OLDS — A local man has written his first book and plans to write a sequel to it.
Barry D. Freeman, who lives on an acreage near Eagle Hill, is the author of Sideslip, a story about Ross Coe, an airplane enthusiast who moves back to his family’s rural property and gets enmeshed in a murder mystery.
At the same time, Coe is dealing with some personal entanglements, including a former girlfriend who comes back into his life.
During an interview, Freeman, 78, was asked where he got the idea for the 324 page-book.
“I always wanted to fly,” Freeman said. “As a kid I was always building airplanes. The idea to write about this didn’t come until much later in life.”
In between, Freeman, who grew up in Medicine Hat, made a living as a TV cameraman, film editor, script writer, satellite TV/internet installer and museum manager.
About 45 years ago, a friend invited Freeman to join him as he flew across the mountains to Vancouver Island. Freeman also took about eight hours flight instruction.
Freeman’s fascination with that to Vancouver Island flight later served as the genesis for Slideslip.
“It was so exciting to fly in a small, fabric-covered airplane; basically, a metal tube frame with fabric over top of it," he said.
“It was a tiny little engine with a piece of twisted piece of metal in front to pull you across the mountains. It was bumpy, a spectacular view. It was breathtaking, actually.”
Years later, Freeman used that trip as inspiration for a piece during a writing course.
“It got good reaction and I thought, ‘well, let’s expand on that some day,’”
Six years ago, he began writing the book.
Freeman worked at it on and off while. Last year was a difficult one – not only because of COVID, but because his wife of 40 years, Mara Coote-Freeman passed away in April, 2020.
Freeman knew he wanted to write a book that involved flying, but he knew it had to be more than that.
An avid mystery reader, the answer seemed obvious to him. The murder – and some romance.
Sideslip is set in a fictional rural area south of Calgary, where the wealthy live a life of luxury and park their airplanes in a nearby airstrip created from land that previously belonged to Ross’s father.
After a varied career in the air force and security business, Ross decides to move home to take a job as security chief at the airport.
That’s when the murder mystery begins.
“He gets that (job) and finds that there’s a little bit more to it than just driving around checking gates,” Freeman said.
Freeman said the title of the book refers to a classic airplane manoeuvre.
“It’s a way of using the side of the airplane as an air brake,” he wrote in an email. “You put the airplane in a position so basically it’s going sideways and it slows down. You can lose altitude without gaining a lot of speed at that point.”
"Is that what you’d say the lead character Ross does? Does he sideslip in a way,” Freeman was asked.
“That’s a good way to put it, yeah,” he said. “He also uses that manoeuvre when he’s chasing the bad guys.”
Overall, Freeman enjoyed writing the book but admitted it was a struggle sometimes. In general, he spent about four hours a day writing it when there weren’t other chores or interruptions. He also spent a lot of time doing research for it.
“I knew a lot about airplanes and flying. It’s always been an interest of mine. But I did an awful lot more research, details,” he said.
Fans can expect another book – a sequel to this one.
“There’s enough questions left in this book that they have to be answered in a sequel,” he said.
“But to make it into a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end, is where the hard work will come.”
It won’t take him six years to write the second book though. He’s sure of that.
“I have nothing else much to do during the winter,” Freeman said. “I have to help feed the horses occasionally and that’s pretty much it.”
“The characters are all there, the location’s all there. I don’t have to research or invent a lot more stuff. I have to pick up the threads of what’s happened in the first book and of course, somebody will die – it's that kind of a genre.”
Sideslip is published by Desktop Communications. It can be ordered online in book or e-book form.