“I have struggled with writer’s block,” Freya tells Mary Hogarth.
It took four years to become established as an author, admits Freya who has since penned 13 best-selling novels. Her latest story, The Turning Point
, revolves around chance events – reminding us you can’t take anything for granted.
As with all good fiction, this book leaves a mark on the reader. Can any of us really plan the future? Reading Freya’s latest novel might just make you take another look at that five-year plan. . .
Below Freya reveals the inspiration behind her latest story and talks about her life as a writer.
How did The Turning Point evolve?
I wanted to explore a relationship between two single parents in their early 40s - and the complexities that such a subject brings with it. I also wanted to look at how there comes a time when we feel so conflicted as parents, when we want to claim back a little of our own identity and consider our own needs while never compromising putting our children first.
The fact that Frankie and Scott live in different continents also added a further dimension of frustration, elation and longing. Then of course there is the dramatic tension and twist (no spoilers), which enabled me to really delve very deeply into the way we deal with crisis and huge life-changing situations.
Does Frankie have reflections of your character?
Out of all my characters yes – she’s the closest any of them have got to me. The fact that I had suffered so acutely with writer’s block in my previous novel, The Way Back Home, really helped me inform the character of Frankie.
Have you had a similar experience where fate has changed your path?
Well six-and-a-half years ago I broke up with the father of my children, sold my house and moved from town to country.
It was nerve-wracking and yet resuscitating. It coincided with my mother’s cancer diagnosis (I’ll pleased to say that she is now cancer free). One of those periods where, in the face of great adversity, fears and sadness somehow one finds the deepest strength to make changes.
Tell us about your typical working day.
It is defined by the school run, the needs of two dogs and one horse. I never judge the success of my working day by word count alone - always by if my writing has come from ‘the zone’.
I do believe that work expands according to the time you allow - so if I only have six hours to write, I absolutely make them happen. I also find kick-starting each novel by writing at the library really helps. By two-thirds of the way in, I could pretty much write in the middle of a traffic island or station concourse as I’m in another world entirely.
The best part of being a writer is?
Really focussing on one’s imagination - and giving a parallel reality to one’s daydreams. I meet people I’d never otherwise cross paths with - even if they are mostly figments of my imagination.
Most important lesson you’ve learned about writing?
ERGONOMICS. I cannot stress this enough. I do Alexander Technique and have changed the way I sit - it’s actually really improved my productivity and I don’t suffer the stiffness or aches I used to. Check my website for more details.
How much time do you spend promoting your work?
I really enjoy doing the PR as I spend most my career with people who don’t actually exist. I try and restrict my main activity to coincide with publication – otherwise my writing would suffer. Social media takes a lot of time, perhaps up to 1.5 hours a day, but it gives me a fantastic chance to connect directly with my readers. And I truly love that.
My Facebook page is so chatty - they seem like extended family of my characters, really.
Which book have you enjoyed writing the most?
The Turning Point
. It took me on an incredible journey physically to Canada, as well as creatively and personally. But I’d never left my kids that long to travel that far. It also felt like the entire story pre-existed, that it was simply out there in the ether waiting for an author and I was the author lucky enough to take dictation from those characters.
Your top five authors?
John Irving, Rose Tremain, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and Maggie O’Farrell.
Have any impacted on your work?
Thomas Hardy for sure. I love the way landscape is never a backdrop in his work, always a leading character. That’s a huge inspiration to me. Charles Dickens for his extraordinary character portraits - unforgettable people.
John Irving for his tremendous talent in weaving such beautiful detail into such great stories. Maggie O’Farrell and Rose Tremain for their sublime imaginations and beautiful turns of phrase, the sensitivity in their writing, in their story telling is truly breath taking.
Are you working on a new novel?
Yes, I have two and can’t decide which to start first. Currently I’m also trying to write a screenplay - I absolutely love film and want to challenge myself to see if I can produce a story in such a different form.
It’s nerve-wracking. I am used to having 120,000 words and 470 pages. . . Now I have a maximum of 120 pages.
Find out more about Freya’s work from her website at: https://freyanorth.com/