Wordpool: Cream Tea with Freda Lightfoot

Taking a seat in the delightfully cosy Anchorsholme Library for one of the first author visits of Wordpool, it is lovely to see the seats full of exciting chattering ladies awaiting her arrival.  A few avid fans are eager to grab front row seats but just as many who had never heard of Freda Lightfoot are telling me and each other how excited they are to be hearing from a ‘real’ author.

Freda Lightfoot hails from Oswaldtwistle; apparently ‘that’s where the mill is,’ although as she takes us through her memories of childhood, she explains that the town had about twenty mills, twenty pubs – and not a single police station.  There is an evident fascination with lifestyles, people and experiences shining through her delivery and capturing her audience which appears to come from her heritage.

Freda explains her love of characterisation through a series of stories.  She tells us of her grandmother, a stalwart Methodist who was rumoured to wash the coal before she brought it in.  Her grandmother had a tough exterior after losing her first child when he pulled a pan of scalding water over himself as a child and her husband contracting MS in his twenties.  She’d be tough and give out no sympathy as she placed steaming pink lint on a young Freda’s leg – but she’d have a ‘sugar butty’ to hand to soften the blow.  This attention to detail is paid to all of the characters she researches, as she takes influence from the lifestyles of people she meets without using their actual stories.  Freda explains that her sagas are inspired by ordinary folk up against extraordinary circumstances.

Not all of her characters are influenced by good people, indeed Freda admits she quite likes to write the villain, saying that, “This is the joy of writing.  You can be good and innocent all your life but in fiction you can pretend to be the bad one…  The most important aspect is giving them the motivations, the reasons for being how they are.”  Nonetheless there is evidently a strong feeling of attachment to the characters that she creates and Freda Lightfoot is clearly an author with heart.  She takes them, guides them with a firm but affectionate hand down whichever paths her imagination takes.  In Freda’s words, “If I knew the end, I’d have no reason to write the book.”

Freda answers questions from the audience very openly before we tuck into the very delicious cream tea with sumptuous cream cakes supplied by Taylor’s of Cleveleys that will have my scales groaning for weeks!  We hear of her excitement when she received the first advance on a published book and her fear that erupted when the thought of writing a second occurred.  There is her transition from her first typewriter across the 25 years of her publishing career to the myriad of laptops, MacBooks and computers she works with today.  Refreshingly, she admits she loves electronic devices like Kindles and Kobo’s, although she’s been made aware that her sales have dropped whilst the nation watches Andy Murray down in Wimbledon!

I ask her what would be the one piece of advice she would give to aspiring authors and she explains that what is on the shelves now was with publishers two years ago and that editors are probably sick and tired of those trends.  So I’ll leave you with her outlook on writing.

 “Write what’s closest to you and not what’s on the shelves.  Write it as well as you can and from the heart.”

 Thank you, Freda Lightfoot, for an inspiring afternoon!


Freda Lightfoot’s latest book ‘Lady of Passion’ is available on Amazon from 18th July 2013

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