Thursday, August 23, 2018

Rea Frey Author Interview

Photo Content from Rea Frey
Rea Frey always wanted to be a novelist.

When she was little, her nose was either stuffed in a book, sniffing paper, absorbing words, or letting her imagination wander. If not reading, she was writing. In journals. In notebooks. In diaries. On walls. In the sand. On legal pads. On typewriters. With quills.

In college, she majored in fiction writing and somehow fell into nonfiction and personal training. Her dreams of sitting in a writer’s haven on the water, wrapped in a sweater, penning her stories, was swapped for health and wellness gigs and her first fractured steps into the important world of the Author Platform (aka social media).

After four nonfiction books were published, countless magazine and newspaper articles written, editing jobs taken, content management contracts executed, a gym co-owned, and certifications sought, she realized she was hustling for the wrong type of writing.

So, she quit.

She gave herself a window to write a novel. Eight weeks, she told herself. Eight weeks to change everything.

Never one to back down from a challenge, she wrote her novel in just a month.

The rest went something like this: Secure a phenomenal agent, join a writer’s group, bear witness to the magic of self-belief as the book got into a bidding war and landed her a two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press.

Now, when asked what she does, she says the following: I’m a motherfucking writer.

Rea is a novelist. She writes books. And swears. And drinks lots of coffee. And has a daughter. And a dreamy husband. And still manages to find the magic in books.

She hopes you will put down the phone and pick up a book (preferably hers when it hits the shelves). And find the joy in reading.

Because there’s nothing quite like the power of words...


What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Before I wrote Not Her Daughter, I hadn’t touched fiction in 10 years, despite having a degree in fiction writing. But I’d been toying with this concept of a “reverse” kidnapping. I wanted to take something we all fear—kidnapping—and turn it on its head. I had the general concept (loose plot, characters, etc.). When I was on a business trip, I witnessed a toxic exchange between mother and daughter—one that literally had me contemplating rescuing the little girl just to give her five seconds to breathe. The strange icing on the cake? My character’s name was Emma. This little girl, decked out in red, was named Emma. I took that as a sign. I promptly went home, quit two of my three jobs, gave myself an impossible deadline to write the book in eight weeks, and ended up writing it in a month.

Tell us your latest news.
My novel has been optioned for film by Argent Pictures, so that’s always going to be my latest news. J

When/how did you realize you had a creative dream or calling to fulfill?
I’ve always been drawn to reading and writing. My father is a wonderful writer and exposed me to books from a young age. Writing has been the one constant throughout my life. Whether it’s journaling, letter writing, poetry, short stories, journalism, blogging, content creation, ghostwriting, nonfiction or fiction, I’ve always had my hand in content. I literally think better when I’m writing…it’s the ultimate self-expression.

Did you learn anything from writing NOT HER DAUGHTER and what was it?
Pay attention to your kids! I also really learned that we can’t always judge a parent-child relationship based on one or two public exchanges. It’s so easy to judge something we see, but we don’t know the whole story. Not really. At the end of the day, with my book, I really wanted to answer the question: is Amy a bad mother, or is she just a mother having a bad day?

What part of Sarah and Emma did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved their relationship. Emma seems very “well-adjusted” with Sarah, but I truly believe some children act differently with people who aren’t their parents. Kids pick up on energy. If you’re stressed and angry, they feel it. I feel with Sarah, Emma gets a chance to breathe and just be a kid…not someone who’s always pushing buttons or feeling bad all the time. I loved the evolution and emotional struggle that Sarah goes through and that it’s all based on loving this little girl who doesn’t belong to her. It’s an impossible place to be in. But in many ways, Emma is oblivious. She’s a girl, having the best summer of her life. She has no idea what’s at stake.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Amy?
That I empathize with her. That I recognize myself in her. That I relate to her. That I feel bad for her but am also angry at her. That I see that constant “self-assault” in all women—the way we beat ourselves up for the way we look, act, or feel. She’s exhausted. She feels trapped. I feel like she’s a real person and this horrible thing—having her daughter taken—is actually the catalyst that gets her to wake up to her own life.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Oh my! What a fun question. Hmm…I’d maybe introduce Emma to Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird. I think they’d have a blast together.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
Human contact. Coffee. Exercise. Fresh air. Not working a full-time job, writing four book proposals, taking on website content clients, and having your daughter out for the summer when launching a debut. That would be a great start.

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Buy the books you’re reading. (That sounds weird, right?) I’m so thankful for all the bloggers/early readers who’ve gotten their hands on an ARC for Not Her Daughter. But buying the book is what makes all the difference for a writer’s career. People can rave about a book all day, but unless the sales are there to prove it, it doesn’t matter. That $15 purchase goes such a long way.

Where is the best place in the world you’ve been?
I’ve been so fortunate to travel, but I’d have to say Kusnacht, Switzerland nears the top. I traveled there on a ghostwriting gig to write a book about Swiss chocolate after a horrific breakup, so I feel like I found out who I was outside of a relationship there. There’s nothing like standing at the top of the Swiss Alps and feeling alive for the very first time in years. And of course…the chocolate.

What was the most frightening moment of your life?

I’ve had a lot of them. (Brain surgery at 19. Crash position on an airplane. Attempted break-in.) But the most frightening experience I’ve ever had happened right after I finished writing this book. My daughter was dropped off at school at 8 one morning, and I got a call at almost 2:00p.m. saying my daughter was absent that day. I literally dropped the phone and thought: “This is it. She’s been kidnapped.” It was obviously a mistake, but it was the single most terrifying moment of my entire life.

Tell me something about you that most people don't know.
I was valedictorian of my college.

If you wrote a journal entry today, what would it say?
I survived. Must have wine.

Have you ever been really really freaked out by something on the internet? If so, what?
Anything with Donald Trump’s face. Also, The Kardashians.

What do you think is the single best decision you've made in your life so far?

Quitting my two of three jobs to write this book. I went all in without a plan B. I didn’t give myself an out or a second option if it didn’t work out. I believed in myself, and it came true. That single decision—to sit down and write—has quite literally changed my life.

Where can readers find you?
IG: @reafrey
FB: Rea Frey (business page) or Rea Frey Holguin (personal)
Twitter: @ReaFrey_Author

  • It’s a quick read. 
  • It might possibly have you rooting for a kidnapper.
  • It contains the answer to world peace.
  • It’s a love story.
  • It’s been optioned for film.
  • It’s told before, during, and after the kidnapping.
  • It talks about coffee…a lot.
  • It is an emotional read.
  • It’s a cross between a thriller and women’s fiction.
  • It questions your morals on a second-by-second basis.

Gripping, emotional, and wire-taut, Not Her Daughter raises the question of what it means to be a mother—and how far someone will go to keep a child safe.

Emma Townsend. Five years old. Gray eyes, brown hair. Missing since June.

Emma is lonely. Living with her cruel mother and clueless father, Emma retreats into her own world of quiet and solitude.

Sarah Walker. Successful entrepreneur. Broken-hearted. Kidnapper.

Sarah has never seen a girl so precious as the gray-eyed child in a crowded airport terminal. When a second-chance encounter with Emma presents itself, Sarah takes her—far away from home. But if it’s to rescue a little girl from her damaging mother, is kidnapping wrong?

Amy Townsend. Unhappy wife. Unfit mother. Unsure whether she wants her daughter back.

Amy’s life is a string of disappointments, but her biggest issue is her inability to connect with her daughter. And now Emma is gone without a trace.

As Sarah and Emma avoid the nationwide hunt, they form an unshakeable bond. But what about Emma’s real mother, back at home?


"Not Her Daughter is a cleverly constructed novel that will have you questioning everything you believe about right or wrong. Frey skillfully tangles you up in these two women’s lives and never lets up on the tension all the way until the dramatic conclusion. A remarkable portrayal of motherhood, in all its beautiful glory and heart-wrenching despair." New York Times bestselling author Chevy Stevens

“In Not Her Daughter, Frey pulls off a difficult task: balancing a nail-biting plot with a thought-provoking question ― is a crime committed with the best intentions still a crime? A chilling, powerful tale of love and sacrifice, of truth and perception, Not Her Daughter will make you miss your bedtime, guaranteed. A stunning debut.” Kimberly Belle, Internationally Bestselling Author of The Marriage Lie

"NOT HER DAUGHTER is a deft and beautifully written examination of taboo maternal fantasies: Can a kidnapping ever be justified? Can motherhood be undone? Engrossing and suspenseful, Frey writes her characters with depth and compassion, challenging readers to question their own code of ethics.” Zoje Stage, author of Baby Teeth

I couldn’t put Rea Frey’s NOT HER DAUGHTER down, and once finished, couldn’t let it go. So much more than an engrossingly suspenseful novel, it’s a thoughtful exploration on the extremes to which motherhood and love and loss can drive us. An amazing debut.” Christina Kovac, author of The Cutaway

“In her provocative debut thriller, NOT HER DAUGHTER, Rea Frey takes us on an emotional ride where the line between right and wrong begins to fade, and all that remains are the tears of a child. This story pulls you in from the very first page, and unlike most in its genre, you won't know how you want it to end until it does.” Wendy Walker, author of Emma in the Night

"Women who do not embrace motherhood or "bad mothers" are a taboo subject -- in both real life and fiction -- but Frey tackles it with aplomb in her taut debut, NOT HER DAUGHTER. The story begs the question: who is more mother -- the one who gives birth or the one who rescues? The plot twists here are brave, the themes are both poignant and unsettling, and the resolution is deeply resonant. A page-turner with heart!" New York Times bestselling author Kate Moretti

“Harrowing and heartfelt, Not Her Daughter is a gripping novel about the amazing power of mother love.” Rebecca Drake, author of Just Between Us

“A compelling mix of high wire tension and superb writing. Not Her Daughter will linger in the memory long after the final page has been turned. “Laura Elliot, author of Guilty, Sleep Sister, and The Betrayal

“Tightly paced and impossible to put down, Not Her Daughter is a cleverly written story that challenges what it means to be a mother―or not to be one. A thought-provoking and poignant debut.” Clarissa Goenawan, author of Rainbirds

"Not Her Daughter is an interesting and emotional debut about women stuck in lives they never wanted and the desperate decisions they'll make to get out. Certain to keep readers turning pages and guessing as to who the real villain is. " Cate Holahan, USA Today Bestselling Author of The Widower's Wife and Lies She Told

You can purchase Not Her Daughter at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you REA FREY for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey. 


  1. I grew up in the southern part of West Virginia.

  2. I grew up in NE Tennessee.

  3. "Where did you grow up?" In a lovely house surrounded by meadows full of gamboling baby cows and kittens....

  4. In Cape Town, South Africa. :-)

  5. I grew up in Bedford, Ohio in what I thought was a small town since everybody knew somebody who knew them. It's a town of 13,000 and I volunteer with the Bedford Historical Museum with a Victorian Tea that my mom started and we dress in long skirts, aprons and mobcaps and serve sandwiches, small desserts and tea.
    I also read this book which was give to me from This mystery has a twist at the end which you don't see coming. It's a serious read and I liked it.