Good day, everyone! Friday author spotlight today is on fellow Clean Reads author Jennifer Froelich. She has recently released Stealing Liberty and has agreed to stop by and answer a few questions and share some info about her book (and an excerpt!). She has received high praise for her work and I, for one, am very intrigued by what I am reading about this book.
So, without futher ado, let’s welcome Jennifer Froelich. Jennifer, I like to start off with the beginnings of the novel: that nugget, that spark that starts the whole process. What was the inspiration for Stealing Liberty?
Thanks for hosting me today, Sara. I came up with a concept for this dystopic world years and years ago, but the story of the kids and the heist came together more gradually. I love history and when I read or watch something historical, I always wonder what it would be like to live through it. With Stealing Liberty, I basically grabbed a lot of historical truths and sewed them together like a patchwork quilt and set it in the future. Religious persecution? It’s happened? Kids locked up for their parents’ beliefs? That’s happened too. People stealing something as an act of patriotic pride? Yep, that’s happened too. I’m really happy with the way it all came together – history, but set in the future to create a completely original story.
Sounds really intriguing…historically inspired dystopic future. Interesting. I bet your reading list is equally fascinating…gotta keep feeding that muse 🙂 What are you currently reading?
I’m very slowly slogging through an M.M. Kaye biography called The Sun in the Morning, and I’m also rereading 1984 by George Orwell. I also just finished Ready Player One.
I also feed my inspiration with music while I work. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?
I listen to a very eclectic mix of music when I write. Everything from Josh Groban, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles, U2 and the Police to more contemporary bands my kids love, like Twenty One Pilots, Foster the People, Kaleo and Gorillaz.
I love several of those, but I need totally instrumental myself. One of the questions I frequently get asked is about the speed of my writing. It gets faster over time. But I know everyone is different. It’s about the art, the craft, everyone’s individual process…how long does it take you to write a book?
A long time! I don’t think I can put a time on it. My first one took a decade, the next was more like half that. Then my latest took a couple of years. This is one of those things I wish I was better at, but I’m trying to accept the beauty in this limitation of mine. My fiction is very character-driven, and my characters are like friends I’m making. You don’t rush some conversations with friends. You’re just there with them, listening to the day to day for a long time before they’ll share the more intimate details of their lives, their history, their upbringing. My characters are like that. But when they finally tell me something big, I think: Wow! Okay, that’s what I was waiting to know about you. It takes time. I hope my readers are patient. I hope wait will be worth it.
I agree…I have found that character development is key. And you’re right, you can’t rush that. Before I let you go, I always have to ask: Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?
I’m about a third of the way through writing Weeping Justice, which is a sequel to Stealing Liberty. I’m still in the nervous is-this-going-to-be-any-good? stage, but feeling more pressure than usual. My readers are ready to find out what happens next, so I better be able to deliver.
Thank you so much for sharing with us today. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future! But for now, we’ll dig into Stealing Liberty!
My new novel, Stealing Liberty, is a dystopian story for young adults set about 100 years in the future. It’s about a group of misfit teenagers who meet at a detention school for kids whose parents are deemed enemies of the state. When the teenagers find a secret cache of books under the school, they learn that everything they’ve been taught about American history is wrong. Then, they find out the government is planning on secretly selling the Liberty Bell to pay off debt – so the teenagers make plans to STEAL it, to take back a bit of the freedom that’s been taken from them.
Enjoy an Excerpt
My escort pushes me. “Pick up the pace, kid.”
I stumble on a sharp rock and cut my toe. It hurts more than it should and I pull up to face him, fists curled at my side. I’ve grown about a foot since my sixteenth birthday, which means I can stare him down, eye to eye. He just smirks.
How about I smash your nose?
For a minute the urge is so powerful, my pulse pounds against my throat and red spots blur my vision.
Don’t do anything stupid, Reed. Pick your battles.
The voice in my head is my dad’s, so I listen.
We climb aboard a rusty hybrid bus parked in front of the bombed-out terminal. “Welcome,” says the autopilot. It’s one of the retro models, formed like a human, with LED eyes and every-thing. When magnetic tracks were first installed, citizens didn’t trust computers to maneuver vehicles safely along roadways. At least that’s what my grandmother told me. Humanoid pilots were designed to make them feel safer.
Pretty soon, people had more important things to worry about.
My escort takes a seat behind the pilot, but I keep going. Only one other passenger is on the bus — a girl with long blond hair who sits in the fifth row, pressed against the window. Bruises swell on her left cheekbone and along her jaw. Her lip is crusted with blood and her right eyelid is swollen shut. Nausea washes over me, along with fresh anger.
“Sit!” our escort barks.
The girl flinches. I take a seat across from her and shift toward the window. The door squeaks closed and the bus lurches forward.
We travel on an old freeway so desolate, we don’t encounter a single other transport. I wish I was calm enough to sleep — so numb to the government’s strong-arm tactics, they no longer get to me. Instead I stare past the landscape and try not to shake. Try not to relive my nightmare or think about how it felt to wake up with a gun to my head. I imagine a different outcome. Fighting back — or breaking out of the state home before they showed up.
More about the Author
Jennifer Froelich published her debut novel, Dream of Me, in late 2011, which reviewers praised as “well-orchestrated with outstanding imagery.” Her second novel, A Place Between Breaths, published in 2014, was called “a roller-coaster ride with enough twists and turns to keep everyone interested” and won an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 23rd Annual Self Published Book competition. A graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, Jennifer worked for many years as a freelance editor and writer before publishing her own work. She lives in beautiful Idaho with her husband, two kids, and a rescue cat named Katniss.
Connect with Jennifer and her books