In my never-ending quest to find more Seasoned Romance authors to introduce you to, I was able to secure some time with the incredibly busy Freya Barker. She exclusively writes romance focusing on mature main characters. When asked to describe her writing journey in five words, she chose: “discovery, exploration, therapy, confidence, and happiness.” I have to say, I love that answer, and I think you’ll find her personal story as compelling as her richly descriptive tales of suspense and romance!
Make sure you read all the way to the end. You don’t want to miss our exclusive excerpt from Freya’s next release, 10-Code. It’s the fourth book in her Rock Point series, and it releases on June 17th.
Donna: Tell us about Freya Barker? How did you get into writing? What did you do before you started writing?
Freya: I was born and raised in the Netherlands, moved to Canada in 1989 with two toddlers and eight suitcases. This year I will have lived here for 30 years and I’ve not regretted a single minute.
Those two children expanded to four with the addition of two stepchildren and I’m now the proud mother of a fun bunch of mostly well-adjusted adults.
I’ve always had moderate health issues, but about fifteen years ago it started barreling downhill and by 2010 I was no longer able to work and was declared disabled. I spent the next three years close to bedridden and unable to even pick up a book—reading had been my great love since I was a young child.
When I was finally able to reconnect with books, I found I had something to say about them and ended up starting a review blog, with a focus on new authors. I loved it, but had one major complaint; almost all characters were young and close to perfect, not really representative of ‘real life.’ I got a wild hair to try my hand at telling a story about more mature characters and started writing. I was completely clueless and flew by the seat of my pants. Writing had never really been on the radar as something serious I’d actively pursue as a career, despite always vivid imagination.
A new world opened up.
There was no stopping me after publishing my first book. Writing became like therapy, pain medication, and morale booster all at once and in no time, I found myself feeling better, getting more engaged, and growing passionate about my surprise ability to tell a story.
Writing became a need and I don’t see myself ever stopping.
I have always been a Jack-of-all-trades. There wasn’t much that could hold my attention for long and I had a tendency to move from one to the other job in search of something new to challenge me.
I’ve worn hardhat and boots, working construction. I’ve worked in international banking. I’ve worked in a law office, and for a psychiatrist. I’ve had a small catering business and created designer cakes.
The most rewarding (and lasting) career I had before I started writing was as a birth and post-partum doula. I had the incredible privilege being present at the birth of well over one hundred fresh little souls, to assist and support the new parents.
I probably would have happily done that work forever, if it hadn’t been so physically demanding, but writing turned out to be the dream I never knew I had.
Your stories contain my favorite types of characters, slightly older, seasoned, if you will. Why do you write these types of characters? Have you received any pushback or praise for focusing your stories on people of a certain age/experience?
I touched on it briefly above, but I like more reality-based stories. ‘Just ordinary people with extraordinary stories,’ that is my tagline. Being in my fifties with adult kids, having seen a little ‘life,’ I like to write about people are perhaps a little more relatable and recognizable for the over thirty crowd.
I love crafting stories about more mature heroes and heroines and often they come with some ‘baggage’…in the form of offspring. Those of us who are parents KNOW that forging new relationships (or even just having a sex life!) is far more complicated when children are involved. Life is filled with diaper changes, school lunches, soccer practice, doctor’s visits, and evolving little (or big) individuals who can be loud and demanding at times. It’s tough finding the romance in those circumstances. What I try to show with my stories is despite lives riddled with responsibilities, it IS still possible to find a happy ever after!
Given that a substantial percentage of avid readers is over 35, the response to reading about people they can actually identify with has been amazing.
What is the hardest part of writing romance? What is your favorite part of writing romance?
The romance genre—as broad as it is—allows for more emotion-rich story-telling, which is also the most difficult aspect. It’s a challenge to immerse yourself into the emotional life of an abstract character. You need to be a bit of a study of human nature, and also not be afraid to dig deep into your own emotional collection bin.
Writing a romantic story that plays out against real-life situations is much more difficult than creating a fairytale.
My favorite part of writing is seeing the growth of my characters, the transformative power of love as people work through both internal and external struggles to connect with another human being.
What piece of advice would today’s Freya Barker give 20-year-old Freya Barker?
Chill. That would be my advice. Stop worrying about things that don’t matter in the long run and open yourself up to opportunities, they are everywhere and there’s nothing you can’t do.
Writing can be a very solitary job, as with many work from home careers, it can be all consuming at times. How do you find balance?
Let me tell you, it’s hard. Especially when you feel at your best when you disappear into your story and you want to stay there until it’s told. Regular life tends to intrude and it can disturb the flow.
I, for one, need quiet—no distractions—so I can sink into a character or a scene. As writers, we all have those moments when the words are flowing, you just have that perfect dialogue in your head that perfectly brings across what you’d like to say, and a family member walks in the door and needs your attention. It pulls you right out of the story and for me, it can take up to half an hour to get my head back in the right place.
It is a solitary job, and I can get so writing-focused, I actually resent when my groove is disrupted.
My luck is, my children are grown and out of the house and my husband tries hard to be understanding, but it isn’t always easy when we as writers, spend so much time in our heads where there is only room for our characters.
I try to do my writing in the mornings. Hubs leaves home at the butt crack of dawn, and armed with coffee I am at my most productive in those early morning hours. When he gets home, I make an effort to shut my laptop and ask about his day, even though it’s not always easy to leave my story.
Writing as a career requires a little bit of sacrifice on everyone’s part, but I imagine that is true of any job we are passionate about.
What can we look forward to from Freya Barker, what’s coming out next?
Lots. I have so many ideas, I need 48 hours in my days to get to all of them!
A few weeks ago, I released the second novel in my new On Call series, Covering Ollie. The first book in the On Call series came out in January and this entire series is part of Susan Stoker’s Police and Fire Badge of Honor World. Writing in Susan’s world has been such a privilege and I am hoping to finish one more book in this series before the end of 2019.
I’ve also just finished a contemporary novel, When Hope Ends, which will be part of a single parent anthology for charity, Then There Was You, scheduled to release in August.
In addition, I have the first book to a brand new romantic suspense series ready for launch but haven’t decided on a date yet.
My current work in progress is a standalone contemporary romance, which likely won’t release until 2020.
Slotted for this calendar year is an exciting collaboration with an author I admire greatly, and I’m looking forward to working on our joint project. More particulars on that will be revealed this summer.
My upcoming release is 10-Code is a romantic suspense story about the youngest member of the Rock Point La Plata County FBI team. This has been a very well received series in which each of the agents of this field office is featured in their own book.
The younger man-older woman relationship that develops between Dylan Barnes and Marya Berger has plenty of real-life challenges. Not the least of which is the fact they are both single parents doing their best to give their children a good start in life. Further complicating things is the dark sequence of events they find their families at the center of.
Exclusive Excerpt of 10-Code, out June 17th:
The boys are soaking it up, their excitement cranked up when the guide stops at a display that includes an old-fashioned detonator. He’s about to launch into an explanation when I’m suddenly grabbed back by the arm and pulled into a narrow tunnel branching off the main one.
That’s all I manage before I find myself quite literally pressed between a rock and a hard place: the damp tunnel wall and Dylan’s solid mass.
“Oof…” barely escapes my lips before the sound is swallowed by Dylan’s mouth claiming mine.
There is nothing tentative about this kiss. It’s a no-holds-barred, balls-to-the-wall display of barely contained hunger. A kiss that has my fingers twisting in the longish hair at the back of his neck, and my tongue eagerly participating in a wild tangle with his.
One of his hands skims under the rain slicker to the small of my back, and slips under the waistband of my jeans. His long fingers dig into the meat of my bare ass, pressing me flush against the hard ridge of his erection, and I almost climb the thick thigh he wedges between my legs.
Geezus, holy mother of balls.
I’ve never quite understood the appeal of dry-humping, until meeting the firm bulge of Dylan’s femoral muscle.
I’m lost to sensation, not even a fraction of rational thought involved in the mindless grinding, tasting, clasping of bodies. So when Dylan pulls away from me, emitting a tortured groan, it takes a few seconds for reality to penetrate.
Water dripping on my head and the damp, slightly musty smell remind me where I am.
“Shit, the kids,” I mutter, wiping pointlessly at the wet strands stuck to my forehead.
“Yeah,” is Dylan’s drawled response. I lift my eyes to find a gleam in his, despite the lack of light in the tunnel. “I couldn’t wait. Fuck.” He runs a hand through his own damp mop of hair. “Shoulda waited,” he mumbles. “Now I won’t be able to get the taste of you—the feel of you—out of my mind.”
“There you are.” We jump apart hearing the guide’s voice behind us.
“Sorry, we got lost,” Dylan replies as he turns, grabbing my hand. He pulls me along behind him, muttering, “To be continued,” to me over his shoulder.
Still dazed, I can’t quite decide the rest of the afternoon whether to take those words as a threat or a promise.