Deborah Goodrich Royce

Literary Thriller

Susan Ford’s cocoon of privilege is threatened when an Iraqi man from her distant past boards a plane in Baghdad to come find her.

Deborah Goodrich Royce graduated Summa Cum Laude from Lake Erie College in 1980 with a BA in modern foreign languages (French and Italian) and a minor in dance. In 2008, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the same institution.

Deborah was an actress in film and television for ten years. Her big break came with the leading role of Silver Kane, sister of the legendary Erica Kane, on the long running ABC soap opera, All My Children. Deborah went on to star in feature films such as Remote Control, April Fool’s Day, and Just One of the Guys, television movies such as Return to Peyton Place, The Deliberate Stranger with Mark Harmon, and Liberace, and television series such as St. Elsewhere, Beverly Hills 90210, and 21 Jump Street.

After the birth of her daughters, Deborah moved to Paris in 1992 and worked as a reader for Le Studio Canal Plus. On her return to the US, she transitioned to Miramax Films as their story editor. At Miramax, she worked on the development of such films as Emma, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Walking and Talking by Nicole Holofcener, and early versions of Chicago and A Wrinkle in Time. With writing partner, Mitch Giannunzio, she won a grant from the Massachusetts Arts Council in 2002 to develop and workshop their original screenplay, Susan Taft Has Run Amok.

In 2004, Deborah and her husband, Chuck Royce (small cap investment pioneer), restored and reopened the Avon Theatre Film Center, a 1939 landmark in Stamford, CT. The not-for-profit Avon is dedicated to independent, classic, foreign, and documentary films, and hosts an ongoing series of visiting film luminaries. Directors and writers such as Robert Altman, Peter Bogdonavich and Nora Ephron, and actors such as Jane Fonda, Chole Sevigny, Emma Roberts, and Richard Gere, have all come to the Avon to show their films and talk about their work. The late Gene Wilder, who frequently appeared at the Avon, was an early and avid encourager of Deborah’s writing.

Deborah serves on multiple boards, including the national council of the American Film Institute, the executive board of the Greenwich International Film Festival, and the governing boards of the New York Botanical Garden, the Greenwich Historical Society, and the PRASAD Project.

Deborah and Chuck have restored several hotels (Ocean House—one of only 13 triple Forbes five-star properties in the world—the Weekapaug Inn, and the Deer Mountain Inn), a bookstore (The Savoy in Westerly, RI), and have completed numerous Main Street revitalization projects in Tannersville, New York and Westerly, Rhode Island. They are currently about to break ground on the renovation of the United Theatre arts complex in Westerly.

She and her husband have a tribe of children, stepchildren, grandchildren, and animals.

Finding Mrs. Ford is her first novel. Visit her website at https://deborahgoodrichroyce.com.

BOOKS:

Finding Mrs. Ford (2019)

Biggest literary influencers:

In the world of contemporary writers, I love Donna Tartt, Jeffrey Eugenides, Tana French, Michael Ondaatje, A.S. Byatt, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, Tom Wolfe, Tayari Jones. Going farther back, Tolstoy, all Brontës, Wilkie Collins, Daphne du Maurier, Nancy Mitford. I could go on but probably shouldn’t!

Last book read:

The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The book that changed your life:

I have a “comfort book”—one that I’ve read every few years since I was in college. Nancy Mitford’s novellas, Pursuit of Love and Love in a Cold Climate, are combined into one volume which I return to over and over again. There is something Proustian about it—it takes me to a world that makes me calm and happy, even when my life is most stressful. It evokes a world of a large, messy family in the English countryside leading up to and during WWII. Maybe because I am an only child, I am drawn to this boisterous clan. So, is this a book that has changed my life? Well, because of it, I always wanted a large family. And, I think I have achieved that with my husband! His four children, my two daughters, their spouses and our five combined grandchildren definitely put us in the large family category!

Your favorite literary character:

I’d like to talk about two characters that I think—together—make a more interesting whole. In Gone With the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Wilkes are opposite types. Scarlett is charming, indomitable and ruthless. She approaches life with an enormous appetite and lets nothing get in her way. Melanie, on the other hand, is reserved, kind and selfless. She always puts others before herself. In many ways, I based my two protagonists—Susan Bentley Ford and Annie Nelson—on these figures. Annie is Scarlett and Susan is Melanie. So, why are they such an interesting pair? The friction between them is so compelling—in the way that yin and yang go together. You cannot have one without the other. In life, I think we tend to pigeonhole ourselves into one type or another. But, really, I think most women have some of each character inside.

Currently working on:

Ruby Falls, a gothic novel, begins in a cave of the very same name near Chatanooga, Tennessee. A little girl, who also happens to be named Ruby, is there with her father and a group of tourists. The guide clicks off the lights and the cave is plunged into utter blackness. Terrified, Ruby listens to the sound of the falling water and the voice of the guide. As she tries desperately not to move—because the echo of the cave makes it sound like the water is all around her—her father lets go of her hand. When the lights come back on, he is gone.

Twenty years later, Ruby (who has jettisoned that name in favor of the more elegant Eleanor) is a young actress who has recently been fired from a popular soap opera under dubious circumstances. On her honeymoon in Rome with a dashing Englishman she has only just met, the two of them enter the Catacombs. Eleanor is overcome with claustrophobia. She realizes that this is probably the moment when she should explain to her new husband about her father’s abandonment in the cave, but she does not. She begins her marriage with secrets firmly hidden. But her husband may not be all he appears to be, either.

Words to live by:

Pay attention. Notice the world around you, the people around you, nature around you. Notice your feelings, your thoughts, your perceptions. There is not a single period of my life that was not—or would not have been—made better by the act of paying attention. I think when we are young we can be so forward focused that we can let our lives slip by. We can forget large chunks of our own experience by simply not paying attention. So, no matter where you are, truly be there. Pay attention.

Advice to new and aspiring authors:

Write. It is not an original piece of advice, but just write. Join a writing group and let other people read your writing. Develop discernment to understand who you should listen to and who not. And write some more!

Articles / Reviews:

Kirkus

The Thrill Begins

Quest

The Westerly Sun

Testimonials:

“In this absorbing debut, Deborah Goodrich Royce takes readers on a twisty, mesmerizing journey between the rarefied world of Watch Hill, Rhode Island and the warring gangsters of 1970’s suburban Detroit, as a grieving widow is forced to confront the consequences of a fateful summer thirty-five years earlier. Brimming with vivid characters and emotional insight, Finding Mrs. Ford tackles big themes of identity, friendship, and loss, spinning out the suspense right to the last page. A total triumph.”

–Beatriz Williams, New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives

“In her literary debut, Deborah Goodrich Royce has given us the sort of thriller that wants to be devoured in one sitting. Written from start to finish with crisp and poignant prose, compelling characters and settings, Finding Mrs. Ford entertains as much with imagery as with its masterful plot twists. I couldn’t put it down.”

–Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg, Author of Eden and The Nine

“Deborah Royce’s first novel, Finding Mrs. Ford, is a treat—an exquisitely written literary thriller that compels the reader forward right to the last page and makes one hope she is writing a second and a third novel.”

–Patricia Walsh Chadwick, Author of Little Sister, A Memoir

“I tore right through the early galley of Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce this past weekend. This is a thriller set in wealthy Watch Hill, RI and blighted suburbs of Detroit, MI, alternating between the late 1970s and present day, with an incredible twist in the middle that will take your breath away. Written with such self-control and calculating precision, Royce has done an excellent job of keeping us glued to the pages as the characters expose themselves in their intricate lives, and lies. A superb debut!”

–Annie Philbrick, owner, Bank Street Books and the Savoy Bookshop and Café