When it comes to literary pursuits, writing about two presumably straight kids — on a space pirate ship, no less — isn’t just fish-out-of-water stuff for Wayne Goodman.
It’s a beached whale.
“I’ve had a very niche market — historical fiction for LGBQT readers — so I don’t sell a lot,” Goodman said, acknowledging that all his leading characters have been gay.
Now comes middle-school twins Timothy and Tammara Crutchfield in “Tim-Tam & the Space Pirates Race to the Phantom Moon.”
Goodman cast his usual approach of “taking fake characters and putting them in actual historical context” to the wind.
It was 10 years ago when Goodman first pondered this space pirate thing.
“Harry Potter was the thing, and people were pushing or imitating Harry Potter. And dragons were big,” Goodman said, pondering, “I don’t want to be a copy cat. I thought and thought and came up with space pirates. I don’t remember anyone writing about space pirates.”
He came up with brother-sister twins, where the girl gets “the space pirate genes” while her brother “gets the brains,” but no space pirate sense.
“So they have to work together to rise up through the ranks of space pirates. They have to learn how to work together as a team — which they never had to do before,” Goodman.
Yes, it was off the Vallejoan’s usual fictional path.
“No sex, no romantic relationships and violence is minimal,” Goodman said.
During the process, Goodman shared the manuscript with an L.A. friend “in the industry” who dropped a vault of criticism on the author’s head.
“He had a lot of scathing things to say about the structure of the book,” Goodman said. “My first vision was from the male twin’s point of view only. He was writing it as a blog. It just didn’t work. He was not a likable person. He had bad things to say about everyone, mostly about his sister. My friend said, ‘You’re not going to sell a book. They’re going to hate him and not know her.’”
The friend’s assessment was accurate, Goodman said. And the book was altered.
Again, it’s a new genre for an author whose previous work included “a twisted Russian tale” in 19th century St. Petersburg.
Goodman fully expects the barbs — and hopes to learn from it, citing the philosophy of author Kathryn Ma.
“She developed a way of dealing with criticism,” Goodman said. “You listen to everything whether you agree or not, but take the ones that when you hear it, you think, ‘I should have thought of that.’ Those are the ones you take away.”
Research uncovered that young people “like to read (about subjects) above their grade level. I pulled it down a little to middle school readers,” Goodman said.
A Benicia writers group helped, he said, where “this wonderful group of people” would read and comment about his work in process.
“One of the comments was, ‘You have one of the weirdest brains — I’m glad I’m not inside your head,’” said Goodman. “That feedback was what I really needed to hear.”
Goodman, 64, couldn’t trace how far back he was interested in history. He knew one thing: “I always wanted to be an astronaut. Didn’t everybody?”
Yes, he was mesmerized by the moon landing July 20, 1969 “when we were glued to the television.” Goodman was 12.
“I grew up watching ‘Lost in Space’ and ‘Star Trek,’ and all those hokey shows for kids,” he said.
Decades later, he’s finally written a paperback for young people. And he’s done the illustrations, though shrugging, “I’m not that good of an artist.”
Seems Goodman was set on hiring an artist friend.
“He said he liked what I did so I just went with that. It did cost me less,” Goodman said.
With this week’s release on the book — “you can buy it everywhere on Earth … Amazon, Barnes & Noble …Kindle” — Goodman will promote his latest work and ponder the sequel.
“It depends how well this one does,” he said. “I do have a plot in mind, but nothing has been written down. I’ve put more into this project than any other book I’ve written. I have hopes.”
To check out Goodman’s books, visit: goodreads.com/author/list/7547642.Wayne_Goodman