‘My name is Freedom Oliver and I killed my daughter.’ So begins my debut novel “Freedom’s Child,” coming out in the UK and Ireland on July 30th. But let’s talk real life here. My name is Jax Miller and I wrote a novel. When I say it out loud like this, it still feels foreign on my tongue, I’ve all but pinched the cheeks right off my face.
A few years back, I made this conscious (albeit silly) decision to hitchhike around America. If we were talking in person, it wouldn’t be hard for you to hear that I’m a born-n’-bred New Yawka. I’m not even too sure why, but I assume it had to do with the fact that I just wanted to walk out of my own skin. I’m claustrophobic, both in body and in mind. While somewhere around the Georgia state border, a scene came to my brain: The reader will recognize this as the story’s prologue. I hand-wrote it in a spiral notebook, leaning on the back of a man on a Harley. I got many ideas for this story while counting telephone poles through the south and gazing into a man’s greasy ponytail. As Freedom would say, such is life.
I wrote what I could- my attention to the book was secondary to travelling long (it takes more energy than you think when you’ve got nothing but the clothes on your back and a knapsack filled with water, toiletries, soap and granola bars). Most of what I had was written on scraps, a side fling in comparison to the first novel I wrote, The Assassin’s Keeper (which got me shortlisted a couple years later in 2013 for the CWA Debut Dagger Award in London). I stuffed Freedom’s scraps away somewhere, didn’t plan on doing a thing with Freedom’s Child. Until I met my future husband and moved to Ireland a couple years later, Freedom’s Child was to never see the light of day.
With a fresh set of eyes (years after writing that very first sentence), I raked in all my work relating to Freedom. It took me a couple of months to complete it. A change of scenery made all the difference to me: From the steel of New York to the fields of the south to the Irish countryside. In all my travelling (let’s be real, it was aimless wandering, really), Freedom was my closet companion. Until I met my hubby, it was an incredibly lonely world I lived in. Freedom and I formed a unique bond. To the non-writer, this might sound crazy (I should say, I’m under no illusion that I’m a sane woman anyway). To the people who get what I mean, rock on.
Freedom and I shared a certain grief that shakes us inside; she understood why I became a little hard around the edges over time. (note: Ireland’s softened me a great deal). I didn’t care if the book got anywhere, it wasn’t why I wrote to begin with. I just needed a friend. And I found one. In Freedom. In writing. Both in real life and in fiction, Freedom Oliver is the unlikely hero in both my stories.
I was back home in New York (from Ireland), visiting my sister. I’d already written all of Freedom, all but the last chapter. I knew EXACTLY how it was going to end (because I will not start the first chapter until I have the last one meticulously mapped out in my head). But I didn’t want to finish the book, didn’t want to sever that tie. But, as I sat over-caffeinated at my sister’s office desk, I typed the last chapter as fast as I could, like ripping a bandaid off as fast as you can to lessen the pain. Within the same 10 seconds, I hit the send button, sending it off to Irish literary consultant Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (who’d been showing interest in the story since I was in the earlier drafts, having used her company, The Inkwell Group, to receive 3rd party critiques). And that was it! By the end of the day, I was already working on something new. Yes, I eat, breathe and sleep writing.
Freedom’s Child was never meant to be a novel seen, let along picked up. Less than twenty four hours later, the head of WME London, Simon Trewin, sent me an e-mail. It all becomes a blur from here on out, though I specifically remember the word ‘OBSESSED’ in caps. Weeks later, I was still (literally) convinced that this was a cruel joke, played by someone from my past with a grudge. The next day, it was sold to the UK (Harper Collins’ Killer Reads), then over the weekend to the US (Penguin-Random House/Crown Publishing). A year later, it’s now being translated in 14 foreign languages and the film rights have been sold in Hollywood.
It’s been quite the whirlwind, a storm in my life I’m actually grateful for. It’s still surreal to me, not used to success yet (as one can see in how terrible I am at taking a compliment in person). And while I’m incredibly grateful and fortunate with the interest this book has gained, I’m more thankful that it’s shedding a light on people like myself- people who are just a tiny bit harder to understand than most (insert wink face here).
Freedom’s Child was released in America on June 2nd, followed by its UK/Ireland release on July 30th 2015
(c) Jax Miller
About Freedom’s Child
Call me what you will: a murderer, a cop killer, a fugitive, a drunk…
There’s a lot people don’t know about Freedom Oliver. They know she works at the local bar. They know she likes a drink or two.
What they don’t know is that Freedom is not her real name. That she has spent the last eighteen years living under Witness Protection, after being arrested for her husband’s murder. They don’t know that she put her two children up for adoption, a decision that haunts her every day.
Then Freedom’s daughter goes missing, and everything changes. Determined to find her, Freedom slips her handlers and heads to Kentucky where her kids were raised. No longer protected by the government, she is tracked by her husband’s sadistic family, who are thirsty for revenge. But as she gets closer to the truth, Freedom faces an even more dangerous threat.
She just doesn’t know it yet.
Freedom’s Child has been described as:
‘A terrific read from a powerful new voice ‘ Karin Slaughter
‘Original, compelling and seriously recommended.’ Lee Child
‘Seldom has a literary creation bounced off the page with as much raw vitality … one of the standout debuts of the year’ Guardian
Freedom’s Child is in bookshops now or pick up your copy online here!
Watch the teaser trailer below!