Sometimes in life when negative things happen, you can either let it destroy you, or you can muster enough strength to not let these bad things define who you are as a person. No one can safely escape the ups and downs of life, but one can make a concerted effort to learn from life’s curve balls and use it to make the future much brighter. Award-winning author, Julie Freed’s book Naked: : Stripped by a Man and Hurricane Katrina, shows the reader that it is possible to garner enough courage to make the best of dire circumstances . Julie Freed’s memoir will encourage the reader to keep hope alive no matter what.
Can you tell me about yourself?
I’m a mother, a mathematician, a university professor, and now an award winning author and memoirist. I’m also a Hurricane Katrina survivor. The oldest of three daughters, I grew up in Connecticut and now live on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. I have two daughters and am terribly lucky to have found a man I adore and vice versa. We four travel worldwide as much as possible exploring history, art, and food! I love the arts, play cello, violin and a bit of piano, dabble in pottery, enjoy hiking, biking and drinking in the outdoors!
What inspired you to become a writer?
The summer of 2005, at age 32 my life transformed. My home was leveled by Hurricane Katrina. My husband of seven years left suddenly that same week. Holding my one year old daughter, a single mother looked back at me from the mirror. My life split in two — Before and After Katrina. The physical loss and destruction paralleled my broken and confused heart.
My experiences were so powerful I started writing, even though I’d never journaled. I wanted to get the stories out of my head. But then it evolved into something more than just a diary. It grew into a bold tale. The meaning and patterns I found through writing developed into something I eventually wanted to share. I hoped readers would enjoy, learn from my path, and maybe even be inspired to help and reach out in their own communities.
How long did it take you to acquire the skills to become a writer?
I’ve had no formal training as a writer or in creative writing. The last writing course I took was 20 years ago as an undergraduate student. My masters and doctorate degrees are in mathematics and chemistry. So this style of writing was a stretch for my skills indeed! I’ve written for academic audiences and peer reviewed journals but all scientific writing. Writing and reflecting about my own life events was a completely new experience for me. I wrote the first draft over just three weeks at night while my daughter slept. At the time I had no plans to publish but was encouraged after several friends and colleagues “stayed up all night” reading the manuscript.
How many books have you written?
Naked: Stripped by a Man and Hurricane Katrina is my first and so far only book. It was awarded Best Memoir 2014 Bronze Medal by Readers’ Favorites, chosen as a Staff Pick at Ann Patchett’s Parnassus Books in Nashville, and highly recommended by the Southern Literary Review. I am enjoying the success and connections with readers but do hope to write more!
Some writers go on long walks; others keep a journal, write at a café, or listen to music. What do you do for inspiration and unleashing your creativity?
Coffee shops, brisk walks, catching up with an old friend are all stimulating. But the water is pure beauty to me — walking the beach, sitting on a pier or boat, exploring the barrier islands, kayaking in the bayous. The soaring pelicans and regal egrets take my breath. Anything water relaxes and energizes my mind.
And like the sea, music can heal wounds, change a mood, and carry us to places we barely recall. It has done all of these and more for me. I cherish music. It is always playing around me or in me — classical guitar, trumpet, singer song writers. I mention three artists in my book — Chris Botti, Annie Lennox, and JoDee Messina. Each will always hold a special place in my heart because of the comfort and encouragement they brought to tumultuous times.
The sea, music … a glass of good Pinot Noir can inspire me quite handily too!
What are you working on now?
Firstly, I’m working on raising two daughters. When not coaching a sports team I’m sketching a second memoir. I’ve truly enjoyed sharing my life stories as it has resonated with so many readers. It’s amazing to have readers write, they feel they know me and even better when they are empowered in their lives because of my book. The connecting with readers has been truly inspiring and humbling – only encouraging me to write more.
Where can readers find more information about you and your books?
There is a sneak peek to Chapter 5. There are also impressions of my memoir from bloggers and reviewers. I hope you enjoy watching the book trailer. And please sign up for my newsletter. You can find Naked at any local bookstore. There are links to Parnassus Books and the Publisher, Ant Press as well. And here is a direct link to Amazon for paperback or kindle.