Joy Lynn Goddard is one of Canada’s top novelists in the young adult genre. Beginning with the award-winning Daredevils, she hooks readers with characters who are real—the “jock,” the “brain,” the “mean girl”— and with contemporary themes that are important to teens—Internet safety, bullying, peer pressure, dating, mental health. She has also written a middle-grade novel, a picture book and a collection of humourous short stories, with her husband, Dan. A former journalist, she has had numerous articles and short stories published. She divides her time between Guelph and Prince Edward County, Ontario, where she teaches, writes and spends time with her family. If purchasing five or more titles via Friesen Press or Volumes Direct, contact Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org for complimentary copies.
When I was in elementary school, I loved adventures, imaginary or otherwise. I lived in a humongous old brick house that had many interesting rooms to explore. The sunroom was my favourite. Jutting from the top floor, it overlooked gardens and leafy trees that grew along the edges of a spacious yard. In my mind, the sunroom was the tower in a castle and I had been locked in there by a wicked witch. (Not surprising, the witch looked just like the cranky, old lady next door who screamed at me if I so much as stuck my big toe on her lawn.) Actually, the sunroom was used for storage, and I was always rummaging around in the boxes of clothes and hats and then dressing up as the characters in my imagination. It was fun.
I was always in trouble, not because I was a bad kid but that I saw the world in a different way. Growing up with four sisters and a brother, there wasn't much money to go around, so I was always dreaming up ways to get rich. Like the time I made my own perfume and thought I'd make millions. Raiding the pantry, I helped myself to anything that had an interesting smell -- vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder and lime Jell-O -- then headed to the garden with a pair of scissors and lopped off the heads of a variety of fragrant flowers. (We had a lot of flowers, so I thought they wouldn't be missed). After emptying peaches from the pretty glass jars I found in the cold room (pouring the sticky mess in the laundry tub), I used the jars for my "perfume," displayed them on a table on my front lawn and waited patiently for my customers.
My perfume drew a lot of interest. After all, most kids on the street just sold lemonade. However, my mother didn't care that I was going to make millions. After discovering the beheaded flowers (and the mess I'd made in the house), she chased me into my room. I'd made only one sale. This was from the cranky, old lady next door! She said that my "perfume" had such a bad smell that it would be just the thing to sprinkle in her garden to keep the cats out!
As a teenager, I loved school. Not the studying part but the social life. In class I was always daydreaming about the guy I liked, the cheerleader tryouts, the Hallowe'en dance or whatever . . . I'm surprised I did as well as I did in school. It wasn't until Grade 11 that I started to work hard, realizing I needed good marks to get into university.
I majored in English at the University of Waterloo and found a job as a reporter for a newspaper in Belleville, Ontario shortly after graduation.
While looking for stories, I often came face to face with weird people. Snake Man springs to mind. He kept reptiles in his apartment and his neighbours were complaining, afraid the pets might somehow get into the other apartments in the building. When Snake Man opened his door to me, a reddish-brown boa constrictor was wrapped around his neck like a scarf. I followed this crazy man into his home where he let the snake have the run of his place. It slithered into his bathroom and slept in the bathtub. Its food -- mice -- skittered through the dried grass at the bottom of a large aquarium in the living room. The man called his snake Baby (apparently at two metres long it wasn't fully grown) and cuddled it like it was his child. He said he wasn't going to give it up no matter how many neighbours protested.
Curled up in a corner somewhere, Baby's mother lived in the apartment too, but I didn't go out of my way to find her. In fact, I kept my feet off the ground as much as possible in case Mom poked her head out from hiding and slid across my toes. To this day, snakes give me the creeps!
After getting married and having kids, I left the newspaper business because I wanted to teach instead. Although some characters in my books are based on my sons, Jeff and Rob, many resemble the kids I've taught -- from the "weirdo" to the "brain" to the "jock." In every book there's always a bully because there's always a bully (or more) in every school. The characters seem real because they are real, sort of. In Daredevils, Trevor gives Lizzie a hard time because she's the only girl on his hockey team and he doesn't think this is right. In Hello, my name is Emily, JP roughs up Alex because Alex has made him look like a "jerk." And in Jazz, Bailey does something to Jazz that's so embarrassing it sets off a chain of events that, well . . . You'll have to get the book and find out.
I like writing about kids, all kids. In the next book, there could be a kid just like you!