Updated: Oct 7
A graduate of Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism, Jennifer Froelich worked for many years as a freelance editorial assistant before publishing two suspense novels for the adult market, Dream of Me and A Place Between Breaths, which won an honorable mention in Writer's Digest's 2016 Self-Published Books competition. Stealing Liberty is the first in a young adult series. Jennifer lives in scenic Idaho with her husband and two children.
Jennifer shares a collection of readers’ questions about the Stealing Liberty series!
Stealing Liberty Q & A
Q: What inspired you to begin writing Stealing Liberty?
A: One day, I was reading about the Christmas Day theft of the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950. A small group of Scottish nationalist college students were responsible for the heist, which inspired a surge of Scottish pride. I remember thinking, “That would be like a group of Americans stealing the Liberty Bell after it had been taken by a conquering regime.” From there, it was a matter of creating the why and how, which I did by continuing to borrow from real history, creating a patchwork quilt from Roman times, World War II, the Cold War, American and French Revolutions, along with more contemporary political conflicts to ensure that every element of my future world was believable.
Q: Are there any hidden elements or Easter eggs in Stealing Liberty?
A: Friends and family will likely recognize that my characters Xoey and Sam are loosely based on my kids, Tara and Drew. They were a starting place, anyway. Xoey and Sam quickly asserted their individuality and are now their own people, but they share many characteristics with my kids. History buffs might notice that I borrowed names for all of my main characters from signers of the Declaration of Independence, and fellow Sun Devils (Go ASU!) might notice that I borrowed many background character names from ASU Football rosters.
Q: What was the hardest scene to write?
A: The hardest scene to write so far was in Weeping Justice, book two of the Stealing Liberty series, which should release later this year. Without spoiling anything, I will hint that I had to imagine something horrible happening to a member of my family to write it. The whole process was extremely painful.
Q: Which character was the most challenging to develop?
A: Sam. Sam has autism, but in a world where any kind of neurological, chromosomal, or physical difference has been all but eradicated by prenatal tests and abortion. I wanted to portray Sam as valuable in a society that said he shouldn’t exist – a society that did nothing to support his differing needs. So Sam is going to struggle with things for which individuals on the Spectrum in 2019 have support. But I didn’t want to be condescending to his character, or to diminish his intelligence or value. It was tricky, depicting him as vulnerable and needing help, while also showing his incredible worth. And I’m not autistic, so I want to be very respectful any time I give voice to a character who is part of a community I am not part of.
Q: What can we expect of the sequels, Weeping Justice and Chasing Freedom?
A: Weeping Justice is a true second act story, which will challenge my characters physically, mentally and spiritually. Those are always difficult stories to tell. I am currently writing the final book in the trilogy, Chasing Freedom, which I hope will provide some redemptive elements to these poor kids – I’ve put them through so much! I also hope that my historical inspiration will start to make sense to readers in terms of what they will be left to think about when they’ve read the final “The End.”
Q: Did you know where the storyline was going when you started writing Stealing Liberty, or did it evolve as you began to write?
A: If you imagine a story as the path you take to walk across a river, I always plan out my big stones ahead of time. My characters always place the smaller stones in between the big ones, often taking me in different directions than I intended – sometimes to places where the current is so strong, I’m not sure how I’m going to get back to my big stones! But I think that makes the story more exciting and realistic.
Q: If your Stealing Liberty characters were Marvel Superheroes, which ones would they be?
A: Ooh! Fun question, and a bit of a coincidence since the MCU comes up in Weeping Justice. I would have to say that Oliver is like Captain America, Reed is like Iron Man, Adam is like the Incredible Hulk, and Riley is like Scarlet Witch (at least as she is depicted in the MCU movies). Sam and Xoey are the hardest to cast for me. In Weeping Justice, Sam identifies with Legion, so I’ll stick with his opinion on that one. Since Xoey is stronger than she knows – stronger than others give her credit for at times – I’m going to say she’s like Captain Marvel.
Q: You must have creative ideas for books all the time. How do you decide which ones to run with?
A: It’s usually as simple as running with whatever concept I am most obsessed with at the time.
Q: Is this a series we might see go to the big screen?
A: While I have had several readers ask about a movie adaptation, no one from Hollywood has called – not yet anyway! Of all my books, I think Stealing Liberty has the greatest potential for success as a movie. The more readers share it with their friends and keep interest alive, the greater the chance of it happening!
When Reed Paine is sent to a secret detention school for teens whose parents are branded enemies of the state, he doesn’t expect to find friendship – especially after coming face to face with Riley Paca, a girl who has every reason to hate him.
But when Reed, Riley and a few others start reading the old books they find in tunnels under the school, they begin to question what they are taught about the last days of America and the government that has risen in its place.
Then the government decides to sell the Liberty Bell and Reed and his friends risk everything to steal it – to take back their history and the liberty that has been stolen from them.
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