The Healing Touch of Romance
By Carin Chea
We've all heard the famous adage that "love hurts." But, for burgeoning author Geri' Myers Goodwin, her work and journey toward becoming a writer has a clear, distinctly hopeful message: Love heals.
Her maiden novel, Mason's Gray, is not only a harbinger of hope, but also the fulfillment of a promise Geri' (pronounced Jur-ree) made to herself over 2 decades ago: Write and finish a romance novel.
This is one author whose real-life journey is as poignant and inspiring as her fictional works.
Have you always been a writer?
I started writing 4 years ago. I wanted to write romance novels 20 years ago. At that time, though, I had 3 young children and a full-time job, and I didn't feel like I could squeeze in one more thing. I wanted to be present for my kids.
Moving forward 20 years, I'm facing the empty nest. I was terrified. I was scared I'd fall into a depression, neglect my marriage and my health. I didn't want to take a regimen of medications to make myself feel better.
That's when I remembered I wanted to write romance novels. So, I took a 3-day course in writing and publishing. Every morning we'd focus on writing, and in the afternoons, we'd focus on self-publishing.
Is Mason's Gray your first novel?
Yes. I had had several similar dreams in a short window of time about having a sexual liaison with a certain rock star. After 2 or 3 of these dreams I decided to write down the details and tucked it aside.
I have several book ideas and they all come from dreams. I write it down right away because if I'm in the least bit intrigued, I don't want it to get lost.
What inspires you as a writer?
My mother was the one who introduced me to writing romance novels years ago. I would just read one after another. My mother would get up very early in the morning and read her romance novels. Back then, it was the Harlequin books.
I love being in love, and I love the passionate chemistry between people. I love reading about it and writing about it. When I want to read about spicy things, I turn to Jackie Collins.
During the end of the writing process of Mason's Gray, my mother became very ill and she was in and out of hospitals and rehab facilities. She passed away 4 months before publication.
One of the hardest things about it was that I never let her read any part of it because I always thought she'd get better and recover. I spent hours in the hospital with her and I never read any of it to her.
One day she said to me, "I'm trying so hard not to talk to you so you can finish." I should have allowed her all the conversation she desired because I'd give anything to talk to her again. She was my rock; she was proud of me no matter what.
I'm not a person who is usually susceptible to anxiety or depression, but when I recognized that, I could see myself going to a dark place, not seeing my kids every day. I asked myself, "Who was I now since, before, I was mom every day?" It truly, legitimately scared me. I couldn't remember another time when I felt like that. I needed to take action.
I also worked for 20 years, but I knew I needed something different to distract me and keep me occupied. And, I'm very happily married. I am thrilled to spend this time with my husband. But, when you've spent so much of your life in a certain role [as a mom] and now your children are gone, it's a scary thought.
Are your characters based on you or anyone you know?
The book isn't about any particular person, but Brody Mason's physical appearance is based on that certain rock star I had the dream about.
Morgan Gray [the female protagonist] - she and I have similar experiences. I really dove into her character based on what I was feeling. It was important to me to write a story that people could relate to.
Even though it's not super realistic (you know, that an average everyday woman hooks up with a rock star) the rest of it is very relatable. A lot of that came from me and some of the stuff I was feeling and going through. But, the book is not about me.
How would you describe your writing process?
I'm more of a plotter. It's hard for me to move forward if I don't think things are making sense. Timelines have to make sense; locations have to be accurate.
Sometimes I'll purposely go to restaurants so I can people-watch. I get inspiration from watching their facial expressions and their body language.
I always have music in the background, on headphones, because music is incredibly inspirational and inspires feelings. So, if I'm writing an intense scene, I might put on my heavy rock n' roll. If I'm writing a love scene, I might put on my soft rock.
What was your favorite memory from writing Mason's Gray?
One of them was when I actually started writing. I didn't know if I could do it. I didn't know if I had the ability to describe things like emotions, scenery, intimacy.
When I realized I could do it, it was thrilling. The more I wrote, the more I improved. I remember sitting on the couch that day and thinking, "I can do this!" That realization was one of my favorite parts of the process. That's when I knew I could finish.
The support I received from my family was wonderful. I wasn't sure if my children (I have a son and two daughters) would be embarrassed. But, they said it has inspired them.
What do you want your readers to take away from Mason's Gray?
Definitely motivational inspiration. Do your dreams, be happy, life is too short.
Also: Sexual inspiration. When I read romance, it makes me take a look at my own relationship and I ask myself, "Am I putting in the effort?" I don't want to get lazy in my marriage. I want to keep the fire burning.
Sometimes there are things that I read about that I want to go home and try!
Whoa, that's cool! Have you ever thought about who you'd cast as the leads if Mason's Gray were ever made into a movie?
I've thought about it several times because my ultimate goal is for all my books to turn into films. I do not have an answer.
There are some other people [supporting characters] I have some ideas for in the book. But, in regard to the main characters, I am completely stumped.
Do you have any upcoming projects you'd like our readers to know about?
I'm working on another romance novel that's completely different from Mason's Gray.
I would love to do some public speaking because I feel there are a lot of people who can relate to what I was feeling when I started writing.
Depression is a real thing. I'm a people person. I like being in a room with people. I'm a hands-on learner and I much prefer personal connection.
To find out more about Geri', please visit www.GeriMyersGoodwin.com.
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