Happy Thursday, everyone! I just wanted to share a little bit of author-ness with you this morning, and bring you into the really cool world of what I am so fortunate to do for a living. I just wrapped an incredible and in-depth interview with Dr. Joyce T. Strand on her blog, and I had such a good time doing it! Check out this Q&A as I talk about author-ness things ranging from my books to the impact YA fiction has on the reading world.
Q: You have written and published the young adult Ghost Story trilogy, Princess series, and young adult contemporary fiction books. What makes your books more relevant to young adults? Why did you choose to write for young adults? Or would you say that your books are about young adults but applicable to readers of all ages?
Tabitha Freeman: My books are picked up by readers of all ages, which I think has become a general norm for the YA genre today. I always knew the YA fiction genre was what I wanted to focus on because that’s when the true bibliophile blooms. At that teenage/young adult age, you’re shaping into who you’ll become and trying to figure out what that means—and it’s the time in our lives when we read books that one day will be something we look back on and remember…not only for the story itself, but those books also tie us to certain moments in that really important stage of our lives. There is no better memory trigger! The magic of it is infinite, especially because when we pick up the same book we loved when we were 15, we have a completely different experience reading it when we are 30 or 40 or 70.
As far as my books being more relevant for young adults, I try to take myself back to when I was reading at that age and what books shaped me. I try to cover subjects that are pretty standard of life (i.e. heartbreak, grief, prejudice, faith, etc.) but in a way that isn’t standard—a way that will reach out to a younger reader. A way that says “Hey, you might go through something like this—just like the character in the story—but it’ll all be okay in the end. Life moves on and you will, too.” Hope is the reoccurring theme in everything I write, which is something I believe we all need to see in any stage of life.
Q: Reviewers praise your character development across all your books. How do you create engaging and memorable characters?
TRF: I write what I know—or who I know, rather. The human character is so fascinating and complex, and as a writer, that provides an infinite canvas for stories. I try to include several pieces of relatable personalities in my characters—traits and situations that make readers go, “Ah hah! That’s what I would do!” And I also try to create characters that teach readers a little something about themselves in an almost inner-combative kind of way…a character that initially pisses the reader off with a decision that doesn’t seem right, only to have the reader change his/her mind and say, “Wait, this mistake is relevant. I might have reacted this way, too.”
Q: What makes COYOTE CREEK “not your usual love story” and “a fresh new love story?”
TRF: COYOTE CREEK is centered on two people who are in seemingly inescapable, heartbreaking situations that make them hate life. You would think that misery loves company, right? Not in this case. This love story is unique in that it uses the raw definition of real love. Real love brings out the best in two people. The love story in COYOTE CREEK evolves because these two people both look for sunshine in the dark together. That’s not a tale we see very often.
Q: Why did you decide to use “interview format” for BECOMING A PRINCESS?
TRF: I released BECOMING A PRINCESS after GHOST STORY and BROKEN GLASS, which are really heavy reads. I wanted to give my readers something easier and a little more light-hearted and fun. I chose the “interview format” for B.A.P. for a couple of reasons. The first was to draw in more self-proclaimed “non-readers” and I truly believe the easier readability of the format really achieved that. The fan base for the PRINCESS series is completely different from the fan base for my other novels and I find that incredibly neat. The second reason I chose the unique format was because I wanted to write a story that developed characters, setting, and theme all within just a dialogue. This was a challenge for me as a writer and I had so much fun doing it, and I think—and hope—that this resonates with the reader.
Q: The Ghost Story trilogy books are set in Scotland. Does this setting enhance the Ghost Story plots? How do you use setting to tell your stories?
TRF: Setting is everything! Scotland—the Orkney Islands, specifically—was a character in itself for the GHOST STORY trilogy. Scotland is not only beautiful and full of rich history and culture, but it’s also a place of mystery and enchantment. This was a setting that allowed me to help the reader smell the sea and taste this new air as the main character, Eleanor, is catapulted blindly into an unknown world. This is what setting should always be—one of the main characters.
Q: You explore the darker side of life in BROKEN GLASS, a book many reviewers site as “well worth the read.” What inspired you to write about an attempted suicide and experience in an institution?
TRF: Life is “normal” until it’s not. That’s the reality for all of us. That is Ava Darton’s story in BROKEN GLASS. Her life is much like most of our lives and in a second, she is absolutely shattered beyond recognition. How or where can you find hope in a hopeless situation like Ava’s?
Inspiration for the suicide attempts in Ava’s story and her new life in an institution came from the fear I think we all have inside of us—the fear in knowing that Ava’s reality can happen to any of us. That fear that there is no end to the depths we can fall.
It’s a dark subject and it’s a tough emotional experience to read, but I believe it offers something to readers of all ages. And I truly believe the YA age group can handle this darker kind of subject matter, and in some cases, are much less fragile than much older readers who have experienced more of life. I couldn’t be prouder of BROKEN GLASS, and its continuous success and growing fan base never ceases to shock and humble me. I can’t even put into words how incredibly grateful I am that this story reaches out in such a positive way to so many readers of all ages.
Q: You have written your books from multiple points of view. Do you have a favorite? Why?
TRF: I prefer to write in first person because that’s when the most intimate story comes out. I appreciate writing from a third person POV because it allows me to write from all angles and the reader gets to see everything going on, opposed to just one view. However, with that said, first person, to me, is not only more intimate, but it is also more relatable to the reader. The reader gets to plop his/herself into the story directly and immediately become “I, me, myself”. The reader becomes the character and is finding things out as they go along, much like with real life. This also allows me as the writer to surprise even myself with where the story goes sometimes.
Q: Do you write purely to entertain your readers, or do you also strive to educate or deliver a message?
TRF: It’s a mixture of both. I always have a bigger message to deliver—but I’m going to entertain the heck out of you while doing it!
Q: What’s next?
TRF: I’m currently doing a lot more blogging, and this is so my readers can get to know me on a more personal level. We live in an age when authors and writers are no longer mysterious because readers desire to know who’s behind the typewriter now. So I’m trying to give in a little to that. I’m also working on three projects: the third installment in the PRINCESS series, a Kieran Bruce Highlander spin-off of the GHOST STORY trilogy, and a darker, post-apocalyptic novel geared towards the older YA crowd of readers.
Q: Tell us about Tabitha Freeman. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
TRF: I’m a loud, dramatic Southerner who married a loud, dramatic Romanian railroader. So, when I’m not writing or reading, I’m soaking up all the hilarious real-life shenanigans going on around me in my Big-Fat-Greek-Wedding-Meets-Moonshining-Smokey-and-the-Bandit-on-Red Bull reality. It’s tons of fun and provides never ending writing material.
Check out the full article here!