Today we sit down with teacher and author B.B. Free. She is going to tell us about her writing, her inspiration as well as share an excerpt from one of her favorite works.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started writing poetry when I was in my teens. I noticed very quickly that I was better able to express myself in writing than in speaking. And writing became this wonderful tool to help me deal with or process my feelings, my dreams and my fantasies.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
A children’s book, no longer than a couple of months. My one and only finished novel, Friends of the Bride, took me four years, and that’s before Beta reading (current stage) and formal editing.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Writing during the school year is tricky. Teachers spend a lot more than just instructional time focused on students and curriculum. I have to carve short periods whenever possible. That said, if the muse presses, I drop everything and at least put rough notes on paper until I can get some time to refine them.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
There are parts of my first drafts that look like a five-year-old wrote them. If I’m in the zone and the material is flowing, I won’t stop if I get stuck on the right word to describe something. I’ll write a Kindergarten word that summarizes the concept and keep it moving. I don’t know if it’s a quirk, but when I come back to my writing and find words like “yucky” and “doodyhead”, I laugh at how weird my process seems to me. Maybe other writers do it too, who knows.
Q5) How are your books published?
So far, I’m indie. I thought long and hard about going the trad way when my first children’s book was ready, and I decided not to give myself the aggravation. I’m not saying ‘no’ categorically to traditional publishing, but as of now, the freedom and control of indie publishing works for me.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
My children’s books always have a character value as the overarching theme. It’s the teacher in me, I guess. I like literature that leaves my students room for self-assessment and global thinking. My adult writing is mostly about human relationships- romantic, parent-child, siblings, friends. I have been mystified by human interactions all my life, so that’s what I like to explore. And some of my short stories were inspired by very vivid dreams.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book and how old were you?
It wasn’t a book, but I wrote a collection of poems when I was sixteen while going through some health problems. All my teenage angst poured forth in poetry.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I read almost constantly, travel, restaurant-hop and write my foodie blog, and I’m learning Italian. Right now I’m reading Football for Dummies so I can spend more time with my husband this football season. We’ll see how that goes.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
What are you doing to me? How can I pick one? Ok, here’s a few- London by Edward Rutherford, just about anything by Leon Uris, more recently Zealot by Reza Aslan, and the Harry Potter series. I’ll stop there.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
Great question. My husband and daughter think my writing is excellent, but the topics don’t interest them. My husband likes books about WWII, and my daughter is 26 and can’t relate to my characters who are usually of a more mature age. My friends like what I write, but most of them are not avid readers of anything.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I didn’t learn this in creating my book, but I was surprised how reading attitudes have changed because of this technology age we live in. Epic novels like the John Steinbeck books would be hard to sell these days. The more I read about trends and tastes, the more I realize that many people want their fiction fast and short. Attention spans have diminished considerably in the last twenty years.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
Outlining. I know I should, I know it’s effective, but I don’t really do it until two thirds of my story is already down. Outlining only helps me when it’s time to tie it all together.
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
It’s like asking someone to pick their favorite child. I’ve written two children’s books, The Rescuers and The Knights of Ugly (the second is in the illustration phase), and one novel. I love them all! But I have a special place in my heart for a short story I wrote titled “Echoes in the Attic”. If I say why I like it, I would spoil it, but this is one of those ideas that came to me in a dream.
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
Read until your eyeballs fall out. I know every writer says that, but it’s gospel truth. Not only do you see how language is used properly, but it also helps you define your style, and it’s like fuel for me. If I’m slacking on my writing, all I have to do is read something of quality, and my writing motor starts to rev up.
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
My readers get me, I’m happy to say. Parents and educators understand and applaud my wish to convey the importance of character education in literature, and the kids like the stories and identify with the characters. Those who read my adult fiction grasp my passion for literary aesthetics. English is a beautiful language. I enjoy using its rhythm and richness to create prose that is cadenced and lyrical whenever possible. If readers tell me something I wrote took life in their minds, or tugged at their heartstrings, I know they got it.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
People who love the language, people who are prone to reflection, and people who place importance on their connections to self and the world at large. If vivid, descriptive language bores you, I’m not the writer for you. If your interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships are important to you, more than likely you will like my stories.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
Dialogue that reveals without actually telling, passionate characters that become their own heroes, and a plot that is captivating in its simplicity. I’m drawn to stories that flow easily and carry me effortlessly through the action.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to read books out loud for a living. Is there such a job? But also I wanted to be a pediatrician and a singer. A singing pediatrician.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
The Rescuers is available at:
And Counterpoint, a short story, on Goodreads:
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
I had fun writing a dark, and hopefully funny, short story called And Then There Were None for a contest sponsored by the South Florida Writers Association (it won first prize, by the way). Here’s a bit:
Kimiko. The greatest of my misfortunes. Kimiko was my husband’s mistress. Discovering her was quite unexpected. You see, I had no idea Fred and I were having problems.
He’s my best friend. Our marriage is heavenly. There was absolutely no reason for him to have an affair. You may wonder why I seem to blame only her, when technically, he’s the one who broke vows. He serves a purpose, so I did what any committed wife would do: I forgave him, and I’m happy to say, our little hiccup is all but forgotten.
Of course, it helps that Kimiko is no longer in the picture. It was tragic, actually. My understanding is that after Fred ended the affair, she decided to move back to Japan, and some careless movers accidentally dropped her piano from her balcony. When it comes to supervising movers, watch your location, location, location. I wore an exquisite grey dress to the funeral. Charming girl, really.
And then there were none.
About B.B. Free:
B.B. Free always had a book on her nightstand from the age of three, and so began her love affair with language. As a teenager, poetry became her favorite vehicle for expressing the rollercoaster of those angst-filled years. When she became an elementary school teacher, she discovered the range and quality of children’s books and began creating thought-provoking storylines appropriate for children six to eleven. This is when ‘The Rescuers’ was born, a South Florida Writers Association award winning story, which will also be published in Spanish. Her passion for writing has now expanded into the realm of adult fiction, and while she will continue to produce literature for children, she is now editing her poignant, funny and stylish novel about female friendships, food, love and reinvention in sexy Miami.
B.B. Free is married and has raised a daughter, now 26. She continues to teach and foster the love of reading in young children. She also writes a food blog where she chronicles her adventures in pursuing another passion… fine dining!
Connect with B.B. Free: