R. K. Goff
R. K. Goff tends to write either very funny serious fantasy, or comedic fantasy that tends to be on the serious side. However, one of the joys of being an independent writer is creative freedom, so she refuses to be pigeon-holed. The only guarantee she’s willing to give is that if any of her vampires ever sparkle, it’s because someone booby-trapped a fresh corpse with a pound of glitter.
She lives in Utah with her two boys (who are still rather confused about what their mommy does for work) and her loving husband (who, in spite of zero interest in learning how, has become a rather respectable editor).
Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! As a long-time fan of your work, I’m tickled to spotlight you this month. To kick things off, tell us a little about yourself.
- I was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, but my father, who was a traveling nut, dragged me all over the continental United States while I was a child. Endless car rides during summer vacation gave me a lot of opportunities to stare out the window and daydream, which had a massive impact on my current ability to stare out a window and plot my novels.My current hobbies include reading, watching too much anime, playing Magic the Gathering, and spending as much time as I can in the outdoors.
Oh man, can I relate to much of that! What led you to write books, and fantasy in particular?
- Honest answer: I write books to chew up massive amounts of time. I tended toward poetry when I was younger, but then both my boys went off to school, and boom! Hours a day needed filling. I tried a few novels before anyone warned me what an addictive activity it could be. Now I’m hooked. I write fantasy for the same reason I write in any genre—namely, it sounds fun. Fantasy also has a huge advantage if you like telling adventure stories; there are no limits to the magic, wildness, and creativity you can pour into the plot. I love that. I do write in other genres when the desire hits me. I’ve done a period-mystery-romance and a sci-fi series in addition to the fantasy books I’ve written.
What types of fantasy do you especially enjoy writing and reading?
I enjoy reading any type of fantasy. However, a long epic series almost never holds my attention. That’s just how I relate to my entertainment. Even with my favorite TV shows, I rarely watch more than one season, and a book series usually only gets one or two books. So, while there are exceptions, I typically favor books that are one-off stories.
I’m still working out if I have a preferred sub-genre when it comes to writing fantasy. I’ve written sword and sorcery and enjoyed it. I’m writing more urban/modern right now and I’m enjoying that too.
I read a ton of classic murder mysteries, and I’ve created two fantasy based detective characters—one in a modern setting, and one in a more classic fantasy setting—so I may someday write fantasy-meets-mystery.
I also adore comedic fantasy, like the Discworld series by Sir Terry Pratchett, but for whatever reason, I have a hard time creating a book that manages to be ridiculous, intense, and engaging all at the same time. [Salutes.] Someday, Sir Terry. Someday.
Do you write with a particular message or worldview in mind?
- I don’t. And I don’t for a specific reason.As I’ve gotten older, I’ve really internalized the fact that the world’s a nuanced place, full of a million stories born from a million different perspectives, and it’s that sprawling web of insights that I find most fascinating. I’ve created characters that have a variety of worldviews and unleashed them on a problem, just to see what happens. It creates interesting situations, and trying to see things from my characters’ perspectives has given me a little extra compassion.That being said, I do believe in right and wrong, and I do love heroes, so I tend to write from there. I’m also a sucker for a happy ending, so you’ll find that all over my work.
I definitely respect and agree with that approach! I love writing conflicting viewpoints myself. I learn more that way, seems like.
What is your preferred writing style? Does it coincide with your reading preferences?
- I prefer to write in past-tense omniscient third-person, but that might just be a force of habit. My current project is written mostly in first-person, and I’m enjoying trying the new voice, even if I do have to constantly remind myself to actually write in her voice, not mine. I have a harder time reading present-tense prose, but I’ll read anything if the story’s good enough.
What’s your perspective on a hero vs. a protagonist in fiction?
- Once upon a time, I was talking to a friend about a book series I was reading, and I mentioned the fact that the hero never changed. Much to her horror, I said that without condemning it.”But isn’t a static main character a bad thing?””That depends. What’s the point of the character? Sometimes, the whole point of a good character is to remain unchanging, even in terrible circumstances, because that’s the kind of example they’re meant to be.”So, yes. I like heroes. I think there’s a lot of value in creating a moral character that people want to root for. But, on the other hand, I’m also fascinated by the flawed protagonists. They often make for compelling stories, and they have a lot to teach us. Sometimes what they have to teach us is compassion as we watch the train wreck that is their lives. Sometimes it’s the idea that flawed people, even deeply flawed people, can do good things.And I really think that this world would miss out on some great stories if we were ever forced to choose between ideal heroes and flawed protagonists.
Do you prefer a sympathetic villain or someone a reader loves to hate? Or is there another kind of villain you prefer to write?
- All of the above. Then scoop on a few more. Pile the bad guys high! Villains can make or break a story, and the wider the variety to choose from, the better. Because of my love for bad guys, I spend a lot of time analyzing all the “villains” I come across, both in the books and shows I consume, and in the sometimes dubious behavior of people in real life. Why do they do that? What was going through their head? Are they ethically in the wrong, or is it more complex than that?
Tell us more about your published book.
My latest large-scale project was the Records of the Rising—a science fiction trilogy set in the far-flung future. A small band of heroes has to uncover and confront a hidden threat, but their mission is complicated by the fact they’re members of the rebel faction currently waging war against the established government.
There was a lot about that series that made it significant to me. It was my first science fiction project, as well as the first time I carried a plot across an entire series. The story was heavier than the ones I normally write, and it dealt with more complicated questions of right and wrong.
There was also a robot named Lynx. He’s awesome. I’m pretty sure that ninety-percent of the reason to write science fiction lies in the pure joy of creating a robot character.
I actually have that trilogy on my Kindle, waiting to be devoured. I’m looking forward to reading it even more now.
Tell us a little more about what you’re working on now?
- Currently in the works is a gothic horror, semi-fantasy, adventure series. My inspiration is all the classic gothic horror stories I know and love. You’ll find wolfmen, vampires, mummies, swamp-creatures, and witches—and those are just some of the heroes.The main character is Emera Cole. After she wakes up in her grave, Jack Noctis (aka “Big Jacky”), the embodiment of Death, invites her to live with him in his mansion, and, if she isn’t too busy, could she see her way to helping him with a problem or two? Because Emera also happened to wake up with the Eyes of the Sphinx, a rare supernatural talent that allows her to see things no one else can.
It sounds fantastic and right up my alley, since you know about my Death story as well. 😉 I can’t wait for your release.
Are you traditionally published or do you publish independently? Why did you choose that path to send your books into the world?
I’m published independently, and, for the most part, I’m glad I am. Self-publishing has some huge advantages, including the chance to write what you want, when you want, and on your timeline. I love being able to write whatever delights me, and I would hate to part with that freedom.
However, I may try to get traditionally published later, if only to avoid having to create the covers myself (ugh!).
Who are some of your favorite authors?
- Sir Terry Pratchett, already mentioned, is both funny and poignant. The same books that make me laugh out loud have also made me cry. I especially love the Sam Vimes, Witches, and Death novels of his Discworld series. I also love Isaac Asimov. His writing style is so clean and approachable, and his stories are fabulous. I highly recommend the Foundation series and his famous collection of short stories, I, Robot.I’m also a total Agatha Christie junkie. I’ve read most of her published works, including all her Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Parker Pyne, and Harley Quin mysteries. It’s hard to say what makes her stand out so much as a writer, but whenever I dive into one of her books, I know I won’t be bored.
Great choices! I particular enjoyed Agatha Christie’s Harley Quin series myself.
What are your writing habits?
- Habits? As in…structure? That’s less me. I have tendencies. I tend to write better in the morning, but I’ve been known to write clear through the night. I tend to write while sitting on my couch, but sometimes you’ll find me curled up in my bed or at my kitchen table. I write with music when I can, but it can also be overwhelming to have too much stimulation while I’m trying to construct sentences. The tea is pretty standard though. Green tea. No sweetener. But that might just be because I’m always drinking that stuff, whether I’m writing or not.
Do you prefer to plot your books out in advance, or do you dive in and see where the story takes you?
[Laughs.] All right. Let’s see how to answer this…
I do whatever the book demands I do. There have been a few books where every scene was plotted before I sat down to write the first word. There was one or two books where I got to enjoy discovery writing from beginning to end. However, the most common way I write books is by starting with discovery writing and then, when the threads start to get tangled, I sit down and plot out the rest. But whatever I do, I usually have to plot it out more than once because my stories almost always go off and do their own thing, and I have to adjust.
I really get that. Sounds like you’re some of a plantser like me.
Do you enjoy writing plot-driven or character-driven stories more?
- Ooof. Hard question. But I’ll have to go with character-driven. I have never enjoyed a plot-driven story that had crummy characters, but I have enjoyed several stories that had next to no plot or a bad plot because of how good the characters were.
Wholeheartedly agreed! What type of fantasy mediums do you most enjoy?
- I prefer books, but I think that’s mostly because the fantasy offerings in movies and TV media is pretty scarce and not to my taste (Notable exception: Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series). I do enjoy a fantasy anime every now and then.
Haha. That’s very fair. Jackon’s LOTR really IS the exception, isn’t it?
What destination in the world would you most like to visit?
- The Louvre. Forget the rest of Paris, I could spend a whole month looking at the art in that one museum.
Amazing choice! Though I’d not skip the Eiffel Tower either. Haha!
What is a fun quirk you have?
- I pick out photos or drawings to represent my main characters and pin them to a Pinterest board so that I can glance at them occasionally while I write. It helps me keep their character and voice in mind. The largest factor involved in my decision isn’t their looks, it’s their expression. I’ve even changed descriptions in my novels to make them match photos I’ve found. Most models are fairly expressionless, but actors, especially character shots, tend to have great expressions.However, my extremely limited knowledge of pop culture also means that, most of the time, I have no idea who it is I’m casting as my character. My brothers love to laugh about my choices. Their favorite so far? Bruce Springsteen as General Falk in the Records of the Rising.
Haha! That is so much like me. I’m a pop culture novice and likely to stay that way. But I love your approach to using Pinterest like that.
In closing, what advice do you have for up-and-coming writers?
- Be careful how much you take from books that try to teach you how to write—ones like Stephen King’s On Writing. Those books can be useful for improving your craft, but they’re written by one person who’s going to have their own preferences for method, style, and structure—meaning all that advice is an opinion. It shouldn’t become a set of rules that shapes the writing of an entire generation!The only rule I’ve found that applies all the time is do what works for you right now. Its sister rule (which I’ve found only applies most of the time) is don’t expect what works for you now to work for you forever. Every day is different. Every project is different.That being said, I could kick myself a thousand times for not reading a bunch of grammar and punctuation guides in the early days of my work. I recommend reading several because they will disagree with each other, and you need to know why and when they do. My absolute favorite is Dreyer’s English, but I also recommend The Elements of Style. And while you’re at it, read Big Magic by Gilbert. Because I could tell you, here and now, to have fun with your creative life and not take it so seriously, but Gilbert gets 288 pages to really grind it into your skull.
I love it! And I’ll definitely check out Big Magic, because now I’m intrigued!
Thank you again for taking the time to interview with me, R. K.! I wish you every success with your continued writing endeavors and I’m stoked to read your next release!
To follow R. K. Goff’s author journey, and grab her novels, check out the links below!
- Author page on Amazon:
- Author page on Goodreads:
- Facebook group: