My guest today is John Goode. Now resident in Texas, he was once in the Navy, but currently spends a lot of his time writing. He has been a professional author for about a year and is best known for his beloved stories about the students and staff of Foster High and his Lords of Arcadia series.
John is with us today to celebrate the release of his new Foster High book, 151 Days, which is OUT TODAY.
Elin: Can you tell me a little about yourself? For instance, do you have to have a day job as well as being a writer?
John : Yes I work graveyards at a security company so it gives me all night to write which is nice. I’m a night owl so writing at night is natural.
Elin: When you aren’t writing, is there any other creative activity you enjoy? Have you ever written about it?
John : I love music though I can’t sing. I just really love listening to it, the way a song can be crafted to invoke emotions fascinates me
Elin: What are you reading? Can you recommend something that you wished you’d written yourself?
John : I am reading a book that is about the first season of Star Trek TOS that is incredibly detailed. That is the nerd in me showing. I think everyone should read Jasper Fforde’s Next Thursday series. If you are a reader those books are made for you.
Elin: In that crucial inspiration stage of a new story which comes first? Plot, situation or character?
John : Usually for me character though most of the time it is actually theme that does it. I like writing in themes or what is the book for? What message does it have when all is said and done. I start there and then begin tolling together a story from that meta message.
Elin: Do your characters arrive fully fledged and ready to fly or do they develop as you work with them? Do you have a crisp mental picture of them or are they more a thought and a feeling than an image?
John : They are far more real than I care for that’s for sure. I think fully developed characters are the only kind that should make it to page so I spend a lot of time getting to know them as well as I can.
Elin: Is there any genre you would love to write, ditto one you would avoid like a rattlesnake? What inspired you to write about teenagers in high school?
John : I have a couple of Sci fi stories that I need to get to quickly. I would say just straight up erotics, porn with no plot would send me running into the hills. I wrote Foster High because I wanted to write the books I wish I had when I was a teenager. I don’t think there are enough positive role models for gay teens so I wanted to see if I could make some.
Elin: Villains are incredibly important in fiction since they challenge the main protagonists and give them something to contend with beyond the tension of a developing relationship. The cruel sea. The serial killer. The society itself. Your hero’s inner demons. What sort of villains do you prize?
John : Well there are no villains in Foster High. There are people who seem to have sinister intentions but honestly they have their own reasons for what they are doing. I don’t think there are people out there who wake up and say I am going to be the bad guy today or I am going to do evil. I think they have their own reasons and think them as valid as any one else’s.
Elin: What are you working on at the moment? Can you discuss it or do you prefer to keep it a secret until it’s finished.
John : Well I finished the new Lords of Arcadia book, and now I am about halfway through a story about a gay teen that has to decide between being out or being a basketball player. It’s called Fadeaway and is a character that is in the new Foster book 151 Days,
Elin: Could we please have an excerpt of something?
John : Here’s an excerpt from 151 Days
Change is a bitch.
I am using the term here to mean a difficult task and not a derogatory name for women or the scientific term for a female dog, just in case there are any who might take offense to the word. Change is a bitch, and that’s because it isn’t always easy to know it when it happens. I mean, sure, sometimes it’s obvious. I go over to Brad’s and end up kissing him, and my whole world turns upside down. Hard to miss that change. I decide to tell the world I like guys. Colossal change that is still affecting crap today. Kelly shoots himself. A change that brings the town to a standstill like an earthquake, and the aftershocks of it keep coming and coming.
Take race discrimination. After being considered property for far too long, African Americans were finally considered free people in the United States. That was a big change. But what went unnoticed, or at least unspoken, was the way people changed because of that decision. Some people thought the fight was done. The slaves wanted to be free—they were free, so that’s taken care of. Other people resented the fact that these people who were always second-class citizens to them were now supposed to be treated as equals, and they got angry. And their anger motivated a lot of ugly things, and the country changed while no one was looking.
Now, over a hundred years later, we elected a black president, and some people say, “Well that’s done.” What’s next? Other people reacted to that event in a rather unpopular way. They said the country was being taken over, they said he wasn’t an American, and some even said he wasn’t their president. And the world changed again.
Big change, little changes.
When Kelly killed himself, Foster, as a whole, reacted. Since no one thinks a teenage boy putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger is a good thing, the majority of the reactions were sympathetic, with a desire to make sure it could never happen again. People spoke out, said that the way kids were being treated was wrong, and that things had to get better. That was the bulk of the reaction, but there were others.
Some wanted to place blame on someone for why Kelly did what he did. Some blamed his parents, others blamed the kids on Facebook, and some blamed me. They said none of this stuff happened in Foster before I came out. There were arguments made that things were fine the way they had always been and that by rocking the boat, I had caused this to happen.
I’ll be honest, a lot of other things were said about me as well, but they were mostly hateful things, so you’ll excuse me if I don’t repeat them.
Things were changing in Foster, big and small, and most of it seemed to be centered on me.
Some for the better, some for the worse. The problem was, there was no way for any of us to know which was which until it was far too late. It is impossible for anyone to know what effect our plans will have until they already happen, and by then, there is no going back. I swore the day they put Kelly in the ground that I would change Foster before I left for college. It was a change, and none of us knew what would come of it.
There are 151 days until graduation. Roughly five months before I plan on running out of this town as fast as I can and never looking back. A lot of things can happen in 151 days. A lot of things that people might not be ready for.
So I’m telling you now, hold on. This might get a little bumpy.
Many thanks to John for answering my questions so kindly. If you would like to follow John and the students of Foster High his links are below.
Sequel to End of the Innocence
Tales from Foster High: Book Three
With just 151 days left until the school year ends, Kyle Stilleno is running out of time to fulfill the promise he made and change Foster, Texas, for the better. But Kyle and his boyfriend, Brad Graymark, have more than just intolerance to deal with. Life, college, love, and sex have a way of distracting them, and they’re realizing Foster is a bigger place than they thought. When someone from their past returns at the worst possible moment, graduation becomes the least of their worries.