Laura Goodin is an American living in Australia, but it shouldn’t be held against her. She’s a Clarion South survivor from 2007 and has the tribal tattooing to prove it. She blogs over here and writes, writes, writes and has published in journals as varied as WetInk, ASIM, The Lifted Brow and the Canterbury 2100 and Baggage anthologies. She is also a published poet and several of her plays have been performed. She is also the producer of Outlandish Voices podcast – which lives here. I asked her some questions – here are her answers.
1. What are the five essentials in any story?
Plot, plot, plot, character actions that make sense, plot, and plot. I’m a sucker for plot. Victorian adventure stories are my literary teddy bear: I cling to them for comfort and inspiration and will not surrender them, no, never! Granted, I’m not saying a good story is just one damned thing after another. Rather, I’m saying that stories I love are more than just characters sitting around thinking about how their life sucks, or even sitting around thinking about how they’re going to defeat the evil wizard or the Dark Duke or whatever. They are stories where things *happen*. You could argue that plot is nothing without good characters, because if you don’t care about the character, you won’t care *what* happens to them. Y-y-e-s-s-s, I suppose, but a plot that doesn’t hold a reader riveted — for whatever reason — is flawed. That flaw could be in pacing, detail (too much or not enough), or characterization. [if you choose to edit the American spelling, I will somehow cope.] “Character actions that make sense” is in there because it pretty much covers in one phrase everything characterization aims to accomplish.
2. Who is your main writing buddy and do you fight with them?
I tend to be a solitary writer. There are a few friends with whom I get together very occasionally for write-ins, and I have a writing buddy in Canada with whom I have discussed the possibility of a real-time Skype write-in (alas, it has yet to happen, but I haven’t given up yet). And, of course, my Clarion buddies and I cheer for each other across the miles. But even at Clarion, when we were all gloriously in the same place at the same time, I was a solitary writer. Sometimes the energy of writing with others keeps me focused; more often it makes me scattered and distracted. Fight? No. Unless someone takes the last piece of candy from the bowl.
3. Which sale caused you to Snoopy Dance around the room?
My first acceptance — not a sale, technically, because no money changed hands — was to Antipodean SF. I’d come back from Clarion desperate to prove myself in the same league as my Clarion buddies, but sendout after sendout had sunk without a ripple. I really was just a wannabe, this was becoming more clear by the day. Then Antipodean SF accepted a flash piece, and suddenly someone who wasn’t related to me actually liked my work when they didn’t have to — it was a very emotional moment, and I’m not being sarcastic. Other notable sales: finally getting a story into Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, getting a one-minute play about aliens in the Australian Tax Office produced in the UK, and selling a science-fiction story to an honest-to-high-heaven *literary* magazine (that’s Wet Ink, issue #19, if you’re interested — out soon!). But actually, *every* sale and/or acceptance makes me Snoopy Dance. Does that make me pathetic?
4. I first knew I was a writer when …
I actually never *didn’t* know I was a writer. I’ve written all my life. Most of my day jobs have involved writing or editing. Writing is harder work than breathing, but it underpins my life in the same way: you don’t have to *know* you’re an air-breather, you just breathe air. When you stop for any length of time, you are gripped with ever-increasing anxiety, and then flailing panic, until you breathe again. Same with writing.
5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
I’m American. Both, please.