Friday, December 1, 2023

Author interview with Kerry Fryar Freeman

First of all, it's celebration time again 🥳🎉 This is my 50th, yes 50th, author interview and I'd like to send a huge thank you to all the wonderful writers who have given me time so that we can all learn about their work. So let's meet this week's wonderful novelist!

The lovely Kerry Fryar Freeman published her debut novel in November 2023, so is still in the middle of her launch. Luckily she still found the time for a chat.

Kerry writes in the genres of Mystery/New Adult and Sedona: A novel is both indie and traditionally published. This had me scratching my head as I wasn't sure how that worked -did she have the creative control of an indie, such as picking her own cover, or did the publisher make the decisions?

'Sedona is traditionally published by the Wild Rose Press and I worked collaboratively with them on the cover, editing, etc.'

That sounds a great working relationship. Kerry's promo information says she 'crafts fiction as if it were a new puzzle. The settings are real and well-researched, the details are rich and layered, and the stories absorb and propel readers one piece at a time' and the quality of her writing is backed up by Sedona being long listed for the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Award. I wondered what benefits this might have brought?

'I think the SFWP long listing was a jump start for credibility. I don't know how much impact it had on sales but we are off to a great start. Additionally, I've already signed with a literary agent for my second book.'

Wow, congratulations 🎉🥳 The paperback isn't available in the UK again until the middle of December so demand has been high, but I still asked Kerry for a tweet to help promote her to new readers (tweet here):

'Kerry Fryar Freeman challenges readers to see a different perspective, allowing the energy of existence to radiate between the pages.'

What inspired her to become a writer? 

'I've always been fascinated by authors and how they can create timeless and contemporary storylines. They were rock stars and always at the top of my "if you could meet anyone in the world" list." 

I had some minor success with writing short stories but fell in love with the process of writing a novel. It's such an intimate relationship that one develops with their characters and settings, where you move through obstacles and wonder how they will grow and change. Nothing is more thrilling than meeting your antagonist, only to discover their backstory and suddenly feel connected to them. It takes work to do that in a short story.'

I love that reference 😁 I have to ask, what does she feel like, now she's joined the group of writing ‘rockstars’ she admires so much?

'It's humbling. There are so many incredible authors out there and it's inspiring to be surrounded by a cloud of creativity.'

What does her daily writing routine look like? 

'I wish I had a daily writing routine. When I do write, it’s in chunks of time. Each of the books I’ve written or am writing at this time have multiple character viewpoints, so I almost have to get into character to write. I love getting lost in their stories!'

And what’s the most difficult thing about writing characters who are very different from her personally?

'Great question! It takes a fair amount of research to do these characters justice, whether it’s listening to music they’d listen to or watching tv shows with similar characters. You never want a character to seem forced, so I find myself overwriting those characters and having to edit at the end.'

And talking of editing, which part of writing does she enjoy the most?

'I love the freedom of writing. Once you start, your mind goes places that it doesn’t get to go, like a vacation of our own creation…only sometimes murder happens. So maybe not a vacation. I find that after writing, there’s a beautiful exhaustion because you’ve lived multiple lives in a given amount of time.'

I love this! It sounds a lot of fun, but which part has she found the most difficult?

'Writing isn’t the hard part for me. Getting published was definitely a trial of errors and of course, after you get published the push starts, especially for all of us indie press folks. Being a constant presence of social media, coming up with new content, marketing yourself to bookstores, venues, podcasts, media is a never-ending cycle. 

If you want to get your books out to the world, you have to step outside your stories and that has been an invaluable lesson. Luckily, I have an amazing support system.'

I'm intrigued - what she can tell us about her support network?

'The Books and Bevies family has been one of my largest support systems. The community of authors we've developed is so supportive of one another. They share life concerns and celebrations. They promote each other's work. They share ideas and questions. It's a special group!

In case you've not visited it, 'Books and Bevies' is Kerry's wonderful blog. It features an array of authors from New York Times and Amazon bestsellers to debut Indie gems. It can be found on her website  or by following her on Twitter and Instagram (links at the end of this post). What inspired her to start it?  

'The Books and Bevies concept came from reading. Whether a night cap or a cappuccino, I always found myself sipping on something while reading and I would usually try to pair it to match some characteristic of the book. Sometimes I'd make the drink that I thought the main character would drink. Sometimes I would pour a hot chocolate because the setting was in some isolated arctic place. One day I wondered what the author would choose. 

I tagged authors on my pairings and they'd either agree or offer their own. It was a snowball effect! Now the blog includes everything from New York Times bestsellers to indie debuts. While maintaining an awareness of my youngest readers, I try to be as open as possible. My goal has always been to give writers a platform to take their readers behind the curtain in a fun and personal strings attached...totally free.'

Isn't it a great concept? Now to her book. Can she give us a synopsis?

'Sedona, AZ, is a tourist town that lures people from around the world who believe there is more beyond the veil of reality. They come for the whispering pines, Hopi legends, vortices, magic crystals, and healing springs. 

Enter Cal Novak, a spunky editor from Atlanta, Georgia, who gives up the city life because she is searching for more: more time, more adventure, more meaning. The magic of her new hometown does not disappoint. Behind the curtain of every window, there are secrets waiting to be uncovered. For those searching for more, there's no place like Sedona.

Can she give us a tweetable version (tweet here):

'Behind the curtain of every window, there are secrets waiting to be uncovered. For those searching for more, there's no place like Sedona.'

She explained it wasn't part of a series and I asked if she could give us an extract, as a taster of her style:

'This is about legacy; this is about the legacy that was left before us. It’s about the land, the trees, the water, the buttes, the canyons, the tribes, the people…you can’t just appear and understand it all. Once you’re rooted, it flows through you; it speaks to you; it lives in you. You will never get that because you’re not part of that.'

I already want to know more! What was the hardest scene to write and why?

'I had the hardest time coming up with the last seven chapters because the story stalled out in my mind. I am not a plotter so when the characters stopped talking to me, I knew I had to step away. When the ending popped in my head one day, I sat down and wrote the last seven chapters in one sitting. It was magical!'

It sounds it! Did she need to complete any research?

'Most of the research I did was on Sedona. I had never been there before, so I spent hours delving into its past, the lore, the people who live and visit there. Talk about rabbit holes. The research was continuous throughout the process, especially as I created each of the characters.'

And what does she think is the best money she's spent as an author so far? 

'It has to be the book swag. The first public appearance for Sedona was sweetened by the amount of people taking a piece of the book with them. I love seeing fans with the sunglasses!'

That I'd like to see! So her work is out there now, fans are even wearing the swag - the big question, has she read any of the reviews yet?

'I've read them all! My skin toughened during the querying process for agents and publishers. If you can live through that kind of rejection, reader reviews are heaven because regardless of what they say, they actually read your book. 

To quote Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation, “I don’t hear criticism. I hear people caring loudly.”'

What a fabulous quote and a great way to end our interview. If you'd like to know more about Kerry, her links are below but I do recommend visiting her blog and, of course, supporting a new novelist if you can.

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