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Lake Erie College Honors Actress Turned Author Deborah Goodrich Royce

Deborah Goodrich Royce released her first novel, "Finding Mrs. Ford," earlier this year.
Deborah Goodrich Royce

Deborah Goodrich Royce was drawn to Lake Erie College in Painesville in the late 1970s for its study abroad program. The travel experience and the school were so important to Royce that she included them in her debut novel, “ Finding Mrs. Ford,” published by Post Hill Press.

“Every aspect of my life, and I would say everybody's life, comes into who we are now and it affects us completely,” Royce said.

Lake Erie College honored Royce with a Distinguished Alumni Award during homecoming last weekend.

The foreign-language major graduated in 1980 and went on to act in the soap opera “All My Children” as Silver Kane as well as in other TV shows and movies. Royce worked behind the scenes in show business story editing for Miramax. She and her husband, Chuck, also restored a theater in Connecticut, now an arts non-profit, as well as the historic Ocean Hotel in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. They live in Riverside, Connecticut.

“Finding Mrs. Ford” calls upon various places Royce spent time in her life. It's set in Watch Hill, as Mrs. Ford gets an unexpected house call from the FBI. That visit takes her back to the summer of 1979, when a Lake Erie College student returns home to Detriot and takes a job at a disco.

“She's an intellectual, she's an introvert and she falls under the influence of a very different kind of girl who's extremely charismatic and dazzling,” Royce said. “There are a series of things that happen that lead up to a cataclysmic moment, which is the reason the FBI has come to see her all those years later.”

The book is a thriller full of twists and drama, not unlike a soap opera. But for those who haven’t read it, Royce promises none of the characters have a bout of amnesia.

“I wanted to look at a woman at two different stages in her life,” Royce said. “I did pick intentionally a 35-year time difference, which is pretty vast, and explore this idea: Can a person change? Can a person overcome darkness in the past?”

Royce spoke fondly of her time at Lake Erie College and said her well-rounded education served her well throughout her career. Royce is now working on her second novel.

“The arts mean everything to me. I think the arts are a foundation for a life well lived,” she said.

Carrie Wise is the deputy editor of arts and culture at Ideastream Public Media.