Brian Freeman is the author of the Jonathan Stride novels, set in Duluth, Minnesota. They are suspenseful novels full of memorable characters and are especially saturated with a sense of place.
The day of the bookfest, Brian will share photos he’s taken on photo safari in Duluth, which he then uses as inspiration for his novels. He’ll read a passage, using the photographs to illustrate just how much the place influences what he writes.
The drama in Brian’s books is driven by the emotions and secrets of the characters. “My goal is to write books with haunting characters and a lightning-fast pace,” he says. “My stories are about the hidden intimate motives that draw people across some terrible lines. The twists and turns keep you turning the pages, and each piece in the puzzle gives you new insight into the heroes, victims, and villains.”
“I don’t like books where the characters are all good or all bad,” he adds. “I want them to live in the real world, where morality means tough choices and a lot of shades of gray. I hope that’s why readers relate so intensely to the people in my books.”
For Brian, launching a worldwide publishing career at age 41 was the culmination of thirty years of fascination with writing suspense fiction. “I started my first ‘novel’ in sixth grade,” he recalls wryly. “It was about the death of a chess grandmaster. This was in the Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky days. I called it Checkmate. Who knows, I may yet go back to that one.”
He credits two unusual sources for his career: his grandmother and his eighth grade composition teacher. “My grandmother really spurred the family obsession with crime fiction. She used to tell us, ‘I’m reading this great new book. It’s got lots of bodies in it!’” His middle-school teacher spotted his obsession with writing and encouraged him to follow it. “She pretty much scrapped the lesson plans for me and simply told me to sit in a corner and write. The next summer, I finished my first full-length novel.”
Brian rattles off a list of novels he wrote at various points in his life as he honed his craft: a thriller about the kidnapping of a U.S. president; a surreal erotic fantasy about a classical composer (“perfect for an idealistic college kid,” he says), and then three mysteries ranging from racial violence in Minnesota to sexual obsessions in a revival Shaker community to sins and crimes among the super-rich of Newport, Rhode Island.
“I recall James Michener saying that you should only get published after you’ve written a million words,” Brian says. “By the time I wrote IMMORAL, I must have been just about there.”
Meet Brian at 12:15 in the Kerrytown Concert House.