“I like seeing the ocean everyday,” Lisa Freeman tells me on the phone, overlooking the beach in Santa Barbara, California. Considering Freeman’s novel Honey Girl, is a dreamy tale set upon the sandy beaches of Southern California in the 1970s, this could not be more fitting. Freeman tells me shes on vacation, from her home, from writing, and from her day job teaching creating writing workshops.
Nani, the protagonist in Honey Girl, is a transplant from Hawaii. Freeman’s own father worked there (as creator and producer of the iconic TV series, Hawaii Five-O) until his death when she was only sixteen. Like Freeman, Nani’s father dies in the story, prompting the character to move from one idyllic landscape to the other. These parallels are beautifully depicted throughout the entirety of the book.
When asked why it is important to write stories for a young-adult crossover audience, Freeman is quick to say, “In our modern world, there is no difference in structural integrity or language between books written for teens and those for adults.”
“The difference is mostly an increased interest in insightful and emotionally driven coming-of-age stories,” she tells me, “A bill that Honey Girl fits to a tee. I’m just stuck in this YA world now, and gladly.”
Once Freeman was able to soak in the enthusiasm of surfing and the sun-faded nostalgia of her own 1970s upbringing, Nani simply appeared before her, ready to be written. Who Freemen calls “honey girls,” sit on the beach and hold court over the sand and their men; this is an idea Freeman found intensely interesting and close to her surfer heart.
Honey Girl began as a typical fiction piece—a story about the power of women inside the intense patriarchal world of surfing—but it was the explicit sexual content within the story that shaped the book into young-adult fiction. Nani’s journey over the novel to find her sexual identity is a testament to Freeman’s commitment to readers of all kinds; whether they are multi-ethnic or LGBTQ. As a proud lesbian and mother of two, Freeman stresses the importance of realism in her story.
“The sexuality present here is not hypothetical,” Freeman says, “It’s a reflection on my life and something I hope can bring empathy into the lives of others.”
Lisa Freeman is a Los Angeles based writer. She is a published illustrator whose work includes: Letters for Tomorrow (Doubleday, 1995) and I Know I Can Climb The Mountain (Canadian Press, 1995). She is also a spoken word artist. Some of her recordings include a solo effort “Rough Roads” and several ensemble works, all on New Alliance. Lisa worked as an actor in T.V. and such films as Mr. Mom and Back to the Future I & II, which successfully financed her education at Antioch University, where she received her BA and MFA in Fiction and Pedagogy in the Art of Writing. She is a scholar of the legendary Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa and often uses his work in her fiction workshops. In order to expand more creative curriculum and education in the Unified School District of Los Angeles she established Love2Learn. L2L’s mission is to create supreme readers and introduce alternative writing techniques to children and adults. Honey Girl is her first novel. Visit www.lisa-freeman.com to buy your very own copy.