Joy Lynn Goddard is one of Canada’s top novelists in the young adult genre. Drawing from her experiences as a teacher, she has written a picture book, a middle-grade novel and five coming-of-age novels, beginning with the award-winning Daredevils. Inspiring readers, her characters face issues that are relevant today—cyber-bullying, peer pressure, blended families, mental illness and more—while engaged in sports and adventures. A former journalist, she had many articles and short stories published and more recently teamed up with her husband Dan to write an adult anthology, which is a parody based on the real estate industry. Moonshadow, her latest collaboration with Dan, is also adult fiction. They divide their time between Belleville and Guelph, Ontario, where they spend time with family.
1. In your novel Moonshadow, you explore the history of Canada and the injustices they committed against the native population. What about that aspect of history resonated with you so much that you were inspired to write a whole book about it?
The media was prolific with stories about Indian residential schools a few years ago after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission came out with a report. I couldn’t get these stories of abuse, neglect and cruelty out of my head. As a teacher in the regular school system, I saw nothing but a caring, supportive environment where children thrived—the direct opposite of what happened in these residential schools.
For three years, I read everything I could get my hands on about Indigenous issues and visited Indigenous centres and cultural events, although I still have much to learn. Written in the spirit of reconciliation, Moonshadow is both factual—about the colliding worlds of the Whites and the Indigenous in the sixties—but it’s also fictional, a present-day love story that has exceeded decades.
2. How long have you known you wanted to be a writer?
The idea of writing for a living didn’t enter my mind until my early twenties. Before then, I was content with acting out the adventures I’d imagined, such as conquering the “bad” guys in the “forts” and “castles” I’d built. I never read much until I got to university and realized that books opened my world. Through books, I could become anyone I wanted and experience the world through the character’s eyes.
3. What was one marketing strategy you did to convince readers to give your novel a shot over other, traditionally published books.
As an introvert, I shy away from public speaking, but to engage readers, public speaking is necessary. When invited to do “Book Talks” or writing seminars, my first reaction is to say no, but I always walk away from these events afterward happy I’ve had the experiences. I like people. I like hearing their stories.
4. What was more difficult for you, writing or marketing your novel?
Marketing my novel(s) was much more difficult than writing them. I’ve been published traditionally as well as self-published (both have pros and cons) and I’m expected to market my work regardless of how it has been published.
5. If there was one piece of advice to give aspiring authors, what would it be?
After you’ve outlined your novel—have made notes on the basic storyline—give it some structure with the beginning (the hook), the middle (the struggle), and the end (the resolution) in mind. Not only will this save time in writing later, you’ll be less likely to stuff your manuscript in a drawer and forget about it.
Lauren Prescott’s family secrets were buried long before she was born, during the sixties era when her great-grandparents took in a runaway girl from an Indian residential school. Her ailing grandfather, who was a teenager back then, now longs to find the girl—Rose Hill—to right a wrong before he dies. He’s ashamed of how he treated her because he recoiled from the racist climate of colonialism of the time. Haunted by the past, Lauren risks everything to go after the truth for her grandfather—even her life!