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Interview with Author Megan Goldin


Megan Goldin is the author of The Night Swim and The Escape Room. Megan is a former journalist who has traveled the world and currently resides in Melbourne, Australia with her husband, three sons and new puppy.


We had the honor of getting to sit down with Megan for an interview. We got to ask her several burning questions about The Night Swim such as where she got her inspiration, why such a tough topic and more. Read the full interview below.








M:

Thank you so much, Megan for joining us on the podcast. We're so excited to have a quick little interview with you.


Megan Goldin:

Thank you so much, Madison for having me on. I'm really excited to be here too.


M:

So to start, we just want to know a little bit more about you. So tell us where you're from and just a little bio.


Megan:

Okay, I'm currently living in Australia and I'm from Australia but I've spent most of my life living all over the world. I moved back to Australia after living in Singapore for a long time with my family and I'm currently in Melbourne Australia with three sons and a Labrador puppy that we got over the lock down last year who is suddenly very big. And of course my husband who helps me a lot with the kids and gives me time to write which is very important.


A:

I hear that you foster puppies as well.


Megan Goldin:

I was fostering and over the lock down my son just really hammered at me to get our own puppy, so we'll stick with what we have now.


M:

So I read that you used to be a journalist before you started writing seriously. So, what made you decide to start publishing your own novels?


Megan Goldin:

Writing is an extension of my journalism in many ways. I think most journalists want to eventually write a book. Every journalists sort of secret wish to be able to have the time to write a book. I was lucky enough to be able to, I guess create the opportunity to have the time to do that. So, it's sort of an extension of the two things, and a lot of the skills are very transferable, not just in terms of writing but in terms of editing and research and just being really determined because to be successful as a journalist you need to be super determined and to be able to write a book you need to be really determined too, because it's a long kind of process and it has it's ups and downs and you need to kind of keep going through all those difficult times when you've got no ideas or you've got writer's block or you're just sort of exhausted by the story or you think what you're writing is just terrible and you want to rip it up and throw it in the bin. Which happens with, you know, every book that I've written, you go through those periods. So you really need to be determined, so it was sort of an extension from that I guess.


M:

I saw that you traveled a lot too while you were a journalist, what's your favorite place or something that you experienced that has really stuck with you?


Megan Goldin:

Well I lived in Asia and I lived in the Middle East for a long time, uh, probably longer in the Middle East. In terms of, just from a career prospective, I covered some really amazing, like huge stories and I had the chance to travel too.


Off the top of my head, one memory that always comes back to me, especially now with this whole issue with the Suez Canal and that ship that blocked the Suez Canal, is back in, I don't know when it was - probably 2002, I went to cover a peace conference in Alexandria in Egypt and the only way of getting there at the time was with a small little executive plane. So, me and about either other journalists took this small, tiny little plane and flied from Israel to Alexandria in Egypt and we flew over that whole area of the Red Sea and the Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal, so I got to see that from the sky. And I'm terribly nervous on planes so I remember being really nervous being in this little plane but it was an amazing flight, because I guess we were flying a lot lower than you would normally fly and you got to see a lot of scenery that you wouldn't normally get to see and I remember coming into Alexandria as well, which is a city I'd never seen before, which is sort of these white washed buildings. It was just very atmospheric. So that's one memory that comes to mind at the moment.


M:

That sounds so pretty. My dad too, he's a nervous wreck when it comes to flying. If we're taking vacation and he has to fly, he's not going.


Megan Goldin:

I'd go but I'm the one that's kind of clutching my seat.


M:

So, what about the thriller genre appeals to you and do you ever think you'll write and publish a different genre?


Megan Goldin:

I love thrillers because, for a few reasons, especially I enjoy reading them and watching them as well. I love the suspense, and I think that you get to touch on and look at a lot of issues in a serious way while entertaining. So, as a genre I really enjoy reading it and I really enjoy writing it but I also read other genres, for example, I love history. I'm a huge history buff and I would love to write historic fiction at some point. And within the thriller genre, there are a lot of sort of sub genres that I would love to write in, and one of my favorites is espionage. I would love to write an espionage, in fact I have to be honest. I've written one which is actually both espionage and a historic thriller, which was, must have been the second book I wrote.


M:

So, I am a true crime podcast fanatic. I listen to them probably every single day while I'm at work, all day. So, do you have a favorite true crime podcast that you listen to and what is your opinion on modern day true crime podcasts and how they kind of effect cold cases and crimes today?


Megan Goldin:

Yeah, I love lots of podcasts and true crime is one of the ones I listen to a lot. Um, the one I tend to listen to mostly is Criminal. Just because it's sort of 30 minute episodes and it's very varied. Again, I kind of get a mental blank when people ask me what I listen to or what I read. Anyway, that's the one that I always like, but there's another, a few others that I've been listening to, and one of them is called Murder Mile which is a British one, I don't know if you've heard it before. It's a lot of fun, especially now with COVID where we're stuck at home for many of us, or certainly not traveling that much. It's based in London and it's kind of written as a walking tour of London or England, but it takes you to sort of these true crime locations and it's great, I really enjoy that too. But there are heaps that I listen to, there's one called Detective and so on. So, whenever I chance I listen to them.


M:

So can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Do you prefer to do outlines and layout the story or do you just kind of dive right in and start writing and see what happens?


Megan Goldin:

Well I'm still kind of working out my process to be honest. Just like with writing, it's constant refinement. I don't like my process particularly, because I just kind of write and figure things out as I go along. And it has it's pros and cons, it's very stressful and I think it kind of ends up requiring a lot of rewriting when I do second edits sometimes. But on the other hand I see opportunities to take the story in different directions that wouldn't really come to me if I sat down and worked out a structured story. It has it's pros and it's cons. I would love to be able to just sit down and write a structure and then write, cause I think it would be, I guess more efficient and less pressured because I kind of know everything that I'm gonna write. Yeah, that doesn't really work for me at the moment and I'm not sure if it's just a personality type thing or whatever, but anyway, it's something that I think with writing, it's one of the things I enjoy about it. It's all about refining and making it better so both in terms of the writing itself and making dialogue sharper and building characters more vibrantly as well as the actual process as well and refining that.


A:

Absolutely, I think we hear that a lot from writers, you know, whenever you get that inspiration you want to get it out and write the scene and create the dialogue and get it on the paper before you lose it instead of going through and creating the outline.


M:

Since you're based in Australia, I'm not sure if you're going to have an answer to this question or not, but are you familiar with the Stanford Rape Trial with Brock Turner?


Megan Goldin:

Yes, I am.


M:

Okay, so we did want to ask if that was the kind of the bases of this book, The Night Swim, because there are a lot of similarities between the two.


Megan Goldin:

Um, no it wasn't. But, again, I guess as a former journalist and I'm kind of a news junkie, I just am constantly reading news. And so, I was on top of a lot of cases, not just in the US and not that particular case, but cases in Europe and in Australia as well and even in Asia too. So in many ways I drew from many different cases but yeah I guess maybe the Scott Blair being a swimmer was taken from that.


M:

Okay, yeah, that was just the very first one I thought of when we started reading it, so I just had to ask.


A:

Yeah, and unfortunately there are lots of cases that are similar. There are lots of rape cases where there are those similarities. So, that's the world that we live in today.


I'm going to take us into a couple of questions about the book, and to start us off can you just tell us about the inspiration behind the scenery, the small town and just tell us about how you created the town where the trail is taking place.


Megan Goldin:

Yeah, so it was important for this book, because I wanted to explore the trial and it's impact not just on the people involved in the trial but on the community. A lot of what I do is just, kind of very organic. As I started writing, I wrote the first chapter, which is Hannah's opening chapter, and that sort of already set the scene and I already have a sense of place once I wrote that scene. And I knew it was going to be by the sea, and I knew it was gonna have that sort of small town aspect to it. And funny enough, it had to be a small town but it had to be a town big enough where you'd actually have a trial. 'Cause you don't have criminal trials in every small town.


So, I knew I wanted to have it in sort of this area in North Carolina, cause I researched various locations and that area just was really interesting for me. Just atmospheric and it had that kind of blue collar edge and it has really good history and it gets hit my hurricanes every season, well not every year but often, and so all of that sort of plays a part as I start writing and it all comes together and creates the seaside town that's fictional but I guess within the book has a life of its own. When I write, and I created this place, I mean I see it in my head so I know the layout, I know where all of the streets are and everything. It's not just sort of a random place, when I write I'll have a character going, you know like Rachel's jogging and she might jog in this direction and I'll be like 'no, she can't jog there because she can't get to where she wants to go.' In my head it's a fully developed place, I can see, I know where everything is and all of that, it really comes to life at least in my imagination and hopefully on the pages of the book as well.


A:

Absolutely it does, I mean the scenery is so detailed I really feel like I'm there whenever I'm reading it.

Can you tell us a little bit about the characters who live in the town? Do you base it off of real people? You know, where does your inspiration come from when creating these people?


Megan Goldin:

Yeah, you know, we talked about the writing process and that's the advantage of my writing process I guess, is that it just sort of emerges, the characters almost take me through the story and as I write then sort of another character just sort of pops up and then that character starts taking on a life and a form of it's own.


I once read an article or an interview with Stephen King and I think he uses a similar process if I'm not mistaken. And they asked him about his characters, cause some writers will write a detailed character sketch and he said that he didn't do that. For him a character was like you're sitting around a campfire and you have these sort of shadows coming in from the dark and as they get closer they start taking on shape and form and they become unique. For me, that's kind of what happens. I start writing and suddenly this character emerges and that story emerges and everything their likes and dislikes. And it's not something that I've kind of consciously created. I haven't sat down and sort of written a character sketch or anything.


M:

Wow, that's interesting. Yeah, that's really interesting.


A:

I think that's beautiful. I think the whole shadow coming into the detail. That's a cool analogy.


Can you tell us a little bit about the corruption from the law enforcement specifically with Dan Moore's father Russ. Why do you think it was important to include issues like that, like corruption, in your book?


Megan Goldin:

Again, I don't think it was a conscious decision and it was plot driven in some ways. But certainly in the past, and I know of more historic cases going back decades, where you did have these types of sexual assault cases that were either not brought to trial, very frequently not brought to trial because people behind the scenes were kind of protecting people as well. I think that's less common today but in the past those sort of things happened and it sort of found it's way into my story.


A:

The trail itself there was such detail, you know whenever I was reading where Rachel was inside the courtroom I really felt like I was there. Do you have experience with the court, and is that from your experience as a journalist or is that just from research?


Megan Goldin:

Um, a bit of experience as a journalist and a bit of research and talking to people who have handled these types of trials. But also, I have always loved books and movies with trials. From To Kill A Mockingbird, is like an obvious one that comes to mind, John Grisham books. I love trials, I was actually so excited to write the trial scenes.


M:

Did you do any cool research for this book? Maybe talking to true crime podcasters or people in the law or anything?


Megan Goldin:

Yeah, I did. I mean, I can't mention names but I did speak to people who have been involved in cases like this. And I read a lot of transcripts as well of actual cases in various places in the world. I did quite a lot of research, I don't tend to do a lot of research up front. I kind of do enough research to get going, and then as I write I'll realize 'oh, I don't know enough about this I've got to do some research.' And I'll break off from the writing and if necessary talk to people or whatever needs to be done and then I'll get back to the writing. I think it breaks up the intensity of it as well.


A:

Throughout the book, one of the things that really interested me was the dialogue. You do such a good job of portraying the misogynistic attitude and mentality throughout the town. One of the conversations that stood out to me was Rachel's first encounter with Greg Blair, the father, and when he just casually dropped the word 'pussy' when the two of them were discussion his son and Kelly.


Can you tell us about how the dialogue developed in your process?


Megan Goldin:

Well, I really enjoy writing dialogue and it's one of the things when I started writing novels that I was really intimidated by, was writing dialogue. But I really enjoy it, it really breathes life into a book, and it's really super important. Usually I'll write the dialogue when I do my first draft and then I'll sharpen it in the next draft. In that particular intense I think I had the general gist in the original dialogue but then when I do a second edit, I'll sharpen it and somehow I think that's how that particular section that you mentioned kind of worked out.


I really enjoy it, like I said, giving a character a voice is so much more impactful than a even a description.


A:

What was your favorite part of writing The Night Swim and do you have any favorite characters or favorite locations during the creation of the book?


Megan Goldin:

I loved a lot of the characters in the book. I loved Hannah and Rachel in particular I loved creating this place in my head. I mean it's an existing area but the town itself was fictional. In terms of a specific place, the cemetery was really fun to write, it was really interesting, it was based on a cemetery that actually exists, I mean, it's a different cemetery but I was inspired by a cemetery in North Carolina. This old, historic cemetery, I went online and I read some of the gravestones and some of the stories of some of the people buried there.


It sounds weird because it's a cemetery *laughs*, but there's so much history in cemeteries and this particular one because of the area that it's in and the things that have occurred there over the centuries. So that was quite interesting, and I enjoyed that.


M:

Yeah that was a cool scene, I enjoyed reading that one.


A:

If you could pick any character from the book to be friends with in real life, who would it be and why?


Megan Goldin:

It would probably definitely be Rachel. I really like Rachel, I don't always write characters that I like a lot, but I could definitely be friends with her. She's really gutsy and she's really focused and motivated and she was a journalist so I really related to her on that level as well, before she became a podcaster.


A:

What has been the most rewarding part of being a published author and how has it been since your book was released through Book of the Month?


Megan Goldin:

It's been amazing. I get so many emails from people, and that's one of the most rewarding parts actually, especially now with Coronavirus, even my book helped them get through lockdowns or I had one lady who messaged me she'd just gone through surgery. Other people who've actually had to deal with some of the issues raised in the book. And that's really for me, incredibly rewarding and I really appreciate those messages.


A:

Can we count on anymore Megan novels coming out soon?


Megan Goldin:

I hope so! I just finished writing one, and I'm hoping to start a new one in two or three weeks. We're going on holiday next week, so when we get back, cause it's school holidays here and I can't write during school holiday. But yeah, for sure. I actually have more ideas than I have time to write them, and it is a long process writing a novel and somewhat exhausting process.


Listen to the full interview with Megan Goldin and Part 1 and 2 of our discussion on The Night Swim here.

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