Sharing Skeletons: Candid Talk Earns Author Loyal Following

By Beacon Staff

Whether it’s sharing her experience as a single, teen mom or the trials of her married life, Kalispell author Tricia Goyer recognizes the key to connecting with her readers: imperfection.

“There’s no point in trying to look good, trying to make people think you’re perfect,” Goyer said. “Nobody wants to hang out with perfect people. Dr. Phil is fine, but sometimes you just want to hear from somebody who’s having the same struggles you are.”

This candid, tell-all approach is largely responsible for Goyer’s success. She is the author of 20-plus books of fiction and nonfiction and has written more than 300 articles for national publications like Guideposts for Kids, Focus on the Family, Christian Parenting Today and HomeLife Magazine.

Her latest novel, “Blue Like Play Dough,” was released in July. A non-fiction collection of memoirs about the push-and-pull of motherhood and Goyer’s desires to find God in her daily routine, it may be her most personal book yet.

“I went through four drafts of this book,” Goyer said. “Each time my editor sent it back and said, ‘Good. Now, I think you can go deeper.’”

“There were definitely points where I thought, ‘I don’t really want to share this,’” she added.

Book cover of “Blue Like Play Dough” by Tricia Goyer.

As a 17-year-old growing up in northern California, Goyer found herself pregnant and seemingly alone. Her boyfriend had dumped her and she had dropped out of school, opting to take part-time classes at an alternative school to get her diploma.

But a group of her mother’s friends made an effort to support her. “They were caring for me at a time when everybody else wasn’t around,” she said. “It made all the difference.”

Goyer started attending church regularly, and met her future husband, John. The couple was married nine months after Goyer had her first son.

But it wasn’t until she was 22 and pregnant with her third child that Goyer ever thought about writing. When a friend at church shared her plans to write a novel, Goyer said “something clicked. It’s like I realized real people could actually do that.”

Soon after, Goyer attended a writer’s conference in Santa Cruz, where a magazine accepted her first article. It would be nearly two more years before she was published again, but the initial success was enough to keep her trying.

The young author’s next break came with “mommy articles.” When faced with a parenting dilemma with her own children, Goyer would query a magazine to write a story about it. If they responded favorably, she’d start calling the experts – counselors, parenting coaches, psychologists – for interviews.

“It was a good deal: I got published and I figured out what I needed to do with my own kids,” Goyer said.

Then, at age 31, Goyer got her break – two of them, actually.

Using her own experience, Goyer wrote “Life Interrupted: The Scoop on Being a Young Mom,” a non-fiction book aimed specifically at helping teen moms through the challenges of juggling school, relationships and single parenthood.

At nearly the same time, she found a publisher for an historical fiction novel about the liberation of Gusen and Mauthausen concentration camps during World War II.

“The two different paths started at the same time,” Goyer said.

Goyer continues to split her time between the two genres, producing on average a prolific four novels a year. She also speaks and conducts workshops for teens nationally, and offers programs to teen moms through Hope Pregnancy Ministries in Northwestern Montana, which she founded.

No matter the project, Goyer said her goal is to remain transparent, freely sharing her experiences and lessons in an effort to connect with readers. “My husband jokes that we don’t have skeletons in the closet,” she said, “because I put them all on the front lawn.”

For more information on Tricia Goyer or to buy her books, visit her Web site at www.triciagoyer.com. You can also connect with Tricia through Facebook and Twitter.