Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Joy Lynn Goddard

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Ten Questions with Joy Lynn Goddard

Open Book talks to author and teacher Joy Lynn Goddard about reading, writing and her Northview Tales series (Chestnut Books).

OBT:

Tell us about your Northview Tales series.

JLG:

My Northview Tales series consists of Daredevils, Charlie’s Song and Hello, my name is Emily, which features teens coming of age in the fictional city of Northview. In each book, danger, adventure, sports and social problems are dominant themes, along with fast-paced storylines and the tendency to end each chapter with a cliff-hanger. Although readers will find some of the people and places the same in each book, the plots are all very different.

Daredevils:
Lizzie is based on a girl I taught who played goal on an all-boys’ team. Alex, a weird kid on the team, helps Lizzie plot against her enemies, never imagining the disastrous outcome. It begins with a dare at a hockey tournament in Niagara Falls and ends when Alex plunges headfirst into the Niagara Gorge.

Charlie’s Song:
Charlie is a would-be singing star whose mixed-up family keeps standing in her way. She’s embarrassed by her younger brother, Nicholas, who’s a little “slow,” and fed up by her mother who runs off to the casino every chance she gets. After her crazy life is spread across the Internet, Charlie considers dropping out of school, but that would mean losing her spot in the school’s singing competition, Teen Idol. Charlie’s ex-friend, Alessa, would love that! After all, she plans on winning the competition and would stop at nothing to defeat Charlie.

Hello, my name is Emily:
Emily is a few years older than when she first appeared in Daredevils and is facing bigger problems. Her adoptive mother is making life miserable, so Emily sets out to find her birth mother. After reaching a dead end, she receives an email from a stranger that changes her life. She decides to meet him secretly, despite the warnings from her friend, Alex, and heads into serious trouble. Frantic, Alex tries to save her but he could be too late!

OBT:

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your books?

JLG:

Yes, my books are written to appeal to kids 12 to 16 years old.

OBT:

Which books made a great impression on you when you were a child?

JLG:

Although I’m an avid reader now, I wasn’t much of a reader as a young child. I rarely picked up a book! My teachers and parents were always telling me to read something and that annoyed me, so I refused. However, I also preferred running around and having adventures to curling up with a book. I was more likely to build a fort and pretend that I was being held captive inside it by an evil witch than to read about the adventure in a book. That said, I remember my Grade 8 teacher reading Moonfleet by J. Meade Falkner to my class and I loved the book. It was dark and scary and exciting. Later on, in high school, I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and couldn’t get it out of my mind. Its racial theme affected me profoundly. Over the years, I’ve studied the Underground Railroad and made it a subplot in Jazz , my fourth novel.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

JLG:

My first published article (as a reporter for a weekly newspaper) was about riding the buses in Belleville. Although I’d put my heart and soul into it (and it took forever to write), it was boring!

OBT:

Describe your ideal writing environment.

JLG:

Anywhere quiet. No phones, TV, music. Once I’m “in my head” I block out noises, but until I get there, I’m distracted easily by what’s going on around me. When visiting schools, I tell kids that I wrote the rough draft of Daredevils in the bathroom, and they are amazed. My mother was sick and I had gone to her house for the summer to look after her. Her house was old, with no three-prong plugs for my laptop anywhere except in the bathroom. After Mom fell asleep, I’d set my computer on the toilet and myself on the floor and then write.

OBT:

Describe a recent Canadian cultural experience that influenced your writing.

JLG:

Like many, I consider hockey intrinsic to Canadian culture. I’ve never played the sport, but love it, and often watched hockey in the small-town arena near the house where I grew up. Now I watch hockey on TV regularly; I’m a Leafs’ fan who’s always hopeful the team will win the Stanley Cup again. Hockey is a prominent theme in two of my books, Daredevils and Hello, my name is Emily. I get a lot of emails from boys telling me they like these books because they’re about hockey.

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a "Welcome to Canada" gift, what would those books be?

JLG:

Just three? That’s hard, for there are so many excellent books by Canadian writers. But here are three of my favourites:
Love You Forever, Robert Munsch
Runaway, Alice Munro
The Flying Troutmans, Miriam Toews

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

JLG:

The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. This is the first book I’ve read by Wally Lamb. A friend heard him speak on the radio and thought I might like his book. It deals with life’s biggest questions, which keeps me awake at night.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

JLG:

Write about what interests you, and keep in mind what interests your intended audience too.

OBT:

What is your next project?

JLG:

Currently, I’m working on Jeff and the Lucky Socks, a picture book. I’m writing the text and my artist friend, Ann Boyle, is drawing the illustrations. Next I plan to write another young-adult novel; this book will be about a mountain bike race and a bike-theft ring. It will be a little darker than the others, for one of the characters will die.


A former journalist, Joy Lynn Goddard has had many articles and short stories published in newspapers and magazines. Currently, she teaches in Guelph Ontario, drawing on her vast experiences in the classroom to make her books seem real. Her characters are composites of the many students she has taught – from the “weirdo” to the “brain” to the “jock.” To date, she has written four young-adult novels – Daredevils, Charlie’s Song, Hello, my name is Emily and Jazz – and one junior novel – Mrs. Maloney’s Garden. Daredevils (and its teacher manual, by Ruthanne Finnigan) won the Ontario English Catholic Teacher Association (OECTA) provincial Best Practice Award in 2005. In recognition of their contribution to literacy, Joy Lynn Goddard and Ruthanne Finnigan received the OECTA Award of Merit in 2009. Her website is www.joygoddard.com.

For more information about Joy Lynn Goddard's Northview Tales series please visit the Chestnut Publishing website at www.chestnutpublishing.com.


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