Inspired by Sisterhood: Interview with Maya Goode
Maya Goode writes stories about identity. She also leads the Literary Roadhouse podcast with three other hosts, where they discuss short fiction and will soon launch a book club podcast as well.
And she’s participating in NaNoWriMo this year. In this interview, we discussed identity, process, and our favorite things about NaNoWriMo.
Kristy Lin Billuni: Writing about identity is so powerful. Tell me a little about your stories.
Maya Goode: My stories often border on a good old fashioned tragedy, but my characters tend to be very diverse in regards to race, sexuality, and gender. I write a lot about confused people in pain learning to embrace life and self. While most would fall under literary or general fiction, I am experimenting with a women's fiction series for an upcoming pen name project.
KLB: And that’s the NaNoWriMo project?
MG: Yes, I am working on a 5-book women's fiction series for publication under a pen name. They started as a romance series, but I couldn’t ditch my tragic drama roots. They are about a group of sisters finding love while also learning to embrace who they are in the face of a family secret.
KLB: But surely not the whole series in this one month!
MG: Oh gosh no! I dream of finishing two of the novel drafts during NaNo, but let’s be realistic. I was really focused on creating educational videos during October and ran into some last-minute outline issues that needed to be fixed before starting. I will finish the first book during the month though.
KLB: That sounds reasonable. Tell me more about the series.
MG: I started the series as an experiment to see if I could a) write a series and b) write a romance. It was amazing to me how much of my natural tragedy inclinations showed through my outline though. No matter how hard I pushed, I couldn't get it to be a romance. But it is solid women's fiction, and I love the story much more than I thought I would.
KLB: And the inspiration?
MG: I am inspired by the sisterhood of black women, whether it's on Twitter or in Alpha Kappa Alpha. Growing up with a white guardian, that sisterhood came as a huge surprise. This series will be for those women, educated, smart, and strong, but often still looking for love or hoping a close sister finds it.
KLB: I see how the identity theme could really shine in a story inspired by sisterhood and community. Can you tell me a little more about your own identity?
MG: I would first say that I am a black bisexual female. Those are identities most would think would come easily, but growing up with a white guardian in the middle of a politically based custody battle left me confused as a kid. Through that experience, I became very aware of how our identities change who we are and how we move through the world. I am also a writer. It's an identity I fought hard for and have to remind myself of daily. I am a writer because I write and I take it seriously. I keep working to get better. I used to think I wasn't a writer until I started submitting work. I discovered, when the rejection slips came in, that I needed to embrace being a writer before I had the strength to mail the submissions out in the first place.
KLB: Doing NaNoWriMo is part of embracing that identity, I think. You’ve participated in past years?
MG: Yes, I have participated in NaNoWriMo for years. I failed over and over until I worked to become a planner and embraced my artistic side. This year will be my third win.
KLB: Congratulations! Can you say a little more about your process, especially during NaNoWriMo?
MG: When I won for the first time three years ago, I wrote the novel by hand with a fountain pen. Now, I tend to write more emotional pieces by hand and everything else by computer. This year I am using my thinkpad x1 carbon and writing all over the place day or night.
KLB: Sounds like a sexy approach. What’s sexy about writing for you?
MG: No matter how much you know, you can always go deeper, and it'll keep getting better the more your learn.
KLB: Writing refreshments of choice?
MG: I often drink coffee during the day and give myself a glass of champagne for every few thousand words.
KLB: That’s an awesome reward system. And where do you write?
MG: When I feel like I can't make myself sit down, I take my laptop to a local café. A lot of freelancers work there, and the vibe of the place makes me "get to business." Changing my location is great writer’s block medicine,
KLB: A lot of us love NaNoWriMo for the social aspect. Where do you find your NaNoWriMo community?
MG: I am a municipal liaison this year, so we're doing write-ins. I tend to not be that active on the forums because I do stop writing. But during week two, I usually find my way into the NaNo IIRC chat rooms for some serious word sprints. I like the Twitter word sprints, but the stream is so fast, I get confused.
KLB: What do you love most about NaNoWriMo?
MG: My favorite thing about doing NaNoWriMo is that it invigorates my writing for the next 5-6 months or so. It is a great annual reset and lets me experiment with ideas or genre’s that I might not set aside a major project for during the rest of the year.
I love to talk to writers--and especially WriMos this time of year--about the messy, juicy, sexy process of creativity. To meet more writers in social media, follow me on Facebook or Twitter. Yearning to jump into the writer’s life yourself? My free ebook, Arouse Your Writer Self, will get you going. Want more? Private sessions with me are more affordable than you think, and the first one’s free.