31 March 2014
Released by teen publishers Hot Key Books at the start of April, Goose is the newest novel from broadcaster and journalist Dawn O’Porter. Dawn originally found herself in the public eye due to a series of documentaries covering a range of topics from polygamy to anorexia, with forays into vintage fashion planned for the near future.
As part of a whirlwind and hectic three-week book tour across the United Kingdom to promote her latest work, Dawn stopped by Waterstones Newcastle at the end of the month, where I was lucky enough to host a live interview with her.
Following on from the success of Paper Aeroplanes, Goose picks up the story of best friends Renee and Flo two years later, as they are finishing Sixth Form and making plans to escape Guernsey. As the end of term nears, the girls realise that they may be too different, and that remaining friends may not be a realistic possibility.
Their home situation has also changed – Flo and her mother are managing to get on better than they did in the original novel, and the sequel also sees more huge changes for Renee, who is now living with her Aunt and Grandmother. As Flo finds her faith in the local church, Renee struggles to understand Flo’s actions, and finds herself involved with Dean, a local writer.
“I was really bad with Goose,” Dawn confessed during her interview; “I wrote it in five weeks!” Despite this time pressure, the realistic and brutally honest tone of the novel is in no way compromised. Dawn continues to write without unnecessary glamorisation of the teenage years, depicting sex, relationships and mistakes with all the embarrassment and stomach churning of which real life is made. “I wanted to write the book that mothers would disapprove of,” Dawn explained; “that’s what teenage girls are like. You can have moments of a complete high as a teenager, but also moments where you feel excruciatingly embarrassed.” Goose is certainly a novel where these two opposites are intertwined and experienced, by each of the best friends.
Both Paper Aeroplanes and Goose address real life issues which are normally glossed over by other teen novels, and Dawn recognises the importance of this, particularly in relation to girls. “Sex and the City got the ball rolling on open sex talk, then we have Girls – which is a much better way”. However, limitations are still in place, for “we are still only able to talk like that about women in fiction, which I find a bit frustrating.” Dawn went on to admit that she hopes mothers will read her books and realise what teenage girls are like, so that they can better understand them. As the character of Renee, especially, is a manifestation of many elements of Dawn’s younger self – “I see Renee as me, rather than me as Renee” – the strength and warmth of the characters in Goose definitely comes from the autobiographical influences that have coloured the novel.
Goose, compared to its predecessor, Paper Aeroplanes, features a much stronger character base that allows the plot to really shine. Readers are no longer maturing dramatically, as the characters do, but are rather experiencing the events of the novel through the eyes of the now independent, eighteen year olds – the excitement, new friendships, romance, anger and tragedy all as they are thrust upon the girls. “With Goose, I didn’t [know exactly what the story was] but I knew exactly who the characters were”, mused Dawn, as she compared the writing of the new novels. “Goose wasn’t as hard because I wasn’t trying to create anybody. We only did two drafts (compared to Paper Aeroplane’s three), and I felt like a better writer when I got to Goose.”
Dawn’s belief is certainly right; Goose reads more maturely and more naturally than Paper Aeroplanes, without jeopardising the honest, emotional and genuine tone that Dawn masters so well. With another two books confirmed, and with plans to write more for the friends decade by decade, we’re certainly seeing the start of what is sure to be a long and prosperous literary career from Dawn O’Porter.
To find out more about Dawn O’Porter, visit her official website or follow her on Twitter .