In 1973, Linda was a flute player and music major at a California community college, until she met and fell madly in love with a charismatic piano player, plunging into his world of music-making and drug-fueled parties. When, just three weeks after their wedding, he reveals that he's been "born again," Linda makes the spontaneous decision to follow him into his new religion and, unwittingly, into a life of communal living, male domination, and magical thinking.
With unflinching candor, Amber Starfire chronicles her journey as Linda Carr into the evangelical church culture, where she gives up everything for her husband and their music ministry. But in the process, she loses her most valuable assets: her identity and sense of self-worth. It is only when Linda returns to live with her birth family and faces her complicated relationship with her mother that she finds new purpose and the courage to begin to extricating herself from the limiting beliefs of her past.
Accidental Jesus Freak is the story of one woman, one marriage, and one kind of fundamentalism, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible when we are true to ourselves. Both a cautionary tale and celebration of personal empowerment, Accidental Jesus Freak is a powerful reminder for anyone who seeks to live a life authentic to who they truly are.
As it happened, our formal outreach period coincided with the coldest winter Amsterdam had experienced in twelve years. The canals were frozen, and the famous Elfstedentocht speed-skating race or “Eleven Cities Tour” was on that year. The tour occurs only when it is cold enough to form ice at least fifteen centimeters thick along the entire 200 kilometer course. 1985 was one of those rare years when the temperature plummeted to 13 degrees
On one of the few outdoor occasions, we took all the children to the spacious plaza in front of Amsterdam’s Central Station and had them perform a dance while we played music and then preached. It was so cold that day, I wore my long wool coat and scarf and played flute with fingerless gloves. I worried that my lips would freeze to my flute. When it was time for the children to dance, we had them take off their coats, perform, and then bundled them back into their clothing and gave them steaming cups of hot chocolate.
Travelers and Amsterdam natives walked around us as if we were part of the structure of the plaza, pillars that stood in the way of their path, nothing more. Other than a few quick glances in our direction and eyebrows raised at the sight of the children during their dance, we were only another odd group of people on the streets.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
What made you want to write this book?
I have wanted to write about this period of my life and about the Jesus Movement in the 70s and 80s — how so many of us got caught up in that religious fervor — for quite a long time. Before I could write this particular memoir, I had to do a lot of research about the times and personal exploration about why I made the choices I did and what were the biggest influences and factors in may life. Though my story is unique in its own way, I think many readers will recognize themselves in my struggle for self-identity and expression.
Was this book easier to write than others?
I don’t think any book is easy to write. Particularly memoir, which requires a lot of soul searching and brutal honesty with oneself. That said, this memoir didn’t take as long to write as my first memoir, Not the Mother I Remember. I had more research material to sort through and a steep learning curve with my first memoir, which I benefitted from when writing Accidental Jesus Freak.
Do you only write one genre?
I write in multiple genres, including poetry and fiction, though I have published only memoir and nonfiction self-help books on journaling and writing. My first published book was a college text on desktop publishing, back in the late 90s before desktop publishing gave way to the Print on Demand industry. Now, I’ve got a couple ideas for novels that have been bouncing around in my mind for a while . . . who knows what the future holds?
Do you have a specific place or setting where you write?
Yes. Even though I have an office in my home with a desk and desktop computer, my favorite place to write is in a cozy corner of my office — sitting on my upholstered rocking chair with my laptop. I usually rise early, before dawn, grab a cup of coffee and head to what I affectionately refer to as “my corner.”
Describe what made you want to be a writer.
I think I have always been a writer. I began reading at a very young age — three years old — and quickly became a voracious consumer of books. I loved fairy tales and fantasy and anything about time travel, and so I wrote my own childish stories of princesses and ghouls. My mother was an English teacher and also a writer, and some of my earliest memories are of her at her typewriter, writing stories and articles for magazines. She was a role model for me in that regard. In fact, I taught myself how to type when I was eight. And my first published piece was a letter to the editor when I was nine. However, as I grew into adulthood, I didn’t pursue my writing dreams and put them to the side (some of the reasons for this is in my memoir). And though I wrote professionally for my various jobs, I didn’t return to creative writing until my late forties. So my journey as an author has been a long and interrupted one. I finally feel as though I have come home to myself.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Amber Lea Starfire MA, MFA, is an author, editor, and creative writing coach whose passion is helping others tell their stories. She has published two memoirs: Accidental Jesus Freak: One Woman’s Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom (2017) and Not the Mother I Remember: A Memoir — finalist for both the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2013-2014 Sarton Women’s Literary Awards. She has also published several books of non-fiction, including Journaling the Chakras: Eight Weeks to Self-Discovery, and Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations. Amber is co-editor of the award-winning anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals.
Website and Social Media Links:
Amazon Link for Accidental Jesus Freak: https://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Jesus-Freak-Journey-Fundamentalism/dp/0999444107/
Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/accidental-jesus-freak-amber-lea-starfire/1127757981