Today it’s a quick chat with rural romance author and dual-timeline specialist Kimberley Freeman, on her latest book – Stars Across the Ocean.
So Kimberley, we know that the main character’s name is Agnes, but perhaps you could tell our readers a smidge more about her and her story?
“Agnes leaves the foundling hospital she grew up in, and immediately embarks on a quest to find the woman she thinks is her mother.”
That’s a mother of a premise for a story. Do go on.
“She travels from the bleak north of England, to the slums of London, to the bordellos of Paris, then on to Ceylon and finally to Melbourne. Interspersed with this story is the story of the forbidden love that saw Agnes’s conception and that’s wrapped in a modern frame story about a woman struggling with her mother’s dementia.”
So it sounds like at its heart, this is a story about a daughter and her mother. What inspired you to set it in the time and locations that you did?
“There’s such a romance about the Victorian period and the fact that women had so few rights meant that there was heaps of conflict available to hang the story on. I chose the locations based on old shipboard diaries that I read for research. They were so evocative.”
You are of course a seasoned author – with this one being your seventh novel. Can you give us some idea of what a typical writing day for you might look like?
“I write early in the morning. I get up at five, write for an hour, go to the gym, come back and have breakfast and spend some time planning. Then I don’t tend to think of my book for the rest of the day. Sometimes at night when I come to bed, if I don’t feel like reading or don’t have a good book on the go, I’ll spend some more time planning what I’m going to write the next morning.”
Sounds very civilised. And for this book in particular, were there any moments in the process of writing this book that were particularly troublesome?
“I developed a really sore right hip, which made sitting down for long periods of time excruciating. So I tried everything: writing standing up, writing lying down, but no matter what happened, something would hurt. I pushed through with the aid of strong anti-inflammatories and a weekly remedial massage so hard that I was often left with bruises. Now I’ve learned the value of the foam roller and lots and lots of heavy lunges, and my hip is mostly better. I did however develop a penchant for writing in bed…”
More things should be done from bed we feel. Now, finally – and because you like time travelling in your stories so much – if you had a time machine, what THREE pieces of writing advice would you go back and give to your younger self?
“You know, I wouldn’t change a thing! I know it sounds so cheesy, but it’s true. All the mistakes I made I had to make in order to get to precisely where I am now. And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere but precisely where I am.”
Well, there you go then – wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks Kimberley!