Nathan Dylan Goodwin
About the Author:
Born in the famed battle town of Hastings, England, Nathan Dylan Goodwin has always had a passion for writing in one form or another. Having gained a 2:1 degree in Radio, Film and Television studies, Nathan went on to gain a Masters degree in Creative Writing, from Canterbury Christ Church University.
Nathan started his writing career with non-fiction, his first book ‘Hastings at War’ being published in May 2005. This was followed by three further local history books pertaining to the area around his home town of Hastings. His first forays into fiction writing culminated in the publications in 2013 of A Very Old Man (short story) and Hiding the Past (genealogical crime mystery novel).
In his mid-thirties, Nathan enjoys spending time with his family and young son. When not writing, he can be found changing nappies, pottering in the garden, walking, taking photographs, reading and, of course, writing. He is currently working on the next installment in the Forensic Genealogist series.
MF: Hiding the Past is of the genealogical fiction genre. What inspired this particular story?
NDG: Inspiration for Hiding the Past came from a variety of places, people and things, which slowly built and grew over time, as happens with lots of writers, I guess. It was whilst researching my own family tree in various archives, libraries and churchyards that the seed was sown for a series of books about someone who researches genealogical mysteries. In the process of my family history research, I came across several anomalies, such as a birth not being registered, or a person seeming to disappear from the face of the earth, which set my imagination running about what had befallen these people; this then developed into the main story in Hiding the Past. I liked the idea of making the main character, Morton Farrier, who is the forensic genealogist in the story, adopted and knew little of his own past, which starts to unravel in the book.
MF: As an amateur genealogist myself, the idea of forensic genealogy fascinates me, but not everyone feels that way. Do you believe you’ve written a story that will appeal to everyone or just ancestry buffs?
NDG: I’m confident that the book will appeal to anyone interested in the crime / mystery genre; the particular genealogical angle adds a further layer of interest for those who have dabbled in researching their family trees
MF: You started your writing career with non-fiction and have published several books about the history of Hastings and World War II. Was it easy to transition to fiction?
NDG: My first ever published work was Hastings at War (2005) which, as the title suggests, was a factual recount of a frontline town during the Second World War. Although it was non-fiction, I very much wanted to tell the story of the town, through interviews and archival information, in an engaging and exciting way. Many of the non-fiction books that I had read prior to writing the book were quite dry and dull, so, although ensuring that the book was factually correct, I did consciously try to make it a page-turner! It was while researching my four non-fiction books that I picked up ideas, visited places and used archive documents that were eventually used in Hiding the Past. I’ve got folders and folders full of gems for future adventures in this series!
MF: Reviewers of your short story, A Very Old Man, and your novel, Hiding the Past, have said they look forward to more stories from you. Does that add pressure to create?
NDG: Yes, but in a good way! It’s nice to know that people have enjoyed the stories and want to see more. Writing can be such an isolated job and I think it can be easy to lose confidence in the project, particularly when you perceive that parts are not going as you would have liked, so it’s a lovely feeling when strangers comment that they have enjoyed your work and want to see more. Now I just need to get on at write the next one!
MF: You have a day job as a primary school teacher. How do you balance your job, family and writing?
NDG: For me, this is undoubtedly the hardest aspect of writing at the moment. My job as a primary school teacher is full time and very demanding. I also have an energetic one-year old son and a 1960s bungalow which needs dragging into the 21st century, so my ‘spare’ time is almost non-existent! I try to stick to the mantra of ‘little and often’, getting up at 5.15am and putting in an hour’s worth of writing before getting ready for school: not an easy task, especially in the winter months! I’m currently working on the second installment in the Forensic Genealogist series.
MF: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as a writer? What has been the best compliment?
NDG: I think that the early rejection letters from publishers, which is all part and parcel of the writing process, were the biggest criticisms. It’s hard not to take them personally, but it’s important to move on from them and do what your instincts tell you, because once you get published then you get your best compliments, which come from your readers. My main goal was to get my books read, irrespective of how I achieved it.
MF: What do you read? What do you re-read?
NDG: I read anything and everything! There are few genres that I wouldn’t consider dipping into – I think it’s good for writers to get some different perspectives and styles of writing. I enjoy books which are similar to mine, such as Steve Robinson’s genealogical crime mysteries. I also enjoy biographies, historical fiction and non-fiction books. I re-read the classics, especially Pride and Prejudice.
MF: What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
NDG: There is so much advice for writers out there – everyone seems to want to offer their opinion! So, to add my two-penneth worth, I’m afraid it has to be the much-cliched advice to write regularly if you want to finish your story and get it out there, a tip that I sometimes struggle with when faced with dirty nappies, lesson plans and walls to paint.
MF: Do you have any advice for other writers?
NDG: I think the best advice I could give would be to be a non-perfectionist in your first draft – just get it written and then be brutal in your editing – that’s the time for fine-tuning and taking a knife to your work.
MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
NDG: Oh, that’s a tricky question! I think it would have to be from one of my childhood favourites. Growing up, I absolutely loved all the Enid Blighton books and desperately wanted to be a part of the Secret Seven or the Famous Five! Those books gave me my love of reading and writing. I think, though, that the book world I would most want to live in would definitely have to be Narnia. What more could you want than a bit of adventure and talking animals? Best of all time stops still – something I dream of as a writer!