Interview with M.H. Freeman

What do your fans mean to you?
Readers in general are wonderful and necessary, but fans take the author-reader relationship to an entirely new level. Fans are the lifeblood of my writing, and a lot of the time we become friends.

The thing is, It took quite a while for me to feel comfortable sharing my voice. I've spent years and years avoiding writing of any kind simply so I had nothing to hide. When I decided to publish some of my past work on a blog, the response was astounding.

In less than a year, I've gone from recluse to baby-blogger to a leader within the community. I'm an editor of the #poetry tag on Tumblr, a Spotlit blog for #poetry, and an integral and/or founding member of several other blogs which curate and broadcast the voices of thousands of others.

I couldn't have achieved anything I have without first having the support and energy that my fans have so generously provided; I would have swallowed myself in doubts.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Text messages from friends, on most days, and the search to experience something I can't put into words, on the rest.
Who are your favorite authors?
I avoid settling in on one author by reading a lot of short story and poetic anthologies. Reading too much of the same style has unintended consequences on my own.

My favorite short story is Quarantine by Arthur C. Clarke.
Some of my favorite novels are penned by Chuck Palahniuk [Damned, Fight Club].
A few of my favorite poems are in the hand of Alfred Tennyson, Henry Wotton, and George Byron.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy reading, and I play a lot of chess and poker. If I'm not doing either of those three, I'm usually chatting with or visiting friends, haunting the local used book stores, or learning the next css/html trick to improve my collection of blogs.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first stories I ever read on my own were lyrics from the inserts in albums. I'm a child of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman. The stories were elegant, the lyrics poignant, and the music was soul-stirring.

Of course I was read Dr. Seuss and The Bernstein Bears and various classic fables and fairy tales, but music was a major part of my life, thanks to my Dad, damn near from the womb. Every day was a new song, a new album, a new artist, a new genre, an adventure through rhythm and poetry and narrative verse.

When I started reading the lyrics to Bat Out of Hell, instead of merely mouthing approximations, I could see players dancing and acting in my head where only static and sharp colors representing guitar riffs once existed. That was when the foundation of my emotions were set.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I don't remember the name or the plot, but I remember it was in the fifth grade. My teacher, Ms. Whitney, wrote a kind note on the top along with the grade. It was something to the tune of: "Very good! Can't wait to see what you write when you're older." Of course my mom still has that paper under lock and key somewhere.

After that, the first story I remember writing is actually posted on my blog under the title of "Patience". A friend of mine encouraged me to try writing again, over eight years after graduating high school, and I chose a topic near and dear to my heart at the time: a vignette of my brother and I standing in line at a poker room queue in West Virginia.
What is your writing process?
Experience. Internalize. Share.

There's not much more to it than that. I've no set method. I write what I hear in my mind. If there's no voice, then I need to experience more while the rest is internalizing.

When I sit down to write, 99% of the time it's going to be with a laptop and an open Tumblr text post box. When that fails, I fall back to pen and paper. There's something freeing about that pairing; perhaps because my formative years were dependent on it. I always write something, something almost always worthwhile, when using a pen and paper.
What are you working on next?
I try my best not to rest when it comes to writing. I've wasted enough time as it is. I'm always trying new formats, new language, new poetic structures and mechanisms. I've decided that a fiction novel should be my next project, though, and I am currently fleshing out a few story ideas.

I continue to post poems and snippets of prose on my Tumblr on a regular basis. I'm always looking for inspiration for the next collection. I plan on attending a few different poetry slams in the NOVA area and even have my eye on a couple writing workshops; it's impossible to learn too much, you know.
How do you approach cover design?
I think I'm blessed to be a detail-oriented person when it came to designing the cover for my first book.

I asked myself what the two most important themes were for me in the book, and then I tried to combine them. Within the woman on the cover, I see adoration, devotion, romance, lust, loss, regret, and hope. In combining the transparency of a forest in fall, I was able to evoke cyclicism in nature, the constant death and rebirth of feelings, ideas, and even life itself.

After that, I created the base photo with, then watched a YouTube tutorial on inDesign, followed the instructions and invested a good 20 hours over the course of a month (while compiling and editing the manuscript) fiddling with settings to tweak the presentation.

I wanted to highlight the portrait more than the title or the author name, as I think it represents my work better than either of those could. I think I found a nice balance. The key, to me, was: Does it look better than most of the other poetry books I own? The answer from myself and my fellow poets was a resounding yes.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
A Nook Classic. I spent a LOT of time deliberating over this, being the tech-junkie I am, and decided the Nook was far and away the best device for those who want to milk their device for all it's worth. When I compared the expandable SD storage, the ability to root the android operating system and play chess and checkers and check e-mail and browse the web, it was an easy decision.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Aside from the well-oiled marketing machine that big publishing has built up over the years, I don't see much advantage to the traditional route. I feel the emotions, I write the words, so I wanted to invest my heart and soul into the rest of the process as well. Hopefully this resonates with my readers.
Published 2013-09-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Before I Leave: Selected Poems and Poetic Prose
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 11,730. Language: English. Published: September 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs, Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
(4.00 from 1 review)
Tying together the recurring elements of a decade in reflection, this debut book from acclaimed poet M.H. Freeman — Before I Leave — elucidates the cyclicism of life while depositing a positive outlook in stressed and sullen hearts.