Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Interview with Daisy Goodwin

Last week I reviewed the delicious The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin.  I'm thrilled to share my interview with her.  Read on to learn more about her and her book, and see the end for another chance to win a copy of her novel!

What was the plot of your very first piece of fiction?
This book is my very first piece of fiction, although I did try and write a film script about spies in the 1930's when I was a student.

Do you have any writing rituals or routines?
My only rule is to keep going until I hit a thousand words. And I don't re-read or revise until I get to the end. It is too easy to pick things to bits and forget the big picture.

The title of your book changed when released in the U.S.: it went from My Last Duchess to The American Heiress. Was My Last Duchess always the title you had in mind? What do you think of the American rename?

I took the title My Last Duchess from the poem by Robert Browning and I have to say that I had that poem very much in mind when I was writing my first draft which was darker and gothic in tone than the book that was published. I winced a bit when my US Publishers decided to change the title, I find it a bit literal, but if it means that more people read the book then I can't complain.

As you were writing My Last Duchess/The American Heiress, was there a particular scene or character that surprised you?

Yes indeed. The scene where Mrs. Cash is dressed as the Spirit of Electricity and then bursts into flames surprised me when I wrote it. I can honestly say that when I sat down that day I had no idea how the scene would end, but obviously my unconscious mind had been hard at work. That is the most wonderful thing about writing: the alchemy between what you think you know and what is really going on inside your head.

You edit poetry anthologies in addition to working in television. Was writing a novel a natural next step or an usual departure from your work and creative endeavors?

I had always wanted to write a novel but never quite had the nerve. I wrote a memoir called Silver River, five years ago, and while that was non-fiction I wrote a lot of passages in it imagining life in nineteenth century Argentina. I enjoyed that process so much that I realised that I could write a historical novel. The good thing about working in television is that it has taught me how to tell a story and the importance of getting the reader's attention and keeping it. You can't be self indulgent in tv and that is no bad lesson for a novelist. 'Murder your darlings!" as Oscar Wilde said.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to do?

Reading, quilting, riding my bike, cooking and lying on my back looking at the sky.

Read any good books recently?

I loved Gillespie and I by Jane Harris. A brilliant piece of unreliable narration. One of the best novels I have read this year.  The French Lieutenant's Woman by John Fowles. Just re read this and very glad I did. Tricky but splendid. King of the Badgers by Philip Hensher. A sort of gay Cranford.

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GIVEAWAY!  The publisher has generously offered a giveaway of The American Heiress to one lucky reader!  To enter, leave a comment with your email address.  Open to US/CA readers, closes 8/5.  For another entry, be sure to comment on my review.


  1. I like some the book suggestions by the author here I'll keep those in mind. Great interview!

  2. Great interview! I keep reading good reviews of this book and it definitely has me interested.

    I like the bit about how she has to continue writing until the end or she gets caught up in the details. I have that problem with engineering reports! :-)

    I would love to be entered in this giveaway. laarlt78(at)hotmail(dot)com.


  3. Thanks for the interview! I love finding out how the minds of authors work, and how the end novel I want to read so badly came to be! Thanks for the giveaway!

  4. Loved the interview! An American Heiress sounds like a really great book and something I would enjoy reading...it's always fun to read what hobbies authors have and find that you have one in common - I love to quilt too!

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  5. Great interview :)
    This book just sounds so lovely and that cover gets me every time

  6. Lovely interview and sounds like a good book
    teawench at gmail dot com

  7. I loved your review of The American Heiress and your interview with Daisy Goodwin is terrific. It's hard to believe this is her first piece of fiction. I love that it's inspired by A Robert Browning poem, too.

    Daisy's recent reads are intriguing, too. I'm definitely going to look them up!

    Please enter me in your giveaway!


  8. I like Daisy Gowin's idea of not re-reading or revising until the end. You could get so wound up in one little part that you re-write it until you change the story. Better to get do the rough draft completely!

    I heard a part of the audio version of this book with Mrs. Cash dressed as 'the spirit of electricity and I will never forget it.

    I also commented on the review of American Heiress.

    Thank you so much for this giveaway!!!


  9. This one is definitely on my TBR. Please enter me! colreads at gmail dot com

  10. What a great interview! I don't read much poetry, but I do love Robert Browning! I can't wait to read this book - I fell in love with the cover before I even read the synopsis:)
    jwitt33 at live dot com

  11. thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  12. How timely was this interview! I posted my review of this book today - I'm going to link your interview into my review if you don't mind.

  13. Loved the interview! I'm so looking forward to reading this book!
    mamabunny13 at gmail dot com

  14. I would love to read this book. I have it on my wish list! Thanks so much and awesome interview!


    seasidebooknook at yahoo dot com

  15. I always enjoy your interviews. and this is no exception...I wonder if in addition to writing for tv and editing poetry anthologies if she writes poetry as well.

    thanks for the giveaway

  16. Thanks for the giveaway-- please enter me!

    Laura Hartness
    CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

  17. I'm impressed this was her first work of fiction. Quite an endeavor for a first-timer!


  18. Just realized that I already entered the contest on another page of your site. Oops!


  19. This one sounds great! Count me in :)


  20. Thanks for this, I am going to check out her memoir

    chocolate and croissants at yahoo . com