Sunday, February 12, 2023

Q&A with Sierra Godfrey




Sierra Godfrey is the author of the new novel A Very Typical Family. Also a technical writer and a former graphic designer, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Q: You write of your characters, “The Walkers have evolved through many iterations and story lines.” How did you first come up with your character Natalie and her family, and how did they evolve into their present incarnations?


A: The Walker family and story started off much differently! Early drafts of the story had my main character, Natalie, living out of the country, married with children. She gets drawn back to her family home by her mother's death.


It was always set in Santa Cruz, California, where I'm from, but the story then was primarily about Natalie and her husband.


Sibling drama kept creeping into the plot, though, and eventually I realized that was the story that wanted to be told. I stripped away the other primary elements of the story I'd had, and what was left was a story that I really cared about: a story about the pain of sibling estrangement.

I knew Natalie had done something to destroy the relationship with her siblings. I thought, what’s the worst thing she could possibly do to them? Adultery with a spouse for sure, but that wasn’t right for this story. Sending them to prison it was!


Q: How was the novel's title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: When this novel sold, it was titled as “My Family and Other Criminals,” which was really fun, but didn’t quite fit. So my editor and I brainstormed titles and several of them were audience-tested. My publisher, Sourcebooks, audience-tests titles and covers because they love real data!


A Very Typical Family was the title that did best, and I liked it. I've seen a lot of readers say things like "This is NOT a very typical family!" but that's the point. I think we all our family to be normal (for us) but every family is different. There is no typical. We all deal with different issues and relationships.


Q: The author Ashley Winstead said of the book, “By turns mordantly funny and deeply moving, A Very Typical Family is an emotional gut punch of a story about the often-fraught relationships we have with the people we loved first and fiercest: our siblings.” What do you think of that description, and what did you see as the right balance between humor and seriousness as you wrote the book?


A: I love Ashley and I appreciate this blurb from her so much. One thing I didn't anticipate while writing the novel was how deeply people with sibling strife in their lives would react to the story, and it's been amazing to hear readers say “I thought about reaching out to my estranged sibling” after reading the novel. I really hope they do.


I love humor in serious stories--it's like a little signal to the reader, and I hope I’m always able to inject that into my own stories. My humor is dark and dry, and not everyone gets it. That's okay. The ones who are supposed to get it, do.


I almost always use humor in character interaction, so that the heavier themes characters deal with are lightened slightly by their interactions with people they care about deeply.


Q: Did you know how the novel would end before you started writing it, or did you make many changes along the way?


A: I knew I wanted a happily ever after (HEA) but I didn't quite know what that looked like when I started writing it. Since the plot changed a lot, I adjusted how it ended, but I always knew I wanted the Walker siblings to get together again.


The sisters, Lynn and Natalie, have a lot of toxic history to clear up between them. I imagine they continue working on this after the novel ends, but I wanted to get them all to a place where they could start that process.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m looking forward to the publication of my second novel, The Second Chance Hotel, which comes out from Sourcebooks on Sept. 12, 2023. It's a story about a couple who are married by convenience and inherit a crumbling hotel on a Greek island. It's really fun!


You can read an excerpt at SheReads (, and learn more about it and fun things like a Greek email a day and a special Instagram account here (


I have just finished writing my third book and the story ideas for my fourth are taking shape in my head ;)


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I would love to hear from readers! Connect with me on Instagram ( or Twitter (


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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