Interview with Janet Goodfriend • Author
When my old summer camp friend, Janet Goodfriend, decided to self-publish her own book, For the Love of Art, my ears pricked up, and I took notice. There are differing opinions about self-publishing. Some folks feel that it is the kiss of death for an author but others swear that if sales are brisk and reviews are good, it can springboard an aspiring author’s career. Here is a little bit about Janet’s new book.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, where you grew up, etc.
Born in Rochester, New York where I spent most of my early childhood along with fading memories of Fort Devens Massachusetts, our family eventually settled in Ithaca, New York — the setting for my first novel, Straight Up. After earning a B.A. in English with a teacher’s certification from Fredonia’s State University of New York, I made my way to the Boston area and picked up a Masters in Literacy and Language Arts from Framingham State as I began my teaching career. The last several years have been devoted to raising a family and pursuing the dream of becoming a novelist. Though successful on those fronts thus far, selling a book in an extremely down market is an entirely different story. My hope is to be just success enough to allow me to continue to do this crazy thing called writing.
How did you develop an interest in writing? Did you go to school for writing?
My debut novel, For the Love of Art, is dedicated to my grandmother (a school librarian) who first passed down her profound fondness for literature and education. With a mother who kept me immersed in books and a father who nurtured my interest in poetry, it is no wonder that writing became a favored activity. After being editor of my high school literary magazine, I went on to pursue writing for my college newspaper. There, I was reprimanded before the entire newspaper staff because my journalistic style of reporting was considered “overly creative.” Though I concurred, the dreaded task of reporting “just the facts” sent me packing. I have written poetry and prose over the years and, now with three novel length manuscripts, I find myself pining after a fourth. If only the business of publishing were not so all-consuming. For now, I will just have to be content for now to let that next book percolate among my thoughts a while longer.
Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?
I am so not good with favorites. Always reading something, I often find myself having “I’m-not-worthy” moments as I amble my way in awe over the pages of another author’s cunningly lucid descriptions. Though I do have a penchant for contemporary fiction, I read all kinds of things. This year my favorite novels are The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay, Shelter Me by Juliette Fay, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski, and The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. If I had to pick favorite books that truly stand the test of time, my mind would dance over everything from The Lorax to Catcher in the Rye, to anything penned by Shakespeare, to The Diary of Ann Frank before comfortably landing on To Kill a Mockingbird.
What is For the Love of Art about?
A novel of hope, this literary mystery is about three mothers (one a writer/teacher) vacationing sans children, on Martha’s Vineyard, who become embroiled in an art heist. Their escape ironically turns into a pointed quest giving the reader an intimate look at some of the locals. The cast includes love’s lost painter, a visceral and passionate sculptor, a besieged poet, an introspective detective, an art teacher, a salacious reporter and a homeless man. It is my hope that people will not only be entertained but better value what seems most basic in life, recognize their part in tending our earth, raising its children and ultimately feel compelled to preserve art that moves us and validates our worth.
Where can people buy your book?
Currently my book is for sale on www.janetgoodfriend.com via Amazon. However, the publishing company will donate $5.00 per book to your school if purchased directly through Painted Wood Press, P.O. Box 1006, Upton MA 01568. Just send a $20.00 check to Painted Wood Press along with the shipping address. Price includes tax, shipping and a $5.00 donation to the education fund or school district in your town toward its Arts fund. In a book club? Consider Skyping me into one of your meetings! Contact Janet at: janetgoodfriend.com for more information.
What words of advice or wisdom do you have for aspiring authors?
With so much negativity about the economy and dooming words about how print is dying, it is nearly impossible not to absorb such stifling chatter. In spite of the stone cold anonymous face of the publishing industry, if writing is in you, you must do it because you love to write and have something to tell. Only after you have completed your masterpiece, should you agonize over how to go about piercing a market clad with impenetrable locks and barriers. Upon your final rejection — and you’ll know it’s the last one because you will have stopped keeping track of the rejections, and feel as though your manuscript might actually combust inside your computer from the continuous fingertip friction upon the keyboard or, worse, you will be ever aware of your inner-quakings due to the punishing silence from publishers and agents who simply cannot respond personally to the 300 plus queries they receive on a weekly basis.) That said, you can polish your work as well as a professional editor and publish it yourself. We’ll see how it goes. Ask me again next year.
What are your plans for the future?
For the Love of Art is my debut into the bursting at the seams world of print. With any luck and sustained support for this title, I plan to bring Straight Up to the press in 2012 and follow it up with Surrender Flash.
Be sure to check out Janet’s website as she adds more books to her repertoire!