An Exclusive Journey into the Literary Realm with Joy Lynn Goddard

Award-Winning Narratives: Recognizing Excellence in Young Adult and Adult Fiction

PHOTO: From Moonshadow to A Good Mother: Navigating Romance, Mystery, and Suspense.
Photo by John Chartrand 

In the vast landscape of contemporary adult fiction, the collaborative efforts of Joy Lynn Goddard and her husband, Daniel Pike, have carved a distinctive niche. With novels like Moonshadow and The Keepers, they seamlessly blend romance, mystery, and suspense, earning not only global appeal but also prestigious recognition through Canada Book Awards. The duo’s humorous collection, Buyers, Liars, Sellers and Yellers, sheds light on the quirks of the real estate industry, showcasing their versatility as storytellers.

Joy Lynn Goddard, renowned for her contributions to young adult and junior fiction, has recently been turning heads with her compelling adult novels. Her writing, a fusion of mystery, romance, and suspense, has garnered widespread attention.

The couple, dividing their time between Guelph and Belleville, Ontario, not only crafts captivating narratives but also shares an amusing anecdote from their writing journey. A coffee shop incident, while plotting a character demise, resulted in unintended attention, offering a glimpse into the lively creative process shared by the duo.

In our exclusive interview, Joy reveals the childhood memory that profoundly shaped her writing. An incident involving her mother’s stand against bigotry left an indelible mark, inspiring her to incorporate themes of intolerance into her works.

Her literary journey began as a journalist and freelance writer before transitioning to teaching. Fueled by a passion for language skills, she successfully engaged reluctant teen readers by creating relatable characters. This endeavor culminated in a series of novels picked up by an educational publisher, distributed across Canada.

Joy’s transition to adult fiction saw her collaborating with Dan, where their roles intertwine—Dan spearheading research and main plotlines, and Joy bringing the narrative to life. Beyond their novels, she imparts wisdom through adult workshops, sharing insights gathered for her non-fiction title, Write Right: Novel Writing for Beginners.

As the interview unfolds, readers gain a sneak peek into Joy’s latest work, A Good Mother, a crime fiction thriller set to be published in January 2024. The story promises suspense, mystery, and a touch of romance as Detective Duncan Jewell investigates the disappearance of eight-year-old Grace.

Joy’s literary prowess hasn’t gone unnoticed, with a string of awards adorning her bibliography. Her young adult titles, including Daredevils, secured prestigious honours, while adult novels like Moonshadow and The Keepers received accolades from Canada Book Awards and Reader Ready Award.

Delving into her reading preferences, Joy shares a list of favorite authors who have influenced her storytelling journey. The interview culminates with a glimpse into her childhood, the evolution of her reading habits, and the profound impact of characters that resonate emotionally.

In Joy Lynn Goddard, readers discover not just an accomplished author but a storyteller who seamlessly navigates diverse genres, leaving an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

Can you tell us about any embarrassing/funny moments that happened while you were working on a book?
My husband Dan and I were sitting in a noisy coffee shop discussing how to kill off a character in Buyers, Liars, Sellers, and Yellers when the room fell silent. All eyes were turned on us, some horror-struck. With a helpful server, we explained we were working on fiction, and we all had a good laugh.
To make my characters walk off the pages, I want to experience what they feel. Once I took this approach too far. My character in Hello, my name is Emily, was about to be carried off by the villain in the trunk of his car. So, I climbed into the trunk of Dan’s small Toyota and asked him to shut the lid on me. A neighbour came running and was about to call the police until we explained what was happening. He still looks at me funny sometimes, though!

What memory in your childhood has influenced your writing the most?
I grew up in a small village on a lake about sixty kilometres from Toronto, Ontario. In my early years, I’d never met anyone who wasn’t white among my friends, family, neighbours, and community. One blustery winter day, my mother, a nurse, took the bus to work at the hospital thirty minutes away from us, as the driving conditions were bad. When she returned that night, a stranger was with her—an African American woman. Apparently the bus driver didn’t like the colour of her skin and had refused to let her get off at her stop. When he’d finally stopped the bus, she’d faced a walk of several kilometres in a blizzard to get home. Outraged, my mother had blasted the driver—she wasn’t one to hold back—and had brought her to our house to have dinner. Later, my father drove her home. I didn’t understand the driver’s perspective. It sickened me. As a result, I’ve written about bigotry in almost all my books.

Please tell us a bit about your writing background?
I was a journalist and freelance writer before becoming a teacher. It was no surprise I liked teaching language skills the best. I used my classroom experience to write junior and young adult novels for reluctant readers. I found it a struggle to get teen boys to read. I’d watch them counting the pages in a book—making sure it was short—before choosing one from the library. They gravitated to books with sports, adventure, or danger in them. With this in mind, I wrote a series of books that had characters who were composites of kids I taught—the “brain,” the “jock,” and the “weirdo” and more. An educational publisher picked them up and distributed them throughout Canada.
Later, my husband Dan and I teamed up to write contemporary adult fiction. Each novel criss-crosses mystery, suspense, and romance genres. Dan does most of the research and comes up with main plotlines, while I do the writing. It’s fun.
I also enjoy running adult workshops for would-be and developing writers. I learned tips and tricks from a wealth of writers to create Write Right: Novel Writing for Beginners, my non-fiction title.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve just completed writing A Good Mother, which is crime fiction with all the elements of the other novels. Eventually Dan and I will be adapting this novel for a screen-play.

What is it about?
As the sun rises, eight-year-old Grace is gone! Her tent is cut, while strange footsteps lead from deep in the forest to her family’s campsite and back. Days turn into weeks with no sign of Grace, although her mother, Jackie, refuses to give up hope.
Detective Duncan Jewell stumbles upon Grace’s kidnapping investigation while searching for a missing teen. The two cases seem connected, but how? As he focuses on finding answers, he tries to ignore his growing feelings for Jackie, which have been just under the surface since they were kids. She is married—he has lost his chance.
When his investigation reaches a dead end, he seeks help from his beloved Aunt Anna. She can see things that nobody else can see. Yet even he, an experienced police officer, is dumbfounded by what his aunt discovers.

Have you won any awards for your books so far?
My first young adult title—Daredevils—(along with the Teacher’s Manual by Ruthanne Finnigan) won the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) Provincial Practice Award, and together with YA titles Hello, my name is Emily and Charlie’s Song, it won the OECTA AWARD of Merit for literary contribution.
Adult titles Moonshadow and The Keepers won Canada Book Awards and Moonshadow also received a Reader Ready Award: Recommended Read and a Book Excellence Award.

Who are your favourite authors? Have any influenced your work?
My favourite authors are Jodi Picoult, Linwood Barclay, Gillian Flynn, Emma Donoghue, Joy Fielding, Liane Moriarty, Stephen King, Lisa Jewell, Harper Lee, Lisa Jackson, Nicholas Sparks, Judy Blume, Ann Patchett, Louise Penny, Alice Munro . . . and so many more. Through the eyes of a child in the Great Depression, she tells the stories of the inhumanity of man without injecting adult commentary. 

Who is your favourite fictional hero or heroine?
My favourite heroine is Scout Finch, the young narrator in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. She tells the stories of the inhumanity of man through the eyes of a child in the Great Depression without injecting adult commentary.

What kind of reader were you as a child?
I didn’t like reading as a child because I preferred running around outside having adventures instead. I liked to build forts and castles and magic lands where I’d dream up stories about what happened in these places. I loved to dress up in wild costumes and make potions to sell to my friends. When a teacher introduced me to Moonfleet (by J. Meade Falkner) in Grade Seven, I realized that I could have adventures in my head, too. Then I never put books down!

What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?
I return to books that have a huge emotional impact—like To Kill a Mockingbird.

What moves you most in a work of literature?
I’m moved most in a work of literature by characters who are so well-developed that I laugh and cry with them throughout the book. 

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“A Good Mother is a gripping, emotional thriller with masterful twists and deeply compelling characters. An outstanding, suspenseful read.”

A Good Mother by Joy Lynn Goddard and Daniel Pike is a gripping thriller that masterfully intertwines a mother’s unyielding hope with a detective’s dogged pursuit of truth. The novel begins with a harrowing scene: eight-year-old Grace disappears from a campsite, leaving behind a cut tent and mysterious footprints. Her mother, Jackie, is relentless in her belief that Grace is still alive, even as days stretch into weeks with no leads.

This “Editor’s Choice, Award of Excellence” is presented to Mrs. Joy Lynn Goddard and her husband, Mr. Daniel Pike, and a select group of exceptional authors by The Reader’s House magazine.
This interview is featured on issue 43. Click image to enlarge.
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