The Girl She Was Author Rebecca Freeborn on the Relationship That Inspired her Novel

The Girl She Was Author Rebecca Freeborn on the Relationship That Inspired her Novel

Tell us briefly about your book

Seventeen-year-old Layla has her life mapped out: she’s going to study hard, pass Year 12, get a sharehouse with her best friends, backpack around Europe after uni, then become a pharmacist. But when the owner of the café where she works turns her attention on her, everything changes. She knows it’s wrong, but Scott is going to leave his wife soon, and anyway, he loves Layla too much to let her go. But when the relationship becomes increasingly volatile, Layla is forced to take drastic action.

Twenty years later, Layla has left the past behind her when she receives a message from someone she’d never expected to hear from again: I know what you did. She’s run from her town, her friends and the memory of what she did. Now she must face them all.

What inspired the idea behind this book?

The book was inspired in part by a relationship I had with a married 28-year-old when I was 17. While the relationship was nothing like the one portrayed in this book, I carried the guilt around with me for many years before I finally came to realise how much coercion had been involved. I was interested in exploring the issue of consent, particularly where there are imbalanced power structures at play – whether it’s age, role or other factors – and whether they blur the question of consent.

A lot of these themes really crystallised one night, shortly after women began to come forward with allegations about Harvey Weinstein, when I was out with two other women and we shared stories of our experiences with men who used their power to push the boundaries of consent. There wouldn’t be many women who haven’t experienced the most basic level of casual entitlement, or done things they weren’t comfortable with just to feel safe. It was this vulnerability and uncertainty that I wanted to portray in Layla.

Does the creative process get easier for you with each book?

Yes and no. The impostor syndrome never goes away. Every time I think there’s no way I can pull it off this time. Every time I think I’m never going to have another idea again. But I also know now that I CAN do it, because I’ve done it before. I know I have to suspend disbelief, write through the rubbish and leave it up to my characters to show themselves to me as I write them. I know I have to write fast and edit slow. I find it much easier to get through a first draft when I set myself a daily word goal and trick myself into getting the story down quickly so I don’t get bogged down in second-guessing myself. And I know I have to always keep the themes of the story at the front of my mind.

What was the most challenging part of writing this book?

As some of the themes in the book were close to home, writing it brought up a lot of things I hadn’t thought about in years. I had to look back on events that happened in my adolescence with adult eyes, and I didn’t like what I saw. Even with that adult perspective, writing from the point of view of a teenager made me look inside the girl I’d been, and I rediscovered a lot of shame I thought I’d shed a long time ago. I wrote fast and angry, and by the time I’d finished all the edits I felt completely destroyed, to the point that I considered not writing again. Thankfully, that feeling passed and I’m back to it again.

What’s your daily writing routine like and what are you working on at the moment?

When I’m writing in earnest, I do it in every spare moment, including on the commute to work, in my lunch break and after the kids are in bed. I’m almost finished the first draft of my next novel, The Favour, which is a story about the darker side of female friendship, loyalty, and how far we’re willing to go to repay our debts. Because of my malaise after finishing The Girl She Was, I only decided I was going to write this one 53 days before my deadline, so my writing schedule for The Favour has been a lot more rigorous than usual!

Reviews

The Girl She Was Author, Rebecca Freeborn Shares her Comfort Reads

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21 April 2020

The Girl She Was Author, Rebecca Freeborn Shares her Comfort Reads

    The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn: Your Preview Verdict

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    17 April 2020

    The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn: Your Preview Verdict

      Preview Reviews: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

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      4 April 2020

      Preview Reviews: The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

        Consent or Coercion? You Decide with this Extract from The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

        Review | Extract

        3 April 2020

        Consent or Coercion? You Decide with this Extract from The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

          Running from the Past: Review of The Girl She Was by Rebecca Freeborn

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          30 March 2020

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                        Publisher details

                        The Girl She Was
                        Author
                        Rebecca Freeborn
                        Publisher
                        Pantera Press
                        Genre
                        Fiction
                        Released
                        31 March, 2020

                        Synopsis

                        ‘She’d long ago stopped wondering whether anyone would find out what she’d done. It was in the past, and Layla didn’t dwell on the past.’At the cafe in the small town of Glasswater Bay where she works after school, seventeen-year-old Layla enters into a volatile relationship with her married boss.Twenty years later, she receives a message from her former boss’s wife.As Layla relives the events from her youth that have shaped her present, her past starts to infiltrate her life in a way she can no longer ignore.She’s run from her town, her friends and the memory of what she’s done. Now she must face them all.
                        Rebecca Freeborn
                        About the author

                        Rebecca Freeborn

                        Rebecca Freeborn lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills with a husband, three kids, a dog, a cat, a horse, more books than she can fit in her bookcase and an ever-diminishing wine collection. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional and Creative Communications and now works as a communications and content editor for the South Australian Government where she screams into the void against passive voice and unnecessary capitalisation. Rebecca loves strong, witty female characters, and wrote Hot Pursuit because she wanted to escape the focus on fashion and personal appearance that is so common in contemporary women 's fiction. She writes before the sun comes up and spends her moments of spare time reading novels and feminist articles and compulsively checking Facebook.`

                        Books by Rebecca Freeborn

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