When setting out to write The End Is Where We Begin, (or ‘book two’ as it was then known),I only had a vague sense of what kind of story I wanted to create. I knew I wanted to include three elements: a male protagonist, a twist and a will-they-won’t-they relationship. I also knew that I wanted my protagonist to be battling against a series of stressful life events and striving to find peace and happiness.
How I went from these flimsy strands of an idea to a novel is a bit of a mystery to me, but this is what amazes me about the writing process. One idea turns into another, characters grow and somehow a little world develops. When it’s going well that process is like being caught on a wave which just carries you along; ideas flow, your characters take the lead and you can suddenly see where it’s all heading. I wish it could be like that all the time!
After deciding on a rough idea for the plot, I knew I wanted to try something a bit experimental with the structure of the book in terms of its timeline. My protagonist is haunted by memories from the past, and when we remember our past we don’t remember it in a linear or chronological order. Memories randomly pop into our head from different periods of our lives, often triggered by something we’re experiencing in the present. I wanted to reflect this in the writing of the book, so when my protagonist feels anger or denial or fear he experiences a series of flashbacks relating to those emotions. I think writing these ‘mini scenes’ worked well for me as a writer as I’m a restless person, always switching my attention from one task to another, and so the variety within the story helped keep my momentum up during the writing process. Both my novels include lots of memories, dreams and flashbacks and that no doubt reflects my own struggle to maintain attention in any one direction for too long.
Both my novels deal with bereavement and how it is processed, how we rely on defence mechanisms to protect us from the pain, and how these defence mechanisms can become self-sabotaging. It’s an area that interests me both as a counsellor and as someone who has suffered bereavement myself, although I wouldn’t say I deliberately set out to explore these issues on either occasion. I’m very interested in the therapeutic qualities of writing, and how fiction can be a way of ‘writing out’ our own experiences. I think perhaps that’s why it sometimes feels like the story finds us rather than the other way round. I think we write what we need to write.
With both my novels, it was only when I’d finished and stepped away that I was able to see any similarities with my own life or identify where my influences had come from. When a music video came on my TV depicting the story of a young, single father struggling to raise his baby, I suddenly recognised that at some point I had squirrelled that video away in my memory and later used it when writing The End Is Where We Begin. And when I looked a bit closer, I could recognise parts of the book that had been influenced by places I’d been, conversations I’d had, programmes I’d watched or music I’d heard. What influences my writing can be hard to pin down, but I think the answer is probably everything – everything I see, hear, do and experience.
I’d always enjoyed reading and this led me to study English literature and French at university. The French side of the course was also very literature-heavy, so I benefitted from reading a wide variety of books. But my love of stories was really sown much earlier, I think, in the Sindy-doll world I created when I was still in primary school, and the films my parents used to let me rent from Blockbusters every Saturday.
It wasn’t until I approached thirty that I started dabbling in writing, and when my short story, Nutmeg, won the City of Derby Short Story Competition I gained the confidence to expand it into a novel. Nutmeg was translated into five languages and I received some lovely reviews, so it’s hard to believe it took me another decade to start writing again, but life just got so busy. It was only when I read Perfect by Rachel Joyce four years ago that I felt a powerful urge to write again. It was the first book I’d read in a very long time where I finished it and thought, ‘Yes, that was brilliant and that’s why I want to write!’ It’s the hope of making other readers feel that way that really inspires me.
(c) Maria Goodin
About The End is Where We Begin:
Jay Lewis is a troubled soul. A single father, just trying to keep everything together, he knows he sabotages any real chance of happiness.
Tormented by nightmares and flashbacks, he can’t forget the events from one fateful night that steered the course of the rest of his life. Struggling against the crushing weight of guilt, Jay knows there are wrongs he needs to put right.
Determined to get closure, he seeks out old friends and a past love. But in his quest for a more peaceful future, is he ready to face the trauma of his past?
‘I very much enjoyed this moving and absorbing book. In her compassionate depiction of one man’s struggle to live with the aftermath of trauma and loss, Maria Goodin weaves together a compelling cast of characters, drawing the reader into Jay’s quest to seek the forgiveness of others – and be able to forgive himself.’ Fiona Valpy, best-selling author of The Dressmaker’s Gift and The Beekeeper’s Promise.
Order your copy online here.