1. Tell us a bit about your writing journey. How did you get started, and how did you get to where you are now?
The year was 2004 and I retired from a career of teaching in the NYS public school system. I spent a big portion of my time teaching children the art of story writing. After retiring, I knew my life could not be an endless round of mall shopping or lunches with friends. I realized I needed to reinvent myself, but into what? I heard Lynne Cherry, my favorite children’s author, was speaking at Cornell University so I decided to go hear what she had to say. On the way home I got to thinking, “Hey, maybe this is what I could do?” So like the tuba player who after giving lessons for 32 years decides to play in the orchestra, I spent the next 3 years learning about the publishing business, going to workshops, joining critique groups, and writing a bunch of stuff not worth seeing the light of day. Then in 2007, “The Journey to Mei” was born and the rest is history.
2. Anything you would’ve done differently if you could do it all over again?
Probably not. I needed to go through the learning curve in order to appreciate this whole process.
3. What advice would you give to new and aspiring writers?
Stick with it and if it’s truly a passion, you will. Write what you enjoy reading because somewhere out there is someone who is seeking your type of writing. Don’t get caught up with the latest craze and (drum roll) keep your day job.
4. Is there any book you’ve written that is particularly special to you? Which one and why?
Yes, without even thinking about it… “The Orchid Bracelet” and for a couple of reasons. I was writing this book in 2004-2005 at a time when human trafficking was being brushed under the carpet. After witnessing some disturbing things in Vietnam and Cambodia, I knew it had to be the subject of my next book. It wasn’t easy writing about this subject. How can I make this disturbing material real without sugar-coating it, and do it in a way that would not sacrifice my own values? I think I accomplished this because after having reviewed the book, several church groups had asked me to speak to their parishioners on human trafficking. Plus the book was approved by the 2005 Washington State co-director of the ‘Not for Sale’ program. A third reason it’s so special to me—it was a Finalist of two respected book awards. Being self-published, this was very important because it validated my writing.
5. Who would you say is your favorite character(s) from your books, and why? What is it about this character that makes him/her tick?
I absolutely love the character, Babu, in “The Poison Ring”. He’s a minor character but his voice adds levity to the story. How to describe him? Imagine a Nepalese Barney Fife kind of guy. He can’t seem to do anything right. I actually giggled whenever I wrote him into the storyline. What fun!
6. Tell us about your latest project. What are you working on at the moment, and what can we expect from it?
Currently, I’m halfway through a rough draft that actually uses a few of the characters found in “The Orchid Bracelet,” although it has nothing to do with trafficking. I spent last March in Thailand researching and gathering all kinds of neat things to tuck here and there into the story. Can you imagine the wealth of material that country has given me? Whew!
7. Are you self-pubbed or traditionally published? What made you go for this model? What advice/tips can you share with writers working towards the same goal?
I am proud to say I dipped my toe into the self-pubbed pool before many other folks did. So much has changed since 2006 and I have to tell you that it feels great to finally be accepted into the writing community, no longer feeling like a second class citizen. There are so many talented authors who had been picked up by traditional publishers and are now realizing how wonderful it is to be in control of their own book. But (as with anything) there is a flipside. It’s very difficult getting the world to know your books exist which is why I truly appreciate opportunities like this one, Maggie.
It’s a great pleasure to host you in my blog. Thank you!
Thank you, Maggie.
Author Bio: Freddie Remza is a retired teacher with over 30 years of experience in the NYS education system. Geography has always been on top of her interest list and now she has the time to actually get out there and see for herself what the world is about. She’s been on every continent except Antarctica, and if it wasn’t for the Drake’s Passage it, too, would be on her list. Being able to blend travel with the making up of stories has been a real joy.
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