Ask any writer and she (or he) will tell you that she started out as an avid reader from a very early age. Maybe that’s the true moment when a writer starts writing, or at least learning to write. All the novels we read during our formative years serve as a foundation and teach us about story structure, plot, and characters. So, it makes sense that reading novels planted that seed of desire in me to become a writer. Once I became a published author, people I met often told me they wanted to write a novel one day. I hope they were able to make that dream come true.
For me that dream simmered for a couple of decades until I had my first child. I ended up resigning form my corporate America job to stay home and raise my daughter. It was during those years I found the time to commit to writing that novel. But first, I had much to learn about the craft and as much as I could about the publishing industry. I attended my first writer’s conference in 2001 and never looked back.
Some of my favorite authors early on were Bodie Thoene. I devoured her Zion Covenant novels. I also loved Gilbert Morris and Jack Cavanaugh. I loved reading Christian historical romances, and it was their influence that motivated me to try to write historical romances. I put writing in that genre aside and now write romantic suspense—and that’s another story completely! Now I read romantic suspense and thriller authors. One of my favorite writers is James Rollins and I’m making my way through his series of action-packed novels. I believe all these authors I’ve listed have given me a good sense of how to keep the tension elevated and leave readers highly entertained.
I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that I believe the best writing advice I’ve ever received is to read, read, read because it helps you to keep on top of your game and keep pushing yourself to improve. To that you must add one more thing—you must write, write, write—and that’s a winning combination for aspiring writers. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any bad or wrong advice because anything that keeps you writing and pursuing your goals is good.
With so much reading and writing, eventually I figured out who I wanted to be when I grew up as a writer or rather, what I wanted to write. That turned out to be an adventurous romantic suspense filled with action and stunning settings. For me, setting comes first. Setting is my inspiration. I love to travel and have visited and lived in some amazing places. I look for a setting that touches me emotionally and spiritually. A scenery that inspires me and usually that’s going to be a mountainous landscape or a rocky coast or a designated wilderness area. A bonus is that these types of settings lend themselves to action and adventure.
Next I begin the research process which includes diving into the location where the story will be set, learning more about my characters and their jobs, and also discovering everything I can about the suspense premise—the crime. I read everything from books to blogs and watch YouTube videos and, most importantly, I talk to experts. Usually I will end up with more material than I could ever include in a novel and keep things moving and entertaining.
In writing Covert Cover-Up, guess what? —I started with setting. The story is part of a series set around the Mt Shasta region of Northern California. I decided to use Castle Crags State Park as the backdrop for my story and I already knew the perfect character—someone I had previously created who was just waiting to climb out of my story files and into a novel where he could step off the pages and take a breath. My hero, Beck Goodwin, is a world class rock-climber. With those all-important elements of a stunning setting and my rock-climbing hero settled, I then focused on the suspense plot. I thought it would be fun to throw in the feel of a spy story, so in that way, Covert Cover-Up is unique because it’s an action-adventure tale of romance and intrigue. I pulled out all the stops and I hope that readers will enjoy a powerful emotional experience, be wholly entertained, and be encouraged that God is always with us.
Elizabeth Goddard has sold over one million books and is the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of more than fifty romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery The Camera Never Lies—a 2011 Carol Award winner. She is a Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense finalist for her Mountain Cove series—Buried, Backfire, and Deception—and a Carol Award finalist for Submerged. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, traveling to find inspiration for her next book, and serving with her husband in ministry.