Melissa Ann Goodwin grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, where she spent a happy childhood living in her imagination and writing stories in her head. It was only a matter of time before those stories spilled out onto the written page. She has been published extensively in children's and national magazines and won a Writer's Digest Annual Poetry Competition Award in 2010. Her first book, The Christmas Village, won the 2013 Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Award for children’s adventure. The Christmas Village and its sequel, Return to Canterbury, are the culmination of her lifelong dream to write the kind of books she loved to read as a child.
Back cover blurb for Return to Canterbury:
Things have settled down for thirteen-year-old Jamie Reynolds since last Christmas. That's when he time-traveled to 1932 and wound up in the town of Canterbury, Vermont. There he met Kelly and Christopher Pennysworth, who quickly became his best friends. Back in his own time again, he misses them every day. But as the July 4th, 2008 holiday approaches, the biggest black cloud still hovering over Jamie's life is the mystery of what happened to his dad, who has been missing for almost a year.
Little does Jamie know that he will soon reunite with Kelly and Christopher for an adventure even bigger than their last. Together they'll uncover a secret plot that threatens to destroy Canterbury. But will they be able to stop it before it's too late? And will Jamie finally solve the mystery of his father's disappearance? Return to Canterbury with us and find out!
When I told Melissa I'd be happy to be one of her blog tour hosts,
this is part of what she wrote to me:
"I thought it would be more fun to do an interview...... like a chat between friends in which you ask me any silly thing you've ever wondered about me or even some of those funny questions people ask like, "if you had to choose between being an eraser or a piece of chalk, which would you be and why?" Or what's your favorite ....???"
So, ask and you shall receive! Below are the questions I came up with and Melissa's fascinating answers!
Melissa: Can we meld Helen Mirren and Jennifer Lawrence? They both have a free-spiritedness at very different life stages, and I relate to each of them at those stages. And they seem very comfortable with who they are, which I feel I have, finally, also become. If we can’t do that, then let’s go with Mary Steenbergen. She’s closer to my age, we have similar facial features and she seems very nice.
2) Do you ever submit stories to Calls for Submissions or enter contests? Why? Why Not? Which ones?
Melissa: I don’t really do this so much now. When I first started writing I did more of it. The challenges could be fun and give you practice trying different things. And I even had some success – one of my poems was a top prize winner in Writer’s Digest’s annual competition. But I found that it’s easy for me to get distracted with such things. They can become subtle forms of procrastination or avoidance – a way to give myself credit for writing without actually working on what I should have been. Now I really just work on my projects. I’m not for or against contests or challenges – it’s just that I’ve done them and now don’t feel drawn to do them anymore.
3) I’m intrigued and kind of envious of your life “on the road” in your RV in 2012(?) 2013(?). You’ve already mentioned some of the ups and downs about it on your blog, but can you share some things with us?
Melissa: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times,” might sum it up! In many ways it was glorious – we traveled to great places (San Antonio, New Orleans, Charleston, Maine, Nova Scotia, Quebec, Nashville, Memphis). We visited with friends and family along the way. We had miraculously glorious weather throughout.
I loved the RV; I loved being in the campgrounds. I loved being on vacation all the time. I loved experiencing new places and revisiting familiar ones. I loved being able to spend so much time with my husband, learning together, having fun, discovering new places, solving the unique problems of RV life together.
On the flip side, there were scary times and the experience tested me emotionally. We encountered extremely high winds in the mid-west that were truly terrifying. We also had some problems with the motorhome and I think that because it was our home, problems with it scared me more than they otherwise would have. I struggled with the idea of not having a homebase, and I wasn’t able to establish a writing routine. So, after just under a year, we came off the road and settled down again.
It was probably the most significant year of learning and growth in my life. I’ve always been a homebody, so I’m proud that I was able to do it and will cherish the memories of our experiences always. My husband and I plan to write a how-to Ebook for new RVers – it will be informational and educational, but also funny and full of road stories.
4) If you could travel anywhere in the world (for free) where would you go, and what would be your main reason to be there?
Melissa: I think I would go to Vienna, Austria. My great-aunt was from Austria and as a child I was mesmerized by pictures of buildings and castles there that looked so magical – like fairyland. The Sound of Music might have influenced my fascination too! So that would be first, and then I’d like to go to Italy, Greece, France, and back to the U.K.
5) Please tell us anything else you’d like us to know about your books and/or your writing.
Melissa: My books, The Christmas Village and its sequel, Return to Canterbury, are targeted to readers ages eight and up, and reflect a great deal of me and my feelings about my childhood. I was a quiet girl who loved to read. I constantly gathered in my surroundings – the beauty of my town, the people, the shifting moods that come with changing seasons and the emotional undercurrents of families and friends. All of that gestated inside me until mid-life, and when I came, finally, to write, it fell out as if it had been waiting patiently there for me to come and claim it.
My personal way is not to bring darkness into the world, so my books will always have positive themes. They are not necessarily all happy-happy – I hope I have done well with bringing in that balance of sadness that makes our joy sharper and more meaningful. I’ve been told that my characters and settings are vivid, and that makes me happy because I hoped to write the kind of stories in which the characters feel like old friends and the setting becomes a place you never want to leave.
The stories themselves are quite action-packed, filled with suspense and surprises. But the underlying themes deal with the importance of friendship, family and forgiveness.
Both books are available in print and Ebook on Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. They are also available in digital formats (Ipad, Nook, PC download) from Smashwords.
My next books will be historical fiction, not children’s books.
Thank you so much, Melissa! I've really enjoyed reading your answers to my questions. I wish you fabulous sales, and look forward to your next books!
"Every secret of a writer's soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written in his works." -- Virginia Woolf