Pamela Freeman writes for adults (The Castings Triology), young adults (The Murders’ Apprentice) and children (Victor’s Quest, Wonderdog) – and more titles, besides. Here, though, she talks about her deepseated desire to be a drummer … oh, alright, and quite a lot of writerly stuff.
1. If I wasn’t a writer I would be …
… a drummer. I have recently started to learn drums and realise that I may have missed my true calling!
2. Writing Adult fiction -v- YA fiction: discuss.
I don’t do much true YA – most of my younger stories are for primary school kids. The difference is not so much in the subject matter as in the complexity of the subplots. And the themes. Kids are interested in identity as it is revealed through relationships, rather than in internal exploration of the self. But both groups like identity revealed through action, which is why I write fantasy for both!
I’ve read so much good YA recently, though, that I’m considering a switch…
3. The Castings Trilogy came from …
The Castings Trilogy came from a) selling my flat and wanting to know what the outcome of the auction would be the day before it happened. I was pacing the floor, and the sentence ‘The desire to know the future gnaws at our bones’ popped into my head. I stopped pacing and thought ‘I’d better write that down’. So I sat at the computer and the story which became the first chapter of Blood Ties just came out. I was interested in the characters and subsequently wrote a series of linked short stories about them, some of which became the first person chapters in the Trilogy.
b) the bigger story started with a lecture by Bishop Desmond Tutu about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa and how the telling of people’s stories of oppression and torture helped the whole country to heal. And c) because John Howard wouldn’t say ‘sorry’ to the Stolen Generation. And a few other things besides, because if you’re going to write a 450 000 word story you’d better have more than a few sources of inspiration!
4. What absolutely must be removed from a story?
All the bits you love the most. ‘Kill the darlings’, as Somerset Maugham put it. Basically, anything which doesn’t improve our understanding of the world, the character or the plot. In a literary novel, ‘the world’ is our own world, so there is more leeway for philosophy and speculation because it does improve our understanding of the world the characters are in. In genre fiction (and by that I mean anything which has its own section in the bookshop), we are often creating a secondary world, and must cut our cloth accordingly. I keep on the lookout for any section which ‘sounds like me’ – because I write primarily in either deep third person point of view or first person, there should be no ‘authorial voice’. If an authorial voice pops up, I know it’s me being pontifical and that section either has to go or I have to figure out how my point of view character might say or think that material. Quite often, of course, they just wouldn’t, and that’s when the blue pencil has to come out.
5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Neither doughnuts or danishes – potato chips!
Her website is here.