Natasha Freeman helps bring to life the story of Isibindi Lodges.

Your author name

Natasha M. Freeman

Your book title

A Place of Meeting: the birth of Isibindi Africa Lodges

Natasha M Freeman speaks about working with our team for the Isibindi Foundation 📙💪

Give us the elevator pitch for your book?

Driven by conservation and a love for Southern Africa’s wildest, most beautifully isolated regions, Brett and Paige Gehren began building a dream. Facing the raw impact of South Africa’s history, the Gehren’s find in the beauty, joys, and complexities of nature, a language the whole of humanity speaks.

What would you give as your main reason or goal for writing?

My main reason for writing is not really a reason – it’s a feeling. I think I was born with this feeling inside of me, of words. The image I always have is of words pressing from within to try and get out. It feels like a deep urge in the marrow. When you feel this way, and then you sit down to write and you think it’s crap – that is motivation to make effort to refine your craft. Enter Thesaurus, thoughtfulness, slight bouts of tendinitis from writing or typing, keeping it to yourself or sharing it. The urge is in the marrow.

My goal for writing?

To tell stories that resonate on a level that raises us to the understanding of the oneness of our humanness – that reveals these secrets and wonders of our hearts, and the power of our collective stories to lead us to knowing ourselves and finding ourselves in each other.

Who was the book written for?

A Place of Meeting is written for anyone interested in wildlife and conservation – the experience of the South Africa’s most beautiful and wild experiences in nature, and the stories of the people behind the flag, between the politics, those every day lives facing the battle of emerging from a traumatic political past, but also the magnificent beauty of the unspoken language that humans speak – which always help us find each other. Nature is an unspoken language, experience, and reaching out in kindness with good intentions. South Africa is a wild, incredible, beautiful land filled with such variety – so much pain, so much beauty, and nature so staggeringly beautiful, you are left with nothing but to feel in the wholeness and stillness of it. What a country. This book is for people who love to experience adventure, and the wholeness of what it means to breath meaning into life through experiences. If you’re wondering what you’re here for, this story inspires you to look within and really say, who am I and am I living the life I want to life? And perhaps, upon reading it, finding the courage to go to. (Isibindi means ‘courage’)

How long did it take for you to finish the final draft of your book?  

About two years.

What makes this book different from others on the shelf?

A Place of Meeting: the birth of Isibindi Africa Lodges, is a story of a love of wildlife and conservation that led to some of South Africa’s most beautiful, authentic lodge nature experiences, as much as it is a story of people and the power of relationships in a context of contrasting realities – it’s a story as much about the soul of life, calling people together, trying to work around difficult realties to uncover and become one – if only for a moment – with the quiet simmering purpose of life, which is to experience it, in full.

What was the hardest part of the writing journey for you?

The most difficult part of writing is getting interrupted when you want to be working. Also, editing – drafts and drafts and drafts…you get to a point by the fifth final draft where you lean back in your chair and rub your face, thinking about a glass of wine instead.

Your favourite place to write?

I can write pretty much anywhere (this was born of necessity – in cars, cafes, at home, outside, grabbing any quiet moment) – but my favourite place to write is one where I’m not being interrupted. That is my bliss. If I can curate this space, it will involve a calm ambiance, surrounded by plants, books, a comfy spot, pillows, cozy lighting and maybe a few beautiful items – my antique typewriter, a clipping of flowers, a candle, and always a jar or my owl mug, full of pens.

What kept you motivated to write during the times you felt stuck?

I don’t believe in writer’s block. If I’m stuck I question the space I’m in my head, or if I’m being honest about whether this is the time I can actually get any work done. Sometimes the idea is there, hovering, but you can’t quite grasp the full conjunction, or the layer of words as you need them. In these instances, I go for a run, head to the ocean, do physical activity to help give my mind the space to conceive between the activity.

If my ideas are too full, or I’m built up with frustration (which can also seriously compromise clear thinking), I will do the opposite and find stillness or activities that keep me in the present (surfing, being in the ocean, stillness/finding breath/meditation) to give my body and mind the space to clear, to exhale, to allow fresh air and room for words to flow and form and be bright.

Tell us something about yourself that readers would not be able to guess?

I love to wear an apron when I cook. It’s like, my thing. And listen to French Jazz.

Have you written any other books?

Three books;

  1. Abwun, CYNREN press (about a controversial lost meaning of the Bible and an actual historical document; nominated for the Ashton Wylie Book Award in New Zealand in 2011);
  2. Our Changing Rivers – an introduction to the science and practice of fluvial geomorphology (for the South African Water Research Commission; on the curriculum at Rhodes University, SA);
  3. #ImStaying: the unspoken impact of the #ImStaying movement (Penguin Random House SA)

Assuming you may not write full time, what is your day job?

I consult and take commission projects, to help people write books in addition to writing my own. It’s a juggling act with kids.

When I’m in the middle of a long-term book project, I sometimes take client referrals from chiropractors I work with – one of my very early qualifications is in rehab massage therapy. The physical work and energy space creates a nice contrast of schedule – allowing me to focus on the writing when I’m there for it, and be in a dynamic space of interaction otherwise.

How should someone get in touch with you?

We have recently relocated to Australia, but I take contracts from all over.