Anne Freeman’s debut novel ‘Returning to Adelaide’ is a love letter to her Greek heritage

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After working in fashion, entertainment, and sales and marketing, and writing privately for years, Anne Freeman began writing Returning to Adelaide in 2018. Flash forward four years later and her debut novel has now been released.

To mark the special occasion, The Greek Herald reached out to Anne to hear all about her new book and how it is ‘a love letter to her Greek heritage.’

1. Anne, tell us a bit about your debut novel, Returning to Adelaide. What inspired this novel?

The initial idea came to me in a dream. After watching a travel program about iconic rock hotel Pikes Ibiza, I dreamed that I was a hotel guest who was romantically involved with the manager. I realised that the delicious tension could become the middle of a novel. To really complicate things, I decided to make the protagonist a wife and mother like myself.

From there, I had to reverse engineer a set of circumstances which would make it not only acceptable for her to travel to the other side of the world without her family, but necessary. Add to that a fabulous cast of women supporting women, one dreamy Greek love interest, and a whole lot of unexpected complications, and I had a novel! 

2. How did Ikaria come in the plot and why this specific island?

Rather than setting my story in Spain, where my dream took place, I chose Greece because, with my knowledge and love of Greek culture and my extensive travel in the region, I knew I could create a much richer story. I chose Ikaria because I wanted an island that is lesser-known by Australian readers. If I chose, say, Santorini or Mykonos, even people who have never travelled to Greece could conjure postcard pictures in their minds. I wanted to evoke my own images in readers’ minds. Judging by the glowing reviews, this strategy worked!

3. Do you relate at any level with Adelaide Jones?

We’re practically twins! Like me, Adelaide is half Greek on her mother’s side, married with two young children (although hers are twins), has a passion for textiles, and travelled to Greece as a teenager where she forged a life-long friendship with a sister and brother from her Yiayia’s apartment building. She’s also a good friend, enjoys a drink and has a slightly offbeat sense of humour. The only thing we don’t have in common is that her husband is a jerk, but she can keep that!

4. Does your Greek background influence your writing? If so, in what way(s)?

One of the first rules of writing is ‘Write what you know’. I tend to invent characters that share a lot of my characteristics. My heritage is one of them. In fact, I’ve written a second novel called Me, That You See which is as yet unpublished and, again like me, the protagonist is half Greek. I suppose I find mixed heritage fascinating too. For me, there’s always the tension of never quite fitting in anywhere.

5. Apart from an author you are also a mother. What are three values young women need to have in the world we live in?

I don’t know about values. What I do know is that who you choose to spend your life with is the single greatest decision you’ll ever make. There are still gaping inequities in our society which can prevent women, and particularly mothers, from achieving all they want. Having a partner who is confident enough in themselves that they are not threatened by your autonomy, and will facilitate your dreams, is essential to a fulfilling and meaningful life. Society doesn’t necessarily make space for us, we have to carve it out ourselves, not having to replicate that in the home is fundamental.

6. What books do you like to read when you don’t write?

I typically read contemporary and literary fiction. There’s a fabulous community of Australian writers that I’ve connected with via Instagram so I try to support them as much as possible.

7. What are your plans for the future? Any more books coming?

My second novel, Me, That You See, was recently shortlisted in the 2022 Hawkeye Publishing Manuscript Development Prize so hopefully it’ll make it onto shelves soon. Other than that, I’m raising two kind and hilarious children, studying at university, running my own copywriting business, and trying not to fall asleep with the children so my husband and I can drink wine, and make wise cracks, while watching our favourite television shows.

8. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Visit www.annefreeman.com.au to learn more, connect on Instagram, or subscribe to my monthly newsletter for free short story downloads.

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