February 2nd, 2017

Winter Duet

Welcome Wayne Goodman - Vanya Says Go

Welcome today to Wayne Goodman as part of his blog tour with Embrace the Rainbow Book Promotions for Vanya Says Go.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing?
I have been a creative person most of my life. In school I studied music and performance, having been in many stage productions. My partner (who is also a writer) and I host a reading series for queer authors in the San Francisco Bay Area. I mainly write historical fiction with a gay theme.

How long have you been writing for, and what inspired you to start writing?
I started writing music in high school, then took a few Creative Writing courses in college. My serious writing began as an adult, but most of my works have been written in the last few years. Surviving a life-threatening illness compelled me to write as a way to keep busy and have something to focus upon during recuperation.

Can you tell us about your new release? What inspired you to write it?
My latest work, “Vanya Says, ‘Go!’,” is a retelling of Mikhail Kuzmin’s “Wings,” first published in 1906. It was the first Russian-language book to speak positively about same-sex relationships. While I find the story intriguing (and a window into a time gone-by), it was not crafted as well as other comparable works, and I did not want the world to forget Kuzmin and his work.

How did you come up with the title?
The title is taken from the pivotal part of the story when the protagonist, Vanya, tells his love interest to “Go!”

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The original work consisted of three sections. It ends abruptly. I wanted to add a fourth section to give some completion to the story. Attempting to duplicate Kuzmin’s style and be respectful to the book while adding my own ideas proved challenging, as I did not want to take anything away from the original but yet add a new chapter.

Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it?
This was the first time I adapted another author’s work, and a book written in another language. I had not performed translation before, and I believe I was able to capture the flavour of the writing and convey the main ideas. Also, interpolating the author’s construction and developing a wholly new section of the book proved challenging but yet satisfying.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Writing what you know well is much easier than writing about something unfamiliar to you.

Are there any genres you prefer to write and if so, why? What book do you wish that you had written?
My main genre is Historical Fiction. I like to find overlooked people, those lost to the main narrative, especially those who are LGBTQ, and tell their stories to reintroduce them. As far as book I would wish to write, there are more and more LGBTQ people coming to light every day whose stories would make good reading. Two that I have in mind are Baron von Humboldt (a 19th Century naturalist who explored Northern California with his lover), and Ludwig II, the “mad” king who built the amazing castle in what is now Germany.

Why M/M?
I prefer to write male-male stories because it is what I know, being a gay man. However, the book I am currently working on has a lesbian protagonist.

Do you have any genres you prefer reading, and if so what are they? What book are you reading at the moment? What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow?
I tend to like SciFi/Fantasy, which would now be labelled Speculative Fiction. As I am in the process of writing a book, I try not to read other people’s works, lest I accidentally use their material. Some of my favourite writers are: Anne MacCaffrey, Kage Baker, Barry Hughart.

Are there any characters that you write, that are based on you, or people you know?
I don’t believe I have used myself as a character, but my works are populated with people based on friends/relatives but usually as a combination so that no one person’s traits are obvious. One thing I find helpful is the Enneagram personality system. Once I assign a personality type to a character, it makes writing them much more organic.

Do you have a favourite character and/or book you've written? Who, what and why?
I don’t like to play favourites, and I would say that my protagonist must be people I admire or I really wouldn’t spend time writing about them.

Are there people in your life that annoy you, and you write into your books?
There are many times I use experiences from everyday life, especially annoying people or things. Real-life situations are frequently better than anything I could have made up.

Do characters and stories just pop into your head, or do you take your time thinking about them?
I am usually inspired by learning about someone I had not heard of before and wondering if their life would make a good book. I don’t just start writing directly, I let the ideas simmer on the back-burner of my brain for a while before committing to a new work.

Are you a panster or a plotter?
Always a tough question. I tend to have some kind of vague outline in my mind before I set out, and an endpoint to aim toward. Along the way I enjoy discovering sidetracks that pop up and seeing where they lead. At some point I do sketch out the flow of the narrative, but I wouldn’t call myself a total plotter.

Do you write often? Is it on a schedule, or whenever you feel like it?
Because I do not have a job (on disability for many years) I have more time than most to devote to writing. I tend not to stick to a schedule and write when ideas come tumbling out of the back of my brain. Most of the time I am doing research for the book when I get really inspired to write more.

If you had access to a time machine just once, is there anything you'd go back and change? Either on a personal level or an historical event?
Knowing that changing the timeline is not something to be messed with lightly, if I had such power, I would have wished a longer life for the subject of my book “Britain’s Glory,” Princess Charlotte Augusta, who would have been Queen of Britain had she not died young in childbirth. She was a strong woman, an advocate of women’s rights, and I believe that the world might have been a better place had she lived long enough to rule with her husband, Prince Leopold (who eventually became the first King of Belgium).

What are your writing and personal goals for 2017 and beyond?
I have published two books which I consider the beginnings of two separate trilogies. I would like to go back and continue those story lines in the near future.

What are you working on at present? Would you like to share a snippet?
The book I am currently working on has a lesbian as the central character. Following the death of her adopted grandparents, she starts having strange dreams and attempts to make sense of her family history, which has something to do with Easter Island. I expect to have it finished this Autumn.

Are you a cat person or a dog person? Can you tell us about your pets?
Cats. They get me, and I get them. Dogs take so much more work and commitment.

Are you obsessed with stationery? And if so, what and why?
I am not so concerned with stationery, but fonts and typefaces. I will linger over choices to get just the right look-and-feel for a story. Choosing the right typeface is important, and frequently it helps me with maintaining the atmosphere of a story.


Title: Vanya Says, “Go!” - A Retelling of Mikhail Kuzmin’s ‘Wings’
Author: Wayne Goodman
Release Date: October 20th 2016
Genre: Retelling, Gay Fiction



In 1906, Mikhail Kuzmin published "Wings," the first book in Russian to discuss same-sex relationships in a positive light. With "Vanya Says, ‘Go!,’" Wayne Goodman retells the story from the perspective of the young man at the heart of the tale. The original work contained only three sections, but a fourth has been added to round out the story and provide some closure.

Kuzmin was one of the most celebrated poets of his time, the Silver Age of Russian Poetry. While his poems were quite successful, his somewhat-autobiographical novel "Wings" met with skepticism and criticism. Kuzmin used many constructs from poetry (characters who appear all too briefly with no second mention, plot jumps with little connecting material, long-winded orations); however, his descriptions of scenery are exquisite, and the dialogue is quirky and colorful. "Vanya Says, 'Go!'" is crafted for the modern reader while keeping much of the original Russian style. It is a window into a time and places long gone. The story is narrated by the main character, who at 16 years of age is dealing with being an orphan foisted off on friends of distant relatives and attempting to acquaint himself with his sexual orientation while also discovering various religious and philosophical frameworks.

"An exemplary study in classic Russian literary charm... with a choice cast of picaresque characters. Goodman draws the reader into the desperate historical moment of pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg, and artfully stages Vanya's gay yearnings against its fast-moving currents." -- Edmund Zagorin

"The author accurately evokes a long-lost Russia through his marvelous characters and descriptions... the underlying commentary on the decaying social order, and the romance of that forgotten time period." -- Andrew Demcak

"Set in Old Russia... this is an interesting, fact-based story of an orphaned gay youth and his attempt to find himself, his own opinions, and love." -- Daniel Curzon


Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Smashwords

Watch Wayne Goodman read from Vanya Says “Go!” on Facebook


Stroop glanced down at my lap, “What’s that? Homer?”

“Yes. The Greek class is especially awful.”

“You mean you don’t like Greek?” His sparkling eyes returned to mine, and an invisible shiver pulsed through me.

“Who really likes Greek?” I said, feeling a bit foolish about that sarcastic remark. It made me sound pretentious, but, then again, I probably was for only 16 years of age.

The corner of Stroop’s mouth flinched, “That’s a pity.”

“What is?”

“That you don’t like languages,” he responded coolly, lips pouting slightly, his goatee jutting forward. “I have nothing against modern languages–you can read just about anything–but who would want to struggle with such antediluvian nonsense in Greek?”

I could feel Stroop’s eyes examining me. “What a boy you are, Vanya. The whole world–worlds are closed to you.” He looked away and then back at me, “Though a world of beauty–not just to know, but to love. It is the basis of all education.”

“But if I wanted to learn about that, I could read translated works. Why must we spend so much time learning their obsolete grammar?”

His head dropped and shook gently from side to side. I felt like I had just impaled him with a rusty pin.

“Instead of a person of flesh and blood, laughing or frowning, who can love, kiss, or hate–which one can detect in the blood surging through their veins, and the natural grace of a naked body–we are like soulless dolls, often made by artisan hands. That… that is translated. You don’t need to spend a great deal of time with a preparatory lesson on grammar.” He turned to face me. “The only requirement? Read, read, and read. Read–looking up every word in the dictionary–like you’re wading through a thicket in the forest, and you would find untried delights. And it seems to me, Vanya, that you have the makings to become such a new, authentic person.”

I just stared at this very attractive man with my jaw hanging, probably looking like an open samovar. I believed he was trying to tell me I shouldn’t shirk my language studies and that if I read enough books, I could become a better person. No one had ever given me such encouragement before. If it hadn’t been improper to do so, I would have leaned over and kissed him on his palpable lips.

Giveaway: Win a SIGNED paperback of Vanya Says, “Go!”


About the Author


Wayne Goodman has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area most of his life (with too many cats). When not writing, he enjoys playing Gilded Age parlor music on the piano, with an emphasis on women, gay, and Black composers.

Links: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads