Author Interviews: Freya Pickard and The Rusalka Ritual

I’m Freya Pickard, a cancer survivor, and author.

I write in what is usually called the Fantasy Genre. I prefer to be known as a Speculative fiction and poetry writer!

I have, to date, published 5 books. I have two novels, Dragonscale Leggings, and Vintrig’s Kingdom. The former is a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek romp through an Arthurian Otherworld. The latter is an epic fantasy novel with romance at its heart. My first publication was a single short story, The Essence of Thyme, which is an oblique re-take of Sleeping Beauty. I’ve published a collection of poetry, Insides, which was written whilst going through surgery and chemotherapy for bowel cancer. And, lastly, but by no means least, I also have a collection of short stories called The Rusalka Ritual & Other Stories, and it’s currently reduced to just $0.99!

You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Spillwords and YouTube.

Support my writing on Patreon and buy my books!

When and why did you start writing?

I have always written. My mother taught me to write when I was about 2 years old because I wanted to know what she was doing as she wrote a letter to a friend. Poetry was the first expression of my imagination. As I read more stories at home and school, I tried my hand at prose. When I turned 17 I decided that I was going to be a writer and wrote my first set of connected novels. They were terrible! Since then, I’ve lived a lot, learned a lot and had quite a few horrendous experiences. My writing now is very focused and I know exactly what I want to write and sell. I write because I have to. I cannot stop now.

What has been your worst moment as a writer?

My worst moment as a writer came in the autumn of 2014 when I started chemotherapy. For the next 6 months I really struggled to be creative. I gave up writing the first draft of the novel I had intended to complete whilst recovering from surgery. The chemotherapy affected me on a cellular level; my entire being was devastated. I struggled to keep my journal going. Some days I was too exhausted to write anything at all. Other days I managed one line saying how tired I was. But, towards the end of each cycle, I squeezed out a short form poem as I tried to stay engaged with the world.

Before cancer, I used to have a ritual whenever I sat down to write. I would write in my journal first – usually a haiku or another short form poem. Then I would write down any ideas for either writing or marketing that came to me. Then, I would start writing, a first draft or revisions.

Now, my life is somewhat changed. Having gone through cancer has enabled me to develop a safe place within my head. I can now write anywhere, at any time, in silence, in chaos, when I feel happy when I feel stressed. I no longer have to wait for the right “feel”. I am alive still, I cannot waste another second!

If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?

If I could go back in time to when I was starting out as a writer, I would tell myself to forget the traditional publishing route – complete waste of time. I would say to the younger me, publish in your own way! Don’t be dictated to by people who don’t value your work!

What makes for good writing?

Good writing is subjective. Best sellers and award winning novels often leave me wondering how they got published. In general, I think that good writing needs to have a distinctive style and to be clear about what is happening in the plot, without being too obvious. Books that I consider to be good, use the English language in clever ways, their plots are not obvious, and there is always a surprise or a twist that you don’t see coming. I don’t think books that read like film scripts can be considered good writing.

How do you measure success as a writer?

My success as a writer is measured in several ways. Firstly, I have finally got some of my books published! Secondly, I am starting to make some money through my book sales. Both are equally important to me. I write because I love to but I also write in order to be able to live.

What’s your biggest fear as a writer?

My biggest fear as a writer is that my ideas will dry up or my creativity will leave me again, as it did during chemotherapy. I try to nurture my creativity by not over-doing things and by allowing myself time to “play” eg read, walk, listen to music and to consciously NOT think about writing sometimes.

The Rusalka Ritual & Other Stories is a collection of 5 tales based around the narrator of Dragonscale Leggings. These stories are fairy tales without the traditional “happily ever after” endings. My tales have a darkness to them that underlies the humour and swashbuckling action. They are not what you expect them to be. The different narrative voices range from a young child, a murderer, a lonely maiden, friends awaiting rescue and a retired banker. I explore the themes of light and darkness, enchantment, and illusion, loyalty and friendship, life and death with a difference. If you want to escape for a short while into a realm of realistic fantasy and come back to your real life renewed and refreshed, this is the collection for you.

I would like my readers to have their minds opened to possibilities beyond the realms of our so-called reality. I would like them to find delight and entertainment in unusual places and to gain strength from these stories that will help them in their real lives.

My main tip for aspiring writers would be to find your buying audience BEFORE you publish your first book. And by buying, I mean people who will actually put their hands in their pockets and buy a book, rather than just waiting for you to make the book free on Amazon for a short while.

I’m working on two more short story collections, two more poetry collections and the sequel to Vintrig’s Kingdom. I’m hoping to get at least one of these books out (hopefully more) this year.

The Rusalka Ritual

by Freya Pickard

Five tales encompassing human emotion; disappointed expectations, self-sacrificing love for the unlovable, will power that overcomes dark enchantment, bravery in the face of evil and fear of the unknown in a hum-drum life …
Five tales from Freya’s fertile imagination to delight and intrigue you; a western setting, a tragic story, a twisted faerie tale, a sword and sorcery romp and a warning about checking your car brakes …
Five narrative voices ranging from; a young child, a murderer, a strong-willed young woman, damsels awaiting rescue and a retired banker …
Five tales set in fantastic locations; an arid canyon, a smoke-wreathed ale house, a moonlit sea, a haunted inn and a golf course
Five tales about Dracomagan; mysterious guide, ruiner of emotional moods, overcomer of dark enchantment, shatterer of faerie spells and a golfer’s nightmare …

About the Author

Scott Mullins is a freelance writer and digital content manager. When he’s not finding ways to distract himself from writing his novel he writes killer copy for companies all over the world. Connect with Scott on Twitter @ScottMullins86 or LinkedIn. He’s always looking to connect with other writers.