Q&A with B.R. Freemont

Native New Yorker and now Savannah resident B.R. Freemont recently published Of Time and Place, the story of Federal Energy Department employee James Lendeman. While the story is set in the not-too-distant future, the point of the story is to pose the issue of how today’s decisions impact the economic and environmental future of not just the US, but also the world, with special emphasis on the economic side of the equation. Here’s what Freemont had to say about the book.

Please tell us about your current release.
Of Time and Place is set in the middle of the 21st century. At that point most countries, including the United States, are continuing to experience a strained economic climate, in good part due to a restricted supply of petroleum energy. In these circumstances success for the individual is difficult to achieve. Kate Hastings, an iconoclastic and enigmatic rising star in the Federal Energy Department recruits James Lendeman, a capable technician, to aid her campaign to improve the energy picture for the country, but they find that results are not easily achieved.


Can you tell us about the journey that led you to write your book, Of Time and Place?
In the 1980s—shortly after the second gasoline supply crisis of 1979—I came to realize that energy supply and cost problems would place an ever-increasing burden on the country. I completed a novel bases on this theme in the 1990s. I then put the work aside. Early in this century, I realized that the petroleum energy problem was growing more acute as developing countries, such as China and India, were placing an increased strain on supplies. Added to the mix was the perpetual instability in the Mideast and other petroleum producing countries. I went back to my old, unpublished novel and completely rewrote it. The result is: Of Time and Place.


Can you tell us about the story behind your book cover?
The title of the book—Of Time and Place—refers to the various locales where the action takes place over a number of years. The cover—with fluttering calendar pages and icons of cities critical to the plot—complements the title. I suggested the overall concept to the cover designer, and she developed a wonderful cover.


What approaches have you taken to marketing your book?
Marketing is occurring on two fronts—via the Internet and through traditional modes. There is both a website (www.royaloaklit.com) along with a Face book page (OfTimeandPlace) for the book. I am seeking interviews and reviews from book bloggers. Media interviews and book reviews, and book signings are being planned.


What book on the market does yours compare to? How is your book different?
I’m unaware of any book on the market that’s similar to mine.


What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I sometimes work on multiple projects concurrently, writing a number of chapters of a book and then switching off to write an essay or short story. Perhaps that’s why it took me nearly ten years to write Of Time and Place—and that’s after having written the first version a decade earlier.


Open your book to a random page and tell us what’s happening.
Once upon a time, a cow, coming down a road, met a little boy. The boy was called baby tuckoo. Oops. Sorry. I opened the wrong book. My Freudian slip probably reflects my reluctance to summarize and/or dissect an isolated page of text. I’ve written each page—and indeed the entire novel—to the best of my ability. I would commend the work in its entirety to the reader.


Do you plan any subsequent books?
Yes. Now that Of Time and Place is published, I’ll get back to some of the other projects I’ve been working on.


Tell us what you’re reading at the moment and what you think of it.

I’m reading Majesty by C. J. Sansom. It’s an historical mystery set in the reign of Henry VIII. Having majored in history, I enjoy this genre. The author’s understanding of this period is quickly evident. He combines knowledge of the big events of the 16th century with an appreciation of the details of everyday life. Mix in an intriguing plot and you have a lively, readable work. A prospective reader should start with Dissolution, the first book in the series.


Review of “Faces Behind the Stones,” by Fran Lewis

Before I dive into my thoughts about Fran Lewis’ debut novel Faces Behind the Stones, let me start as she does for each story: with a little background — for her with her characters, for me with me. First, I don’t do horror, which is what I thought this book was going to be about. It freaks me out and gives me the creeps. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had far too many dealings with actual, living demons and real spiritual warfare. To me, horror books are all too real.

But remember that adage you learned many, many years ago about not judging a book by its cover? I fell victim to it, silly me, which gave me reason to second guess my agreeing to review her book. The cover is a creepy, dark cemetery with tombstones in front and a woman’s face as a shadow cloud behind. Definitely not my idea of a good time. But I had told her I would review it, so with much trepidation, I opened to the first page, swallowed, and began reading. What I quickly discovered was completely and entirely not what I had expected.

Fran has compiled the stories of seven very different characters, each of whom is already dead, but they all have their own cautionary tales to tell from beyond the grave so nobody else will fall victim to similar unfortunate circumstances. And the stories of their demise are as plausible as any obituary you would read in the local paper. While there is a bit of mystery in each story, this is not a detective novel. The cases have already been solved. We know the victims, and in some cases we know the killer very early in the story; others we have to wait until the end. What we learn throughout each story is how they got there, how they found themselves in the situations that got them killed, and from their perspective how the readers can avoid finding themselves in similar circumstances.

Fran Lewis has created not only a compelling book but also a solid lesson in character development. As a reader, I enjoyed the stories. As an author, I had fun watching Fran’s mental gears turning from afar as the characters she had placed on paper grew heads and hearts as they developed believability.

Fran used her extensive experience as an educator in the New York City public school system to create characters, both male and female, who are not only believable but strikingly similar to people you already know. In each case, the victim is an ordinary individual, as relatable as the person sitting next to you in the movie theater, in church, or at the DMV. The scary part of this book is that any of these characters could be any one of you.