Wednesday, March 19, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Author, Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman

Tabitha "T.R." Freeman, Author
International best-selling author Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman writes about young adults to remind them they might have some tough experiences to encounter, but there’s hope to overcome them. Her reviewers tout the uniqueness of her stories--young adult novels such as the GHOST STORY trilogy and the more light-hearted PRINCESS series. But she also writes serious, contemporary fiction books, such as, suicide in BROKEN GLASS and hating life in COYOTE CREEK, where she explores the dark side of life. Although her books feature young adults, her readers span all age-groups.

Before Freeman became a full-time writer, she served as a manager for large-brand hotel chains. She characterizes herself as a “loud, dramatic Southerner who married a loud, dramatic Romanian railroader.” And when she’s not writing or reading she’s enjoying life in her “Big-Fat-Greek-Wedding-Meets-Moonshining-Smokey-and-the-Bandit-on-Red Bull reality.”

Don’t miss the excerpt from BROKEN GLASS following the interview.

Q: You have written and published the young adult (YA) 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 “T.R.” 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?  

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman:  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?” (If this involves spoiling the plot, please don’t divulge! Just tell us how you search for and create unique plots.)

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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?

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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 BECOMING A PRINCESS 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?

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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?

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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?

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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?

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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?

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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?

Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman: 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.

About Tabitha “T.R.” Freeman

Tabitha "T.R." FREEMAN is the international bestselling and award-winning YA fiction author of the GHOST STORY series and PRINCESS series, and the explosive, social contemporary novels BROKEN GLASS and COYOTE CREEK. When she's not writing, she's causing a ruckus with family and chasing around her Romanian sweetheart.

Previously a manager for large-brand hotel chains (and a lifetime, secret closet bibliophile/writer), Tabitha happily traded in her 9-to-5 gig for a rewarding career as a YA author. The best part: working from her home office, she gets to spend more time with fictional characters, fellow booklovers, writers, and most importantly, her muse---otherwise known as the love of her life/husband, Laurentiu.

About The Books

Molly McGraw was enjoying her life in Savannah, Georgia as a nurse and longtime girlfriend to her college sweetheart—until that normality is unpleasantly interrupted by the death of a grandmother she barely knew. Now, Molly must pack up everything and head out west to pick up where her grandmother left off—in cleaning up the mess that is her older sister, Rainie.

Chayton Lacroix was tolerating his life in Coyote Creek, Idaho as a hospital janitor and lifetime caretaker to his chronically sick mother—until everything is interrupted by the arrival of a new neighbor across the street. Southern, sassy, and full of questions that no one ever dare ask, Molly McGraw turns Chayton’s world—and heart—upside down.

Together, Chayton and Molly will both learn the value of family, the darkness of prejudice, and that no matter what their circumstances were before, they are meant to make the ultimate stand in this quiet little town that has been asleep for far too long.

Ava Darton had it all: she was a beautiful, spunky blonde with a great group of friends, an amazing fiancé, and a perfect career waiting for her as she was about to graduate college at the top of her class. All this, and she was just twenty-two years old.

And in a matter of moments, it was all gone.

In an instant, Ava’s perfect life turns into her perfect nightmare, and unable to handle what her life has become, she attempts to end it. Failing miserably, she lands herself in Craneville, a hospital for the mentally ill.

From a tough psychiatrist to a locked-down cell to fellow patients talking in riddles, Ava falls into a dark place, unsure of how to pull herself from this personal entrapment. Stripped down to her rawest bits, Ava will discover if her life was really ever perfect, or if she has just begun to figure out who Ava Darton is.





At the end of the day, not a lot separates life from death.

Eleanor Benedict was a quiet, kind-hearted, rich kid who could prepare for a biology exam in an hour, but in no way could prepare for her parents to die in a sudden plane crash, leaving her to inherit a century-old manor in Scotland. An ordinary, and otherwise uneventful life twists into anything but for Eleanor and her younger brother as they are thrown into an utterly Unordinary existence, full of ghosts, monsters, magic, and a true test as to how thick blood really runs. 



She is the most famous woman in the world—a former actress, songstress, ex-girlfriend of the biggest rock star on the planet, and magnetically privy to scandal. She is twenty-eight years old, but doesn’t look a day over twenty with her petite, 5’2” frame and her dark hair teased in a short pixie cut. Her beauty is that of premium natural selection—full pink lips, high cheek bones, big blue eyes framed by impossibly thick eyelashes, a button nose, and deep dimples set into a face of light freckles. This woman is not of high birth, has no college degree, and has graced the covers of every tabloid in the world for years.

And this woman has just married the prince of the devastated country of Kenth. This woman has just joined the royal family of Aravica, a monarchy ridden with their own share of unbelievable scandal and tragedy.

I invite you to embark on the most important interview ever done—and one of the most significant conversations of our time.

Meet Bets Anthony. This is her story of becoming a princess.

Excerpt from BROKEN GLASS

The world was black for a long time. It wasn’t a peaceful darkness, though. It was silent, but not quiet. No serenity, no ease of knowing I was finally free.
My eyes opened slowly to a dim, yellow room. My eyelids were so heavy, that I couldn’t focus sight on anything. Everything was fuzzy. I heard someone talking.

“Is that Sylvia?”
“Yeah. Only, her name’s Ava.”
“Oh, I know. There just calling her Sylvia around here…has she woken up yet?”
“Oh, no. She’s been out for a few days now.”
“Ever since her mother found her?”
“Yeah. She’s been heavily sedated.”
“Is her story true? Her boyfriend dies, so she goes crazy?”
“Yeah, that’s pretty much it. She says his name a lot. Ty-something or other.”
“Sad story. Her mom’s really upset…hasn’t slept in days.”
“Yeah, the girl’s mental. If my kid was that crazy, I’d have her locked up, too.”
“How many sleeping pills was it?”
“Twenty-eight. It’s a wonder she’s still alive. She’d be gone if her mom hadn’t come home from work early and found her.”

I closed my eyes again.

I slept. Heavy sleep lacking the usual nightmares. I awoke, my eyes opening fully to a brighter room. Things were fuzzy at first, but they gradually came into focus. I immediately felt a presence next to me. I turned my head slightly and saw Dr. Julianne Walker sitting in a chair next to my hospital bed.
“Hi,” she said, giving me a grim smile. “It’s about time you decided to join us again.”
“How long have I been out?” I asked, hoarsely.
“A week,” she told me.
“Your vacation,” I said suddenly. “You’re back already?”
“I came back early,” she said, quietly. “When I found out about you.” I tried to remember. Ah, yes. The sleeping pills.
“I ran out of chocolate milk,” I said lightly, but she didn’t laugh…or even crack a smile.
“Three strikes and you’re out,” she said, sighing. “Now, they won’t let you go home.”
“Who won’t?” I demanded. “Nobody can tell me what to do—”
“Oh, yes they can,” she interrupted severely. “Now that you’ve tried to kill yourself three times, the state of Virginia doesn’t think you’re capable of being on your own—and frankly, I don’t either. It’s a wonder you weren’t in here after the first time.”
“What!” I exclaimed. “You can’t keep me here against my will! I’m over eighteen! I’m—”
“I guess you’ve never heard of involuntary commitment, have you, Ava?” Julianne cut me off.
“You have to go through a trial to do that!” I spat, not fully knowledgeable, really, of how involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital worked.
“Oh no, I don’t,” she replied, in a very matter-of-fact tone. “Normally someone, say, your mother, would have to petition to the court for you to be admitted involuntarily. But you’re an emergency case, Ava. You are in such critical danger to yourself that we had twenty-four hours to evaluate you and decide if we could release you, even to court.”
“So it was your decision to imprison me in this place?” I moaned.
“You’re here for sixty days, minimum,” she went on, ignoring me. “And that’s only if you improve. If you don’t pass your evaluation after sixty days, you’re looking at anywhere from ninety days to a year in Craneville Institution.”


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