This past week my friend Ashten and I had the amazing opportunity to interview the author of Fortune Falls, Jenny Goebel. Because I am an aspiring author, I found Jenny’s responses to be both informative and encouraging. She covered everything from where she finds her inspiration to how she develops her plot and everything in between. Below is the transcription of the interview. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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Technical Difficulties Disclaimer:
We arranged to do this interview so we could share the entire video clip with you on YouTube, but due to technical difficulties, we are unable to upload the video. So instead, we have transcribed the video below so you can share in the interview.
Interview with Author Jenny Goebel
Hi! I’m Natalie Williams, here with my friend Ashten Wall, and today we are getting to interview author Jenny Goebel, genius behind Fortune Falls, a book I discovered not too long ago and we both fell in love with!
Where did you get the idea of Fortune Falls?
Hi ladies, I would like to take credit for the idea for Fortune Falls, but I have to give credit to my brilliant editor. We had worked together on Grave Images, and she suggested an idea for a story where superstitions were real and I fell in love with that idea. It’s wonderful to have two minds working together versus one. The creative process is so much easier when you have two people who are kind of feeding that idea. I loved working with her and making it as good a story as we could.
Where do you get your inspiration and where is your go-to spot to write?
OK.. I get inspiration from all over the place. I love the natural world and love to be outside and with animals. I live in Colorado and we have beautiful mountains here. That’s actually my go to place for writing. My parents have a cabin that is just tucked back in the middle of nowhere with no wifi and no TV and it really cuts down on all the distractions, so when I go there I can really focus on the story and usually be very productive with my writing.
What do you struggle with most when it comes to writing a book and developing the plot?
That’s a great question. I think it’s different for every writer. For me personally, I usually know what I want to happen in the story and the different events that will take place. I try to get those different plot points established first. What I struggle with is the character’s emotional change and how the things that happened in the story effect that character, and what impact that has on their inner state of mind. So for me, I’ve learned that I need to get that out there in the fist draft and make sure I have all the events in place and then go back and fill in the characters thoughts, emotional feelings, and reactions to the events.
I remember reading in the acknowledgment section of Fortune Falls that you had some false starts when writing this novel. It made me curious. Do you care to explain what happened?
Sure, I can talk about that. With Fortune Falls it was really building this world that had totally different parameters and even though it’s very much like the world that we live in, that one element that superstitions are real changes everything. I had a hard time when I started writing it just getting that big balance to see what that world looked like, and I was trying to do too much at once. I was trying to lay out the foundation, and to explain what is Fortune Falls like without focusing on the characters. I had to slow down and really get into my main character’s head and see what that would be like and come up with a workable story. There were a lot of different things I tried. One of the early drafts had Omen Watchers, this police force that would arrest the unlucky people on the spot. It was a little too dark so I changed it. I was glad that I did and the focus was then more on Sadie and her experience.
Have you always wanted to become an author?
I wanted to be an author at a very young age. I always loved reading. I spent many hours as a kid reading books and I knew it was something I wanted to do. I lost sight of that dream for a little while through my teenage years and early 20s. I was exploring other interests and ideas but then after I had kids of my own it was this dream that got rekindled. I returned to it and I’m so glad that I did.
Do you have any tips for beginning writers?
I do, I have this quote above my desk and it’s by Sylvia Plath,
“The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.”
That is something I struggle with -the insecurity and thinking that what I’m writing is terrible and that I don’t want anyone else to read it. So my advice for young writers is just to try and be confident in what you have to say because you’re the only person who can tell your story. It’s ok if it’s not the best story in the beginning. Just keep after it and don’t let self doubt get you down.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you get past it?
I think every writer gets stuck at some point. Luckily, it’s not something that I experienced in great amounts. I do find that if I don’t know where to take a story or what to do next that there are two things that help me the most. One is going for a walk. Again, I like to be out in nature and it really inspires me. Somehow just walking around makes things loosen up and click into place so I know where to go next. If that’s not working, I have critique partners and also my editor that I can bounce off ideas with another person. Sometimes they can bring a fresh perspective to the story and help me see where to go next.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
What I enjoy most about writing… There’s many things that I enjoy. But I guess it’s that it helps me to understand the world and helps me make sense of things that happen. At the same time, when a reader opens a book then there’s almost this dance that takes place between the author’s imagination and the reader’s imagination. The story becomes so much more real when I’m sharing my thoughts. When someone is reading the story there’s these new ideas that are formed and new imagery is formed, so there really is this dance.As a reader, I so enjoyed this experience and I love thinking that I am able to provide that for readers.
You’ve written several books and a couple picture books. Which one was the most fun to write?
It really was writing Fortune Falls. I was a superstitious kid and so revisiting some of these ideas and thoughts that I had as a kid was really enjoyable. Then, at the same time, I did some research and discovered new superstitions, and saw how I could weave those into a plot. There was something about that creative process that resonated with me and was the most fun one to write.
For new writers, do you suggest self-publishing or going with a traditional publisher?
I think it’s different for every person and every story. There’s certain instances where self- publishing is really the right route to take, and other instances where a traditional publisher makes the most sense. I think regardless of which path you do, when you are opening up the story to the world you want to make sure it’s your best possible work, and you have taken the time to edit and revise and not put out something too early when it’s not really ready to share.
Do you base any of your fictional events off of things you actually experienced? For instance, did anything in Fortune Falls happen to you in some toned down way?
I think many of the things that happened in Fortune Falls were things that I personally experienced or that happened to someone that I knew. Everyone experiences bad luck from time to time. The one that comes to mind that is really sad and unfortunate is when Sadie was very young, she steps on some killdeer eggs and that did happen to me. They look like little pebbles and are very hard to see and stepping on them was just devastating to me because I would never want to harm any creature. It was something that I was very sad about, and it was something that upset Sadie greatly as well.
As far as things that aren’t necessarily unlucky, the dog Wink in the story… that was inspired by a puppy that was in a rescue that I met and I desperately wanted to adopt, but at that point in my life, circumstances in my life prevented me from adopting him. By the time we were able to get a dog, he had a found a home, but he kind of stuck in my heart and so it was fun to kind of put him into a story.
Is there a sequel to Fortune Falls in the works?
There’s definitely thoughts that pop into my head and ideas that I love to incorporate into a sequel. At this point I am working on a different project and whether or not it ever comes to fruition, a sequel will be the publisher’s decision ultimately. So unfortunately, nothing in the works right now, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to say that I don’t know if you readers always know how much authors appreciate you, but we really do so much! The gratitude is enormous for readers and your experience is what makes us want to do what we do. Please keep reading books and allowing us to tell our stories!
We would like to thank you again for taking the time and talking to us, Jenny! It was really informational and a neat perspective on the writing world. I can’t wait to see what you write next and hopefully, we eventually get a sequel to Fortune Falls!
Thanks again and we hope the rest of your summer is fantastic!
Connect with Jenny Goebel
Curious about Fortune Falls? Read my Fortune Falls book review here!