance of the house. But it could be a pain having to drive through snarls of traffic to get out to the hills. My first two novels are set in cities, driving strongly in places I know, but my next will be set in a small town with a rural backdrop.
Do you have a phobia and do you remember how it started?
It’s not exactly a phobia, but I’m very sensitive to particular types of noise; for example, I can’t stay out in the garden if a neighbour has a radio on. I used to try and stick it out, but I get quite distressed and lose the connection with my own mind. I also feel it physically in my gut. These days I can often work around it and, of course, for a writer everything is material and I do have a WIP about a teenager with phonophobia, which I’m finding interesting, especially as I don’t find my own situation easy to explain.
What are the five things that you would always find in your handbag or briefcase?
I rarely carry a handbag or briefcase: it’s partly about protecting my posture, something I learnt about through the Alexander technique. If I’m not out for long, I’ll put a purse, key or whatever in my pocket. (However, I must admit that this backfired this summer when I carried home blackberries in a pocket, leaking colourfully through a plastic bag into my trousers.) If I’m going to be away from home for a couple of hours or more I’ll take a small backpack with a water bottle; migraine medication; bank card; phone and a couple of business cards, because you never know when you’ll have the opportunity to tell people about your books! Also, a dear friend whom I first met in cyberspace sent me a lovely lightweight foldaway shopping bag, so that goes in my pocket now too, just in case I need to carry anything more. (But I’ll never risk ruining it with blackberry juice.)
And here is Anne’s latest release
About Becoming Someone
What shapes the way we see ourselves?
An administrator is forced into early retirement; a busy doctor needs a break. A girl discovers her sexuality; an older man explores a new direction for his. An estate agent seeks adventure beyond marriage; a photojournalist retreats from an overwhelming world. A woman reduces her carbon footprint; a woman embarks on a transatlantic affair. A widow refuses to let her past trauma become public property; another marks her husband’s passing in style.
Thought-provoking, playful and poignant, these 42 short stories address identity from different angles, examining the characters’ sense of self at various points in their lives. What does it mean to be a partner, parent, child, sibling, friend? How important is work, culture, race, religion, nationality, class? Does our body, sexuality, gender or age determine who we are?
Is identity a given or can we choose the someone we become?
One of the recent reviews for the collection
I absolutely love the cover. The colors are so pretty together, the font of the title is simple but makes itself known, and the birds have a sense of symbolism to them. This cover was well done.
First Thoughts: I enjoy short story collections. I love seeing different perspectives from different characters and this was no different. I’ve enjoyed Anne Goodwin’s work in the past and didn’t want to pass up this opportunity to read her latest.
Plot: The plots vary from story to story and they’re very different from one another. There are a few that have similar themes, but each story is unique from the one before it and they were all interesting backgrounds.
Characters: As the title and summary suggests, each of these stories showcase the characters “becoming someone.” Everyone goes through their own struggles and battles and we all have good times and bad times. The characters in these stories had their own troubles to deal with and life kept moving on for them. Some were easier to get through than others, but the characters were becoming their own within their short tales.
Writing Style: This is a collection of 42 short stories and no two are the same. The writing style for each differed as well, depending on the character. The POV varied and there was even one story where the narrator spoke in first person and wouldn’t give their name. It kept the book interesting and made me wonder what sort of story and character would await me on the next page. Overall, they were all well written.
Overall: This book is well written and is a good length at nearly 300 pages. There are definitely some stories that I enjoyed more than others, but they were all an experience nonetheless.
Favorite Quote: “Loitering with a raspberry milk-shake in yet another coffee-bar, she was afforded multiple glimpses of men with flowing golden curls, but none adorning the head of her prince charming.” -Anne Goodwin, Becoming Someone;
Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-Someone-Anne-Goodwin/dp/1908600772
And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1908600772
Also by Anne Goodwin
Read the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO
And on Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Anne-Goodwin/e/B0156O8PMO/
Find more reviews and follow Anne on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14157781.Anne_Goodwin
Connect to Anne
My thanks to Anne for sharing some of her interests outside of writing and I know that she would love to hear from you.. Thanks Sally.