I had the privilege of “meeting” Kathleen Freeman last year through ACFW.com’s Scribes critique loop. She did valuable critiquing for me on Amberly – and wrote at least two of her own books during the same time! It was with great pleasure that I was able to watch via Live Feed while she won the highly coveted Genesis Award last week for her novella, The Broken Feather. Here are her responses to a few questions:
The Broken Feather is the legend of a girl fighter in ancient India. She’s clumsy and odd, facts that the other girls remind her of on a regular basis. Then, a market tournament goes horribly wrong with an accusation of cowardice. Her village rejects her, and she’s cast out of the Kalari school with no hope for a future. She finds a broken feather waving on the riverbank. The Feather gives her the courage to keep going, to try something new. Out of the ashes rises a life, wonderful beyond her wildest dreams.
I had a dream one night, and like many of my dreams, it birthed a story. Yes, I dream with an odd vividness. So then, the mystery began. I had to figure out who this girl was, how she could possibly be a fighter in ancient India, and what was going to happen to her after her village rejected her. I started writing and kept writing until all those questions fleshed out. It, of course, took countless hours of research. Good thing I adore learning.
2. How long did it take you to write?
Well, I’ve been a writer since I learned to string words together, but this is the story I cut my novel teeth on. I “finished” it about thirteen years ago. Time flies. It’s mostly been put on the back burner since, as I’ve researched, refined, hooked the chapters, and learned from talented crit partners. In that time, I’ve worked on other novels and ideas, as well as raised two wonderful sons.
4. Tell us about other stories you’ve written.
Other novels? The Happily Ever After Company is about a woman who makes a huge mistake and has to flee for her life. Up the Sycamore is about a young man who moves to a small town and despite every intention to be king of the school, makes friends with the town outcast, a boy with a horrible mystery surrounding him. No One Would Know is about a woman who risks life and family, angering people in high places, to solve the mystery of her best friend’s death. Then, there is The Hobo and the Swan, a work of literary fiction and passion of many readers. It’s the story of a girl growing up in the Great Depression whose life has been about survival. She has little to lose. Then she meets Eddie, the boy who has lost even more, and she has to choose between her survival and his.
Like my characters, my writing isn’t standard. My work all involves finding hope in hard times, both of which I’ve seen in abundance. Only my articles have been published at this point, though some novels are coming close, so, perhaps soon.
5. Do you tend to be an outline or freeform writer?
Panster or outliner, that is the question. A vague outline always forms in my head, but it’s something I jot down rather than rely on. I’m a connections person and story is so dependent on what my characters do and decide. I tend to let them tell the story. Usually I can guess where they’re headed, but often, I’m only a step ahead.
I keep finding that they have their reasons for behaviors and beliefs and those epiphanies help enrich the story in ways an authoritarian approach never would, sometimes changing the course of the plot. I guess, in that way, all my stories are mysteries.
6. What are you working on now?
In the works? I have several in various states of completion. Children of Revolution, the story of a young French lord trying to save his children is almost finished.
My website has many of my stories and concepts for the future.