Ru Freeman: A Self Portrait
Ru Freeman Revealed
About Ru Freeman
Previous occupations:Dancer, Activist (ongoing) and work for the American Friends Service Committee in their humanitarian assisatance programs
Favorite job:political work and mentoring young people.
High school and/or college:University of Colombo, Sri Lanka (graduate), Bates College, Maine and The American University, Washington DC, USA and Peradeniya University, Kandy, Sri Lanka (undergraduate), Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia (undergraduate, not-for-credit)
Name of your favorite composer or music artist?:the Wainwrights, Lucinda and Dar Williams, U2, Springsteen
Favorite movie:A River Runs Through It
Favorite television show:So You Think You Can Dance?
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. Adapt, not compromise. Stand for justice. Keep faith.
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. Take risks, overextend and always dress the part.
- Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
- A. Having the capacity to love those who should be, and being able to be as deserving of their love. Finding opportunities to use every single one of your talents no matter how impossible the goal or cause.
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. Psychopaths.
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. Northern coast of Sri Lanka
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. Barack Obama
- Q. Which living person do you most admire?
- A. My brother, Malinda
- Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
- A. there's a reason why
- Q. What do you regret most?
- A. I held on to a grudge for several months against a woman, Kristine Aurbakken, who turned into a great friend and kindred spirit. She died suddenly of cancer and I regret that lost time. I think of her almost daily, imagining what she would have said/done during the political events of our time, what her reaction would be to my book and other writing, etc.
- Q. What is your greatest achievement?
- A. Finding a way to honor the country in which I chose to live, as much as I honor the country in which I was born, and knowing that my affirmation of each of these countries did not have to be measured by the same yardstick so long as my intentions stemmed from a place of love and regard.
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. A quick temper.
- Q. What’s your best quality?
- A. I'm comfortable in any setting and can make a friend even where everybody is in the opposite camp!
- Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
- A. A fabulous politican with a string of accomplishments in the fields of human rights, the rights of children, cross-cultural understanding, and education with a stack of best-selling books to my credit!
- Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
- A. Sociability.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. Trudi Montag in Ursula Hegi's Stones From The River
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. Sula, in Toni Morrison's Sula.
- Q. If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
- A. Ernesto "Che" Guevara - "Do you feel that los pobles de la tierra are in better hands today because of the election of Barack Obama to the presidency?"
- Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?
- A. Pundits interpreting cultures that they have never lived in for the world without allowing local voices to speak for their own. I think this peeve also extends to internal sub-cultures (socio-economic, race, immigrant etc.) - and maybe I need to develop a kinder, gentler outlook, but it does drive me bonkers.
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. Reading, Latin/Ballroom dance and Middle Eastern dance.
- Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
- A. Politician
- Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
- A. loyalty, sisterhood, intellectual rigor.
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. dhal
- Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
- A. 'Hallelujah' (Leonard Cohen); 'Kiss Me' (Sixpence None The Richer); 'Forever Young' (Joan Baez); 'Like A Prayer' (Madonna); Malaika (Angelique Kidjo)
On Books and Writing
- Q. Who are your favorite authors?
- A. Rohinton Mistry Toni Morrison Barbara Kingsolver Ann Patchett Wendell Berry Charles Simic Wislawa Szymborska Ursula Hegi Lynn Freed Alice Munro Barry Unsworth Caryl Phillips Joshua Ferris David Sedaris Mahmoud Darwish Yehuda Amichai...the list goes on.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
- A. Sula (Toni Morrison) A Fine Balance (Rohinton Mistry) Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver) Sacred Hunger (Barry Unsworth) Home Gound (Lynn Freed) Stones From The River (Ursula Hegi) The Memory of Old Jack (Wendell Bery)
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. Unfortunately It Was Paradise (Mahmoud Darwish)
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. Finish writing a first novel so you can write a better one; then do it again.
- Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
- A. I'm waiting to hear!
- Q. How did you come to write Disobedient Girl?
- A. My teacher, Lynn Freed,had given us an in-class assignment to write a paragraph, any paragraph, without thinking about anything specific. I wrote a paragraph about a woman standing in her doorway, her children somewhere off scene, watching her drunken husband make his way home through the mangrove swamps in a coastal town in Sri Lanka. At the end of the paragraph, she thinks about what she plans to do at dawn while he is still asleep. That paragraph turned into the first chapter of the book. It remains, largely untouched, as the first chapter of Biso's story.