Author Spotlight: Freya Barker | CJC Photography

Author Spotlight: Freya Barker

CJC Photography, Boston, book cover photographer, Freya Barker, Against MeI love being creative. From an early age on I danced and sang, doodled, created, cooked, baked, quilted and crafted. My latest creative outlets have been influenced by my ever present love for reading. First it was blogging, then cover art and design and lastly writing.

Born and raised in the Netherlands, I had my children there and moved to Canada with two toddlers and eight suitcases, mostly filled with toys. I’m not a stranger to new beginnings. I thrive on them.
With my kids grown and out in the world, I am at the prime of my life – the “Ripe” part of the fruit!! The body might be a bit ramshackle, but the spirit is high and as adventurous as ever. Something you may see reflected here and there in some of my heroines…. none of whom will likely be wilting flowers.

I craved reading about ‘real’ people, those who are perhaps less than perfect, but just as deserving of romance, hot monkey sex and some thrills and chills in their lives. So I decided to write about them.

1)      How did you get started as an author and what made you want to pursue that field.
Good grief. That’s not really as easy a question as it seems. I always loved reading; it’s something almost everyone in my family is addicted to. Writing was occasionally on my radar through the years but never considered seriously. Perhaps I didn’t trust myself enough, or I didn’t think I had anything to say worth listening to. But when I started reviewing books a few years ago and found great pleasure in using language in a creative way to express myself the tickle started up again. The real kick came when I started getting a little fed up with most of the books I was being sent to review featured almost perfect individuals of an age that was well behind me. Curiously, I found most of the readers and fans of my blog to be closer to my age than the ages depicted in the stories. I wanted to read about ‘real’ people having a life, finding love, having some excitement. When I couldn’t find enough to suit me, I finally decided to put a story I had been toying with for a while on paper. That was SLIM TO NONE, my first book.

2)      What hurdles have you overcome while striving towards your goals?
Biggest hurdle? Insecurity by far! Writing is like putting a bit of your soul on paper and to put it out there is the ultimate exposure, except you don’t get to pick your audience. Another one is the support of loved ones – writing is very addictive (at least to me) and once you pick up that proverbial pen, it is a battle every time to put it down. It’s a very solitary activity and you automatically become unavailable a lot of the time. That can be hard for those around you to adjust to. During family dinners or gatherings the characters and stories keep interfering in your head and distract you from the goings on. I’m not very good at hiding it! Trying to find the balance is an ongoing hurdle and worming yourself into some kind of schedule that everyone can live with is a challenge.

3)      Which novel has been your favorite to write and why?
My current one. And I’ll likely say that at any time you ask me. LOL.

4)      For those looking to become an author, what advice would you give them?
Don’t think too much. Just write and keep writing – even if it doesn’t all work or fit together, write it down anyway, because there comes a point in every story where suddenly it clicks and it will flow on its own. At least for me. At that point you can go back and streamline what you didn’t like or what didn’t work from the earlier chapters. Constantly check and recheck your work. Make sure – No really – MAKE SURE you do the absolute best you can to have an editor look at your work, ideally. If you can’t afford it, then find at least two or three people who have an excellent grasp of the English language and have them proofread your book to pick up on stupid spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. They are not necessary! Also, don’t skimp on doing some research before you make any claims. I actually use maps and check local law enforcement hierarchies to make sure I don’t say something stupid. Not everyone will fall over things like that, but take pride in the fact that you are putting out the best product that you can.

And for cripes’ sake…. have some fun and don’t take yourself too seriously. We can’t and won’t all be bestselling authors. Be proud that you wrote a book! A whole book! That’s something phenomenal…

5)      Favorite motto?

“Life Won’t Wait…”

You will find that saying on a lot of my swag. One of the characters in AGAINST ME actually says that and I love it. I try to live by it.

6)      In one word, how would you describe your writing style?
Genuine….as in real.

7)      Which author inspires you the most and why?
There truly is not one single person out there, but a number of authors that have each provided me with certain qualities or traits that I admire. One author I have to mention because she gave me the courage to write about people who had physical/health problems and showed me it was possible to do so without making that the main issue or a main topic in a story. Her name is Gina Sorelle and everyone should read her books, they are absolutely phenomenal.

8)      What is your writing process like?
It is still evolving. I started off my first book with a general idea of the story but without a good concept of the character backgrounds or context. Nor did I have a plot laid out. I simply started writing without really having a clue what I was doing. I researched as I went along and pretty much did everything off the cuff. I was just a tad more organized the second book, although my impatience to start telling the story tends to outweigh the need to first put a framework in place. That tends to develop as I go, but the characters were clear in my mind as was the plot. I still wrote whenever the mood struck and however I could manage to sit in one spot.

With Against Me I decided to work with software designed for screenwriters and authors, which helps me a lot. It doesn’t take much extra time to keep proper track of research, character development, time line and plot and it also keeps me on target with respect to writing a daily minimum ‘quota’ of words. A more streamlined and productive use of time, which leaves me room for my cover designs and the ever-present but much detested promotion! LOL.

9)      Goals for 2015?
Honestly? Writing… most of all. But I’ve also been fortunate enough to have been invited to a variety of signings in the US, Canada and even one in the United Kingdom. So travelling and meeting readers, or rather – prospective readers. I don’t have any lofty goals of making it ‘big’ – I simply get a kick out of people enjoying my books. There is no bigger high then when folks tell you they ‘love’ this or that character and you realize you were able to make them as real for them as they are to you. Total high!

10)   What new projects are you currently working on?
Finalizing AGAINST ME and there are more books in the Cedar Tree Series to come. I am planning at least two more books in 2015, although they may not necessarily both be Cedar Tree books. I have been toying with a few ideas for a complete standalone novel. We’ll see – I’m pretty easy so whatever follows after I type ‘Chapter One’ on the next project I open will tell the tale!

11)   Any final thoughts you would like to share with the CJC Photography readers?
I write about regular people, often dealing with rather mundane and everyday issues that are easy to overlook, but not necessarily that easy to live with. Yet they find strength and purpose and at times great happiness through, with and in their struggles. This is something that is not unique – in fact, I look in the mirror and see a person who lives that every day as I’m sure some of you, if not all, do too.

I’ve had to adjust my life choices more than once because of circumstances outside of my control, and most recently due to health problems but adapting to different realities doesn’t have to mean giving in – if you keep challenging yourself to open your mind a little wider.

A beautiful saying comes to mind:

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” 

~ Neale Donald Walsh
Connect with Freya:

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I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Freya on Against Me!

– CJC Photography

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3 CommentsAdd a comment

On Sunday, February 22nd 2015 at 9:09 pm, Tracy M said:

Great Q&As, thanks….

Freya’s books are fab – personally, I think the fact that the characters are mainly around my age makes them all so much more identifiable!!!
The Cedar Tree series is a fave of mine and a definite must read!! xx

On Saturday, February 21st 2015 at 10:10 am, Freya Barker said:

TY!! xox

On Saturday, February 21st 2015 at 10:10 am, Pam Buchanan said:

This is a wonderful post about a wonderful person. Pretty inspiring lady.

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