An Interview with Samantha Goodwin, author of MURDER AT MACBETH

Something wicked this way comes…

 When a talented, young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with, suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates.

 But who had the motive to kill the show's leading lady?

 As the insightful, yet disillusioned, Detective Inspector Finley Robson and his shrewd partner, Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra, interrogate the seven key suspects, secrets unfold to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail, and deceit.

 Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story…

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Interview with Samantha Goodwin, author of MURDER AT MACBETH

Samantha Goodwin’s debut crime fiction novel, MURDER AT MACBETH, will be published on May 17th 2019 through Kindle KDP.

Question - Please describe what the book is about.

Samantha Goodwin - Murder at Macbeth is a crime mystery novel centred around a talented, young actress who unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with. It’s a classic whodunnit as suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates and the detectives have to figure out who had the motive to kill the show’s leading lady. Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story...

Q - Where did you get the idea?

SG - I was inspired by a newspaper article about a London West End actor who was accidentally stabbed live on stage. That got me thinking; what if that had been intentional? What a dramatic way to murder someone and believe you could get away with it.

I’m also a huge fan of the theatre and find the concept of interviewing a bunch of murder suspects who are also actors really fascinating - they could so easily be playing a part to hide the truth.

Q - What’s the story behind the title?

SG - I came up with Murder at Macbeth as I thought it perfectly captured the whodunnit nature of the novel. I’ve always been fascinated by the superstitions surrounding Macbeth about it being cursed and the fact the play itself is about corruption and deception provided an interesting parallel to the murder mystery.

Q - No spoiler, but tell us something we won’t find out just by reading the book jacket.

SG - Expect the unexpected as the plot unfolds. Don’t think you know someone just because of how they first present themselves to the detectives. All is not as it seems…

Q - Tell us about your favorite character.

SG - My favourite character to write was in fact the murder victim, Nikki Gowon. She is a talented young actress and is initially very much presented as a golden girl, but you gradually find out about her through flashbacks and there is a lot more to her than meets the eye. She’s a very flawed person and before long her seemingly perfect life quickly starts to unravel as more is revealed about the scandalous circumstances leading up to her death.

Q - If you could spend a day with one of your characters, who would it be and what would you do?

SG - I would definitely choose to spend the day with Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra. I think she’s a really strong female character and I love her no-nonsense approach to life. She enjoys theatre shows like I do, so we would probably end up watching a play on the West End, hopefully without any actors dying on stage!

Q - Are your character based on real people, or do they come from your imaginations?

SG - All of the characters are fictional, but certain aspects of their personalities have been drawn from some people I know, including myself! Lesley Thomson, the bestselling author of The Detective’s Daughter series, once told me to ensure that all your characters have both positive and negative traits to help humanise them. I found that really useful insight to help flesh out my characters and make them more interesting.

Q - How long did you take to write this book?

SG - It took me a year to write it and then another year to edit it before it was ready to be published. During that time I worked with a fantastic team of beta readers who really helped to shape the story and then also worked closely with a professional editor and proof reader who had really valuable inputs to make.

Q - What kind of research did you do for this book?

SG - I definitely think all crime writers must be on an FBI watchlist somewhere! I had to research quite a lot of weird things while researching this novel, including how much internal damage a stomach stab wound would cause and where to commission a bespokely design dagger! There were other things I had to research too, but to reveal them would give away some major twists!

Q - What did you remove from this book during the editing process?

SG - I ended up editing out an entire character! He was called Sean and was one of the murder suspects who was secretly dealing drugs. During the editing process I realised that he was far too one-dimensional compared to the other characters and his storyline went off at too much of a tangent to contribute to the main plot. It did feel quite drastic at the time to cut him out completely, but it was 100% the right decision as the novel flows so much better without him.

Q - Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SG - I have a one-page outline that provides a rough overview of the whole story arc and then from there I can let the novel unfold from there without too much planning. I like to let my creativity take over and see where that takes me, and I can refer back to the outline to make sure I don’t go too far off-track.

Q - What is your favorite part of your writing process, and why?

SG - I personally love the first draft process, when all my ideas are flowing out. There are loads of twists in the second half of my novel, so I actually wrote it backwards in some sense as I got really swept up in writing all the revelations first and then backtracked to lay down some of the foundations for the story in the first half.

Q - What is the most challenging part of your writing process, and why?

SG - For me, it’s simply finding the time. I wrote my debut novel while working full time and pregnant, which was certainly a challenge! The biggest struggle I found was changing my mindset so that I could make the most of being productive during short 30 minute writing sessions, rather than thinking I could only write if I had 3 solid hours to spend on it. I’m still gobsmacked that I managed to write an entire novel with such little time!

Then I had to balance the editing process with looking after a newborn, which was a new struggle to content with. I did a lot of one-handed typing while holding a sleeping baby!

Q - Can you share your writing routine?

SG - I carved out time to write every day, but it was usually only 30 minutes in the morning before work or 1 hour during my lunch break. At first it seemed completely impossible but before long I got into the swing of it and could easily pick up where I left off. I used to write in bed during the morning and usually in a park during my lunch break.

Q - Have you ever gotten writer’s block? If yes, how do you overcome it?

SG - I think all authors get writer’s block at some point. I find the best thing to do is pick up a book and read, especially books outside of the genre I’m writing in. I find those tend to spark ideas and get me motivated to pick up the pen again.

Q - If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

SG - Just enjoy writing and don’t worry too much about what other people will think. If being part of a book club has taught me anything, it’s that you can never please everyone all the time. But there will be someone out there who will enjoy reading your book!

Q - How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

SG - Murder at Macbeth is my first full-length novel and before that I mainly focused on short stories and poems, all of which were unpublished.

Q - Do you have any writing quirks?

SG - So, I handwrite everything as I find the ideas flow better! It’s great because it means I can write anywhere, my favourite location is outside on those rare sunny English days. It is however, not the most time-efficient way of writing as then I have to spend time typing everything up as I go along and start editing.

Q - Tell us about yourself.

SG - I live in Leeds, England, with my husband, Chris, and our young son, Jack. I’ve written professionally for my business career as a Chartered Marketing Manager for over a decade before turning my hand to fiction. In my day job I work for a national charity that supports people with learning disabilities.

Q - How did you get into writing?

SG - I’ve always wanted to write a book and it was my husband, Chris, who finally convinced me that I could do it. Also, it ended up being the last proper conversation I had with my Dad before he died suddenly of encephalitis two years ago so I felt very driven to finish it as a tribute to him. I found the whole process of writing very cathartic during grieving, it was helpful to be able to pour my energy into something positive.

Q - What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

SG - When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, countryside walks and watching movies. I also love the theatre and am particularly fond of musicals - my favourites are Rent, Wicked and The Lion King, all of which I’ve seen multiple times!

Q - Apart from novel writing, do you do any other kind(s) of writing?

SG - I do a lot of non-fiction writing in my day job; I’m the editor of a national charity magazine which I really enjoy. I also write poetry, but that tends to be more of a creative outlet for myself as I’m less interested in publishing that.

Q - Share something about you most people probably don’t know.

SG - I participated in the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival Creative Workshop. All the authors I networked with there really supported my commitment to become a published author. It was really valuable to gain special advice from some of the UK’s bestselling crime authors, including Elly Griffiths, Louise Welsh, Lesley Thomson and Henry Sutton.

Q - Which book influenced you the most?

SG - The Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins influenced me the most. I loved how the story unfolds through different narrators’ perspectives and the mystery is gradually revealed. That writing approach is definitely something that influenced my own novel.

Q - What are you working on right now?

SG - Currently I’ve been mainly focusing on my book launch for Murder at Macbeth, so have been working on numerous guest posts and author interviews to help spread the word. I do have a few other projects in mind though to work on next, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more.

Q - What’s your favorite writing advice?

SG - Believe in yourself, and surround yourself with positive people who will spur you on. Writing groups and online communities are great for when you need advice. It’s good to make those connections early on so you don’t feel isolated and are motivated to keep going.

And don’t worry about getting it right first time.  One of my favourite writing quotes is from Shannon Hale who said, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”

Q - What book are you currently reading?

SG - The Taming of Lions by Danie Jaye, it’s a great book capturing the importance of following one’s dream.


Chapter One - The Way to Dusty Death

 Nikki Gowon was dead. Neil Hillton was sure of it. Dumbfounded, he stared blankly down at the young woman’s lifeless body. A crimson stain had blossomed on her white dress like a macabre flower and a pool of blood was seeping out from beneath her, discolouring the wooden floorboards. Her dark, tangled hair resembled a spider running across the stage. The sharp knife had clattered to her side, where it lay forgotten, the blade glinting ominously red.

A hushed silence had fallen backstage, punctuated only by Megan’s intermittent sobs. A sense of complete and utter panic was setting in fast. Beyond the red velvet curtains currently obscuring the stage, Neil could hear the distant murmuring of the impatient audience waiting for the next act of the play to commence. Of course, they could never have guessed the real reason for the delay.

What exactly was he meant to say? Oh, so sorry for the temporary setback but our lead actress has just been killed. I do apologise for the inconvenience.

As a seasoned London theatre director, Neil had experienced his fair share of live disasters over the years, but tonight’s current predicament made all those previous quandaries fade into insignificance. He couldn’t foresee how the old showbiz adage ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ applied here.

It most certainly will not be, he thought bitterly. Everything will definitely not be alright in this scenario.

Neil was painfully aware he should have already sprung into action. But he felt rooted in position, rigid in shock. He was at a loss to explain the circumstances leading to this horrific moment. All he could think about was the motionless body of the beautiful young actress slumped across the stage.

His stage.

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Samantha Goodwin’s Biography

Samantha Goodwin has written professionally for her business career as a Chartered Marketing Manager for over a decade before turning her hand to fiction. As an avid crime fiction fan, she regularly participates in the renowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate and relishes attending literature festivals across the country as well as engaging in numerous online writing communities.

 Keen to support new and upcoming authors, Samantha recently launched the #IndieWritingWisdom initiative on Instagram to collate and share inspiring, original writing quotes from a wide range of different writers to encourage others.

 When she is not writing, Samantha enjoys reading, countryside walks, movies, musicals and almost all chocolate (but controversially not Oreos). She lives in Leeds with her husband, Chris, and son, Jack.

 Murder at Macbeth is her first novel and was longlisted for the international Flash 500 Novel Award in 2017.

Links to Samantha Goodwin

Instagram: @samanthagoodwinauthor