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'I always wanted to fly,' says new book author

Olds-area senior channels a love of flight into a first-book. A sequel is already in the works.
MVT Barry Freeman author-1
Author Barry Freeman during a book signing at the Olds Municipal Library. Photo: Doug Collie

Barry D. Freeman, who lives on an acreage near Eagle Hill, is the author of his first book 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. 

Freeman, 78, was asked where he got the idea for the 324 page-book.  

“I always wanted to fly,” he said. “As a kid I was always building airplanes. The idea to write about this didn’t come until much later in life.” 

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 and it was a fascination with that flight that later served as genesis for Sideslip.

“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 engine with a piece of twisted metal in front to pull you across the mountains. It was breathtaking, actually.” 

Six years ago, Freeman began writing the book, working at it on and off. Last year was difficult, not only because of COVID-19, but because Freeman's wife of 40 years, Mara, passed away in April 2020.

While he wanted to write a book that involved flying, Freeman says he knew it had to be more than that. An avid mystery reader, the answer seemed obvious. Add a 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.

Freeman says 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 it’s going sideways and it slows down. You can lose altitude without gaining a lot of speed at that point.” 

Freeman enjoyed writing the book but admits it was a struggle sometimes. In general, he spent about four hours a day writing, when there weren’t other chores or interruptions. He also spent a lot of time doing research. 

“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 six years to write the second book though. Freeman is sure of that. 

“I have nothing 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.”