By Karen Harper
Capturing nature was meant to be soothing for former crime scene photographer Harper Reynolds, yet her camera caught more than she intended—a crime. That’s the premise behind bestselling author Elizabeth Goddard’s new novel ALWAYS LOOK TWICE. With more than 40 novels under her belt, the author turns to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and lets the setting come alive as an integral location that plays in her books.
This suspenseful page-turner keeps you on the edge of your seat as you discover that uncommon justice lies just on the other side of fear. The Big Thrill recently caught up with Goddard to talk about her new book.
Can you elaborate on how your intriguing tagline “Uncommon justice lies just on the other side of fear” ties to the heroine and her story?
I love it when marketing comes up with a great tagline! This has to do with the twists in the story, and what is learned about the past as the heroine and her hero travel through the story, uncovering clues. Think about it. When the stakes are high, so is the fear factor—and you don’t see justice until you’re on the other side of that fear.
A line from your dynamic website says you strive to write “stories that leave you with a spiritual nugget to take away.” Is that nugget in your books forgiveness or redemption?
The “nugget” is different depending on the book. I don’t write the spiritual aspect intentionally, it just grows organically with the story. I’m often surprised to look back and see what the spiritual theme or “nugget” turned out to be. The bottom line is that I want readers to have a powerful emotional experience, to be entertained as they read, but to also have a deeper takeaway—something they can chew on. That said, forgiveness and redemption are always a big part of my stories.
You have lived in Texas, Oregon, and now Michigan. Have you used these settings in your 40 novels? How do you research your story locations, and is setting another “character” in your writing?
Setting is definitely a character in my stories, and setting is what inspires me to write them. Most of my stories are set in the Pacific Northwest, though not all. I loved the Oregon coast, the redwoods, and Crater Lake, so I’ve set many stories in those locations, and a few series in Washington. One series is in the southeast region of Alaska, considered the Pacific Northwest.
Also, ALWAYS LOOK TWICE and the other books in my Uncommon Justice series are set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, another place I’ve loved. An upcoming series with [publisher] Revell, Rocky Mountain Courage, is set in the Rockies, obviously. As of this interview I’m in the process of packing to move to Washington state, and I’ll be near the locations I love to write about the most. In eastern Washington, I’ll be close to the Rockies and of course, a few hours from coastal Washington. I think I’ll be in novel writing heaven then! As for research, I’ve either visited or lived in places I’ve written about, and in one instance, I relied heavily on those who lived in a region.
I was surprised to see that such a creative person as yourself, one who has long been interested in writing, has a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Other than online savvy for promotion and research, does that background figure in or contribute to any of your fiction?
I hate to give away my age, but my degree is too old to be of any use in the current technological climate. I pursued that degree because I knew I would have a job when I graduated, and that plan worked. I sold high-level computer software and during that time I traveled the country. That was a great career for a single 20-something. I think exploring the country and travel is what contributes to my fiction.
You obviously have a busy professional life. Can you share any advice on how you balance a writing career with everyday family and life interests and demands?
I think I’m still trying to figure this one out! Mostly I just have to be flexible and fit in the writing wherever it will go. I try to have “office” hours but those plans often get waylaid, so then I fit the writing in. Sometimes I chip away and other times I have a literal writing marathon. Whatever it takes to get the work done. It’s like any other job—you do what you gotta do.
There’s a section titled “Aspiring Writers” on your website where you give some very helpful information. If you had to pass along only one of these suggestions to authors trying to get published, what would that be?
The advice I would pass along is the same advice I use, still, as a professional writer. That’s simply to read, read, read and write, write, write. I’m constantly reading in my genre and outside of the romantic suspense genre as well, and of course, I’m always writing. That’s how you learn and grow, and that never stops for any of us.
Elizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of 40 romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery The Camera Never Lies, a 2011 Carol Award winner. Four of her six Mountain Cove books have been contest finalists. Buried, Backfire, and Deception are finalists in the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense, and Submerged is a Carol Award finalist. A seventh generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in computer science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to fulfill her dreams of writing full-time.
To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.