AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Freda Hansburg Author of Tell On You


Freda Hansburg is a psychologist and Tell On You is her debut trade thriller.  She self-published the suspense novel Shrink Rapt and co-authored two self-help books, PeopleSmart – a best-seller translated into ten languages – and Working PeopleSmart.  Freda lives in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where she is working on her next novel and her Pickleball game.

Her latest book is the thriller, Tell On You.

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About the Book:

Tell on You is a psychological suspense novel that best fits within the Gone Girl-inspired niche genre of “grip lit.”   Jeremy Barrett’s obsessive love equals that of Jay Gatsby for Daisy Buchanan, as life
imitates art in his private school English class. But his angst-driven infatuation brings dire consequences as he is drawn into the machinations of his disturbed 16-year-old student Nikki Jordan, whose bad intentions rival those of her teacher.  A fast-paced, drama-filled tale, Tell on You reminds readers about the wildness and trauma of adolescence—and the self-defeating behaviors to which adults resort in times of stress. From gaslighting to vicious bullying, poisonous family privilege to the loss of a parent—Freda Hansburg draws on her experience as a clinical psychologist to explore the depths of each dark situation in Tell on You.

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What’s inside the mind of a psychological thriller author?

Well, dark stuff, right?  I love to take an ordinary situation and imagine a spin that takes it into the realm of suspense.  For instance, I see a guy walking his dog and preoccupied with his cellphone.  He’s probably texting his mistress.  But what if the mistress isn’t what she appears to be…?  You get the idea.

What is so great about being an author?

The rewards are both intrinsic and extrinsic.  The inner gratification includes getting so immersed in the flow of writing that I lose track of the time, or even what day it is.  The satisfaction of seeing an idea through to fruition is enormous and empowering.  The external goodies are pretty great, too.  When readers tell me they couldn’t put down my book, it makes my day.  Giving people pleasure is awesome.

When do you hate it?

I’ve become more able to accept the inevitable impasses in the writing process.  But it’s still uncomfortable when I feel stuck, unsure of how to move the story forward, doubtful of my abilities.  I know many writers give up when they hit this kind of wall.  I hope I don’t become one of them.

What is a regular writing day like for you?

When I’m in low gear, I’m focused on inching forward.  Usually, that’s in the first draft.  Any progress at this stage is fine with me.  So I’ll work out, do my chores, settle in at my computer after lunch and go at it for an hour or two.  When I’m in high gear, I’ve got real momentum and I’m locked in for longer stretches.  That’s typically when I’m nearing the end of the story or doing rewrites.

How do you handle negative reviews?

I approach them like a prospector panning for gold.  Examine it for any valuable nuggets and discard the rest.  Readers have different tastes.

How do you handle positive reviews?

I drink them in and savor them.

What is the usual response when you tell a new acquaintance that you’re an author?

People are usually curious, fascinated, impressed.  They have all sorts of questions including what I write, how I write and whether I’m on Amazon.  I admit it’s fun.

What do you do on those days you don’t feel like writing? Do you force it or take a break?

I’m not James Patterson, cranking out bestsellers.  When other parts of my life are more pressing, I’ll take a break.  But I don’t let myself off the hook for too long.  If I’m struggling, I’ll set the bar lower and push myself to produce something, no matter how small, to move forward.

Any writing quirks?

If I’m daunted by the challenge of starting a new scene or chapter, I may finesse my way into it.  Instead of continuing in the manuscript itself, I’ll open up a blank page and use it to “tune up” before I incorporate the new content into the story.  I do macro and micro outlines (the overall arc of the novel and then more detailed next directions for the upcoming chapters).  But I’m happy to deviate from the game plan when my characters lead me in new directions.

What would you do if people around you didn’t take your writing seriously or see it as a hobby?

Inore them.  If you go around worrying about their perceptions, you’re not writing.

Some authors seem to have a love-hate relationship to writing. Can you relate?

Dorothy Parker said it best:  “I hate writing, but I love having written.”  Writing is incredibly hard work, but that’s part of what makes the payoff so rewarding.

Do you think success as an author must be linked to money?

It took me a moment to realize you probably meant:  “Does an author have to make money to be considered successful?”  My first take was, yes an author may need money to invest in proofreaders, designers, promotion, etc., unless she’s under contract with a large, traditional publishing house.  But can an author be called successful if she doesn’t strike it rich?  I vote yes.  I did a book launch appearance last week in my community.  About forty friends and neighbors attended, gave me a standing ovation, bought my book and are still congratulating me.  That feels like success.  Finishing a book feels like success.

What has writing taught you?

Hang in, keep moving forward.  Trust yourself.  Do research.  Embrace the journey.

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

I think I just did.  Embrace the journey.

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