Jamie Freveletti is a trial attorney, competitive runner and holds a black belt in Aikido, a Japanese martial art. After law school she lived in Geneva, Switzerland while obtaining a diploma in International Studies. In Chicago, she represented clients in areas ranging from class actions for mass salmonella poisoning to securities fraud.
She has appeared on Chicago Public Radio, WGN Radio, and Seattle Public Radio and is a contributor to The Outfit Collective blog. She currently hosts the Chicago Literary Salon: An Evening of Drinks and Debate.
What one issue makes you struggle the most as an author? How do you handle it?
This has to be writing scenery. Trees, sky, you name it. I write thrillers and love writing action, feelings, describing rain storms, but writing about the color of the sky feels like a lot of work! I’ve learned to grit my way through it and I’m finding that it’s getting easier and easier.
What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed? Why?
I’m a worrier. Maybe it’s the female condition, but I seem to worry about a lot of things that never end up happening. I’ve been given two pieces of advice about this and they have helped me kick the habit:
1. Don’t live in the future. It will not present itself in the fashion that you are worrying about, anyway, so don’t waste your time.
2. Do what you can about the situation, then don’t give worry any more space in your head.
Tell us a bit about your current project.
I just launched my second novel-Running Dark- about a cruise liner attacked by Somali Pirates- and am on tour promoting it. I’m also just putting the finishing touches on my third. Very excited about that!
We are all about journeys…unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book? Share some highlights or lowlights from your path to publication.
Looking back, I realize that I was lucky to have had a (relatively) short path to publication. I wrote for five years and had one manuscript completed. I started marketing it, but after 12 queries happened to be sitting at a conference dinner with an editor of a small house when she asked what else I was writing. I mentioned the premise of my first novel, Running from the Devil, and her eyes lit up. I put my finished manuscript aside and devoted the next twelve months to completing Running and 8 months to revise it. I got an agent after 25 queries and she sold it in 45 days.
What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow it down further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
I wish I had known that it’s the premise that gets an agent and editor’s eye in the first instance and it’s the strength of that premise that’s going to carry them through their meetings. Good writing is required, of course, but many good writers’ works don’t make it past the many sales and marketing sessions that end up with a manuscript being acquired. I always struggled when describing the premise of my unsold manuscript, though it was a fairly straightforward mystery. The second manuscript was so much easier to market once I learned to write and say:
Running from the Devil is a novel about a woman whose plane is downed in the Colombian jungle. She’s thrown free, and watches as the other passengers are taken hostage by guerrillas. Lost and without a compass to guide her, she begins tracking them to disrupt their plans.
Share a dream or something you’d love to accomplish through your writing career.
I have a dream to build this career into something that can give significant support to a charity of my choosing.
What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, of course)?
Just ten minutes ago I finished a final chase scene in my third. I was so engrossed that my heart was racing and my fingers flying on the keyboard. When it was done I thought, “that was a blast.” Those moments, when I am transported into the scene, are the best.
Writing rituals. Do you have to sit somewhere specific, complete a certain number of words, leave something undone to trigger creativity for the next session? Some other quirk you’d like to share?
No ritual, really. I grab any minutes in the day that I can, and I either stay with it or keep going back that day until 1000 words are written.
Plot, seat of pants or combination?
Seat of the Pants, definitely! I know that if I am enjoying the writing the scene, then the readers will enjoy reading it. Outlining takes the spontaneity out of it for me. I’ve even broken that golden rule you hear about “get it all down first, then revise” which is really geared to getting a writer to the finish line. However, I have confidence that I’ll finish, so I feel free to jump back.
Have you received a particularly memorable reader response or peer honor? Please share.
Just a couple of weeks ago I received the “Best First Novel” award from the International Thriller Writers! (for Running from the Devil). I can’t tell you what this meant for me-I’m still flying high from that night in New York City!
The novel is also nominated for two more awards that will be announced in October, and all of this has made me very thankful.
Have you discovered any successful marketing/promo ideas that you’d share with us?
Sadly, no magic bullet to bestseller that I can see. Marketing a book is quite an interesting experience-probably due to the personal nature of them. What one person likes another will not, and so forth.