We had the good fortune of connecting with Chris Goff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
I’m from Colorado, raised in the foothills outside of Denver. Raised an only child, I think needing to learn to entertain myself and learn how to spend time alone really shaped who I am. I read a lot, mostly mysteries and thrillers. I paid attention to plots and words and nuances. At about 8 years old, I started writing down stories. As a teenager, I wrote a lot of poetry. My mother was in broadcasting in Denver and had her own television show. Her influence had me seeking a journalism degree in college. More than anything I wanted to be an investigative reporter. But, life had other plans. I ended up working for some regional newspapers, assigned to the school beat or community interest stories. Finally, after I married, I decided to try my hand at writing books. My first novels were books set in Colorado, in the mountains (like where I grew up) and populated with people who were similar to people I’d grown up around. Later, taking a risk, I decided to try my hand at thrillers. Spy thrillers, similar to books I loved reading as a kid. Now the thriller has captured my heart, and I’m working on a new book in that genre. It’s a bit risky, it challenges me. It also requires a lot of time alone in my office researching and writing, something I’ve trained for all of my life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Writing is a difficult business. Finding your voice is imperative. When I first decided to tackle the novel, I knew nothing about fiction writing. I was a trained journalist. So I signed myself up for an online course in novel writing. I would write a chapter, send it off, get critique, rewrite and then write my second chapter and send it off…. This went on for a year, and I ended up with my first novel, The Mystery of Phantom Ranch. A young adult novel that never sold. Then I tried my hand at a romance and found a mentor where I lived who offered to teach a workshop for me and at least three others–if I could find them. I enlisted three friends, and at the end of five classes, I was the only one standing. I made it through five and finished my second novel, Frozen Assets. It never sold. Then I tried my hand at a Silence of the Lambs-type book I called, Stalked. Again, it’s sitting on my bookshelf. I was deep into my fourth novel, when I sold my first book in a series of Birdwatcher’s Mysteries. My agent came to me with the idea and asked me to write a proposal (30 pages and a 4 page synopsis), and came back with a three-book contract. I had less than nine months to come up with a real plot and turn in a book. The book ended up a six book series. The first, A Rant of Ravens, is about the illegal trading of peregrine falcons to the Middle East. The second has a theme of coffee growing and its impact on migratory birds, and they go on. The books did well, were nominated for awards and got my foot in the door making it possible for me to write my thrillers later on. The thrillers were a risk. A true breakout from a traditional mystery, and it took me several years to master the craft. My first book, Dark Waters, came out to critical acclaim, was nominated for a Colorado Book Award, and a coveted Anthony-award for Best Crime Fiction audio and sold internationally. The second book has also done well, and I’m working on a third. A writer needs to grow. A lot of writers find a formula and they end up writing similar books over and over. But for me, I need to stretch. I need to try and do it better each time. Reach for the depth in my work that leaves me satisfied that I’ve given all I have to the story. I need to challenge myself as a writer each time I sit down. By doing so, I know I’ve given my readers my best, and I hope they come away wanting more.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
It’s Colorado. They arrive on Saturday. I give them the weekend to acclimate — altitude can be a problem here. We might go out for dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant, but mostly we sit on my deck and enjoy the wildlife (elk, racoons, deer, mountain lions). On Monday we take a short road trip. We’ll head down the mountain and visit the Denver Art Museum. They have iconic shows and world class reputation. On Tuesday, we might go to Denver Botanic Gardens or the Denver History and Science Museum. On Wednesday and Thursday we go to the mountains. If they’ve acclimated well, we’ll drive up to Estes Park, then take Trail Ridge Road over the Continental Divide into Grand Lake. OR we could take I-70 up to the high country and see Frisco, Breckenridge, Vail. OR we could head south to Pikes Peak and take the cog railroad to the top of the mountain. Or we could head to South Park and hang out in the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs surrounded by the Collegiate Peaks (all fourteeners). On Friday, we again, hang out at home. That night we’ll head into Evergreen to the Little Bear, an iconic bar that’s hosted some of the greatest bands over the years. It’s rustic, and rowdy, and definitely an experience one shouldn’t miss in my town.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The Rogue Women Writers. There are lots of people who helped me get to where I am. Lots of writers who gave of their time and energy to read my work, blurb my books and give me shout outs when due. A lot of them come together in this group of eight women who write kick-ass thrillers. I want to give a special shout out to Gayle Lynds, who encouraged me to branch out and take a risk when I first turned to thrillers. But, overall, knowing this group of women has my back it what gives me the strength to keep working.
Other: https://www.roguewomenwriters.com/ https://www.facebook.com/roguewomenwriters