Author Q&A: Eileen Goudge—from Sweet Valley High to Mysteries
One of the original writers of our beloved Sweet Valley High series explains how she transitioned from teen drama to women’s fiction and mysteries.
Eileen!! We’re HUGE Sweet Valley High fans over at Shelf Pleasure. Please tell us about your part in one of our favorite enterprises ever.
I was fresh off the proverbial boat, had just moved to New York from California, and the Sweet Valley High project fell in my lap. I was chosen as one of the select handful of writers to pen the first dozen titles in the series. I had just finished Book 2 when I got an SOS call from my editor. Book 1 was a mess, apparently, and they needed me to rewrite it pronto. I jumped on a subway the very next day and for the next week or so pounded the typewriter keys (this was pre-digital era) at the book packager’s offices until we had a finished manuscript. I have never complained about a deadline since then! Talk about crunch time.
SVH went on to become an internationally bestselling series, and I am proud of my role in helping launch it. Many readers have told me SVH was what got them hooked on reading when they were kids.
How did you transition to writing mysteries?
After publishing 15 women’s fiction titles (and one cookbook) I was ready for a change. Make that sea change, as my Cypress Bay series is set in a fictional California seaside town (closely resembling Santa Cruz, California, where I lived for 10 years before moving to NYC). The character of my female sleuth, Tish Ballard, popped into my head and I couldn’t ignore her. Like me, she’s a girl who doesn’t always take “no” for an answer. A property manager like my sister-in-law who manages the vacation rental she and her husband, my brother, own, she’s privy to the private lives of her clients as only someone with keys to their houses can be. In Swimsuit Body when a dead body appears at one of her properties, she’s first on the scene. I’m having so much fun with Tish. I love mysteries, both as a reader and a PBS Mystery viewer, so it’s a treat to let my own imagination run with the genre.
Swimsuit Body is the second book in your Cypress Bay mystery series. What are new readers in for?
A crime scene, naturally, which involves a beautiful blond starlet. More drama with Tish’s lovable schizoaffective brother, Arthur, when he goes missing along with an elderly gal pal. A new romance for Tish, with the last man on earth she ever expected to fall for. And plenty of red herrings, of course!
What is the last book you read that you can’t stop thinking about?
One of my favorite mystery authors is the Edgar Award winner Michael Kortya. The title of his that I read most recently is Cypress House, and it had me at hello. I couldn’t put it down. It’s the total package. Suspenseful, character-driven, rich in atmosphere with a pulse-pounding climax.
What can readers expect next from you?
My work-in-progress is a stand-alone title. Memory Lake is set in Northern Wisconsin where I spend several months of the year. Sparked by a real, unsolved mystery involving a local woman who went missing and is presumed dead, it’s a journey to the darker side of mystery/suspense. Expect romance, too!
Eileen Goudge is one of the nation’s most successful authors of women’s fiction. She began as a young adult writer, helping to launch the phenomenally successful Sweet Valley High series, and in 1986 she published her first adult novel, the New York Times bestseller Garden of Lies.
She has published fifteen novels in all, including the three-book saga of Carson Springs, Thorns of Truth—a sequel to Gardens of Lies—and 2012’s The Replacement Wife. She lives and works in New York City.
There's nothing we love more at Shelf Pleasure than a ..
Author and Shelf Pleasure contributor Karen A. Chase on how ..
One of author Mary Miley’s favorite things about being a ..
Author and police psychologist Ellen Kirschman, Ph.D., weighs the pitfalls ..
Little known fact about Shelf Pleasure's Kristen: she's obsessed with ..
Although Debbie De Louise has been a librarian and avid ..