MARGARET GOSS has a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (Arizona State University, 1990) and a Master of Arts in Public Administration (University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1996). Despite her education and all the years working in health care, writing was always in the back of her mind calling her, haunting her. She says, "Writing causes one to reflect so deeply that we must face our innermost fears and weaknesses. Later, when I was home raising my young children, I started writing this book. It was then that I understood that writing wasn’t something I wanted to do, it is something I had to do." Writing has been her true calling, and her book, THE UNCOMMITTED, is now available from HenschelHAUS Books.
Visit Margaret's website and order her book here.
Dave Watson: First congratulations on the book. What led you to this?
Margaret Goss: Thanks Dave, I really appreciate it and congratulations to you on publishing your memoir!
I can’t say one single factor led me to write a book but rather many experiences.
My parents were both teachers and encouraged creativity in us kids. My mom was an art teacher and my father taught high school English and Journalism. Literature, music and art were important pastimes and hobbies in my childhood home. All my siblings are musically inclined and played instruments. I played a little piano but gave it up after my junior year of high school. Rather, I gravitated toward writing and would write short stories and poems from time to time but it didn’t come naturally. My dad was a talented writer and had such command of the English language. I didn't think I could ever write as well as he did, and probably still don’t, so I didn’t consider a writing career an option.
I thought about broadcast journalism but my parents steered me toward a practical career, teaching or nursing. This was in the early 80's when choices were somewhat limited and before the Internet! Since, I enjoyed science and health, nursing was a natural fit.
As I got older, I was less worried about being good at writing. I found that words and stories just kind of fell in my head as if asking to be written. It took awhile for me to gain the confidence to start but once I did, it just poured out. Or maybe drizzled out since it took me almost nine years to finish my first book. I didn’t write everyday but rather, kept plugging away at it, little by little. I found I enjoyed the process of writing and kept going until my first novel was completed.
I picked the paranormal subject matter because I was fascinated by the lives of the Catholic saints. Having read many of their accounts/experiences with God, I felt drawn to create stories that encourage the reader to contemplate and explore their own beliefs through the use of fiction.
DW: Your story balances the supernatural with reality, and starts firmly grounded in reality. Did you have this in mind?
MG: I can't say I had it in mind in that order. Rather, it was a way to tell the story I had in my head and fit best with the timeline. Josie (the protagonist) discovers her ability to communicate with the afterlife but it has been present and around her all along. The difference is now she perceives it where before she didn't pay attention to it.
DW: Where does the title come from? Is commitment a big theme in your life? Your favorite stories?
MG: The title of my novel, The Uncommitted is based on a segment of the book, Inferno by Dante Alighieri. The Uncommitted were those souls who in life made no attempt at good or evil and therefore, in the afterlife, reside outside the gates of Hell. They have no home in heaven or in hell but are sentenced to wander eternally in this borderland. This is who resides in Josie's world, the entities who taunt her and who she ends up communicating with. Also, The Uncommitted has a biblical theme, Revelation 12:7-9. In the War of the Angels, some angels aligned with the Archangel Michael who defended God and some with Lucifer, who rebelled against God and became fallen angels or "demons.” Those who didn't choose sides were called the "Uncommitted."
So, no, commitment is not a theme in my life but a metaphor employed in the novel to represent those entities haunting Josie and her family.
DW: You use dialogue to reveal character feelings. Was this something you set out to do at the beginning?
MG: Yes, as I believe most people are stuck in their heads with our thoughts. If we think of day to day life, most of our life experiences are reflected in our personal perceptions and feelings. Since Josie, the main character is having a mental and spiritual experience that is going unnoticed by her family, it's her internal dialogue within her head and with the spirits only she can hear driving some of the scenes.
DW: You have filmmakers interested in this book. Did you see this as a movie when beginning?
MG: I did and that was super exciting. However, I don't have an offer yet for screen rights. I wrote the novel with the intention of it being transferable to film. I have also had readers tell me it would make a great series on Netflix. I believe it will one day make it to the screen. A girl can dream, right?
DW: What's next for you?
MG: I am writing the sequel to The Uncommitted. I intend to complete it by the end of this year as it is my 2019 resolution!
DW: What is your favorite cinematic moment?
MG: That's a tough one, so many! I think Field of Dreams when Kevin Costner's character has a game of catch with his dad. The feelings this simple scene conveys is extraordinary, it's a piece of heaven.
Clip: Field of Dreams
Founder and editor of Movies Matter, Dave Watson is a writer and educator in Madison, WI.