• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

WCHS grad writes children’s book, aspires for more

ETHAN GOODRUM, who graduated from Woodford County High School in 2011, has written “Night Derby,” a children’s book. The aspiring novelist has “a long very list” of titles that influenced him to stretch his imagination as a writer. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Ideas for stories are constantly being imagined by aspiring novelist Ethan Goodrum. Rarely do any of his ideas turn into full-blown writing projects, but the Woodford County native understands the power of believing in a good story idea.

“The people who succeed,” he says, “aren’t the ones with the best ideas … The people who succeed are the ones who never give up on the ideas they have. And they keep trying until eventually something sticks.”

Goodrum says he was inspired to write his children’s book, “Night Derby,” while walking around downtown Lexington and seeing numerous painted horse statues. He imagined the Horse Mania statues coming to life at night and running through the city.

A 2011 graduate of Woodford County High School, Goodrum hopes his book will help children look at Lexington in “a more magical light,” he says. “…Engage their imaginations and see past … reality.”

Writing a children’s story after he earned a master’s degree in creative writing allowed Goodrum to test the waters as a professional writer – “something short and quick,” his mom suggested.

Goodrum views writing and then self-publishing a children’s book as an investment in himself and an opportunity get “his creativity out there.”

“I’ve always been creative,” he says, “and always had a wild imagination.” Goodrum, who will turn 25 on March 31, says he expressed that creativity through his art beginning at a young age and slowly began to shift his focus from drawing to writing at about age 10.

Putting words on the page was a different way to get his ideas out there.

“With art it’s what you put into it,” explains Goodrum, “but with writing you’re using the reader’s imagination as your canvas.” Terri Hamilton, his English teacher at Woodford County High School, always told him that he took big risks with his writing, and “I took that as a compliment seeing that I was trying something different – something that might not work, but something that if it did work would stand out. So that’s always been a guiding post for my writing. Trying to do something that I personally have never seen before,” says Goodrum, a book buyer at Half Price Books in Lexington.

The Woodford County native broadly describes his writing style as “very weird, out there” sci-fi fantasy.

A voracious reader of that genre with “a very long list” of favorite titles, Goodrum enjoys creating worlds that he hasn’t experienced before, such as his short story “Tooth & Claw,” which imagined what would happen if people in Victorian London had access to genetic engineering and the problems that would cause.

He’s currently about 73,000 words in on his dark, post-apocalyptic novel.

Goodrum credits his writing mentor, Laurel Keller, for advising him on self-publishing a book and also helping him develop as a writer through his involvement with a writer’s group that she leads at the Woodford County Library on Thursday nights.

“The writer’s group was perhaps the biggest influence on my decision to write as a profession,” says Goodrum.

“It was a positive, encouraging place where I could experiment, test different ideas, test the waters, see what interested people, but also hear feedback, hear what other people were interested in, what they were doing.”

Before Goodrum self-published “Night Derby” six months ago, he had to find an illustrator for his children’s book project. Unable to locate a local artist within his budget, he searched for a freelance artist online and found Lisa Marie Brennan in California.

“Not only did her artwork work really well with the vision I had in mind (for my children’s book), but her pricing was within my budget,” says Goodrum. “…And I’m very happy with the results.”

Goodrum says he appreciates the dreamlike quality of Brennan’s bright and vibrant artwork. “The images,” he adds, “feel alive.”

Mostly by word of mouth and partially on his Facebook page (facebook.com/night derby), Goodrum says he’s nearly sold out of the initial 100 copies of “Night Derby.” A second printing of 1,000 copies will arrive sometime in April, he says.

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