Suspense on River Road: Professor Releases New Novel

Photo by David Khorassani.

SUNY New Paltz creative writing professor Carol Goodman released a new novel Jan. 16 called “River Road.” Unlike the several mystery and gothic-based works she has written before, this thrilling suspense story derives its dark content from the consequences of poor human behavior.

The idea for the story came straight from Goodman’s dark imagination, which she said is what got her into writing mystery and gothic fantasy works since she began her career. Having written over 14 books ranging from fantasy to mystery, “River Road” is the first mystery novel she has written in five years.

“I wouldn’t say the writing is gloomy or pessimistic, these are just the types of stories that appeal to me the most,” Goodman said.

Goodman said she makes each novel different from the last, having taken breaks from certain genres to avoid developing patterns in her writing. “River Road” is meant to have less gothic imagery and a little more psychological fascination. She said this will distract readers from their own worries to focus on the main character’s worries.

Readers recognize and sometimes identify with a character or writer’s worries or fears. Goodman likes to write stories about the things that keep her up at night. She said it is common for writers to cope with their fears by making them into something else, like a story. This method gives a means for people to deal with unpleasant and scary things in a productive way.

Incorporating this strategy into her writing allowed Goodman to base some of her book’s settings off real life. One of those places includes River Road, a real place in the Hudson Valley near where Goodman lives. She said by including common places she knows and that other people can recognize, she can give her stories a sense of realism even though they are fictional.

“Incorporating real places into my books gives the immediacy to the reader that bad things could happen at any moment wherever you are,” Goodman said.

Taking what she has learned from writing novels into her teachings, Goodman has said to her students that a writer should always be growing and revising their work. She said becoming a good writer means treating learning like a process instead of an end product to rush for. That also means taking constructive criticism and absorbing it.

Goodman wants her students to learn how to accept feedback when showing other people their work. Taking newfound knowledge and reconstructing their own writing to be better than before gives them the desire to keep writing and improving. She said this will get writers in the habit of being criticized by editors in their future jobs, so they don’t get discouraged.

After graduating from school, some of Goodman’s students went on to write novels of their own. She has heard back from some of her students and exchanged some of their works with her own. Like these students who came before, she said that writing is something someone should continue to do if they feel a desire for it.

As for Goodman’s future writing desires, she is currently deciding between writing either young adult and middle grade novels, or more mystery suspense stories. She said she wants to continue writing what she wants and to pursue writings about the Hudson Valley and all of its physical, fruitful beauty.

“I think I just want to keep going,” Goodman sad. “All any writer wants to do is keep on going.”

To further showcase her work, Goodman will be one of three authors giving a fiction reading and book signing on Thursday, Feb. 11, at 5 p.m. in the New Paltz Honors Center.