Let me tell you how I met Freddie and why I asked her to do these two interviews. I attended the SCBWI conference in New York two years ago and we connected to share dinner and a play. Great fun. We saw Wizard!!! And I made a new wonderful friend. There she is on the left, signing her book.
When she told me her story about her self-publishing journey I was impressed. Then she explained how she’d turned her love of travel into her love of travel for writing;I was totally impressed. How brilliant to link the two passions of your life.
So here’s the second part of Freddie’s interview with The Write Game. Enjoy.
When you travel, do you plan trips to places you will write about in the future?
Yes and no…Right now I am writing the sequel to The Journey to Mei where the second half of the story takes place in South Africa. I was able to write the first half at home and then waited until I returned from South Africa to finish. I did the same when I went to China for The Journey to Mei. I like doing it that way because I put myself into the book as the main character telling the story. I want my mind to be a blank page when writing about a place far away with no influences other than the ones I would naturally receive from movies, books, newspaper, etc. But then when the family arrives–so do I. I return home with volumes of notes and impressions all set to fuse into the story.
Then there’s the manuscript I’m still polishing titled Galapagos…A Land Untamed.
I believe this has the potential of becoming an interesting non-fiction picture book for kids of all ages. I had no intention of using my trip to the Galapagos in my writing. But once I experienced this amazing place, I just had to write about it. Hopefully, someday the story will see the light of day.
Based on what I know about you, that is inevitable, Freddie. Send me an email when that one comes out.
What kinds of details do you note? Settings, people, cultural differences between the place you are visiting and the U.S.?
All of the above. In addition, what I’m really looking for are the sights, sounds, smells and itty bitty details that can’t be pulled off the internet or out of some text book. For example, how the beds in China are extremely hard; the tile on the airport floor in Hong Kong is black and white; watermelon is often served at the end of a turntable meal in China; the streets of Chengdu are lined with hibiscus trees–things like that. When I am on a trip doing research I find I come back remembering so much more of what I did then if I went just as a tourist.
What is your next project about? Will some of it take place in another country? Have you been there or are you planning to go there?
As mentioned earlier, I am working on a sequel of The Journey to Mei. I call it Shelly’s World. The story picks up four years after the first book ended. So Mei, the adopted child, is now 5/6 and Shelly, the birth child, is now 15/16. The trick is to keep Shelly’s personality but transform her into a teenager. Research doesn’t always take place in faraway places. I spend a lot of time eating lunch at a local fast food place near a high school so I can see how teenagers interact with each other and the language they use.
Although China is naturally mentioned in the second manuscript, the adoption issue is not a main topic as it was before. Shelly’s father’s job has the family going to Cape Town, South Africa for a year. I spent three weeks in South Africa last fall. Ian, my guide, has his home in Cape Town. When we arrived in this city, he hooked me up with his wife and the two of us spent one day looking for a neighborhood the family could live in; even decided on the house. We found a school for Shelly and I was able to interview a student from that school as to programs offered, and other detailed information I would not necessarily be privy to. It was an amazing day.
You do a lot of public speaking. Can you share some of what you say in these presentations?
I discovered there are many local organizations that are always looking for a speaker. So usually when I am somewhere giving a presentation, there is someone present who belongs to another organization and the inquiries start coming. Pretty much the presentations fall into several categories depending on who the audience is and what they request. I have done power point presentations where I have shown my photos and talked about what my impressions were of China. Groups like the Rotary and teacher centers are often interested in that. Currently I am putting the same kind of program together on South Africa to present to Lyceum which is a senior citizen group similar to Elder Hostel.
Another type of presentation I do is talk about The Journey to Mei and how I tie my writing into the travel. Usually women’s groups request that. I’ve also gone into schools to talk about China during Chinese New Years. Another activity I’ve done is to speak of the writing process itself to kids and the importance of revision or “doing something over again to improve it.” As a teacher I knew how kids resisted that.
One time I was asked to talk to a graduate children’s lit class at Binghamton University about the publishing process. That was fun to do.
I think everything you do is fun. Great to have you here to share your experience. Hope you’ll come back when that next book is out–heck, before that!